|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Books||Recommended Links||The psychopath in the corner office||Female Sociopaths||The Techniques of a Female Sociopaths|
|Surviving a Bad Performance Review||Micromanagers||Incompetent Managers||Narcissists||Workplace bullies||Films depicting female sociopaths|
|Female bullies||Authoritarians and F-scale||Understanding Borderline Rage||Negative Politeness||Rules of Verbal Self Defense||Classic cycle of sociopathic relations (Evaluate-seduce-devalue-discard)||Defending Yourself Against Corporate Psychopaths|
|Machiavellians Manipulators Tricks||Office Stockholm Syndrome||Insubordination Threat||Learned helplessness||High Demand Cults Leaders Practices||Double High Authoritarians||Analogy between corporate and psychopathic behavior|
|Enemy at the Gate: Rules of communication with micromanager||Paranoid Managers||Divorcing Borderline Psychopath||Diplomatic Communication||Psychopaths in Movies||The Hare Psychopathy Checklist||Obsessive compulsive personality|
|Sociopath attack methods||Projection||Workplace mobbing||Gaslighting||Avoiding Anger Trap when dealing with corporate psychopaths||Stonewalling||Shunning|
|Love bombing||Fake Sexual Harassment Claims||Workplace Discrimination and Harassment||Isolation as a psychological pressure strategy||Demeaning||Fraud Caused by Social Pressures||The Fiefdom Syndrome|
|Six ways to say 'No' and mean it||Corporate bullshit as a communication method||Steps for Decreasing Toxic Worry||Large organizations||Preventing Burnout||Signs that you might be dismissed soon||Workagolism and work overload|
|Groupthink||Conformism||Lysenkoism||Tactful communication||Quotes about Psychopaths||Humor||Videos|
|"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"
(I, iv, 90)
Softpanorama Classification of Toxic Managers
Psychopaths are real aliens, "people without conscience"
Note: This is page devoted to all IT professionals who suffer from psychopathic bosses. Only those who already suffered or still suffering from one of those types can understand the level of pain as well as stakes involved in dealing with such individuals.
According to some data sociopaths represent around three to five percent of our population. Most of them belong to so called non-violent, non-criminal type. But they are extremely socially toxic. The term psychopaths should probably be reserved for those sociopaths who are the violent, serial killer, ruthless predator types. The distinction line is fuzzy but still very important. We will mostly be talking about sociopath, while not always adhering to suggested terminology. Sorry about that.
If you are reading this page, you probably have problems with your boss or family member, or co-worker. Now what ? Actually the situation is bad, and you are really trapped, but it is not inescapable situation. You can and should escape. As old saying goes "Knowledge is power" and this is the area where this saying is literally true. Learning the ropes can help to find a way to escape, find way to defend yourself and your dignity, and to lessen the current pain.
It is important to understand that whose managers who produce living hell are not all created equal. But they have a common tendency to project their dissatisfaction with their life and emotional emptiness outward and ascribe it to others. If they succeed it is all them, but if they fail, it's your fault. Such people are organically incapable of trust, because everything they do is a facade, a lie, a Potemkin village.
The same Potemkin village as their family life, where wife and children at best are viewed as desirable possessions. They have utter contempt for other people, although they will use flattery, deceit and other means to create a dependency while they are using them. And after that is done, you will be discarded like an empty cardbox. In other words they are real sharks, endlessly seeking the prey to fill their emotional emptiness with possessions, be they things or other people. And they are literally insatiable in their needs, and are highly focused in their pursuit of them.
There two large group of dangerous managers who typically make the life of subordinates a living hell. We will call them "toxic managers".
1.Illogical Thinking: The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds: Authoritarians ideas are poorly integrated with one another.
3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what youve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy: The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups .in-groups are holy and good out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarians Last Ditch Defense: By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions ..
Both types are power hungry and have inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, etc. (see Understanding Borderline Rage), which serves as a vehicles of intimidation and can be carefully rehearsed. The key differential is the amount of deceit in daily interactions and about personal and family history. Manipulation and deceit are hallmarks of psychopathic personality. They live life as actors acting different roles depending on what is profitable and what helps to achieve their goals. Much like cult leaders (which who they have a lot in common) socialized psychopath are masters of creating an "artificial past" inventing their personal histories (including education, achievements, etc ) and sometimes even relatives as well as keeping victims from escaping. See The psychopath in the corner office for the list of traits that you need to try to match with to confirm this diagnose.
As this is not a psychiatry manual, we will use an umbrella term "toxic managers" for both corporate socialized psychopaths and (more numerous) authoritarian managers. That term actually allow us to avoid nitpicking about whether particular manager is real psychopath/sociopath, or something else and concentrate of patterns of behavior many of which are surprisingly common to "real sociopaths". For our purpose real psychological diagnosis is of secondary importance. It is methods to protect yourself from attack of such class of personalities that are of primary importance. In this sense the most dangerous subtype are female sociopath, as they use their gender as bullet proof vest to deflect any counterattacks. See some information about Hillary Clinton as guide
In this respect, what matter for us is the fact that both authoritarians and psychopath of various "denominations" are really dangerous predators of corporate jungles in general and IT jungles in particular. And they blend extremely well into the current environment within government and mega corporations.
As all of them there is one important encompassing feature: predation. Most individuals in modern societies are caught up in the perpetual struggle of striking a balance between pursuing their own interests and respecting others' rights. When their own pursuits take precedent over others, individuals typically feel some guilt or shame about their greed. But there is no such conflict inside sociopathic managers. They do not need to rationalize their exploitation of other, they simply feel they are entitled. Which makes them perfect predator of corporate jungles. When in power, they typically use their animosity to keep others in line. Often they create kind of cult of personality environment in which, like in Stalinist Russia, in order to survive, employees must identify with their aggressor or become one of the leader's victims (and please note that Joseph Stalin was a pretty charming personality in his narrow Politburo circle).
It goes without saying that presence of such individuals in the role of the manager puts a tremendous stress on his direct reports. Psychopaths are more that rare among general population and by some estimates represent over 1% of population and approximately 4% of managers. Authoritarians are more common and often constitute majority of middle managers in the corporation. So both university students and regular cubicle dwellers should better know your enemy as they might need to deal with them in their first or next "manager-subordinate" relationship. They (especially Authoritarians) might be present among your immediate or extended family too.
With those reservations, we would distinguish the following non-orthogonal types based on a single, dominant behavioral stereotype (for example all psychopath are bullies, but only bullies has this as a predominant feature). That's a crude and unscientific classification but it does has some practical value in dealing with this type of predators because our emphasis is of classifying and describing typical set of behaviors that those people use during "hunt" for prey. It is valuable to knew something about what to expect if you are on the receiving end of such a behavior. We will distinguish:
Authoritarians are more numerous and and while dangerious and toxic, they are less dangerous category in comparison with "real" phychopaths, especially micromanagers. If you boss fits the description you need to go to the church and light the candle. While your situation is bad and often justifiably can be called simply terrible, believe me it could be much, much worse (see below).
It is not always easy to detect authoritarian manager while not being his/her subordinates. Sometimes, like in romantic relations, it is quote difficult until it's too late. Typically authorititarian kiss up behavior can be polished to perfection and generally emogh equals he is often viewed as "normal" person. Trobles start only when you report to him.
Still there are som indicatins that are usful even when you are reporting to this jerk. In the latter case indications are useless, because you are already cooked :-(.
One of the few good indications of authoritarian personality are extreme right wing views (see Double High Authoritarians). In any case as soon as this guy/nice lady become your boss, "kick down" side of his/her personality will be demonstrated to you in all glory and you will have zero problems with the detection. The only problem is that it's too late ;-).
Also it is not necessary that authoritarian boss should be incompetent. First of all, while there is correlation between authoritarianism and low intelligence it is just a correlation. Some authoritarians are quite bright (for example, Bill O'Reilly -- a Fox News talking head to be more like double high authoritarian rather then a typical psychopath).
Another important trait that can be observed by outsiders and should warn you is that authoritarians tend to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning. Specifically, they are more likely to make incorrect inferences from evidence and to hold ontradictory ideas that result from compartmentalized thinking. Moreover, they are typically unable to acknowledge their own limitations and assume responsibility for errors and blunders. Here is a short but very useful list from Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice
1.Illogical Thinking: The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds: Authoritarians ideas are poorly integrated with one another.
3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what youve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy: The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups .in-groups are holy and good out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarians Last Ditch Defense: By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions ..
I would put dogmatism higher as this is valuable test which works when this type of people report to you or are on the same level as you and the personality they present to you is their "fake", Potemkin village facade.
But other then that this is an excellent, simply excellent list. One missing, but important feature is that authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity. When discussing political preferences, tor example, they are more willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights. They also are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and they admit that they obtain personal satisfaction from punishing such people. See Authoritarians
Aggression in inherent in psychopath as a predator in corporate environment, and to tell that a psychopath is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet. So this is a sure sign that the boss is psychopath, but it does not help in classification of the set of behaviors that distinguish this particular predator from others. But for some sociopaths this pattern of behavior serves is the most favorite tactics that they use systematically. Those psychopaths have a distinct a tendency toward sadism and derive perverse gratification from harming others. They do like to hurt, frighten, tyrannize. They do it for a sense of power and control, and will often only drop subtle hints about what they are up to (this is also typical of authoritarians).
At the same time they systematically polish their aggressive, domineering manner in such a way to disguise any intimidation as legitimate corporate behavior and avoid coming under HR scrutiny for their behavior. Such pathological personalities always seek out positions of power, such as teacher, bureaucrat, manager, or police officer. You can also distinguish several subtypes:
I would like to stress it again that direct or indirect aggression is inherent in sociopath (a socialized psychopath) and to tell that a psychopath is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet.
US National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be broken into two categories:
Indirect bullying is more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip, staring, and mocking. While women can be as aggressive or even more aggressive then men they usually are more indirect. I would like to stress that gender differences in aggression are subject to review; human society is too complex and direct projection from animal world, for example, from great apes is of limited value. See important paper by Kaj Bjorkqvist Sex Differences in Physical, Verbal, and Indirect Aggression: A review of recent research
Accordingly, one should not expect women to develop and use exactly the same strategies for attaining their goals as men do. If strategies for aggression and conflict resolution are learned, not innate, then women are likely to learn different methods than men. Important aspects are power and capacity, not only physical, but also verbal, and social.
Human beings have nonphysical powers which are far beyond those of any other animal. Accordingly, human aggression has faces and forms, inconceivable within the realm of animal aggression. Extrapolations from animal studies are, therefore, misleading. Aggressive styles are also subject to developmental change during the life course. As indicated, animal aggression is mostly physical. Also among young children lacking verbal skills, aggression is predominantly physical.
Verbal skills, when they develop, are quickly utilized not only for peaceful communication, but also for aggressive purposes. When social skills develop, even more sophisticated strategies of aggression are made possible, with the aggressor being able to harm a target person without even being identified: Those strategies may be referred to as indirect aggression (Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist, and Peltonen, 1988; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, and Kaukiainen, 1992).
There are good reasons to believe that, as far as adult interpersonal conflict is concerned, physical aggression is really the exception, not the rule. Other means are more likely to be used.
Burbank (1987) reviews anthropological research on female aggression. She finds females of different cultures having a large potential of aggressive means to use in order to get even with their husbands, such as, e.g., locking them out of the house for the night: she regards this as an act of aggression. Burbank (1987) found females seldom to resort to physical aggression against their husbands, but they did so, occasionally. The most common reason was that their husbands had committed adultery. Burbank found, however, that women are much more often aggressive towards other women than towards men.
