Thoughts On the ‘Self’ in Psychopaths and Narcissists: Guest Post

This is a guest post by ‘Reality,’ a reader of this blog. 

After contemplating narcissism and psychopathy, and reading Adelyn’s post about what is at the root of psychopathy, I came to some illuminating conclusions.

We know that the core feature that characterizes both narcissists and psychopaths is the complete lack of emotional empathy. I believe this leads to their lack of a conscience, as well as to their inability to love or to connect emotionally with other people.

The way I see it is that the root of their lack of empathy is the absence of a normal ‘Self.’

When there is no ‘Self,’ or identity, there is no fundamental base to begin building a personality with traits determined by genes and life experiences, and so it is impossible for them to connect with other people as there is nothing really there in the first place to do the connecting with.

To give an analogy of Self from physics, it is like trying to give shape and certain morphology to something that is not solid but is pure gas; it is impossible to do. The gas can fill the inner space of a bottle but it cannot shape the bottle, ever. It will always be gas, smoke.

So as I give it further thought, narcissists and psychopaths, in essence, can never really be self aware because they don’t have a Self to become aware of.

So as I give it further thought, narcissists and psychopaths, in essence, can never really be self aware because they don’t have a Self to become aware of.

The narcissist has a parody of a Self, which is very primal, while the psychopath has no Self at all. This means they cannot even connect with themselves, let alone to connect with other people. The fact that they don’t care about others is, in my humble opinion, the outcome of having no real connection to themselves, as in reality they exist only on a physical level.

All his life, the narcissist stays attached to the pseudo-persona that he created and tries to retain it at all costs for the people around him. But the psychopath morphs himself into a new facade as needed, according to the personality of his target, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the film ‘Terminator.’

This thought that I had now comes in symphony with something that the psychopath in my life told me at the time when I was starting to ‘wake up.’ I was fighting with him after a confrontation and I was angrily defining to him who I am and what I want and how I act in life. And he said “WOW! You can define yourself?” I looked at him astonished and I asked, “What?” And he said, “I can never really define myself; I find it too difficult to do.” At that time I did not realize the true meaning of his words, as I was very early in the devaluation phase. But now I can fully comprehend it. Now I fully grasp it: This person really does not exist — there are no authentic fingerprints of a soul, a self, an authentic identity or personality. He does not care for others because he doesn’t care for himself, as there is nothing — no Self –behind his facade to care for. He uses people and everything around him for amusement good or bad (not in the way a normal human defines good and bad, because for them it is all the same), just to temporarily fill his emptiness.

Another thing that the psychopath told me in one of the last conversations we had after I unmasked him is that he is in a constant battle to fight a feeling of “ice” that he perceives inside him. Then I though that maybe he was telling me that just to play on my empathy, and perhaps that is true, but now I see it probably does contains some element of truth.

The information and the interaction I see in this blog leads me to some very illuminating conclusions. Maybe my hypothesis is not correct, but it works for me as everyone with humanity and a conscience has their own way to perceive such an ‘extraterrestrial’ creature as the psychopath seems to be. And by no means does this personal explanation I reached give these individuals any white flag of absolvement, because they live in society and know right from wrong cognitively, so they always have the choice even if they are unable to feel it. No pity comes from me for them after they have enacted their monstrosities on unsuspecting targets.

I feel it is incredibly insightful the way ‘Reality’ has connected the lack of Self to empathy, conscience, and the ability to connect with others. Many thanks to ‘Reality’ for this thought-provoking post that expresses these concepts in a different — and very clear — way.

NARCISSIST OR PSYCHOPATH? What You Need to Know

Comments are closed.

“Such a great gem. One of my favorite books about this subject as the author paints such a clear picture of what these relationships are like.”

“Practical, concise, well-written and researched. Everyone should have a copy of this book. In fact, they should give one to every high school student. That would prevent a lot of people from getting involved in ‘?relationships’? with these hidden, manipulative predators. An easy five stars, I wish I could give it a hundred!”

