Thursday, January 24, 2013

Psychopaths: Idealization and Devaluation.

Quoting a Reader who wrote the following thoughts on the topic of Psychopaths and the cycle of Idealization and Devaluation. I found it interesting and decided to respond in little more detail...
"From what I am coming to understand, which seems to deepen and/or evolve as time goes on, a person who is a psychopath may idealize someone when beginning a relationship with them, or, as you said, enjoy their company for the things they have in common. I get this. And for the record, many neurotypicals also end up hurting those they get close to. Maybe it's for reasons that are different than yours, but it happens all the time.

My theory about what happens is this: As the psychopath gets to know the other person, he starts seeing what he considers  weaknesses, such as insecurities, doubts, etc. (vulnerabilities that actually create intimacy and closeness in neurotypicals), and although the relationship started on equal footing, he starts gaining control and power...and as he does, his respect for the other declines, and so does his interest, and he becomes disgusted because he was let down (disappointed), and then finds the other worthy of nothing more than fun and games. I may not have chosen the best words here, but my idea in general is there. I'll be looking for your blog post about this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be in the ballpark somewhere, at least, and may have even hit a home run."

You're pretty much spot on. I used to wonder what they meant by psychopaths idealizing someone because it has happened so very rarely to me. But then I remembered a few occasions from the time when I was in my teens and early twenties. I don't fall in love with people, but I can become fascinated with someone if I think they may know things I don't, so I'll want to learn from them.

There was this woman I met when I was in my twenties, she was a lot older than I was but still very attractive, and she made a pass on me. I responded because she appeared so strong, elegant, almost flawless. Since I've gained some knowledgeable about psychopathy I sometimes think about her, because it is very obvious that she was a psychopath. I didn't know it at the time because I didn't know any more about psychopathy than the average person does.

But as always in these rare cases when I do meet someone I think of as both strong and knowledgeable, also in this case I very soon lost any infatuation I had with this woman, because she blew it! It was very pitiful, really, she told me a really careless lie, and I thought: "You can't even get something as simple as that right?!". I also immediately knew she'd lied about other things that I had been impressed by when she told them to me, and as you can probably imagine my admiration disappeared instantly.

After that I dropped the relationship very quickly by showing her open disinterest whenever she was around. I knew she was somewhat bewildered about this, being obviously intelligent and therefore used to charm people easily, and then suddenly here was this young brad whom she'd taken on a vacation to Spain in Europe, and he'd so been enthusiastic about her, but now she just couldn't seem to move him at all.

Of course, soon after that she lost interest in me too, since - though still interested in me - I just wasn't easy enough to manipulate or bend, so after seeking me out twice, she gave up. We ran into each other a couple of times after that, and we were on good terms. Being a psychopath herself and much more experienced than me I'd have had no chance of playing with her anyway, and I sensed this just as she must've realized the same thing about me. So we respected each other, but there was no idealization anymore.

I'd almost forgotten... She actually did tell me once that psychologists in prison had said she was a psychopath. She never got around to tell me in detail about why she was in prison or about being diagnosed as a psychopath (that's how short lived our acquaintance was), but it just isn't likely that a clinical prison psychologist would call a prisoner 'psychopath' for no reason or out of anger. Of course I have no way of knowing how much she knew about how her psychopathy was reflected in how her personality was different from that of most other people, but I know she was very much aware that she was different and she would've said she was completely satisfied with being who she was.

I think she probably was as uneducated when it comes to the subject of psychopathy, as I was, and though she clearly had noticed some of the same traits in me, I'm not sure she had psychopathy in mind.

As for me, I didn't put much trust in what authorities said, and I still thought of the word 'psychopath' as mainly a way for psychologists and mainstream to say: "I don't like him!" about someone without actually having behaved "unprofessionally" or given away that they were emotional in their disliking of that person. A psychopath in my mind was our typical drunkard bully who couldn't think of anything more interesting to do than beating up his wife every Saturday night.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do Psychopaths In Prison Become Newborn Christians?