Here is one type from popular literature that fits the pattern:
The Fearmonger Boss. People do what a fearsome boss says because theyre afraid of him, which actually encourages further intimidation. He always has a threat, and he constantly follows through with that threat in order to keep his employees acquiescent.
Often bulling behavior is combined with paranoia tendencies (paranoiac self-defense). Again this category is fuzzy.
See Bullies or aggressive psychopaths for more information
Paranoid managers are psychopaths for whom continual mistrust and misjudgment of environment dominates other (often no less pathological) personality features. Wikipedia defines paranoia in the following way:
Paranoid personality disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that denotes a personality disorder with paranoid features. It is characterized by an exaggerated sensitivity to rejection, resentfulness, distrust, as well as the inclination to distort experienced events. Neutral and friendly actions of others are often misinterpreted as being hostile or contemptuous.
Unfounded suspicions regarding the sexual loyalty of partners and loyalty in general as well as the belief that ones rights are not being recognized is stubbornly and argumentatively insisted upon.
Paranoid managers are suspicious, touchy, typically humorless, quick to take offense and slow to forgive, self-righteous (Which makes them remarkably similar to authoritarians and micromanagers). They are often argumentative and litigious. They seldom show tenderness and may avoid intimacy; often they seem tense and brusque.
Paranoid personalities find causal connections everywhere; for them nothing is coincidental.
They are constantly on guard and are hypersensitive to critique. That means that they often take offense where none is intended. Often they have problems with understanding humor. They appear cold and, in fact, often avoid becoming intimate with others. Often pride themselves on their rationality, objectivity and fairness. Paranoid managers rarely come forward to seek help from subordinates.
Often paranoia combines with "toxic incompetence" as they cannot make decision on time (analysis paralysis), insists of creating tons of useless documentation and due to this skip important project milestones, etc. Fear of exposure of paranoid manager is blended into a pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness. An inability to trust, doubts about others' loyalty, distortion and fabrication of personal histories, qualifications and facts, misinterpretation, and bearing grudges unnecessarily are generally hallmarks of the disorder. Pathological and instinctive aggressive counter-attack, the need to control others is also a prominent feature. They like to collect evidence of subordinates. Paranoid managers often can be classified as "raw bullies", as in relations with subordinates they prefer to rely on brute force and direct intimidation.
For more information see Paranoids
Tendency to micromanage subordinates is often combined with paranoia and bulling in various (but of course lesser then those classified as bullies or as paranoid) degrees. It also pretty often demonstrate itself as a distinct condition close to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OSD).
Micromanagers are remarkably close to authoritarian personalities in patterns of behaviour and demonstrate typical for the latter category bouts of anger (Borderline Rage). Reverse is not true, some authoritarians avoid micromanaging. Micromanagers often have almost pathological neatness; the latter is especially typical for women. Often their hairstyle is distinctly refined.
Especially dangerous are paranoid incompetent micromanagers (PIMM) the type which we will study in more detail on a separate set of pages:
Micromanagers is one of the few areas were gender stereotyping might provide some survival benefits. Women tend to be more detail oriented, and female corporate psychopaths more often tend to behave like micromanagers. Female PIMM can be mean, evil, vindictive and quite petty.
If a female boss is insecure about her skills and abilities she is more likely to exhibit PIMM behavior. Female PIMM are usually more skilled in using indirect aggression, especially isolation.
Level of paranoia is elevated and often micromanagers simultaneously can be classified as paranoid managers. Among common traits are complete absence of trust in the staff, pathological need for control, pathologic dissatisfaction with results, and recurring "tantrums."
Many of PIMM can be also classified as bullies but again they, especially female PIMM, prefer indirect aggression to direct. Usually, female PIMM cultivate spying on subordinates and encourage "little birds" to rest on their shoulders and whisper all forms of gossip. This, these minions believe, ingratiates them to their bosses.
For more information see Micromanagers
The narcissistic bosses are characterized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy," often evidenced as envy, taking advantage of others, an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement, and arrogant or haughty behavior. There is not much hope for the poor shmacs toiling for the narcissistic personality-disordered boss who demands perfection, absolute loyalty, and 24/7 devotion to the job.
Narcissistic managers are not that different from other types and also suffer from compulsive need for control ("control freaks"). Narcissistic behavior is dominated by compulsive desire to project highly positive image resulting in unstable behavior with emotional outbursts caused by insecurity and weakness rather than any real feelings of confidence or self-esteem. One interesting feature of narcissists is that their behaviour in family environment is often more brutal and tyrannical then with subordinates of the office. That makes they close to micromanagers.
Typically they are oversensitive to criticism and do not accept slightest criticism from below. They often can be simultaneously classified both as bullies and micromanagers. As they need to steal all the achievements of subordinates to built their image they are typically "gatekeepers" who try tightly control all the communications channels with the superiors'. Can be quite paranoid and react inadequately on any threat to their projected image.
For more information see Narcissists.
Manipulative psychopaths are probably the smoothest of corporate psychopaths. Here we will mean a class of corporate psychopath who excels in manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery and seduction. All psychopaths use this to a certain extent, but for this type this is a preferred tactic. Also they are typically talented actors and can wear their fake, "invented personality" with confidence and aplomb typical for great actors in movies and theater.
While manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery and seduction are prominent, other features typical for corporate psychopath are usually present too. They are very similar to paranoid managers in their behavior toward subordinates, but unlike paranoids are capable to create a real smokescreen over their real personality by using flattery and seduction.
Unlike bullies they prefer indirect aggression to direct. They have tendency to play by the rules only as long as it suits them and break rules as soon as this is needed for achieving thier objectives. They are notoriously capable to exploit "grey" area in their favor. This distinguishes them from paranoids. Like narcissists they fear becoming less valued, if their underlings get any recognition for exemplary work. Manipulator bosses are backstabbers who'll go to frightening lengths to look good to their superiors at the expense of denigrating subordinates.
Typically have a dual personality syndrome and behave completely differently with superiors then with subordinates. Here is how they are described in one of Monster career self-help articles:
The Manipulator Boss
Also known as the Machiavellian boss, this type is extremely intelligent and one of the most dangerous. The manipulator boss is highly focused, very motivated, and always has a secret plan. He looks at people as a means to an end. The world is a giant pyramid and the apex is his. People he touches or runs over on the way to the top are casualties he writes off. If you work for a manipulator, watch your back. Your best bet is to be open and honest with him. Volunteer information. Your boss, who has long forgotten what truth is, will be left impressed by it.
For more information see Manipulator bosses or Machiavellian boss ("wolfs in sheep closing")
We need to distinguish between normal and abnormal incompetence. Normal or institutional incompetence is inherent in large bureaucracies and in reflected on Peter Principle and Parkinson law. In this case the manager was competent on some lower level of hierarchy but became incompetent after promotion or as often happens in IT due to loss of technical qualification in the current position.
But there is also other, abnormal incompetence, when a person got to his position due to some "institutional lift" (for example being close friend or relative of one of the higher level managers, or a secretary who is a mistress of the upper manager and was promoted to some technical position in IT department). This case is also called pathological incompetence or colloquially "empty suits".
It is usually quite toxic if such a manager is also aggressive. Unfortunately more often then not it is correlated with extreme aggressiveness as well as other personality problems -- most toxically incompetent managers are micromanagers or narcissists or bullies or some combination. No substance and not much style. Just very sharp claws and elbows.
Such managers are more widespread that this is assumed in Harvard Business Scholl publications: in a large organization competence is not the primary value. Politics, connections, and clever tactics can compensate for incompetence. The sad truth that they are pretty typical in large organizations for reasons completely different from The Peter Principle. In "bootlickocracy", the most incompetents are valued for "different reasons" and can easily propel themselves into a supervisory role.
Toxic incompetence is usually correlated with various other personality disorders and is prominent among corporate psychopaths. Common clues include:
For more information see Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers).
Psychopathic bosses are people that are so different from normal people that they can be truly called aliens. And those dramatic differences cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They operate using different set of assumptions, and it is the latter that makes them the natural "predators" of the corporate world, "criminals without criminal offences".
In corporate environment psychopath is the person who fails to recognize, much less to empathize with, the personal human dignity and rights of subordinates. That's why they are called "people without conscience". They do not feel remorse at lying or manipulating, and they typically lie without limit creating an elaborate edifice of their fake past. This "addiction to lying" (and related inconsistencies in their descriptions of their past) is probably the most telling early warning sign about psychopath. Typically they "invent" their past. They have trouble with teamwork for the same reason. They will say one thing to one person, and something different to someone else.
|As psychopaths are addicted to lying, they frequently contradict themselves. Typically they also enjoy harming and bullying others. In young age they are often cruel to animals...|
And it is difficult to understand how alien they are from "common people". To a certain extent they are insane. Please note that "sanity" does not mean perfection; it merely means sufficient engagement with the real world and society to allow us to survive both day-by-day and in the long term thus sane individuals usually tend to obey traffic laws, learn from their mistakes and practical experience and, in the case of moral sanity, they recognize in others their worth and their capacity for joy and suffering. Psychopaths are by definition reckless. This actions aren't merely misguided, but often are clinically dysfunctional. That's why they often self-destruct.
Furthermore, sanity implies an ability of introspection: capacity to critically evaluate ones experience, to distinguish fact from fiction, and to tune behavior, to adapt to the real world. Insanity, by implication, suggests a significant level of detachment from reality and inability to change one behavior despite negative feedback from the environment. For example, a psychopath not only can't recognize the human worth and the capacity for pleasure and pain in others, he does not recognize any value of that. For him treating people like objects is "normal" and any empathy is for suckers. In this sense he/she is living in an "unreal", artificial world. Detached for reality world, the world were no empathy exits. It is often correlates with other psychological disorders such as paranoia.
|The presence or absence of conscience and related lack of emotions is a deep human division, arguably as significant as intelligence, race, and closer then many would think to gender differences.|
We don't know what makes psychopath ticks and how they acquire the set of behavioral patterns they demonstrate. So most of modern literature is limited to "traits based description". For extensive list of traits see The psychopath in the corner office. This "trait classification" method that prevails in the literature is very limited and in general should be considered unscientific. As such, it overlaps with "popular urban mythology". Still even mythology is better then nothing and we do not have any other approach that is really better.
You need to understand that those description are pretty much ad hoc. Reality is more complex and does not fit well within this rigid scheme. Often traits are intermixed in a unique way that defy classification. That's why you need really put an effort into studying your particular type and documenting his/her behavior to get some real insights into particular beast you are dealing with. One important variable partially omitted is the level of intellect (also low IQ is reflected in Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers) type). Often psychopaths have high or very high IQ.
There are probably several more important factors that were omitted. For example, gender differences are also very important and color psychopathic behavior in a unique way. See Female Sociopaths
Methods of attacks used by psychopathic bosses vary but one common is based on performance reviews. There are several traps there you can and should avoid. See Surviving a Bad Performance Review
The simplest way to get some additional insight would be checkpoint list based on typical traits displayed by psychopaths. See The psychopath in the corner office
For psychopaths the office environment is a theatre of war and like in any war ends justify means. So dirty tricks are ok as French proverb A la guerre, comme a la guerre implies. They are typically used by psychopaths without any constrains (spreading dirty rumors is the specialty of female sociopath and those skills are usually polished since childhood to perfection.). The greatest variety is observable from Machiavellians Manipulators but sophistication is typical for psychopath in general. See Machiavellians Manipulators Tricks.