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29 thoughts on “Thoughts On the ‘Self’ in Psychopaths and Narcissists: Guest Post”

  1. Gayle

    Regarding whether the psychopath has a soul.. this is something that has plagues me in my ‘relationship’ (I put this in parentheses because I doubt that anyone has a true relationship with a psychopath) The contemplation of this actually prolonged my over-attention to what made him tick. It seemed that he would be absolutely present when I was with him. Then, after I walked out the door, there was no affect, nothing carried over, no sense that he connected with me at all.

    This “present moment awareness” is also an earmark of a enlightened master.. they ‘love the one they are with’, they are married to the present, they exude perfect love in the NOW… and that is what I believed he did as well.

    Was he enlightened or a fiend? Was he present or manipulating? He was masterful, could bring so much energy into a room that I felt bathed in divine love… and then the door would close and the lights would go out. This made him an effective therapist, and a horrifying person to be in a relationship with. Does he have a soul? I do not know. All I do know is that he was skilled at meeting me where I was, and opening me up so that he had access to MY soul.. and that he left in tatters.

    We spend so much time trying to understand the psychopath. Part of it is therapeutic, for it fees like having been hit by a truck… but I hate giving him so much attention, since that is what he dwells in anyway.

    The whiplash still resides here… and I am left feeling abused, and questioning myself.. ‘what happened here? How did I get so blindsided? How can I avoid this again? I do not care whether he has a soul or not. I do care about the damage he did to mine.

    1. Admin

      They are both present AND manipulating. In fact, it’s their presence that allows them to manipulate. You may want to take a look at the post, “Charm and the Psychopath,” which is all about this very thing. https://psychopathsandlove.com/charm-and-the-psychopath/

      An excerpt: “The psychopath is not lost in his head like most of us are, thinking thoughts that prevent us from being totally present…When the psychopath’s high-beam of charm is on you, he is absolutely present. When that presence is focused on you, it’s fascinating….we’re simply not used to that level of “presence.” We’re not used to being the subject of such intensely focused attention, and that is very compelling in and of itself. Combined with the psychopath’s ability to act in a tailor-made way that’s perfect for the victim, the experience becomes mesmerizing…”

      The time we spend trying to understand the psychopath answers the question you pointed out — ‘what happened here? How did I get so blindsided? How can I avoid this again?’ so I think it’s well worth it.

      As far as having a soul or not, who knows, but I agree with you, it doesn’t matter — it’s ours that is important at this point.

      *In reading your comment again, I think you may be misinterpreting ‘self’ to mean ‘soul.’ They’re two different things. ‘Self’ basically means identity, for lack of a better word. Lack of ‘self’ or identity is intimately linked with presence. Lack of a self is what necessitates a mask, and what enables them to assume one.

      If you think about the ‘enlightened masters,’ what enables them to be that is their lack attachment to an identity.

      1. Admin

        For anyone who is interested, here’s an article comparing psychopaths and Buddhist monks:

        “What Vulnerability Looks Like to Psychopaths, Monks and the Rest of Us”

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/kareanderson/2012/09/11/what-vulnerability-looks-like-to-psychopaths-monks-and-the-rest-of-us/

    2. AnnettePK

      For normal folks, being in the present is balanced with considering the future and the past. In order to keep commitments and promises, one must remember that one has made a promise in the past in order to keep it in the present, and one must plan the future so that one can keep the promise made. Psychopaths allow themselves to be motivated primarily by their momentary whims, which keep changing. My ex Psychopath was capable of remembering the past and planning for the future when he was manipulating and scheming. He chose to remain in the present when it came to things he did not want to do like keeping commitments.

      1. Admin

        Psychopaths are notoriously bad at long-term planning. On the PCL-R, the most widely used test for psychopathy, one of the items is “lack of realistic long-term plans.” Indeed, when a psychopath runs a company, they do great at first, making the company all kinds of money…but then things don’t go so well…the company runs into the ground, because the actions lacked any possibility of sustainability over the long run — it was all just instant gratification.

        We see this reflected in the ‘relationships’ we had with them. It’s the same pattern. It’s all great at first, and we have magical moments with them because of their ability to be so present. But the relationship isn’t sustainable, because it’s built on false promises and is based on their instant gratification. They’ll say anything to get those ‘momentary whims’ fulfilled.

