What Ebola Can Teach Us About Psychopaths

 For the past few days,

I’ve wanted to write a post about those suffering with the Ebola virus and the very brave people who help them. Since this is a blog about psychopaths, I needed to find a way to connect them. I found my answer this morning when I went to the website of Doctors Without Borders. DWB has been fighting the epidemic tirelessly in West Africa. They posed this challenge on their site:

“A Day Without Touch is a solidarity challenge and fundraiser that raises awareness of the way Ebola ‘parasitizes’ humanity, using our most human impulses — to touch and care for those who are sick and in need — to propagate disease.”

“…Ebola ‘parasitizes’ humanity…”

Indeed it does. Psychopaths also parasitize humanity.

Ebola is a horrific disease that kills 50 – 70 percent of its victims in a terrifying and brutal way. But there is something else at work that is just as horrifying as the disease itself. Unlike diseases that infect people by spreading through the air, Ebola infects through close contact.

In other words, Ebola infects through love, by way of giving care to the sick.

“This virus preys on care and love, piggybacking on the deepest, most distinctively human virtues.”

~ All quotes in this blog post (except the first one) are from Benjamin Hale’s article, ‘The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola’

Psychopaths prey on their victims in the very same way.


Psychopaths who wish to ensnare someone in a false relationships first need to draw us close enough to be victimized. They do this by manipulating us into loving them. Our ability to love is what enables the psychopath to infect our lives, our hearts and our souls. And our ability to love is what enables us to get close enough to someone with a deadly disease to become infected, because we care more about them than about ourselves.

Direct contact with body fluids is the primary way Ebola spreads. What’s startling is that the virus itself CAUSES the production of massive amounts of body fluids so that it can perpetuate itself. It purposely causes victims to projectile vomit and have massive diarrhea, and to bleed from their eyes, ears, and gastrointestinal tract. When others care for them, these fluids infect them.

Viruses are intelligent in that way – they program their host to behave in a manner that ensures their goal is met, which is to infect others so the virus itself can stay alive. Rabies is another good example. It is spread through saliva, and what better way is there to get saliva into the skin than to cause the infected host to become vicious and bite? Scientists are unable to explain this phenomenon.

they program their host to behave in a manner that ensures their goal is met


Hale writes,

“Every mechanism we have for caring—touching, holding, feeding, playing, warming, comforting, caressing — every mechanism that we use to bind us to our families and our neighbors, is preyed upon by Ebola…We are humans, and we will care about our children and our families even if it means that we may die in doing so.”

Even when things started going terribly wrong in our relationship – which, unknown to us, was with a psychopath – we were programmed to continue. We were unable to see the truth of what was happening because of their manipulation, and because we continued to see the psychopath as someone who was loving and trustworthy and who had our best interests at heart. The psychopath presented themselves to us in that way, and our human nature didn’t allow us to see them any differently, at least not for a while.

Psychopaths know this all too well, and it’s what makes their manipulation possible. They infect us by pretending to love us, and then when the incubation (idealization) period is over, the symptoms of infection (devaluation) start to emerge.

We start to realize that something strange is happening beneath the surface, but we can’t pull back. Love keeps us in the hot zone. The same thing happens with the caregivers of those with Ebola. Love will not allow them to step away and save themselves.

Love keeps us in the hot zone


“The lesson here is a vital one: People do not give up on humanity so very easily. Even if we persuade all of the population to forgo rituals like washing the dead, we will not easily persuade parents to keep from holding their sick children, and children from clinging to their ailing parents…The love and compassion that puts people at risk of infection will not stop in the Ebola zone. Humans can’t give them up, because it is fundamental to what we are,” Hale writes.

“People do not give up on humanity so very easily.”

“The problem is double-edged. Ebola threatens humanity by preying on humanity. The seemingly simple solution is to destroy humanity ourselves…But doing so means destroying ourselves in order to save ourselves, which is no solution at all.”

The problem is the same when considering psychopaths. They threaten our humanity by preying on our humanity. If we destroy the humanity in ourselves, a psychopath who attempted to victimize us wouldn’t have a chance. But doing so means destroying ourselves in order to keep ourselves safe, which is no solution at all. We would end up just like them, and life would be a meaningless void.


“The only one way to battle a disease that affixes itself parasitically to our humanity is to overwhelm it with greater, stronger humanity. To immunize Africa and the rest of the world with a blast of humanity so powerful that the disease can no longer take root.”

Likewise, we can immunize ourselves and each other from psychopaths with a blast of humanity. Help from others may be lacking because they are unable to understand, so this blast of humanity must come from us, in the form of support, validation, encouragement, and information. We can also try to immunize others who haven’t yet fallen victim.