You should remember famous saying that "War is a continuation of policy by other means" and don't overreact.
First of all, like in real war, there is a "fog of war" over the whole situation (i.e., you are facing incomplete, dubious, and often completely erroneous information and high levels of fear, doubt, and excitement). Which complicate rational assessment of the situation so delays with the reaction and keeping your cards close to your chest might in many cases be not detrimental, but advantageous.
Actually studying war tactics which were discussed, for example, in famous Clausewitz On War (available free from clausewitz.com.) and The Art of War is not a bad idea. Among them (cited from Wikipedia):
There are several good books on the subject that you should definitely read. Stakes are so high that any additional ammo worth much more then its nominal cost. See a list of suggestions in Toxic managers: The Problem of Corporate Psychopaths. But again, you should took information provided with a grain of salt.
Watching films that depict psychopath also provide some additional insight and this way of study should not be overlooked. Unlike real events you can watch the film over and over again and that's enhance the understanding of specific tricks and attack methods. See Psychopaths in Movies.
Some behavior patterns are really easier to study via movies. This is especially true about female sociopaths. For example there is certain logic in outbursts of anger used by psychopath. They are not completely spontaneous, but more of a sign that you entered the territory they already staked. Or they want something that you refuse to give. The same is true for authoritarians (authoritarian rage). See Understanding Borderline Rage.
At the same time, being reserved is very important. One of the tactics used is to provoked you into a burst of your own impulsive behavior as this way psychopath can play victim, while being actually an aggressor. See Anger trap
Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov
Jan 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
"Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings" [ The Hampton Institute ]. Hierarchies are artificial constructs designed to serve a purpose. They are a necessity within any society that boasts high degrees of wealth and power inequities. They are a necessity for maintaining these inequities and ensuring they are not challenged from below."Vatch , January 12, 2017 at 2:23 pmSynoia , January 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm
"Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings" [The Hampton Institute].
This is a complex subject, but I'll hazard a guess that Colin Jenkins, the author of the article, is wrong. Our close relatives the chimpanzees and gorillas have dominance hierarchies, and one's position in the hierarchy can be enforced by violence. Even bonobos have dominance hierarchies, although they are much less violent than their cousins. Human hierarchies have existed for tens of thousands of years, which has been verified by differences in burial goods at grave sites. With the invention of agriculture around eleven or twelve thousand years ago, hierarchicalism really took off.
I'm not saying that hierarchies are good simply because they are natural. Complex hierarchies and the associated severe inequality are very bad.Vatch , January 12, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings.
True, maybe, for hunter gatherers, but unlikely.
Otherwise the assertion is not supported by any facts for any human group anywhere. Please provide examples which support this statement.
I've lived in many places and seen many things. I've never even heard of a group of humans without a leader, and hence a hierarchy.
What is this Author, a Libertarian Wacko?MtnLife , January 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm
Even hunter gatherers have hierarchies. They just don't have much material inequality. But there is probably some inequality, as grave sites have shown (of course there is uncertainty and controversy about this). See this for more information:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/278848766_On_Paleolithic_Social_Inequality_The_Funerary_EvidenceSynoia , January 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm
The Rainbow Family is a (dis)organization with no leaders. There are those who "focalize" (focus + organize) people to get things done but no leader or spokesperson. It makes it much harder to quash a movement that has no discernible head to remove or co-opt.Roquentin , January 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm
Outside of parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings"
Meet my elder Sister.hunkerdown , January 12, 2017 at 4:38 pm
If you want to borrow from Deleuze & Guattari in Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus, the hierarchy learned within the family is one of the main methods society uses to prepare you for an authoritarian society, and that the existence of the nuclear family shouldn't be seen as separate from society but one of its basic building blocks. I'm greatly over simplifying, but one of its many basic arguments is that conditioning children to unquestioningly accept the authority of the father is a sort of training wheels version of the eventual submission to the boss, the drill sergeant, the political leader.
I'd also argue that this split between what is and isn't natural is tenuous at best. Even if I were to accept the argument that hierarchy "isn't natural" it's not like we could ever hope to return to such a state of nature, so it becomes almost a complete non sequitur.grizziz , January 12, 2017 at 5:14 pm
Hierarchies direct significant resources toward enforcing the Order. Empires have larger standing armies and military sectors than free states. Impoverished people, that is, those excluded from resources by the Order, tend to find their communities more heavily policed and less valued as citizens.
Jeremy Belknap propagandized the "unable to govern themselves" bromide for his personal and/or church-corporate benefit.
Societies with higher personal longevity and higher inequality tend to be more conservative, as vested interests constitute a larger proportion of the electorate.
In other words, how many generations of scientific husbandry and selective breeding does it take to create "nature"? That's why I'm not buying it.Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , January 12, 2017 at 2:27 pm
Ditto. My sentiments run toward equality and fighting hierarchy seems a noble effort. The status quo affects of entrenched hierarchies are pretty ugly in the lower tiers and justice would be served by altering the social system to accommodate the grievances. To argue that social hierarchies are not natural is tantamount to arguing against societies at all.
Even slime molds create structures to reproduce.DanB , January 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm
re: Hierarchies. I'm convinced sociopathy is at the root of this problem. And there may be something about the species that makes us all prone to this condition. Much more work needs to be done and I think the answers will make a lot of people uncomfortable.
Re "Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race." As a sociologist, I must with regret snark: "Further research is necessary." (Ha, ha, how do you answer this question with research?) This is, nonetheless, a central question of human nature which sociologists and anthropologists are unable to reach consensus on. If we're in a sociopathic system, that's mote-or-less a Marxist view and actually a hopeful sign that our cultural pathology can be overcome. If what we have now is a social system that reflects the inherent nature of humans to dominate one another -more-or-less a Weberian Iron Cage view-, the implication is clear. Another possibility: Hierarchy appears as surplus resources are generated, and an egalitarian system develops when resources cannot be accumulated, i.e, hunters and gatherers. As opposed to the certainty with which economists speak (false bravado though it may be), sociologists and anthropologists are best characterized by the phrase, "Well, on the one hand " To me, it's astounding how few sociologists are deeply engaged in recognizing and then studying the collapse of the current system and how it bears on the hierarchy question.
Jan 11, 2017 | the-american-catholic.comThursday, January 5, AD 2017 Donald R. McClarey
(I first posted this in 2014. It is worthy of another posting.)
Back when I was a boy, I watched entirely too much television. Of course, who could blame me? Tempted by a luxuriant three, count them, three channels, albeit one of them fuzzy in bad weather, to choose from! However, I do not regret watching the Early Show on Channel 3. Back in those bygone days, many stations would run old movies from the thirties, forties and fifties, between 3:00 PM-5:00 PM. Thus I first experienced some of the classics of cinema, and one of my favorites was Double Indemnity , 1944, the first of the film noire genre. Adultery and murder were perhaps too mature topics for me in my initial pre-teen viewings, but I was fascinated by it because it seemed to be a playing out on screen of what I was learning at the time from The Baltimore Catechism : that sin will lead inevitably to destruction unless contrition and amendment are made. The film was fortunate to have at its center three masters of the craft of acting.
Fred MacMurray, born in Kankakee, Illinois, 37 miles from my abode, in 1907, was a good guy in real life and usually in reel life. A firm Catholic and staunch Republican, he tried to join the military after Pearl Harbor but a punctured ear drum kept him out of service. He adopted a total of four kids with his two wives: his first wife dying from cancer in 1953, and his second wife remaining his wife until his death. (Such fidelity was as rare in Hollywood then as it is now.) On screen MacMurray played to type and was almost always a good guy, but not always, and it is ironic that the two best performances of his career came when he played bad guys: weak, lustful and doomed Walter Neff in Double Indemnity and the scheming, cowardly Lieutenant Thomas Keefer in The Caine Mutiny .
Barbara Stanwyck had a Dickensian childhood from which she was lucky to emerge alive, her mother dying of a miscarriage and her father going off to work on the Panama Canal and never being heard from again. A series of foster homes followed, which Ruby Catherine Stevens, as Stanwyck was then named, constantly ran away from. Dropping out of school at 14 to begin working, she never looked back. Breaking into show business by becoming a dancer in the Ziegfield Follies at age 16, she was a star on broadway in the play Burlesque before she turned 20. Changing her name to Barbara Stanwyck, she broke into films immediately thereafter, displaying a flair for both drama and comedy, specializing in strong independent women. Her personal, as opposed to her professional, life was a mess. Married in 1928 to her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay, they adopted a son, Stanwyck having been rendered sterile by an abortion at 15. The marriage ended in divorce in 1935, Fay during the marriage often slapping Stanwyck around when he was drunk. Stanwyck got custody of their son. Stanwyck was a hovering and authoritarian mother, leading to a life long alienation from her son after he became an adult. Stanwyck married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and, after numerous acts of infidelity on both sides, divorced in 1950. Ironically Stanwyck and Taylor did stay friends after their divorce, Stanwyck, who never remarried, referring to him as the true love of her life. In her politics Stanwyck was a staunch conservative Republican who supported the investigations of Congress into Communist infiltration into Hollywood. Remaining in demand as an actress almost until her death in 1990, she filled her last years with charitable work. Stanwyck was well equipped by her own tumultuous life to give depth to her portrayal of the murderous, scheming Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity .
Although remembered today chiefly for his gangster roles and his portrayal of the rat-like Dathan in The Ten Commandments, Edward G. Robinson was actually an actor with a very broad range of work: comedies, dramas, historical epics, you name it. By 1944 he was age 51 and realized that his days as a leading man were coming to a close. His half comedic role as the insurance claims adjuster Barton Keyes in Double Indemnity he viewed as a step in his transition to being a character actor. Always a liberal, Robinson was blacklisted in Hollywood due to his affiliation with Communist front groups. Robinson admitted as much by an article he wrote for the American Legion Magazine entitled "How the Reds Made a Sucker Out of Me". His comeback came when anti-Communist director Cecil B. DeMille, who thought that Robinson had been treated unfairly, cast him in the scene-stealing role of Dathan in The Ten Commandments .
Jan 01, 2017 | www.amazon.comTodd L. Andrews on March 14, 2015Jack on December 11, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a desperately needed wake up call to NS men needing fluorescent illumination in the middle of "gaslight" and other
" I really identified with the "role reversal" and truth that there are men that suffer under a female N's tactics. The severity and persistence of the female N is exposed brilliantly in this book.
Having Zari identify the male as a victim of the narcissist is crucial to helping men break free of the craziness, while also helping men identify why they feel so stuck loving the woman they have committed their souls to.
Also crucial, is the chapter that breaks out the difficulty of "no contact" when children are involved. While many N relationships share much in common, the male NS suffers under societies prescribed male strengths, and serves to undermine the ability of men to overcome being trapped.
Society typically has the female's back, especially narcissistic women, as they are often the victims of stereotypical males (in real life and fictional portrayals).
Kudos to the Author for helping unlock the chains of this forbidden subject. There are, not undeservedly, many explicatives used in this book. I believe the strong words are appropo representations of the years of suffering and pain inflicted by the narcissist on their supply.