        When a normal person has the ability to be present, or ‘in the moment,’ it can make a real difference in their life and relationships. But a psychopath uses his incredible ability to be present to manipulate.

        Thanks for your comment.

  2. Emotional Homework

    Wow. Wisdom that creates Peace. These are stunning revelations that clicked. They have edified the perpetual Self/ Soul swirl of confusion of post relationship with an N. Phew. Not so dizzy now. A million thank yous.

    1. Admin

      So glad it has helped you! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Maria

    HI Admin,
    I believe my ex husband is a psychopath and I have posted here before. Anyway, is one of the traits of these nut jobs about keeping busy? He never ever slows down and works all the time. He doesn’t know what it’s like to take it easy. Always on the go or doing something around the house. When he finally use to stop, he would be on his computer reading everything he could get his hands on and constantly socializing with FB people (just like he does when he is out and about in our community). He carried on an affair for over a year before I found out and then left me for the bimbo. Now he and is trash girlfriend who also seems to like to stay busy and keep going and never stop. . They can’t save any money and they go out of town all the time. I heard that these nutjobs have to have constant stimulation. When he is out in the community going to clients, he is constantly socializing with everyone, especially the opposite sex. Any info you have on this would be very appreciated.

    1. Admin

      Boredom is the arch-nemesis of the psychopath. They NEED stimulation like we need air. Mine only slept a full night on Tuesdays, and only out of shear exhaustion from sleeping 3 or 4 hours per night the rest of the week. He fueled himself on massive doses of caffeine so he could keep going. His age was catching up with him, and he needed a little boost so his body could keep up with his mind.

      Maria, I realize you’re very angry and hurt, and so you call the woman he’s with trash and a bimbo. If he’s a psychopath, then she was victimized, just like you were. Many people reading this blog were targeted by married psychopaths, *myself included,* and we aren’t trash or a bimbos. Psychopaths aren’t the type who will honor marriage vows, and they will manipulate to get what they want. I would like this blog to be judgement free, because we’ve all been through hell. We don’t need any victim blaming here because we’ve all had more than enough of that, from the paths and from our friends and families. Because my ex was married, I got no support from anyone. It was wrong for them to judge me so harshly and cut me off from any kindness or empathy because the predator who victimized me was married. They were just as lacking in empathy as he was. The secondary victimization I experienced at their hands was just as damaging to my spirit and psyche as the path’s was…and maybe even more so. After all, they weren’t some disturbed psychopaths — they were my friends.

      Back to your question. Boredom is absolutely intolerable for a psychopath. So yes, the need for constant activity is a sign.

      Warm wishes.

  4. Maria

    A married man is always off limits. ALWAYS! As soon as a man says he is married, you should walk away immediately. I pleaded with the other woman to leave my husband alone and even told her the severe pain I was in since he left me. Did she care and stop seeing him? No, she didn’t. She thought she was in some kind of competition with me and even told me to stop hanging on and let him go. You are telling me not to judge? Really? You are kidding right? Don’t you say that Psycopaths lack empathy? How come my husband’s other woman never and still doesn’t have any empathy for me? Where is it? Could it be that she is a psychopath too?

    Why would anyone have sympathy for you? Do you not realize what you did to his wife? You didn’t have any sympathy for her. She is actually the victim so please tell me how you are the victim in this trio? You allowed a married man into your life. I realize people are not perfect (God knows I ‘m not) and maybe you made a mistake. I understand that, but you should have ended it with him not long after getting involved with him. But, if he left his wife for you, that is unacceptable. If I made a mistake and fell for a married man, there is no way in hell I would allow that to happen. I know you will not publish my comments, but I am really trying hard to understand how you can have this blog parading around as the victim when you did the exact same thing your ex was doing. Think about what you said…The predator who victimized me was married. No, his wife was the victim. Don’t you understand that? I really would like to hear your response even if you don’t publish this. I have been through hell and back and I was victimized by two people not one. I am a true victim. I never knew you were involved with a married man. I had been following this blog and I am shocked to find out that the man you call a psycho was married to someone else during the time you were involved with him.

