Sunday, November 20, 2011

Psychopaths & Supernatural Experiences.

A Reader asks:
Do psychopaths have supernatural experiences?
In my personal experience it is very common for psychopathic individuals to have had experiences that seem to be supernatural or at least out of the ordinary. I realized this in prison while I was placed in a special wing for psychopaths and especially after I got enrolled with the psychopathy research program and had the opportunity to sometimes talk to the others. About half of us had had childhood experiences of some kind which seemed supernatural. And I believe this to be part of the reason why so many of us grow up to have these peculiar hang ups or even phobias.

For the same obvious reasons that normal people do not talk about these things, most psychopathic individuals do also not talk about them. But I guess it should have a saying here, so I'm going to address it. This will not be an in-depth description, maybe more of a short introduction.

I'd like to state right away that this is not about psychosis, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Psychopaths are as aware about it when we have out of the ordinary experiences as normal people are. It does not affect our ability to function or our ability to think rationally. Psychopaths are not mentally ill, we are not psychotic (being psychotic is a very different condition which has nothing to do with psychopathy) and this fact is part of the definition of psychopathy.

Furthermore, it is not that uncommon in the normal public to have such experiences as well. Indeed, it is far more common in the public at large than most people realize. Everybody believe they are alone with their experiences because nobody talk about it, fearing the stigma that these things carry. And so every individual keeps silent about their own experiences. The only difference in this regard between a normal person and psychopathic individuals is that a normal person will be more likely to be motivated to remain silent based on fear, whereas a psychopath simply chooses to do the same thing because it is convenient, it is easier to get by in society if you don't share experiences of an unusual or stigmatized nature.

So what do psychopaths experience? Are there any specific types of supernatural experiences that seem to be more prevalent among psychopaths than among other people?

I honestly don't know if our experiences differ from those of normal people because I haven't researched this particular subject. But it seems that many psychopaths have had experiences of a nature such as one or more of the following:

  • Sensing somebody or something is present, but you know/can see no one is there.
  • Autoscopy - also called Out of body experience, you wake up and see yourself from above, as if you float near the ceiling looking down at yourself as you lay in the bed or sit in a chair.
  • Having a short glimpse of a scenery, like a picture, which then disappears. It lasts for only one or a few seconds.
  • Seeing a person, an animal, or an non-definable being and then realizing it wasn't "real". This happens in 'real time' and has no ethereal quality to it as the previous example.
  • Phobia/s or one or more phobic experiences.
  • Feeling 'Chosen'.
  • Having premonitions. These are not usually accompanied by sensory phenomenons, they're just 'feelings'.
  • Having or creating a "system" that may include f.x. Lucky Numbers or other constellations of phenomena. This is related to Taking Signs.
These phenomena have a direct connection with the also well known phenomena observed in many psychopaths known as Magical Thinking.

I have experiences with all of the above at some time in my life. Most have been in relation to when I was under the influence of drugs, but there are some which have happened independently of any substance or drug abuse.

I have had an Out Of Body Experience once while not under the influence.

When I was a kid and during my teens I frequently felt someone was present when I was clearly alone. During my teens I somehow gained the ability to switch this "ability on and off at will. Whereas I'm not sure how I stopped it (I suspect it has to do with puberty, but that's another discussion entirely), I now know how to create such an experience.

Deja Vu is something I have experienced only a very few times, and I remember being certain I had experienced the fragment of an incident before when I experienced it the first time as a young teen. I soon realized I was in error, though.

In the same period I felt 'Chosen', and it wasn't until much later when I learned other things about psychology and intelligence (things I should've been told but which were kept from me) that I realized the feeling sprung from a set of very much natural advantages I was born with coupled with the alienation I went through during my upbringing (again, something which is very typical for psychopathic individuals, very few avoid alienation).

I have never received treatment for any of these experiences as none have ever interfered with my life or with how I behave toward others. Nor has it played any role in any of the crimes I have committed, violent and otherwise.


Anonymous said...

This was a good post. I've known a few people I consider psychopathic who have talked about supernatural experiences, but since these people have been known pathological liars I figured that's all it was - inventing stories just for entertainment's sake.

Anonymous said...

Psychopaths are without delusion, are they not ?

All of these experiances of supernatural all have explaination. The mind is a powerful thing, and it often plays tricks on us.

Are you read on this subject ? It seems you are not.

The idea of spirits and souls appearing in this world becomes more plausible if we believe in general that the nonphysical can transfer over to the physical world. cognitive scientists now realize, for belief in the supernatural arises from the same mental processes that underlie everyday reasoning and perception.

Chief among those normal processes is our neurons' habit of filling in the blanks. The brain takes messy, incomplete input and turns it into a meaningful, complete picture. Visualize four Pac-Man-like black shapes arranged so that the wedge removed from each seems to form a corner of a white square. Neurons in the brain's visual regions, whose job is to fire when the eyes see a square's edges, do fire—even though there are no edges to see. The mind also sees patterns in random data, which is why the sky is speckled with bears and big dippers. This drive to perceive patterns—which is very useful in interpreting experimental data as well as understanding people's behavior—can also underlie such supernatural beliefs as seeing Jesus in the scorch marks and flecks of grain on a grilled-cheese sandwich. "If a stain looks like the Virgin Mary," says Hood, "then it is a divine sign and not a coincidence. If the wind in the cave sounds like a voice, then it is a voice."

So how does a psychopath that uses logic and reason.... believe in supernatural ?

Anonymous said...

Psychopathic, Psychotic. They are two COMPLETELY different and unrelated things, despite both beginning with the prefix “psycho-” (which is what causes the confusion).