The author's insights will likely help release many NS men from their prison within.Need to get off the crazy train? This is your first stop!Neal on December 2, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
" Guys, if your life is one gigantic roller coaster ride of being seduced, destroyed emotionally, and then kicked to the curb when you say anything, then this is the place to start. If you're looking at this review, then you know something in your relationship is slowly poisoning you to death. It is NOT you! Wanna know why? Get the book!!!Worth The ReadMan_under_female_attack on April 15, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
" If you have any questions about the patterns in your relationship this will help. More research on narcissism and manipulation will be needed, but it offers some good advice about seeing more clearly the issues that might lie hidden in the shade.Men under pain by narc women deserved to get a book like this.PF on December 5, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
" I was married to a narc women for several years, and we share a daughter. I thank Zari Ballard for this excellent account of how narc females move around in society, mostly unknown to other people, friends and relatives who judge them just as "weird" or "arrogant".
In my case, I felt like a man who was for years playing on a stage and with a choreography designed by my ex wife.
Now, thanks to books like this one, I can stand aside and *understand* what went on, and what is currently going on. As a victim, narcissism makes you crazy, the more you delve into it to understand it, the more you get tangled in the lies, distorted views of reality, crazy nonsense "dialogues", etc.
I spent years married with a woman with whom I had no real dialogue, without noticing it.
If you are a man in distress, and you feel some woman makes you feel miserable, please read this book to go deep into the causes of your pain. Thanks Zari for your book, thanks from the many men that suffer the pain inflicted by narcissistic women.
1 CommentOne of the best reads on Female Narcs out thereMaxie on May 17, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
" This was an amazing read and helped me far more than even therapy. Zari has helped males understand the Female Narc better than any of the myriad of books I have read on the subject.This is a must read if you've been on "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" with one of these psychopaths at the helm!Edward on June 22, 2015 Format: Paperback
" After being systematically brainwashed then discarded, I educated myself by reading everything I could get my hands on regarding Narcissism and Narcissist abuse, specifically male victims of these pathological parasites.
I found the content of this book very insightful, helpful, and matter-of-fact.
Zari does not claim to be a doctor, teacher, or therapist. However, she provides a great insight for surviving this painful ordeal with proven methods of healing from a former victim's prospective.An exceptional survival book.JMT on March 3, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
" An extraordinary, concise, at times darkly humorous and sobering road map to help you on your way out of the long dark tunnel designed by the female Narcissist. I had suffered for over a year in this kind of 'relationship', and after the discard was left tortured by self doubt, depression, and confusion.
After reading Zari's book just once, i gradually felt that much needed shift - the chapter 'Tactics Of Emotional Warfare' details a list of characteristics of the Narcissistic personality, which left me feeling as though i had been exorcised by a friendly priest, leaving me without a shadow of doubt that this was not something i had imagined, nor could have done anything about.
By the second reading, (the very next day) that brick wall of denial slowly began to crumble, allowing the undeniable facts to speak for themselves, and sink in. It's easy to feel alone in times like these, perhaps your friends or family may not completely understand your pain, but Zari does - and I believe this book is the only friend you will need to guide you on your way back to sanity.
" Amazing read. I've lived with a female narc for years and reading this made me fees as if the writer was right there with me for MY story!
It's amazing how traumatic these people are.
Well written. I also really enjoyed another similar book "Surviving Sara" by Brian Morgan. Very similar story and I can't help but few the pain these men went through.
Dec 18, 2016 | www.sott.netGaslighting: An insidious form of emotional abuse Julie Naftulin
Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00 UTC Once in a while, it's normal to have a fleeting moment where you question your own sanity, like when you're severely sleep deprived or stressed out . But if a relationship leaves you constantly second-guessing your own instincts and feelings, you may be a victim of a sophisticated form of emotional abuse : gaslighting. Like other types of abuse, gaslighting can happen in all sorts of relationships, including personal, romantic, and professional.
Ben Michaelis, PhD, a New York City-based clinical psychologist, has worked with victims of gaslighting. For one of his patients-we'll call her Marie-the gaslighting began when her husband shouted another woman's name during sex. When she tried to discuss the incident with him, he flatly denied what he'd said and told Marie she was hearing things. Marie figured she must have had too much to drink. But then the lying continued: Marie's husband would change his alibi constantly , and when Marie questioned him, he'd say she was acting delusional. It wasn't until almost a year later when Marie realized her husband had been hiding an affair the whole time.
"[Gaslighting] is like someone saying the sky is green over and over again, and at first you'll be like 'no, no,'" says Gail Saltz, MD a psychiatrist and host of the podcast The Power of Different . "Then over time the person starts to manipulate you into saying 'I guess I can't really see what color the sky is.' It's just this sense of unreality."
Acknowledging you're a victim of gaslighting like Marie did can be tricky at first, says Michaelis, who is the author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy. "Initially, if someone is insisting on a reality that is different from your own, you'll think, Why was I off that day? Was I tired? " As the gaslighting continues, victims begin to question themselves and their judgment more and more. Michaelis says this can go on for months or even years before they realize they're being gaslighted. "People who experience gaslighting may show obsessive-compulsive symptoms because they want to constantly check themselves and recheck themselves," says Dr. Michaelis. The confidence-depleting nature of gaslighting could contribute to increased anxiety in many or all aspects of a victim's life, not only in the relationship. Many gaslighting victims berate themselves or feel the need to apologize all the time, explains Dr. Saltz.
Gaslighting can manifest in a workplace environment as well. "Your boss may use gaslighting to hide a mistake or cover up information they didn't mean to share," says Michaelis. "It can also be a passive-aggressive gesture used among peers who are competing."
If you realize you're being gaslighted, the first thing you need to recognize is that a gaslighter may not be conscious of the effects of their actions, especially if they have issues with being wrong or out of control. In this case, confronting the gaslighter could work. Michaelis suggests conducting all conversations you have with the gaslighter in a recorded format, like through email or text. Then, when gaslighting occurs, tell the person what they originally said. "If they continue do deny what they said, you can supply the recorded evidence so they have a concrete understanding of what happened," says Michaelis. This method works best when confronting a friend or partner.
In professional relationships, Michaelis suggests reaching out to a third party, like human resources, which can make the confrontation more objective. You can take this route in your personal relationships as well by enlisting a friend or family member to help. "If you find it happening to you, be thoughtful of the person's motivations," Michaelis says. "They don't usually do it out of pure ill-will. It usually correlates with trying to cover something up, so first try to repair the relationship if it's worth it."
If confrontation fails and ending the relationship is an option, Dr. Saltz recommends doing so. Michaelis agrees: "All relationships are changeable. Maybe not immediately, but they are changeable or severable if need be ," he says.
If you have to stick it out with a gaslighter, though, try to boost your confidence with the support of good friends. "If you're having a hard time changing the situation, they can bolster your reality otherwise," says Michaelis. In a work environment, you should also be wary of what information you share with a gaslighter . Michaelis suggests withholding personal life details with a gaslighting co-worker or boss to protect yourself from emotional abuse in the office.
No matter which method you choose, it's important to take control of reality again, says Dr. Saltz. This involves setting limits that stop gaslighting attempts in their tracks . For example, if your boss calls you overly sensitive when you ask, "Why won't you let me work on big company projects?" demand true feedback rather than accepting blame on your character. "It's holding the line for what you're wanting to achieve," Dr. Saltz says, "and not buying into accusations intended to knock down self-confidence."
Comment: Many psychiatric professionals agree that even strong, intelligent, confident, and stable people can become vulnerable to this form of emotional manipulation. Intelligence and emotions are not the same thing and a gaslighters' key maneuver is to prey on emotion rather than intelligence. Gaslighting is a specific, conscious, deliberate tactic of manipulation and control.
- My husband convinced me I was insane
- Behind the Headlines: Predators Among Us - Interview With Dr. Anna Salter
- Are you easy prey for a psychopath?
Dec 07, 2016 | www.amazon.comCatherine Lewis on June 14, 2011 Format: Paperback Verified PurchaseLucas Biddle on March 25, 2011Finally - a book that truly helps victims of psychopathstim on September 11, 2012
This is an amazing, life-changing book for anyone who has been a victim of a psychopath. I was in a relationship with a psychopath for over five years, and while I had read other books that were very helpful (including check lists that made my blood run cold) this book is the first I have seen that really, truly provides answers and healing for victims.
I had spent the last seven years feeling that I was only partly healed from my experience. I still felt a big part of myself was missing and I was deeply depressed. I had come to accept that I would never be the same - that I would always bear a large amount of damage to my psyche, my self esteem and my sense of who I was. I felt that a big part of me had been taken, but more importantly, I believed that I had ALLOWED it to happen, and that it was ALL MY FAULT.
I believed I had brought this misfortune upon myself. What is worse, unless someone has been through what some of us have, they can't understand, and so one is left feeling adrift, lonely, confused and misunderstood. It is also very easy to turn to non-constructive ways to block, drown or diffuse the anguish one suffers after a relationship with a psychopath ends. This book saved my life. I read it within about 3-4 short evenings, and it has completely changed the way I perceive what happened in a way that is highly empowering. I am re-claiming my fundamental spirit and joy.
I now understand what happened to me, and I now realize, through the power of the words and insights in Thomas Sheridan's book, that it was NOT my fault. I was targeted. I was intentionally used in the most despicable ways. And I am not alone. There is help, there is hope, and you can regain what you lost of yourself. They say there are no magic bullets for curing deep trauma, but I am here to tell you, this book is that magic bullet for survivors of psychopaths to not only recover, but emerge stronger, more whole and more joyful than ever before. Read it. Learn it. Get your life back.
9 Comments 70 people found this helpful.the very best work out there..author under attack from cult leader
Let me start out by saying that Thomas Sheridan's brilliant work about the world of psychopaths in both personal relationships and in society at large...is currently being subjected to a smear campaign by a disgruntled cult leader....hense as you can see after sometime in mid August there appears on Amazon numerous one star reviews denigrating his book. Prior to mid August you will see that the book is universally raved.
Enough of that. Let me tell you my opinion having had the mis fortune to be in a romantic relationship for six months with one of these soul rapers.
First off only people who had been involved with these entities will truly understand how helpful and extraordinary Seridens work is in helping them make sense of what happened to them. Personally, I spent the last six months studying narcissist personally disorder, borderlines etc...its all nonsense. The term for these people who have no empathy, conscious and who prey on vulnerable, decent caring people is PSYCHOPATH. If any of you out there are having trouble recovering from such an ordeal you are not alone.
I was a strong, intelligent and happy person until I was targeted by a female vampire..idealized, devalued and thrown in the garbage like a used napkin. It nearly brought me to suicide. But guess what....didnt happen...to bad for the psychopath...thats what they want. To murder you and get away with it.
Sheridans work is brilliant and I've read everything in the world that is out there. If you've been targeted by one of these creeps read Sheridan's books.. you'll feel 100% better and you will come to understand the dark , empty, lying subhuman demon that passed trough you life.
There's nowhere to go but UP from there and on to becoming the loving, caring beautiful and now knowledgeable empathetic human you are. Do not pass go. Get both books you won't regret it. Pay no attention to the negative reviews by the psychopaths online trying to smear his timely, brilliant and important work. 2 Comments
Upon recently breaking up with what turned out to be a psychopath, I found the YouTube channel of Thomas Sheridan. There, he posts videos pertaining to the subject of psychopaths in our society.
I found them to be very useful despite the fact I had already encountered psychopathic people before, my first (to my knowledge) being in a relationship in 1997. When it collapsed, so did I. Why had someone been so cruel, dishonest and manipulative toward me? I didn't deserve to be treated this way. I then went on to learn a lot about psychopaths.