    Ok, then let’s just say for agruements sake that the other woman fell for my husband because he is so good a manipulation and she fell for his lies. Then why when I pleaded with her to stay away from him was she so cold to me and said those things to me about not letting go of him and that he doesn’t belong to me? Also, when I told her that if he and I get divorced that it would be her fault,she said that I must have been blind because he already left and wasn’t come back to me. You are going to tell me that is a person with empathy for another human being that she doesn’t know? She was half responsible for ruining my life. Anyone with a concious would say that they are sorry for falling for their husband and that it wasn’t planned and that she couldn’t help it. But, no she made me out to be the bad guy and was mean to me. Unacceptable. There is no comparison about her lack of empathy and what I said to you in my comments when it comes to lacking empathy. Your life is not going to be turned upside down because of my comments. No comparison.

    Have you mentioned anywhere in this blog about being involved with a married man? If so I didn’t see it. Don’t you think it’s only fair to at least admit the truth of how you got involved with the psychopath? I appreciated what you wrote to me before I found out you were involved with a married man who you call a psycho. You don’t say anything about your involvement with a married man in the About section of this blog. You should at least be honest with the readers of your blog. You owe that to yourself and to the readers.

    1. Admin

      You have wandered deep into troll territory. No one who is not a troll would express such ugliness to someone who has tried to help them. If you’re not a troll, then stop harassing me. I’m not a surrogate punching bag for the women your husband victimized. I don’t appreciate it and I don’t deserve it.

      “As soon as a man says he is married, you should walk away immediately.”

      You wouldn’t say that if you understood the type of person we’re talking about here. A married psychopath is just as cunning and manipulative as a single one. If anyone here could have just walked away, they would have, and maybe not because the victimizer was married, but because of what they were going through. Why didn’t they? When you come to understand the truth about your husband (if it is the truth), you will understand what I’m saying, but not until then. And until that time comes, please don’t confuse me with the woman your ex-husband is with — we are two very different people in two very different situations.

      With a victim like you around, who needs a psychopath?

  5. Reality

    dear admin.
    i am really deeply shocked by the way this reader of your blog, maria has attacked to you so viciously. it is always very shocking to me when i see this kind of cruelness especially when it comes from someone who was helped by you. in my personal opinion nobody has any rigth to judge other people in such an unrespectful and hard manner for things and situations that he has no knowledge of. The fact that some married men or women cheat on their spouses does not automatically render all the other woman or the other men bad people, let alone when the cheater is a predator and his mondus operandi is always the same. i do not know if the ex husband of maria is a psycopath as i am not aware of her story but regardless of what he is, she makes a very crucial and very usual mistake. Instead of putting the blame to her ex husband for the deceit he perpetuated on her, she tries to deflect the blame to the other woman expecting from her to show her empathy and free her ex husband, so he can go back to her. This is totally absurd. even if the other woman decided to free him, which i doubt, as in these situations the attachments created are strong, the legal wife would take her strayed husbund back.? Goodness, why? to watch after some time the same thing happening with a new other woman who she would again beg to leave alone her precious husband so her life would not be upside down?
    in marriages where affairs are created never the problem is the other person with the only exception when the third person is psycopathic and intentionally targets a married man or woman. it is the only case where the married person can be so manipulated as to destroy the marriage and go with the psycopath to realise very soon after in what kind of catastrophic mess he/she got into. in all the other cases the main responsibility goes to the married person. if he or she cannot care enough for his /her spouse, why the third, free person should? all the people have not the same moral values and some time passion or love can blind people. how realistic is to expect from the third person to respect a marriage when the married spouse does not? we do not live in a perfect world, affairs happen, peoplee make mistakes, marriages collapse every day, people heal their woulds and life goes on.
    i do not see why we should curse or hate or attack somebody just becouse he / she had been in a kind of similar situation which has hurt us in the past. This behavior except for lack of empathy is ibdicative for a serious defect in critical and logical thinking. This behavior keeps someone stuck in the role of the victim and does not permit to learn, grow and heal.
    i am very sory admin. that you experienced this ugly think, i hope that this bad moment will not stop you from cotinuing your awesome blog which helps so many people to understand and heal after having encoundered true psycopaths, not just some immature or garden variety jerks. The ones who experienced the real thing trully “get ” what i mean and if they are really determined to overcome this horrific experience, they will never be stopped by details as if the victim of the psycopath was young, old, married, free, white, black, gay or straight. Once, somebody feels that his trance state that he experienced by being with a psycopath, was also experinced by another human, he reaches out, communicates and connects in order that both will be helped leting out every obstacle.
    lots of love to you.