A Reader asks:
"I would like to ask you something we know that a lot of killers and serial killers became newborn in prison my question is can psychopath or sociopath get interested in bible before committing crime? or he just does it in prison as an act? can he truly believe in whats written there?Thank you."
Psychopaths have their individual beliefs as all other people do. They differ not so much in the question about whether they believe in a god/religion, but more in that they tend to not care if they follow the scriptures and words of the god they believe to exist.

I myself believe there are many gods. Allah, Christ, Jahweh, Satan, or the many gods of various Pantheons, are all real in my understanding. But I don't adhere to any of their teachings even though I was brought up with the Christian faith, as most Westerners are.

Again: Basically the question of belief is one that only the individual person - psychopath or non-psychopath - can decide for themselves.

But I will say this: Most of those who become what you call 'newborn' (Born Again Christian) in prison - if they're psychopaths, anyway - generally don't do so because they suddenly have had a revelation and now believe in Christ when before they didn't, they're doing it because they hope it may influence heir case in a positive direction. You can't start believing in something like you press a button to open a program, it has to come from within and must start somewhere unrelated to mere self interest. So if you didn't believe in Christ before you killed or before you were caught and sentenced, there isn't much chance that you will believe afterwards.

To your question about whether a psychopath would become interested in the bible before committing a crime, the answer is much the same. If he is already a believer, he might want to consult the bible before engaging in crime, especially something that is considered very serious by the Christian faith. But if he has no relationship with religion at all, there isn't much chance he would suddenly want to read the bible while preparing for a crime. Rather, he'd be interested in learning as much as he can about the crime and how to get away with it - unless he's acting on impulse or in a fit of anger, in which cases he won't be likely to think twice about what he's about to do.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tell Us About Your Murders!

Readers have asked me to write an article (or three articles) about the killings I have committed, and for a long time I felt that in order to share my story honestly and completely I would have to describe these events as well. After all, they are no small part of what defines me, in the past as well as the present. I may like to think it has nothing to do with who I am today, but I also know that in a normal neurotypical person's view it will always impact the way they see me.

So I meant to write about these events - the times when I killed another person - and I've spend a good deal of time thinking about how I could do so in an agreeable manner. Especially when a writer send me an email explaining how it would be helpful to him if I would share these experiences with him. When two weeks ago I received another mail, also from a writer, who said much the same thing, I began to think about it again: How might I describe what I have done in a way that would be helpful and informative in a constructive way to those who read it, and at the same time not put my own safety (read: freedom) at risk?

But the conclusion I have come to will no doubt disappoint some of my Readers...

Some day I may write about my killings, but at the present I have decided to not do so, mainly because I could place myself at risk, mainly the risk of loosing my freedom for good. To some this may sound ludicrous: What could possible put me at risk? The authorities already know everything down to the smallest detail, and I have been punished for the crimes I committed.

However, it is not that simple. People who, like myself, have lived a portion of their lives at the wrong side of the law, have been in prison and have had their comings and goings among criminals, know that the law is far from perfect and people do get sentenced for things they haven't done, or they simply get framed. This is not to say the law is evil and out to hurt anyone they can get their hands on, but mistakes happen, and a lot at that. Believe me, I have seen it. I myself am not among those who have suffered from much injustice of this sort (though I too haven't been completely free from doing time for things I didn't do), but I have gotten to know people who were sentenced and did time for things I'm absolutely certain they didn't do - not to mention a few I KNOW didn't do what they were in for, because I knew who did.

This is what I might face if I chose to describe the more serious crimes I have on my conscience. A few words phrased the wrong way could be the end of me. I could end up being charged for killings I never did. If you have killed once, and especially if you have killed more than once, you will be in a database and reviewed when new "old" murders appear or get re-viewed for whichever reason, if new circumstantial evidence has come up or is believed to have come up. It is this that I don't find I want to risk my life and freedom for.