This is the third book I've read on the subject. It is written in a very easily understood language, rather than using too many clinical terms that are encountered in books written by authors who are admittedly in possession of a PhD. I don't believe the lack of a piece of paper makes Puzzling People any less valid. After all, anyone is capable of making a study of people and documenting their findings, and perhaps go on to publish those findings.
I finished the book off in two days. The various key traits of the psychopath are outlined. Often I would laugh upon reading some of the paragraphs. That's because they resonated so strongly with my own experiences. Admittedly I did not learn anything startlingly new from this book, since I have previous experience with psychopaths and have read other books, but this book is useful to read nonetheless. In fact it might be useful to remind oneself now and then of this unfortunate type of person. The psychopath is a shell that houses an entity unlike most of us. It has no conscience. It is devoid of the wide range of emotions the rest of us have. It can do what it wants to you and me and it can sleep at night. It is sub-human.
There is a section on the psychopaths that are at the highest levels of government and corporations, and the methods they employ to keep people in their grip.
The book concludes with ways to regain your life and energy after an encounter with a psychopath, and reminds us to close the door on them and never ever open it again.
The only complaint I have with the book (and you can call me pedantic if you like) is that it really ought to have been proof-read before publishing because it is, unfortunately, littered with typographical errors. At times I found that a little distracting. However, it doesn't take away from the fact that it's a good read on a subject more people really need to be aware of.
Steven Haackon December 8, 2015
Know thyself - Know thy predator
This book is a must read for every adult. Sheridan opens up the inner world of the psychopath. The psychopath has no conscience; they are experts at manipulation. They cannot be changed. In addition, he explains the psychopathic organizations. He discusses individuals in politics, in religious organizations and possibly the person sleeping right next to you.
The title of the Introduction summarizes the way we cannot stop being used: Know thyself - Know thy predator.
Michael Harrison October 18, 2015
Must read for anyone in the corporate world
Absolute required reading, to survive and thrive in our world...Sheridan will help you understand the world, and help you to understand how to relax,. and thrive.
Artist on March 10, 2014
Good and bad, but mostly good
This book is tremendously comforting for anyone who's emerged from a relationship with a psychopath. I've read Robert Hare's and George Simon's books on, respectively, sociopaths and manipulators. They were good books, but this was the first that acknowledged and accurately articulated the emotional devastation from the victim's point of view.
It was the book that convinced me that my tormenter is a psychopath. It also helped me free myself from the shame and self-blame, the feeling that I was weak or stupid for getting drawn into the crazy-making web of a parasite. Also, I was accepting of the fact that I needed to go completely no contact.
Finally, it put to rest any impulses I had to try to get even with or expose this person. I've realized that it's pointless and probably dangerous to do so. I know I've already been trashed to our mutual acquaintances. I can only hope the people who've seen through this monster won't believe what they've been told. But if they do, I suppose it's their loss.
The only problem I had with the book was that it went off the rails about three-quarters of the way through, turning into a screed against "institutional psychopaths" in popular culture, government, etc. I understand the author's passion, but his points could have been made more succinctly and with more restraint. As they stand now, it sounds like ranting.
William Heagueon January 31, 2014
A Good Place to Start. If you have only just cottoned on to the existence of psychopaths and the trouble they bring into your life this book is a good place to start. If you've been the target of a psychopath it will help you understand why. It will also help you plan your escape, survival and recovery. If you want to learn more after reading this book look at books by Jon Ronson, Martha Stout and Robert D. Hare.
Hoosier Hayseed January 21, 2014
Extremely helpful advice
Following an episode with a family member which absolutely left me dumbfounded that anybody could be so cold and indifferent to the needs of another human being - even a relative - I looked for any books I could find about psychotic behavior.
I found one, "The Sociopath Next Door," which was excellent, and then, later on, I began to see other books on the subject, and bought several of them.
But Thomas Sheridan's book has been, hands down, the best of the lot, and probably has satisfied my need to search for any more information on the subject.
He really covers all the bases about psychopaths, and explains many things - some of which I already knew, and others that I had surmised on my own, but there were many other things which were completely new to me, which I found invaluable to learn about.
His humanity, and his love for the other members of humanity simply shines through, and he makes a couple of very profound comments, which offer much encouragement for anybody who has ever been subjected to one of these freaks.
One is the observation that once you learn what a psychopath is all about, you are probably, from that moment, safeguarded from ever being fooled by one again, which is extremely comforting to know.
The other thing is his conviction that, as bad as they are, they are always doomed to failure, and that we will ultimately win, is very encouraging.
But one thing that still confounds me is just trying to understand exactly what they are. They appear for all the world to be human, and you may know for a fact that they came from human parents - maybe even your own family - but they act like aliens, or anything but someone of this world.
I had thought that the only answer was that they were simply evil, and that may be the ultimate verdict.
But if the problem is that their brain is actually defective - missing the genes that account for empathy and compassion - then it stands to reason that they simply are not "playing with a full deck," as it were, almost literally.
But whatever they are, they are a living nightmare for anybody to encounter, and even worse than that, if you happen to be so unfortunate as to find yourself married to one.
charleshughsmith.blogspot.comCorrespondent Jason H. alerted me to the work of author Thomas Sheridan ( Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath), who claims to have coined the term gaslighting.
As noted yesterday, gaslighting has often been used in the context of personal relationships to describe a manipulative person's attempts to undermine and control their romantic partner.
In a larger context, these manipulative techniques can also be applied to our perception of the entire economy:
- Questioning, belittling, discounting and undermining our experience of economic "animal spirits" and general conditions.
- Overwriting our memory of the economy of the past, again by undermining, questioning and belittling our memories.
- Discrediting and marginalizing our definitions of economic well-being, in favor of the manipulator's definition of our well-being.
- Using authority and "experts" to disqualify and discredit dissenting views.
- Denigrate and deny our lived experience of economic conditions by repeating the institutionalized authority-approved narrative of "what actually happened."
- Disorient, discredit and destroy dissent with a torrent of false statistics, false narratives, false accusations and false claims of our errors.
Dec 06, 2016 | www.theatlantic.comThe key question is whether he is a charlatan wanting publicly or a honest reseracher? If I were him I would make a second scan in othe demical instition befor jumping to conclution, That fact that he did not do even this completly undermined his credibility. Also phychopath is not medical diagnisis. Jan 21, 2014 | http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/ | Judith OhikuareNeuroscientist James Fallon discovered through his work that he has the brain of a psychopath --[and he might be wrong -- NNB]
You used to believe that people were roughly 80 percent the result of genetics, and 20 percent the result of their environment. How did this discovery cause a shift in your thinking?
I went into this with the bias of a scientist who believed, for many years, that genetics were very, very dominant in who people are-that your genes would tell you who you were going to be. It's not that I no longer think that biology, which includes genetics, is a major determinant; I just never knew how profoundly an early environment could affect somebody.
... ... ...
While I was writing this book, my mother started to tell me more things about myself. She said she had never told me or my father how weird I was at certain points in my youth, even though I was a happy-go-lucky kind of kid. And as I was growing up, people all throughout my life said I could be some kind of gang leader or Mafioso don because of certain behavior. Some parents forbade their children from hanging out with me. They'd wonder how I turned out so well-a family guy, successful, professional, never been to jail and all that.
... ... ...
I found out that I happened to have a series of genetic alleles, "warrior genes," that had to do with serotonin and were thought to be at risk for aggression, violence, and low emotional and interpersonal empathy-if you're raised in an abusive environment. But if you're raised in a very positive environment, that can have the effect of offsetting the negative effects of some of the other genes.
... ... ...
After all of this research, I started to think of this experience as an opportunity to do something good out of being kind of a jerk my entire life. Instead of trying to fundamentally change-because it's very difficult to change anything-I wanted to use what could be considered faults, like narcissism, to an advantage; to do something good.
... ... ...
I started with simple things of how I interact with my wife, my sister, and my mother. Even though they've always been close to me, I don't treat them all that well. I treat strangers pretty well-really well, and people tend to like me when they meet me -- but I treat my family the same way, like they're just somebody at a bar. I treat them well, but I don't treat them in a special way. That's the big problem.
I asked them this -- it's not something a person will tell you spontaneously -- but they said, "I give you everything. I give you all this love and you really don't give it back." They all said it, and that sure bothered me. So I wanted to see if I could change. I don't believe it, but I'm going to try.
In order to do that, every time I started to do something, I had to think about it, look at it, and go: No. Don't do the selfish thing or the self-serving thing . Step-by-step, that's what I've been doing for about a year and a half and they all like it. Their basic response is: We know you don't really mean it, but we still like it.
I told them, "You've got to be kidding me. You accept this? It's phony!" And they said, "No, it's okay. If you treat people better it means you care enough to try." It blew me away then and still blows me away now.
But treating everyone the same isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? Is it just that the people close to you want more from you?
Yes. They absolutely expect and demand more. It's a kind of cruelty, a kind of abuse, because you're not giving them that love. My wife to this day says it's hard to be with me at parties because I've got all these people around me, and I'll leave her or other people in the cold. She is not a selfish person, but I can see how it can really work on somebody.Related Story The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence
I gave a talk two years ago in India at the Mumbai LitFest on personality disorders and psychopathy, and we also had a historian from Oxford talk about violence against women in terms of the brain and social development. After it was over, a woman came up to me and asked if we could talk. She was a psychiatrist but also a science writer and said, "You said that you live in a flat emotional world-that is, that you treat everybody the same. That's Buddhist." I don't know anything about Buddhism but she continued on and said, "It's too bad that the people close to you are so disappointed in being close to you. Any learned Buddhist would think this was great." I don't know what to do with that.
Sometimes the truth is not just that it hurts, but that it's just so disappointing. You want to believe in romance and have romance in your life-even the most hardcore, cold intellectual wants the romantic notion. It kind of makes life worth living. But with these kinds of things, you really start thinking about what a machine it means we are-what it means that some of us don't need those feelings, while some of us need them so much. It destroys the romantic fabric of society in a way.
So what I do, in this situation, is think: How do I treat the people in my life as if I'm their son, or their brother, or their husband? It's about going the extra mile for them so that they know I know this is the right thing to do. I know when the situation comes up, but my gut instinct is to do something selfish. Instead, I slow down and try to think about it. It's like dumb behavioral modification; there's no finesse to this, but I said, well, why does there have to be finesse? I'm trying to treat it as a straightaway thing, when the situation comes up, to realize there's a chance that I might be wrong, or reacting in a poor way, or without any sort of love-like a human.
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In some ways, though, the stakes are different for you because you're not violent-and isn't that the concern? Relative to your own life, your attempts to change may positively impact your relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues. But in the case of possibly violent people, they may harm others.
The jump from being a "prosocial" psychopath or somebody on the edge who doesn't act out violently, to someone who really is a real, criminal predator is not clear. For me, I think I was protected because I was brought up in an upper-middle-class, educated environment with very supportive men and women in my family. So there may be a mass convergence of genetics and environment over a long period of time. But what would happen if I lost my family or lost my job; what would I then become? That's the test.
For people who have the fundamental biology-the genetics, the brain patterns, and that early existence of trauma-first of all, if they're abused they're going to be pissed off and have a sense of revenge: I don't care what happens to the world because I'm getting even . But a real, primary psychopath doesn't need that. They're just predators who don't need to be angry at all; they do these things because of some fundamental lack of connection with the human race, and with individuals, and so on.