    1. Admin

      Thank you so much for your words, Reality. They mean a lot to me, more than you know. The comments by this person are shocking, but when you’re out there in cyberspace writing a blog you leave yourself open to anyone and anything. It will not stop me from continuing with this website. I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt (which is sometimes a mistake…but the stakes are low here) because she may be a real victim, but even if she is, she is not thinking logically — she’s attacking me in lieu of who she really wants to attack.

      Thanks again. I appreciate your support so much. But never mind all this drama — I appreciate this wonderful blog post you wrote! You are able to think very logically and clearly, which is very refreshing, especially right at this moment :-)

  6. Reality

    dear Admin.
    i am very sorry to see how this sick individual gives you hard time attacking and harassing you. Either she is a troll, or she is a person who was abanded by her spouse , named him psycopath to feel good with the role of the poor victim and then starts to attack a person who tried to help her, you just becouse she paranoically perceives you as a threat being in a similar situation.
    i believe that this person if she is not a troll , has absolutely no idea what a psycopath is. If she had by no means whould she act in this disgusting way.
    someone who experienced the horror of a psycopath when he finds a place of compassion and understanding and help , he appreciates it and tries to be helped and healed. He is not for sure stopped by details about the personal situation of another person who also experienced the psycopathic torture. The victims of true psycopaths connect through their common excruciating experience. They are not sropped by details like if another victim/survivor was black, white, married , free, gay,straight, legal spouse, the third person e.t.c.
    All these things that this person has written to you are complete BS and sorry for the language but all this rediculous parody where she tries to fight against all the people that had affairs with married men really infuriates me.
    If somebody does not agree with something he reads or suddenly stops to approve the person he writes it, he can just stop reading. I do not see the meaning of all this disgusting and disrespectful obsessed attack to you.
    i hope that it will not stop you from your awesome work which helps so much the people who were victimised by true psycopaths .
    Lots of love to you.

    1. Admin

      I agree. If she’s not a troll, she has NO idea what a psychopath is. None. She could be a troll, but sometimes it’s hard to tell, and I don’t want to jump to conclusions and possibly hurt someone who really needs help. But it got to the point where it doesn’t matter — even if she wasn’t a troll, she turned into an abuser. Her reptilian brain kicked into overdrive. Yes, the attack was disrespectful and obsessed. That’s why I had to take the steps that I did.

      Thanks again for your words of support, and lots of love to you, too.

  7. JS Victim

    YIKES!!!! ;)

  8. Midt

    After a spiritual awakening as a result of dealing with a Borderline (BPD) in my family I have come to the conclusion that Cluster B personality disorders are a result of emotional shut down/dissociation. In line with the freezing cold inside in the OP.

    In other words there are two ways to deal with extreme emotional pain… one is embracing the pain and letting go, the other is dissociation. I think that is the reason for the myth of the vampire bite turning others into vampires. The emotional pain of dealing with a psychopath/narcissist/borderline (emotional vampires) can turn you into one if you’re not careful… or lead to awakening if you learn to let go.

    The Cross is probably a symbol of the power of letting go in loving kindness, to build immunity to them with spiritual awakening/liberation… and maybe the garlic symbolises the repelling force of honesty. In dealing with my codependence, learning to be more blunt and honest, I’ve found that narcissists now run of like water of teflon and stay away. Before I was like a magnet to them.

    <3

    1. Admin

      Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.