PSYCHOTICS see or hear things that aren’t there (hallucinations). It’s called a psychotic break from reality”. (Which can be the result of a schizo-typal disorder.)

PSYCHOPATHS lack the ability to empathize and thus lack a conscience/the ability to feel guilt or remorse for their actions. (Which is called anti-social personality disorder.)

So anything you claim to be seeing, hearing etc, are delusions, which can be explained. Sam Harris often talks or writes about this topic. The nature of belief, the neuro science.

Skepticism is not an easy thing to practice in our modern world...heck, in the history of humanity, doubt has been considered a negative trait. Those who possess it are always depicted as crotchety old curmudgeons with nothing better to do than rain on someone's parade.

Skepticism and doubt mean you must apply abstract thought to something. This does not come naturally in a world where we are conditioned out of our critical reasoning and abstract thinking by a barrage of people telling us that something is how it is simply "because it is". Digging deeper means you are being a smartass or that you are picking on someone.

Anonymous said...

Skepticism is not an easy thing to practice in our modern world...heck, in the history of humanity, doubt has been considered a negative trait. Those who possess it are always depicted as crotchety old curmudgeons with nothing better to do than rain on someone's parade.

There are lots of people waiting to tell you how paranoid you are when you're skepticism is inconvenient.

Liz said...

I know I am late to the party, but I stumbled on this website by accident and found it fascinating.

I was struck by the similarites between your experience of being aware of a "presence" and an experiment I read about. In this experiment the scientists stimulated the temporal lobe (I think, I was too preoccupied with writing this comment to look it up) and found that the recipient usually reported a "presence" or a strong feeling of being watched. The scientists thought that this over stimulation of that portion of the brain explained some supposedly supernatural encounters, or even religious experiences.

This stimulation is also linked to out of body experiences and a hypnogogic sleep state. When I was younger, I had them frequently and they scared the shit out of me. It wasn't until I was an adult that I read a book called "Sex and the Supernatural." It sounds lurid, but it explained in detail what was happenening to me during the sleep paralysis episodes. I only mention it because I am wondering if your diagnosis and the stimulation of the temporal lobe are connected. That may explain some of the magical thinking behavior that psychopaths exhibit.

Pleas dismiss if you have already adressed.this.previously.

Anonymous said...

I have experienced most of what you describe, though the feeling presence point matures into the ability to feel and recieve real world presence, f.x. It would be damn difficult to sneak up on me, I can tell if someone is looking at me and what they are feeling. I see it as a conscous ability to percieve the energy around me. Its all about energy, nothing supernatueal about it.

Yes had the out of body experiencce a couple of times in late teens, like wise I think this matures into the ability to project your energy somewhere. Hollywood portrayals of psycho killers sometimes touch on this without fully understanding it I think.
Again visual images, predictive feelings, I think of us an ability to take in the energy around us and process it mentally/physically.

And yes taking certain signs (Not like hippies or the religous type though, they are superstitious and wishful thinking) and seeing abstract patterns in things is a skill set I know too.I know this true for others like me aswell.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised this post is not heavily commented on.
There is one very obvious point you didn't mention, not sure why but here goes it. Mental telepathy. Especially with other psycho's. I know , you know. I have even been quite able to reach to people who aren't like us, and they know full well that it is me. I had no fear about revealing this when I came up against someone from school who was like me but didn't know it. I had many public demonstrations at this time and I convinced many and helped a few find themselves. I often find this hard to turn off, not sure why, guessing I really don't understand it yet. I know this is at the very least a very common trait for us. Can anyone who is more enlightened than I shed some light ? Go on, I dare ya...

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm an expert in OBEs...

Anonymous said...

I believe that you psychopaths are highly sensitive. I am highly sensitive myself, that's why I found it interesting to read. I'm not christian, not a satanist, but if I had to choose I would choose spiritual satanist, or maybe a gnostic luciferian. What I mean to talk about is that, what you psychopaths feel, some of them might be demons. I have had many experiences with them, for real, I've seen them too. And I'm not mentally ill. I feel them as I would feel humans. I think that not all demons aren't bad, I think that it's possible that a human can be more evil than some demons. And feeling chosen? There's no doubt that demons would like to work with you and like you, mainly because lack of empathy and that you're highly sensitive.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above statement��
People fear what they don't understand. And no scientist or psychiatrist can dictate whether there is or isn't a spiritual world, besides the real one we live in now. People that try to are not intellectual but pompous. Have you seen for yourself what happens after death?.. I didn't think so.
I believe they are evil spirits which the person allows within themselves. I remember A time I was a child and I was afraid of something in the room that began to chase me. It was real, I never forgot it. As I ran I felt the form try to take me over. I no longer feared I became fear. I then knew it was evil and shouted NO!! And it left me.... Why hurt when you can become hurt? why be manipulated when you can become the manipulator? When you make the trade evil becomes you. You are no longer you but a demon has taken control in most aspects of your life. I generally care for these people because it not only destroys their friends family or associates. It kills them within. I am a Christain. And by that I mean I am a person who gives my life to help others. You can only expell evil when you give your soul to dexter me good. But only you can choose salvation. God bless

Anonymous said...

My ex bf whom fit the psychopath profile said he had an experience when he was 6. He said he saw a demon in the glass of a window. His mother confirmed saying she was scared at how frightened he was at the demon. I wondered if that experience was where his psychopathy began (being taken over by the demon) or if he could see the demon because he was a psychopath. Chicken before the egg type scenario.