Someone who has money, and sex, and rock and roll, and everything they want may still be psychopathic-but they may just manipulate people, or use people, and not kill them. They may hurt others, but not in a violent way. Most people care about violence-that's the thing. People may say, "Oh, this very bad investment counselor was a psychopath"-but the essential difference in criminality between that and murder is something we all hate and we all fear. It just isn't known if there is some ultimate trigger.
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,,, For personality disorders it's not really known when they will emerge because it's very understudied. People will say, you can't do anything about it, it's locked in and there seems to be almost no treatment. Whereas, for things like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, you can do something about it. There are drugs, or things you can do with brain stimulation and talk therapy, so that's where Big Pharma and the whole industry goes.
...A lot of kids, most kids, get bullied and they may get pissed off, but that doesn't create a personality disorder. But there are 20 percent of kids who are really susceptible and they may ultimately be triggered for a personality disorder in puberty. If we know these children can be helped by making sure that they aren't abused or abandoned-because you've got to get there really early-well, then, that would be important to do. I don't mean to preach.
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It means, for example, that if you have to go to war, and sometimes you probably have to go to war-I'm not talking about a belligerent country starting war or fomenting discord, but if you have to go to war and to engage infantry-you do not send 18-year-olds into it, because their brains aren't set. They don't know how to adjudicate what's happening emotionally and hormonally with the intellectualization of it. When you're 20, 25, it's a different matter because things gel a little more. Our emotions don't get away from us as much in terms of what is happening. Other factors, sociological ones like what soldiers return to, are also important, but we're not going to get rid of war any time soon, so we might as well engage in a way that does the least amount of damage.
In terms of legal action, you've been used as a researcher for court cases-not to determine guilt or innocence, but for sentencing. Do you think there's a moral boundary for that since we don't have enough knowledge on this field yet to determine guilt or innocence?
We don't have enough research. You can't just take genetics-even though I'm a big proponent of it-or imaging, and tell if someone's a criminal or a psychopath. If you put together all that information, you could explain a lot of behavior and causality and early abuse-but we don't know enough.
So, when I get a case to look at, first of all, I don't accept money-and it's not because I'm a nice guy. It's because I think I'd be biased. I don't accept any payment and I don't want to know who the person is. We all try to create a story or narrative, and I'm just as weak as anybody. I'll tell the defense attorney, or public defender, or whoever it is to just send me scans, maybe with normal scans to try to throw me off, and then I'll look at them and discuss what the traits of the person might be based on the lack of activity in certain areas or not.
I can usually say, "Oh, this person might have a language problem," or "This person might have trouble with impulsivity." After all of that analysis is there, we can look at their traits and see what they've done.
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Some people have this psychopathy or are almost psychopaths, and they get into trouble and go right to jail and end up in the prison system as 18-year-olds. It's awful because they get unlucky and they don't have enough impulse control to pull it back at the last instant. So, what is that edge where somebody's got these traits, and they are impulsive? What puts one guy on a pathway to becoming an attorney or successful in general, and the other one has life in prison? We just have to find out what that edge is. I think we will have parameters to work with, but it's not the same for everybody.
- I am looking forward to the sequel, where he learns that he really isn't a psychopath after all. His brother switched the MRI's as a practical joke to get back at him for the African incident.
- In my lifetime I've known 2-3 people like Fallon - fully functioning, non-violent psychopaths. It didn't surprise me that his friends and family were not surprised. It did surprise me that he did not see these qualities in himself.
- What would be very interesting would be to hear his wife's perspective. What attracted her to him? When did she realize he was a psychopath? Why did she stay with him? What is marriage to a non-violent psychopath like?
- I just read Sam Smith's comment (above) and I imagine that goes some way towards answering your question. The individuals I knew were psychically attractive and quite charismatic. They functioned very well in group/social situations, but when it came to one-on-one a lot of people (myself included) wanted nothing to do with them because they were manipulative and used other people as a means to an end. 'What is marriage to a non-violent psychopath like?' A great question. One of the people I knew was a room-mate for about a year. It was appalling. You do begin to question your own sanity. It was only after the experience that I was able to see what had really been going on, and I can't imagine how much more intense it would be if you were also in a sexual relationship or a marriage.
- I had a mentor in grad school that I would armchair diagnose as a non-violent psychopath. He was so manipulative, that while working for him, you would begin to question your sanity. He didn't know how to manipulate people in a positive manner (because he made promises and never kept them), so he would resort to threats. He once defended a threat he had made to me (to kick me out of his lab with no degree for failing to discover why 2 proteins of unknown function were interacting fast enough) by saying, "You should have realized that I didn't mean it. I tell my kids all the time that I don't love them when I'm mad at them, but I don't mean it." All I could think was, "Thank God, I'm only his student and not his kid."
- Yikes, I have known children to claim they don't love their parents when they don't get their way, but not the reverse. That offends me on nearly every level.
- Me too. I don't know how a faculty member in my former academic department kept her job after the things she said and did to me and to others in my presence. No one seemed to notice, or was too afraid of her to bring it up.
- Productivity. As long as he was publishing, he was given free reign. When I finally went to talk to the dean, the comment was, "What took so long? Everyone from your lab comes to see us sooner or later." WTH?
- Have you told this story before around here, or am I having Deja Vu?
- A year or so ago, in a discussion on PhD training, I think.
- Good to know I'm not crazier today than I was yesterday.
- I try not to be repetitious, but this was a life changing event for me. It caused me to completely rethink my philosophy of life and had the additional benefit that it worsened a chronic disease I have, the more aggressive treatment of which made it possible for my daughter to be conceived. It also lead me to declare some behavior as unacceptable and to refuse to accept this type of behavior (rather than taking responsibility for others behavior and finding excuses for them ad naseum).
- Her publications and grants were mediocre; far from the best in the department. I think it was that administrators didn't want to draw attention to her actions in the first place. She did leave and not for an academic department, at least not in the U.S.
- Your faculty member sounds quite a bit like Dr. Valerie Fabrikant who eventually was imprisoned for a long time in Canada when he went completely off the rails. Whilst Fabrikant was producing papers and his colleagues got to add their names to his papers then everything was rosy but Fabrikant took exception to his colleagues trying to ride for free on his coat-tails.
- I worked with someone like that at MIT. One of her grad students came to me right after I started working there to warn me about her. I didn't understand at first, and then the bizarre manipulations started. Her previous assistant left because she had a nervous breakdown, and all of the other division staff refused to even talk directly to her. She was charming and flattering to all of the faculty above her, though.
- Your mentor's response reminds me of my favorite line from Last King of Scotland (talk about a psychopath): "But you didn't *persuade* me."
- I'm pretty sure my dad falls into this category - handsome, charming, completely self-centered and manipulative.
It's the ability to manipulate that wins the psychopath sex and friends, at least in the short term. Apparently my dad was only violent while he was young - he did a stint in prison and then 'got religion', but the manipulation was how he got what he wanted the rest of his life.
His third wife seems to have been happy enough with him, but I don't really see how. I wanted nothing to do with him and I'm his child.
- Sounds like you are better off away from him.
- I think what is difficult to remember and to wrap our heads around is that these individuals truly don't care if you care. Your dad's manipulation was part of his character as easy and un-noticed as his other characteristics. Don't we all have characteristics that we don't recognize in ourselves but may be very apparent to others?
- The hallmark of a psychopath/sociopath is that they make everyone around them feel crazy, because they show no evidence of doubt in their own rightness...and normal, well-adjusted people will always leave room for doubt, so when faced with someone who repeatedly and adamantly insists that the sky is 100% green by every measure, normal well-adjusted people will begin to think, "Well, maybe it IS green..."
- Also known as self-righteous types. So why the clinical nomenclature (I ask this of all people who moralize--articulate normative judgments--in the guise of scientific objectivity)? It doesn't make your evaluation (disapprobation) any more consensus worthy. Self-righteous types are generally disliked and always have been. Especially when they are right. We just prefer self-deprecation and the constant refrain: "that's-just-my-opinion" to obviate "friction" (= envy, resentment, irritation). The sort of arousal activated by the sympathetic autonomic system.
Feeling crazy is our problem. It's not other people but our perceptions of other people that induces 'craziness.' We may feel crazy in response to non-pathological behaviors. What constitutes the feeling of craziness? Contempt? Aggression? Resentment? Envy? The self-righteous is not least of all labeled anti-social because he inspires "anti-social" responses. But this just means that we project our own momentary derangement--a by-product of our 'empathy.'
We are responsible for our reactions. What we find unforgivable (blameworthy) in "sociopaths" (boors) is the sense that they do not have the same scruples we do--they do not feel the same sense of responsibility about their reactions because they are busy ACTING. Then we retaliate for feeling diminished (put in a passive-reactive position) by calling them psychopaths. Clinical psychology lends itself to such exercises in retribution.
- Wow, you put a lot of effort into blaming the victims.
- As someone else said, psychopathy and self-righteousness are two different things, as are sociopathy and boorishness. Clinical nomenclature (naming) allows for diagnosis and treatment (pills and stuff). While the terms are thrown around at times without actually meaning the clinical disorder, they do have value.
But isn't there a reason in any event for disapproval (disapprobation [evaluation]) when something causes harm? If a child kicks another child (taking a foot and mashing it into some part of the other child's body), are we not going to reprimand them? So if an individual is causing psychological harm to another, wouldn't we see that as negative?
You remind me of a roommate I once had who said that if I was crying because he threatened to put my dog out on the street, that was on me; he wasn't _making_ me cry. No, he was not forcing me to cry, but he was taking an action that was cruel, and my being upset was a justifiable (completely understandable and okay) reaction.
- You seem to have a rather glib view of what "disapproval" entails in the case of a diagnosis of psychopathy. The harm caused, retributively but also by the sheer act of categorizing individuals based on some perceived pattern of behavior, may outweigh the offense.
Given that there is no consensus on the construct of psychopathy and the devastating consequences it has on the lives of those labeled psychopaths, we need to be very careful about diagnosing and medicating 'disorders' whose existence is a matter of conjecture. Diagnosis is a question of interpretation, which basically makes it an art. But unlike a doctor of medicine, who can rely on established etiologies and facts, psychiatrists must rely on hypothetical constructs legitimized by consensus.
We obviously need to treat people who suffer as well as to disapprove of and punish them. But when the stakes are so enormous as in the case of diagnosing so-called psychopaths it is useful to remind ourselves of the theoretical nature of our constructs and to proceed with due caution (skepticism) about what we think we know.
Clearly self-righteousness and psychopathy are "different things." But the same behavior may be labeled as evincing either characteristic. The behavior has to be interpreted. That means an explanatory/decriptive paradigm must be selected. So my question is, what are we doing when we categorize (select) a behavior as psychopathic? How do we avoid not presupposing what we imagine ourselves to be "discovering" (avoid confirmation bias)?
Ultimately what the clinician and layperson are both doing is judging a behavior, and the guidelines for such evaluation are ultimately moral and political rather than strictly scientific. The fact that it is consenus that establishes whether a disorder obtains is further clue that clinical psychology functions as a form of applied ethics (the social enforcement of morality).
P.S. Your room-mate was right. You should have more control over your feelings. On the other hand, having too much control (or not having any feelings) may obviate suffering at the cost of putting you at risk of cold-heartedness. Your room-mate seems to have enjoyed manipulating you because you were gullible.