  9. anaiis

    Is there a border between a self-proclaimed victim/stealth abuser and a psychopath? I believe my MIL to be one, if there is. She charms everyone with her self victimization story of how she was abused as a child and how her husband cheated on her through most of their marriage. She’s turned her sons against their own father making them believe he was abusive towards her and didn’t care about them. She’s even turned her sons against me and my husband because we refuse to buy into her victim tactics and have tried to set healthy boundaries with her, several times. She is GREAT at manipulating people into feeling so sorry for her and makes us out to be psychotic and selfish when, in fact, all we do is try to be fair and honest. Sometimes honesty hurts… A lot of times, in her case, because she hates to be seen for the real person she is. And when we discovered her for who she really is, she unleashed her rage against us and turned her sons against us (the abusers in her eyes). All we want is to have healthy boundaries. We asked that she call before she visit (which she was very upset about), and asked her to keep her gossip and problems about her ex-husba to herself, because he’s still grandfather to our children-and father to her son. She is the most charmingly sweet person to everyone she meets and comes off as likeable but she is the most toxic and negative woman we know. My MIL always gossips about all her co-workers and everyone else she comes across. It got to the point that we decided to cut her out of our lives because we always had anxiety around her. Til this day, whenever my husband sees her, he feels uneasy around his own mother but sees her so her grandchildren can still see their grandmother-despite her telling everyone I never let her see them. I mean, this woman was even calling my husband’s best friend to get information about us until he realized it was wrong for her to do so and now ignores her calls. So, istthere such a hybrid? Or is my MIL just losing her marbles?

    1. Admin

      Wow, you truly have a problem on your hands with this MIL of yours. Sounds hellish. I don’t know what she ‘is,’ but maybe giving her a label isn’t important. She is what she is, and you know how it affects you and your family. That’s all that counts. You’re trying to walk a tightrope by keeping her in your life for your kids, yet not allowing her total access into your lives. I commend you for the healthy boundaries you’ve set, and I hear you when you say how difficult it is to enforce them. But she doesn’t sound mentally healthy enough to respond to boundaries in the way a normal meddling MIL would — she sounds way far beyond that. People do become angry when others set boundaries, but then they usually comply when they see getting angry won’t work. But from what you say here, this isn’t in the realm of normal. I suggest you and your husband speak to a very good therapist about her to come up with a plan. Even more importantly, if she’s causing so much angst in your lives you need to do whatever it is that’s best for you. And that may mean cutting her out of your lives, and not looking back. Even when we know that no one has a right to abuse us and manipulate us, we have a tendency to give family members a break, because we feel guilty. Please read the two articles below. They may provide some insight. Best wishes.

      “When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?”
      http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/02/abusive_parents_what_do_grown_children_owe_the_mothers_and_fathers_who_made.html

      “When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/health/20mind.html?_r=0

  10. Peter

    I’ve kept questioning a female savant-psychopath about this, and concluded the same thing. There is no one there. Every inquiry about who SHE is, who or what her “self” is, was genuinely answered with automated, pre-learned replies, none of these questions were understood. No one there to understand them.

    When I took “her” out of the learned response-territory, asked questions that no one asked her before, she started replying with complete nonsense, word-salad.

    She also said that she did not understand what “intention” is. She claimed to have no intentions and does not understand intention in others. And she kept mentioning a great emptiness, nothingness “inside”.

    That must be a being running on autopilot, merely reacting to the environment. Somewhat controlled by the reptilian brain, but that’s just not a self. How can an automated shell like that be so successful in life?

    I also asked a male psychopath on the Internet about the same thing – who or what HE really is, about his self. He said that he did not understand the question, as I expected. I think it was a more or less genuine reply.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Fascinating! That freedom from identity enables them to take on any role, and to experience and react to the environment with *significantly* less interference than we have. They’re very “present.” No distractions! Since they’re not lost in their own heads, they can get lost in ours.

      1. Peter

        But I think it’s good to know that they don’t “truly” enjoy the suffering they cause either. Because there is no one there to enjoy it.
        No one there – I’m still in the process of “fixing” my memories according to this realization. For example how can I feel anything towards a being that never existed.
        There is only the shell, but that’s more like just a force of nature.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          The do truly enjoy it. When they put something over on someone, they experience an emotion that’s called “contemptuous delight.” It’s different from what we would consider enjoyment, but it’s their enjoyment.