“If we seek safety by shutting out the rest of the world, we are in for a brutally ugly awakening. Nature is a cruel mistress, but Ebola is her cruelest, most devious trick yet.”

Ebola…and psychopaths.

Psychopathy is a cruel trick to us, and also to psychopaths themselves — although they will never be able to understand that.

All quotes are from the Slate article, ‘The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola,’ by Benjamin Hale

♥ Thank you for reading. Comments are closed. 


Related Posts

28 thoughts on “What Ebola Can Teach Us About Psychopaths”

  1. gia

    all I can say is thank you once again. thank you for the support to all of us fighting this battle. it is just not in my heart to understand a person with no empathy.

    1. Admin

      I don’t know if any of us can truly understand them. It may be enough to just know they exist. Thank you, Gia, for your kind words.

  2. efemeris

    you have the ability to talk to people and help them understand the psychopathy phenomenon better than any other expert or clinician. i had my own version about psychopathy – i would connect them to the computer hackers and viruses. they also came in many forms and differ in the degree of their programmed function. what a virus, a spammer, a hacker or related treats do to the computer is what psychopaths do to us humans. Like ebola or computer viruses and others, psychopathy is a THREAT to the humanity. Their bystanders can be seen as the threat too, a threat that supports consciously further infections. They will cover up their infections and act like “normal” human beings in order to spread the infection. If you underestimate psychopathy you underestimate ebola and any other treat, as much as many others who underestimated Chernobyil, Hiroshima, and recently Fokushima. And those who think that we explain those deadly phenomenons and label us as histrionic “theatralisators” are so very wrong about thier own paradigms or opinions.

    1. Admin

      Thanks, efemeris. Unforunately I had a damned good teacher, as many of us did. He was prototypical in every way. I had another good teacher after him, whom I was not involved with but who was willing to share with me how his mind works, for whatever reason. It was very helpful. We all deserve more credit for the knowledge our experience gave us. And not only the experience itself, but the need to understand it, which makes us go on that obsessive quest for information afterward.

      I like your comparison to a spammer, hacker and computer virus. You should to write a guest post about it. Of course I agree that those who label us a histrionic and theatrical are wrong, but then again, I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it, or spent time studying and interacting with them, can ever even begin to comprehend. BTW, I think the director of the CDC is a great example of underestimating ebola, although I think he’s starting to catch on now. And speaking of Fukoshima, it amazed me how TEPCO was able to keep people in the dark for so long, even though it was clear that all three reactors had melted down from day one.

      1. efemeris

        yes, when i was following the news about Fokushima I saw it coming as new Chernobyl. After Chernobyl and another explosion in the town I was living at that time, I got ill. This happened just few month after the Chernobyl so I assume that one or the other (or perhaps both) have had (more or less) influence on my endocrine system. But the doctors back than and even todays refuse to accept my claims. I was even not taken serious when complaining about the symptoms I had, especially because I was young girl at the time (17 yo). First I had started to loose on weight rapidly and have dropped down from 62kg to 47kg. I’m 1,75 (or 5’9) Inspite eating well, even large amounts of food (everyone would feed me when I’d pay a visit). I had a healthy lifestyle before that, doing sports (athletics and playing handbal for the school team) the doctors just ignored my complaints. First when I gained on weight and got vitiligo, than they discovered that I have endocrine disorders. I was 29 by then. But doctors always denied of being wrong. Hopefully this will change with Fokushima experience.

        1. Admin

          Chernobyl was another big cover-up. I’m so sorry to hear you were affected by it, and I hope you’re feeling healthier these days.

  3. Gail

    I’ve been saying that to myself and friends for the past few months now – he’s like a parasitic infection that I just can’t get rid of. It’s been 9 months now and he still tries to lure me into his trap/games of manipulation. I thank you, AB, for all of your posts/information – it certainly has made me a stronger individual.

    1. Admin

      Thank you, I’m so glad to hear it. I’m not surprised that you feel he’s like a ‘parasitic infection.’ I’ve heard it described in many ways, including “a thorn in my brain,” “a self-replicating thought spiral,” “a worm eating into my psyche,” and “a consciousness parasite.” It feels so wonderful when it finally goes away. So wonderful. And it will go away.

  4. Depressedempath

    Thank you for that very insightful analogy. It’s so true. Psychopaths are nothing more than parasites, living off and exploiting those human beings who care the most. Fortunately for me it was a super loving and caring friend who had the strength and humanity to wrench me out of the psychopaths clutches. I will never forget what that friend did for me, without her tenacity I would still be infected by that parasite, a poor excuse for a human being.

    1. Admin

      That is one amazing and excellent friend! I’m impressed. You’re very lucky, that’s for sure. I’m sure your friend’s love, care and humanity went a long way, and still does. Thank you for your comment.