Being vulnerable, trusting and compassionate is good-within reason. It's a judgment call. His point was that you should be in a position to make it, to decide how to respond, and not be led around by your reactive-self. It may be less warm and fuzzy, but it's pro-active and reality-syntonic.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah. A standard narcissistic psychopath technique is to interject themselves into this kind of debate and make it so confusing to figure out who is a psychopath they can skate under the radar. Those of us that are vampire hunters are on to you.
- It's pretty clear who is the narcissistic psychopath is. I am a little confused that Sonke seems to care that others view him or her as a psychopath. Maybe it makes manipulation more difficult?
- The standard no-nothing technique of someone who cannot engage in argument is to resort to pitiful ad hominems (character assassination). Have you ever met a confirmation bias you could resist? Get ye to the Salem witch trials.
- Certainly there are problems with the diagnostic tools available to the medical community. And absolutely there are issues with labeling. However without diagnosis, individuals would not get the proper care. I was misdiagnosed as having depression for years (see below before you think this proves your point). I don't feel it my duty to share on here what my actual diagnosis is, but being properly diagnosed has allowed me to have a functioning life. The diagnosis of mental disorders may also save an individual from the death penalty.
And diagnostic tools are improving. If you read the article above, brain scans were used to uncover an individual's psychopathy. While these tests are not done routinely, they do exist. And diagnosis is not strictly "conjecture." The behavior patterns aren't "'perceived." They're observed, both by the doctor and the patient. I hid my true feelings and behavior from my doctor and that is what contributed to the incorrect diagnosis. When correctly diagnosed, medicine and therapy has been proven to help treat mental disorders. I bear the stigma of mental disorder every day, but I'll take that labeling if it means I can function.
However, your assertion that I and others should not be upset about things that would justifiably be reasonable is illogical. I love my dog; putting her out on the street when I was out of town would result in the loss of my dog. If I had not been upset about this, had I not cared, I would not have argued against his doing so, which would have resulted in harm to my dog. So the emotion that resulted from his threat has value, just as being frightened by a bear has value in that it would save your life. Your argument also removes culpability from a individual who is behaving in an unacceptable manner and places it on the victim. This means we can act however we want and consequences be damned. Emotional abuse is real. It's a purposeful attempt to harm another person, the same as if someone used physical force.
And you seem to be arguing for compassion for those who have mental disorders. That is admirable. But then why wouldn't you have the same compassion for those who are affected by the deeds of others?
- Whether things (one's reactions) are "justifiably reasonable"is precisely what is in need of determination. Reacting emotionally has "value" if and when it is accompanied by a judgment (evaluation) and a course of action. Being upset per se has little value except as spur to taking action. In and of itself it is passive-reactive. My point was that gullible types set themselves up for manipulation by those without scruples, on the assumption that your 'friend' was in fact jerking your chain. You did not mention that you had argued about his threat in your original post. Since you confronted him, your upset reaction was instrumental, therefore valid. I'm the last person who would question the cognitive significance of affect.
My larger point is that sensitivity as well as objectivity vis-a-vis feelings, which inform the empathic process, are both valid up to a point. They exist, as does the human personality generally, on a continuum. But too much reactive affectivity is as problematical as the objectivity of the "cold-blooded." And not being able to turn off empathy is not the hallmark of optimal mental health some doctors of the soul would have us believe it to be. We are all potentially "psychopathic" under the 'right' circumstances. There are any number of social roles whose discharge would be unduly complicated by the kind of empathy we value in a friend, family member, or co-worker.
Brain scans are indeed used, but there is no consensus on what they mean in relation to personality disorders. They yield correlations subject to interpretation by fallible specialists. That would be problematical enough, but add to that mix the controversial nature of the clinical entity some call "psychopathy" (among other disorders) and what you wind up with is very much a process of conjecture. Granted, some conjecturing is more informed than others, but that doesn't change the basic nature of the process.
Read up on the controversy surrounding DSM-5 revisions for a sample of just how divided the field of psychiatry is.
If you found relief from your suffering through medication and therapy more power to you. That's your bottom line, and I respect it. But bear in mind some people find relief taking placebos. The human mind is profoundly suggestible. Perception creates reality. And that's very much a double-edged sword.
- You are not communicating the message you think you are communicating.
- Yo this is one of the best things I've ever read, cheers bro
- Not forgetting that there are many psychopathic psychiatrists about who deliberately misdiagnose psychopathy just for the 'hell' of it, and Dr. David Rosehan proved just how incompetent psychiatrists and nursing staff can be when it suits their hid_den'igrating agendas.
- Psychopathy is not at all the same as self-righteousness. Psychopaths lack empathy and a sense of right and wrong - completely different thing.
- You're probably a psychopath, pal. Psychopaths do lots of things, but one of the key things is mess with people's sense of time, which makes folks feel nuts. The other thing you keep repeating is the individuality of response -- and psychopaths are big on the idea of an isolated sense of self.
- I had come to the same conclusion, indeed we might have to do with one. It seems obvious that he is desperately trying to manipulate himself out of his own disposition, not only to try to, unsuccessfully, mask his PP behaviour towards us, but primarily to trick himself into thinking he is not a PP.
- Ever thought of having an FMRI?
- Psychopaths are not also known as self-righteous types. Nor are psychopaths 'crazy' in the way that, say, schizophrenics are 'crazy'. I suggest you do a little reading before opinionating on something about which evidently you know very little.
Start with 'The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-called Psychopathic Personality'; Hervey Cleckley, MD; Fifth Edition: private printing for non-profit educational use; Emily S Cleckley; Augusta, Georgia (1988) http://www.cassiopaea.com/cass...
- My comment mainly addressed OUR reactions ("crazy" was emikoala's term) to so-called psychopathic
behaviors. Try reading comments in context. My point was that any trait ascribed to a so-called psychopath, taken by itself or in combination, can be variably interpreted. The only people helped by the patholigization of behaviors are prosecutors, the criminal justice system, pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
The problem of "opinionating" is not my problem, it's the problem of clinical psychology as a whole, as witness the controversy surrounding the process of devising DSM criteria. There is no consensus about what constitutes psychopathy, as a cursory glance at the Wikipedia page would inform you:
(" no psychiatric or psychological organization has sanctioned a diagnosis titled "psychopathy.") It is an interpretation, a construct, regarding which the only fitting scientific attitude to assume is one of skepticism. There is no place in science for true believers.
- Maybe not ALL traits...but what about a person who has a desire to kill people, strangers or known, just because they think it would be fun? One who feels joy from lighting animals on fire? A person who literally feels no regret, remorse, or guilt about anything in life (even things that cause fatal harm to others and ruined lives)? One who simply doesn't understand when others are upset, for whatever the reason, because they themselves have no such feelings. I know I am just a regular person but to me, those are pretty psychopathic traits no matter how interpreted.
- They are "psychopathic" because you use that concept to summarize the traits you enumerated. But there is no necessity in doing so. You could simply describe such individuals as lacking compassion and being cruel. Either way you express moral disapprobation and signal a threat. Which is the whole point of this exercise in applied ethics (clinical psychology).
For me the interesting question is: how often does one have to lapse in one's sympathizing and abstention from violent aggression before one becomes "a psychopath?" What day of the week are we talking about? which hour of the day? We are all capable of selfish, aggressive behavior and of not giving a damn.
- You neglected to list psychiatrists amongst the prosecutors, the justice system etc...but Dr. David Rosenhan didn't.
- People have always utterly despised *sabelotodos* since time immemorial and it's simply because they *don't know* any better about how to save themselves from themsel_ves'ted.
- Political lies work the same way which is why psychopaths often make good politicians, (if badleaders)
- Telling people repeatedly that the sky is green is but a finagling form of *gaslighting*.
- correct it is an absolute nightmare you are never" special" you are taken for granted..emotionally manipulated and discarded...left with the aftermath all the time and everyone else thinking it must be you because he is such a lovely guy! Have you ever sat next to your loved one and felt totally lonely? that is how I would explain living with a psychopath..it IS soul destroying...
Chief act of the psychopath is to defend psychopathy and their power and influence. Every war, every economic collapse, every ruthless exploitation of humanity can be laid at the feet of psychopaths. Don't ever let the nice words fool, one of the main skill of a psychopath, charm, enabled by the complete detachment from the harm their lies cause, the complete lack of conscience, in fact they take pride in their lies, their superior skill over others.
- "Darth Cheney"? lol, what an ideological drama queen.
- The Clintons would be the ultimate case study. Bill and Hill are both obviously manipulative narcissists. Wonder what that dynamic is really like.
- And is that what your propaganda tells you? First of all, they are individuals. Second of all, the intent of most of their actions have been to relieve the pain of people, as do most democrats--politics aside it is the mission statement of the democratic party to be socially inclusive and help the disenfranchised. Contrast that with the actions of the Republican Party of mean and no. Taking food from babies, and elderly's and sick's mouths. Attacking the very weakest members of a country, The party leadership and much of the membership demonstrate the pathology under discussion. Any protestations otherwise and I call gaslighting
- I was thinking that about Dubya. He tortured animals as a child. He suffered neglect at the hands of his cold, distant parents. His over-privileged life immorality and willingness to be a tool made him President. Then he killed, stole, lied and ruined millions/ billions even as the damage continues.
- STILL blaming Bush? I see. You really ARE a wacko. Have your anti-psychotic meds adjusted. When you come back, we'll have a party with ice cream and cake!
- Are you suggesting that the things Bush did had no consequences or that the consequences have an expiration date?
- Calling it like I see it. Bush is a psychopath. And, I will blame Bush the rest of my life.
FYI- you should address your anger issues. It's not healthy.
- There's something angry about wishing you to get better and giving you a party?
"Calling it like I see it." Um, it's called "projection".
"FYI- you should address your anger issues. It's not healthy."
YOU accuse ME of "anger issues"? More projection. Or maybe I was unknowingly right. Maybe you really should see a mental health professional.
- The discourse devolved when you started scribbling your typical moronic babble.
- "Don't ever let the nice words fool, one of the main skill of a
psychopath, charm, enabled by the complete detachment from the harm their lies cause, the complete lack of conscience, in fact they take pride in their lies, their superior skill over others."
Who was it who said over 30 times about the Affordable Care
Act, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan"?
- The Koch brothers on a loop...
- I think it was the same guy who said "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." Yep, pretty sure that's the same guy.
- You are ridiculous.
- I yield to your well-reasoned argument. /sarcasm
- "/sarcasm" you're funny. (That means I still think your argument is ridiculous /not worth the effort to comment further.)
- Actually, your response means you have absolutely nothing in refutation. You must be one of the 29% who still thinks, against all evidence, that Obama is doing great.
And how adult of you to tell me you're going to ignore me.
Thanks for playing. Try harder next time. Yes, you can!
- No it means I don't allow the ignorant to waste my time.
- Hey, good to see you again! I knew you couldn't stay away; our conversation has been SO jolly! What shall we talk about next?
- We aren't conversing. I am irritating you. I think you simply must have the last word so I am not giving it to you. Will you prove me wrong? Are you able?
- You consider me ignorant, and you said, "No it means I don't allow the ignorant to waste my time." Yet you comment again; you continue to waste your time.
In light of the sentence I quoted, that would mean I'm NOT ignorant. But if I am ignorant, that means you are now NOT wasting your time. So which is it?
Furthermore, after you say you aren't going to waste your time but still comment again, YOU say *I* "must have the last word"?
So how's the weather in your area?