          You’re on the right track, because realizing the psychopath wasn’t at all who you believed them to be allows you to understand it was an illusion. But you were not feeling anything for the psychopath—your feelings were about who they pretended to be. In my own case, even after I understood the truth, I had to mourn the loss of who he I believed him to be. His love wasn’t real, but mine was. Be glad that you can love. Be proud of it. Yes, things go seriously wrong sometimes, but the ability to love is a quality to cherish. Had you seen him or her as who they really were, you wouldn’t have loved them, and that’s the reason they hide behind a mask; they’re well aware that we’d run for our lives if we knew the truth xx

          1. Peter

            There is no one behind the mask. There is just the mask. I thought that’s what was explored in this guest post.

            Maybe there is another mask behind the mask and so on, but ultimately there is no one behind them. There is just a shell that is wired to deceive.

            It only appears like there was someone behind the masks because our mind is wired to automatically fill in the blanks. And we are tought all our lives that everything that looks human is human.

            (But maybe we mean something different by psychopath. Psychopaths can actually turn on the empathy part of the brain when they want, new studies confirm it. Everyone uses these terms differently, maybe you were talking about the “sociopath”.)

            1. Adelyn Birch

              I’m not talking about sociopaths. Psychopaths do feel a few emotions, including contemptuous delight, rage, and boredom (which isn’t truly an emotion, but it ranks as one for them).
              The reference to them being “an empty shell” does not have to be taken as the absolute and literal truth. It comes damn close, though.

              Think of it this way—something has to motivate them to act. They have to get some kind of “reward,” and when they dupe someone, they feel exhilaration and contempt (contemptous delight). Being contemptuous of someone or something means that you’re combining a deep dislike for them with condescension. The difference between being hateful and contemptuous is subtle—it involves disdain. Yes, much of the time they’re in what’s called a “zero state,” but something has to motivate them. You can read about it here: The Clinical and Forensic Assessment of Psychopathy: A Practitioner’s Guide

              Sociopaths aren’t psychopaths, and I don’t write about them here. They can and do act the same in many ways, though, but they’re two separate and different entities.

              We are most definitely wired to fill in the blanks! I filled in SO many blanks with the psychopath I was involved with. It is automatic, and thus it’s very hard to realize we’re doing it.

              1. Peter

                Well I may be wrong, and I’m just writing down my experience and opinion, but then I don’t know at all how to explain the behavior of the ones I know.

                I think that the mainstream assessment of psychopaths is still an exercise of filling in the blanks, they are running in circles. It’s also mixed together with psychopathIC humans.

                Proposing that there is no one there, that the “empty shell” is to be taken as an absolute and literal truth is such a wild and far reaching statement, that they are either hesitant to make it or it doesn’t even occur to them (Christian culture, souls etc.)

                The shell experiences things like motivation and reward, contemptous delight, rage, boredom, and in some cases “happy” and “sad”. But there is no one there, no “self” experiencing it so therefore these emotions are always temporary, fleeting.

                We mispercieve psychopaths and treat them like human beings, train them to present themselves like they had a self.

              2. Adelyn Birch

                Ah, now I understand what you were saying. Lack of a self, with the shell experiencing the contempt, etc. That’s a very graphic way to explain it, Peter.

                It’s true that psychopathy exists on a spectrum, but after a certain point they are purely predators. As Dr. Hare said, “intra-species predators.” That sums it up perfectly.

                I think it’s very difficult for many people–even for many professionals in the field–to truly grasp what a psychopath is, and as you said, it leads to filling in the blanks with our own attributes. When I finally got it, it was a rather mind-blowing experience. It’s the kind of truth we don’t want to know, and that makes it easy to cover it up with the things you mentioned, like the belief in the existence of the soul.

                Peter, did you ever read this article? It is utter BS, and now it turns out that the psychiatrist who wrote it has come forward and “admitted” he’s a psychopath. Either he’s wrong or he’s lying, one or the other: The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath

                I wrote my reaction to it in this post: Compassion for the Psychopath?

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