  5. janes

    another similarity , i recently asked an MD friend his take on Ebola, he said that because the virus constantly changes , they can’t find a cure for it. HOW SIMILAR, Ps changes constantly into any form that benefits them.
    i can correct the typos now
    THANKS Admin :)

    1. Admin

      What a good point, Janes…another thing they have in common with viruses!

      You sound completely different now that you can correct your typos, LOL

  6. Nearlybel

    Ha, now I know why I ‘lost’ my post on your previous blog, I was waiting for this one, what an analogy, just mind boggling. Is it the universe warning us? If we don’t tackle these psychopaths and disordered characters soon, where is humanity heading?
    Here in Ireland Don Hennessy wrote a book ‘inside the mind of an intimate abuser’ he’d been working with couples in abusive relationships, and stated how the abusers followed the same modus operandi, however the woman was vulnerable he would hone in on this. He mentioned one where the abuser would only kick her in the back, it transpired she had only one kidney. Such a blatant example of his aim to destroy her, but that is the aim of them all. He spoke of them being in her head, everything is filtered through this. That described exactly it! Mine was in my head the whole time, whatever I was doing, no matter what, I’d always reference it back, and know he’d disapprove, and that caused fear and anxiety for the consequences but all unconsciously, I would never have been able to articulate it then, and would have denied or minimised his affect on me, because I wasn’t dependent, I was my own person. I saw through his eyes, and how dark a place that was. I remember having a discussion with an old friend ( very little contact over 20 yrs with psych) we weren’t agreeing, and I said to her ‘ but that’s the reality’ I repeated a few times. On the bus home I was thinking over the night and was horrified that I was repeating to my friend what he said to me when gaslighting me. And I know I didn’t protect my children, why would I think I’d have to protect them? They infect all they come into contact with. The rotten apple in the barrel affects all in the barrel, the closer you are the worse it is. But when you ‘know’, what a relief, but what an effort to escape, recover, repair and heal! We will all get there eventually, and in no small way to Admin, all thanks xx

    1. Admin

      How funny, I misread read the title ‘inside the mind of an intimate abuser’ as ‘inside the mind of an INANIMATE abuser.’ And I thought, what an insightful idea that is! Then I read it again the way it was intended.

      They are most definitely in our heads. And I do mean literally. Here’s a quote from my post, ‘charm and the psychopath’: “The reason the psychopath can focus so powerfully on you is that he’s not in his head — he’s in yours.” It was the most popular post to date. Even psychopaths tweeted that line. It hit home.

      And it is mentally exhausting and soul-killing to live with a psychopath in your head! The world becomes a very dark place.

      But once that rotten apple is out of the barrel, the sun shines once more and the other apples become sweet and juicy again.


  7. Sandra

    “..sense of being infected..” Yes. I was, literally.
    The challenge is that the greater the inhumanity, the stronger and more powerful our humanitarian response must be. There are lots of examples in history of how transformative this can be. In contemporary times, I think the HIV/AIDS crisis gives us a model for a response of love, compassion and protection?

    1. Admin

      It is transformative. It’s good to think of the successes, but sad to think of the times it didn’t happen.

  8. Reality

    Hi all,

    it is a very powerful post this and you connect the psycopaths with the ebola virus very well admin.
    I was always feeling that at the time i was with the P he was under my skin, in a kind like i was ‘wearing’ him inside me. It is very weird this but i did not feel like this in the early stages of the relationships . Very later he managed to conquer my mind through insidious , slow and continouous manipulation but very subtly . He was very patient and persisted with me as i can seee now retrospectively . I have a bery independent personality and i can now see that i had succonsciously resisted for long but finally he managed to capture my soul and my mind.
    After i left him it took a lot of time to start feelinglike myself again. I actually was feeling like i had been poisoned by him and slowly this poison was leaving my body and my soul and i was freeing myself. In a silly metaphor it is like the movie “exorcist”, his dark spirit was leaving my mind and though it was painful , in the same time it was so deeply releiving.. i was finding myself again, i was retreiving me . Now after more than 1.5 years i left him, i am so so much better. And another confirmation for me that these people are like poison or virus or parasites to normal humans is that as due to work issues i have to meet him sparcely from time to time, every time i have an encounter, i become disburded in a strange manner like i am ill for several days and as days pass after each meeting i recover gradually.

    lots of love to you

    P.S i hope with all my heart that humanity willl beat ebola soon AND psycopathy some day.

    1. Admin

      Yes, it is like the exorcist…and it is such a relief when that ‘possession’ is over. I have not seen mine since it ended (2 years ago in November), but I don’t doubt I’d have a similar reaction.