- Hey Nate your pp is showing. You lying gaslighter you.
- Sorry millions of people now have health care that did not before aca and millions more would have access to free or low cost care but do not because they live in red states and their Republican Governors lack the compassion and humanity to accept federal subsidies for their poorest citizens due to personally held ideology or ambition. So they are allowing people to die, aka, killing them
- He wrote that he was married at 21 and, even though he had tendencies as a kid, probably didn't fully develop psychopathy until his mid 20's. His wife was apparently very stable and adjusted to this.
- I think "used to this" does not connote "stable".
- But he did say there were signs, even at that age. The kids may not have picked them up, but she couldn't? Or were those traits masked as something else?
- Don't you realize that mates may never pick up on good/positive traits in their spouses so why question, when in the throes of love one would pick up on bad/negative characteristics?
- I don't know but I would imagine it would definitely be a positive genetic trait in the evolutionary scheme of things, if you are a male.
- Why only for males?
Of course, the people presenting this argument never stop to think that being genuine would work as well, with the added benefit that you get to see your kids grow up because there's never a reason for your partner to wake up to who you really are and get the kids the hell away from you before you ruin them.
- Dana, now for some weird reason, your reply strikes me as funny! People have asked how a wife could live with such a person but I'm wondering about the kids. If a loving, positive upbringing helps to keep psychopathic tendencies in check, what effect on a child is there when one parent (God help you if both parents are of the 'like attracts like' mode') treats you like an object?? You can't piss on a geranium every day and expect a lovely flower. EXCEPT for the gentleman Dave Pelzer who wrote the book 'A Child Called It': This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it." Then I remember the true story that I cannot forge, 'When Rabbit Howls'. Her life turned into multiple personalities. Now these parents were extremely physically abusive but what about the emotional coldness of a parent? What 'failure to thrive' in the mind develops???
- I'm not sure that other people need actually catch on to the sociopaths among them. Don't we all tend to imagine that people think and feel along the same lines that we do?
It's like not understanding that someone might have, say, an immutable reason for an illness. "Why can't you just go outside, take a walk and shake it off.? Surely that would make you feel better."
People tend to frame everything in context of their own experiences. If some powerful adult makes you (as a child) a delicious plate of food, places it in front of you and pats your head, don't you assume they feel the love for you that you feel for them?
I was married to a man who was unable to feel empathy for years. The entire time I ascribe to him feelings that I had ignoring his demonstrations of a lack of feeling, trying harder all the time to provoke the good feelings he surely had for me. It was decades after we split that I realized it was an impossible task.
- I'm not sure that sociopaths/psychopaths have the option of being "genuine."
- I would assume that being a psychopath is great for attracting mates, but terrible for keeping them around and for raising kids. Men can have dozens of children with dozens of women and contribute nothing to the care of any of them. Women don't really have that option, so the upside is a bit more limited. Even if you're able to marshall lots of resources via your psychopathy, chances are you won't want to spend most of them on your kids, so the genetic upside is still not great.
- Ah, and look: now marriage does make sense! A psychopath is much less likely to game that system because it places too much of a cost on it.
But you know, women want to be liberated from the very sense of security they crave. Whatever. Nothing makes sense anymore.
- In fairness toward men, I would imagine that it is an option for women that many do exercise, not to be with their kids. It's just as possible for a woman (who doesn't care) to leave her kids as it is for a man.
Basically the human society like any other living organism can no longer sustain that percentage of parasites and effectively starves to death, poverty in the face of riches.
Like the watch, how many resources were wasted in it's production (not just the watch but the facilities to produce the watch) and how much pollution was generated and of course how many food stamps could it have bought, how many meals for those living in poverty 10,000 meals perhaps, obscene gluttony in the face of global starvation (for them that is part of the fun).
- You neglect the role of warfare in survival. Sometimes tribes/nations are attacked. Individuals answering to the traits we identify (interpret) as "psychopathic" come into their own when the exigence of the day is kill or be killed. Peace-time is not the rule or the norm for the human primate, but the psychology we've evolved assumes it is. Whence all the nonsense about psychopathy. It too has its function in the hierarchy of ends.
Ergo--the positive only signifies in conjunction with the negative.
- " Sometimes tribes/nations are attacked. Individuals answering to the traits we identify (interpret) as "psychopathic" come into their own when the exigence of the day is kill or be killed."
People who are 100% selfish and manipulative could prosper in time of war, but it'd be by f**cking over their group.
- Would there be wars if psychopaths didn't exist?
- Why do you believe that "their percentage," that is, the percentage of people who are psychopaths, is increasing? Do you have data on this?
- Your emotionalized appeal here is really disordered and contains a mish-mash of two orders, the moral and the biological, and a bunch of question begging. What you're left with is moralizing. Considered in purely "evolutionistic" terms, what you have are populations of humans which can possess considerable variation in principle. Adaptive advantage can come in various forms and so to say that human beings are intrinsically "social" (psychopaths are social, just not in the normal sense) and then presumably define morality as something that is a function of some tendency which happens to be common though not absolute seems rather relativist and arbitrary. I am reminded of Nietzsche's slave and master morality. The lambs define their morality in terms of their own interests and then universalize it (how conveniently self-serving) in order to condemn the birds of prey that hunt them. The birds of prey, being of a different nature, find it all amusingly petty-minded, bearing no grudge against the lambs, for to them the lambs are tasty.
So in the end, the weak shall often maintain their morality (what is good for us and not in itself or for itself; instrumental morality masquerading as intrinsic morality) and the strong their own. The difference is that the strong act in good faith, that is, authentically while the weak act out of ressentement and jealousy and thus through disingenuous ulterior motives.
And then there's the story of the frog and the scorpion...
- That would be an interesting question if it were in fact a simple, heritable genetic trait, like blue eyes or lactose tolerance.
- Women have a hard-wired attraction to bad boy, alpha male types. I'm sure a psychopath has enough of those traits to attract many women.
- Some women. Not all women.
- I personally don't like being dumped into a category with the above description. Really??? Why do we never talk about men who go for "bad" women? Women who are destructive, manipulative, and generally bad people? What is wrong with men that are attracted to those types?
- What utter nonsense.
- What is your definition of a bad boy?
- I'm more curious how someone like that falls in love and marries. Do they have to do so before that gelling he speaks of? The one that I knew the best laughed about the fact that the only reason his wife was still with him was because as a Catholic, she didn't believe in divorce. I know perfectly well he had been mentally and emotionally abusing her (and their children), if not physically too. How do I know that? He abused all of us unfortunate enough to be trapped in his company, whether it was as family members, co-workers, or fellow parishioners.
- I always thought my older brother was a psychopath when I first heard the definition around the age of 12 (over 35 years ago), and this article only confirms it. My brother has always been supremely narcissistic, manipulative, has bouts of violence, is quick to anger, is very charismatic, is an alcoholic (he uses it to calm himself down), everyone is always wrong and he's always right, and most of my family tries to stay away from him.
He's completely exhausting to be around because everything is about him, and to hell with anyone else and what they think or feel. He's my go to guy if I want to feel like a pile of dog poop.
My brother is about to turn 54 and I am dreading wishing him a happy birthday.
- Wow. It was hard enough to deal with a boss like this for 7 years, I can't imagine the pain of having a family member like this. I'd say not to let his comments get to you, but in my experience, they smell out vulnerabilities like sharks and blood. They can also compliment you (if they want something), but their compliments are so insincere and manipulative as to be worthless (My boss once compared a painting of mine to Van Gogh - clever in that it was influenced by Van Gogh, but seriously?)
If there are people you know, who know you and your brother, and understand the situation, probably the best you can do is to talk with them afterwards, so you don't let any of his ideas or criticisms affect you. I know for me, the biggest help was when I talked to another member of my committee after my boss had just sabotaged me behind my back, while claiming to me that he had fought for me, to no avail. She asked what he had told me happened during the closed portion of the meeting. When I told her, she paused and the looked straight at me and said, "I was there and that's not how I remember it." Having confirmation that he was sabotaging me and lying to me was such a relief, as their manipulation can leave you doubting your own sanity.
Best of luck.
- It depends on the person.
Psychopaths are still people who make decisions in life. They can choose to be good. They have an inherent ability to be charismatic and intelligent, and that is surely attractive. Once actually in a relationship, things can go quite badly. But they might not. Especially not if the spouse knows or intuits that they are married to a psychopath, and can offer assistance.
For the majority of cases, sometimes it is hell on earth to be married to a psychopath, and other times it is bliss, depending on the ups and downs of the disease.
- A lack of insight is common in most psychiatric disorders.
- Good question. Because in a flat world without intelligent narcisists we would still crawl on 4 legs.
The question is - what would we do without them? They serve a purpose. The trip to the caves - normal - danger was there. But nothing out of the normal. The chances to get killed or sick are rather small. We evolutionized in excactly that environment and anyone who did this knows how natural and invigorating a night in the bush is. So maybe something is terribly wrong with his brother and todays society? Riskaversion did not get us anywhere. Time to think and start nurturing those intelligent beeings.
- "Because in a flat world without intelligent narcisists we would still crawl on 4 legs."
- The problem with that story is a.) the risk was wildly disproportionate to the reward, b.) there were less risky, equally rewarding options available, and c.) he didn't get his brother's informed consent. Instead of risking contracting an incurable hemorrhagic fever, why didn't they just go to a different cave?
- Depends how you define risks.
a: the risk is manageable, a riskaversive person panicked because of wrong riskevaluation.
b. Staying a night near a waterhole or saltrock - is very rewarding. Contracting a disease - chances are minimal - staying in an african village and contracting something is disproportionally higher.
c.getting consent would mean to succumb to someone with a faulty riskevalution.
So nothing wrong with the authors behaviour. Brother leaving the house in the morning - much higher risk to get killed every day. Now that is nutty behaviour, taking a daily risk without ever learning...
- It was the author, not his brother, who had faulty risk-evaluation capacity. That trait is why many psychopaths are non-functional. This man is lucky to have kept his within reasonable bounds.
- I assume you are a psychopath yourself - if not you are severely misguided. Getting consent would mean to succumb to someone with a faulty risk evaluation? Wow. Nothing stopping the author from going on his own. It's hard to believe you're serious unless you are, in fact, psychopathic.
- a) Your assertion that the risk was manageable is faulty; at the time no one knew the source of Marburg. One cannot avoid what one is unaware of.
b) Sorry, spending the night in a 5 star hotel in Barbados is rewarding. Staying a night near a waterhole or saltrock sounds positively awful.
c) Getting consent allows the brother to exercise free will and lying to him (lie of omission is still a lie) is wrong.
The author recognized that his behavior was wrong. Why are you defending him?
- Risk taking was not the issue...the 'problem' was the fact that he gave his brother no choice by failing to give him the full picture. How can you say the chance of getting sick was rather small? That particular DISease is a one-way trip. It was his TOTAL insensitivity to his brothers thoughts, opinions or feelings that is the marvel. Thank God this personality is not extremely common, the human race would have died out long ago.
- These intelligent beings who risk all our lives for their idea of progress and to make them rich. Yah, right.
- I think the psychopathy was more that he didn't tell his brother the risks because he thought he probably wouldn't go with him. That's self-serving behavior. The brother found out later how much danger they'd been in and was justifiably upset. It's one thing to put yourself at risk, another to put someone else at risk without giving them enough information to understand the situation.
- It wasn't just the risk, it was the deception of his brother and how little he cared about that.