      I hope humanity will beat Ebola, too. It’s a toss-up right now. Doctors Without Borders has lost 9 healthcare workers to the virus, and their treatment centers are overwhelmed, full to capacity and turning people away. I could not imagine doing what they do, day after day, in those conditions. They are the bravest people on this planet. None of the has to be there, yet they are.

      Predicitons are that there will be 5 – 10K new cases per week within the next two months. Even the treatment centers planned by the US military won’t be nearly enough. A vaccine is needed, and apparently great effort to create one is underway. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

      Another healthcare worker in Texas was infected — just saw it now. That hospital made so many errors. They sent nurses in to care for the Ebola patient only paper gowns, with their necks and heads uncovered, while the patient had explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting. No hazmat suits, like the ones we’ve gotten used to seeing. I was a nurse for a long time, and it boggles my mind that they would send staff in to an environment teaming with a BSL-4 level pathogen (the highest level) wearing flimsy protection meant for ordinary, day-to-day precautions. It’s really outrageous.

      But this is how workers must suit up before working with Ebola in a research lab:

      Lot of love to you, too.

  9. janes

    i love to read the experiences of your readers as well as the site. i also learn a lot from them. Somehow it feels like we all dated , were friends with the same person. i laugh a lot too, when i read them because of realness of what is written about their experiences. it hit a spot in my psyche & i say to myself, Yes, that’s exactly what happens when Ps are in operation.
    we will deal with Ps all of our lives to some degree.
    i disagree with giving more of our humanity or trying to fix the situation.
    a couple of quotes i live by

    Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.
    Baruch Spinoza

    I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.
    Baruch Spinoza

    The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.
    Baruch Spinoza

    only by thoroughly understanding & accepting them as they are, NOT AS WE ARE & NOT AS OUR EMOTIONS COLOR THE REALITY.
    and very import, we can finally live in harmony & kindness without constantly getting hurt by them. if we dont we will repeat what happened in the past.

    I LOLed to your last comment about typo :))

    1. Admin

      I was talking about humanity for our fellow victims — not giving any more of it to the perpetrators. They already got way too much. It doesn’t do any good, it can’t make any difference. We all found that out the hard way.

      Great quotes. Understanding is vital to healing. With understanding, acceptance happens, not to mention that our chances of a repeat performance go down. But humanity — kindness, support, encouragement — is also vital to healing.

      1. janes

        got it & agreed

        1. Admin

          Yes, there are SO many stories buried in the comments on this site… Hundreds… And 99% follow the same pattern. Maybe there’s more to this virus theory than just an analogy…?

  10. Nearlybel

    Yes, they all work to the same m.o. I attended a support group for abused women and was astounded at the similarities of the abusers. And the women were all so different, sooo different but the stories when shared were the same, the abuser tweaked to suit the personality, ‘strengths’ and ‘weakenesses’ of the woman.
    The first book I read on the subject ( don Hennessys) in spring 2013, I was so sick for a week, I have thankfully never endured chemotherapy, but I felt the words I was reading had such a massive physical affect on me. I had pains in head, in limbs, throat, stomach, intestine and sweating so much I had to change bed clothes each night. But I felt it was the words that were healing me, the truth at long last. The realisation of what he had done all confirmed here in the book. And then the anger to realise he had done this knowingly and deliberately, and that was the beginning. So yes, I do truely think they infect us, and yes be it exorcism, chemotherapy for the malignancy ( them) within us, and any other therapy that helps cure us, bring it on!
    Of course Admin you are part of that cure :) xxx

    1. Admin

      It is shocking and sickening when we find out the truth. I felt my house was infected, too, and I cleaned it like it had never been cleaned before. Top to bottom. I did not want any trace of him left anywhere. I used bleach and disinfectants in large quantities, and threw the sheets into a dumpster. I really felt contaminated. Me, my home, all of it. I burned sage every day for a week after the place was clean.

  11. Nearlybel

    Sage, yes, I was told of this, we moved out but had to bring the children’s beds and other furniture with us, funny the 3 have all asked at different times for new beds, the 13 yr old hops into my bed, she says it’s more comfortable and she sleeps better. I’ve put buying their new beds on the long finger, but I think I will prioritise after these posts. Eminens song, ‘cleaning out your closet’ I hope that’s the title, I haven’t listened to him for a long time, comes to mind. xx

  12. Albie

    Yes, possession is a very good way to describe it. He talked about ‘jumping into my skin’. He knew exactly what he was doing. I now know the real physical meaning of the expression ‘it makes my skin crawl’.

  13. AnnettePK

    Incredibly insightful post. It leads me to ponder the source of evil, from viruses to psychopaths.

    1. Admin

      If you ever figure it out, please let me know.

      Glad you liked the post! Thank you.

Comments are closed.