Some might argue: "But other authors write about murders in the first person tense all the time, what's so different about you doing the same? You're just a writer, right?". Wrong. I am not just another writer, I'm hardly a writer at all when it comes to that. I'm a provider of information, some of which is about myself and my own life, and this makes me very much different from another writer who write about murder and killing.

Granted, there are writers who write about their own criminal past and write about killings they have done. In my view these people are taking a chance, but then again, they are also often in prison for life already and have little to loose. Far be it from me to tell them they shouldn't tell us about their experiences, I always think it's a good thing to be given information, however dark and unbecoming it may be.

But this is where I stand, dear Readers, at least for the time being. It is my hope that you will understand why I have to do it this way.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Psychopathy And Holistic Chemistry - (Part 1)

An Anonymous Reader left a comment that I am going to respond to in the following...
"Now the interesting thing is that with neurotypicals, cortisol will reduce their feelings of love and connection with others. Showing and receiving love and connection with others will have the opposite effect and reduce cortisol and stress."
My knowledge of chemistry is very limited, but it is an area I intend to learn more about. At present I'll admit I don't even know the molecular structure of the more commonly known active substances like f.x. Dopamine, Serotonin or Adrenaline, and about Cortisol I know only that it's a steroid which plays a role in creating appropriate responses to effects of stress on the body by among other things elevating blood sugar levels and inhibiting the immune system (with the purpose of maximizing the body's effective ability to deal with danger and threat for a limited time). If I'm not mistaken Cortisol is being produced by the Adrenal Gland.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that a propensity for love and affection will tend to lower Cortisol levels quicker in neurotypical people than in psychopaths, and that seems like a logical assumption.

Whether showing love and affection will lower stress is probably a question of more complexity and therefore not as easily answered, since love and affection depend on interactive cooperation individuals in between. If you show love towards a person who is about to kill you whether or not you show love towards him, your love may lower your stress levels, but it will also lower you ability to prevent it from happening because your alertness and readiness to protect yourself are subdued. And this raises the question about whether love is an appropriate response in stressful situations.

Some might argue that love can turn the situation around, emotionally "disarm" a hostile attacker, and such has been known to happen(1*). But it is also known to be a minority of exceptions to the most common and likely outcome of such an approach in a situation of this nature.

So in this respect it generally isn't productive to lower your physical ability to respond and react efficiently to threats. But it is certainly productive to be able to lower stress levels when there is no longer any threat, and this is something that many people struggle with - though psychopaths are not among them. Indeed, psychopaths are known to have markedly lower than average levels of Anxiety, Nervousness, and Fear (ref. this example, an excerpt from a text by Hervey Cleckley).

I should mention that some Secondary Psychopaths, as well as Sociopaths, do suffer from Generalized Anxiety. But for as far as someone fills the requirements for a psychopathy diagnosis, his personality constellation will still make the idea of love and connection problematic. I try to explain the reasons for this in other articles and will renew my efforts to do so in future publishings as my knowledge and writing skills improve and I believe I can convey my thoughts, knowledge and experience more effectively.

"BUT with extreme psychopaths, they are so damaged ..."
This statement is subject to some dispute. The last several decades of research points to a different conclusion, that psychopathy isn't one but several related conditions which can be divided into two crudely simplified categories. One is termed Primary Psychopathy (or psychopathy defined by mainly Factor One Traits) and the other is Secondary Psychopathy (or psychopathy defined by mainly Factor Two Traits).I describe Primary/Factor One Traits and Secondary/Factor Two Traits in some detail here.

Primary Traits refer to lack or absence of certain emotions with origin in the person's genetic make up. The Primary Psychopath is born that way, he did not become that way and were not caused to become that way by being damaged - unless you think about damage during the fetal stage, in which case we talk about Synthetic Psychopathy. Synthetic Psychopathy can happen at any time in life by severe trauma to one or more among certain parts of the brain.

Secondary Traits refer to specific behavioral patterns which have at least some origin in Environmental Aspects such as exposure to physical or mental abuse and/or neglect during upbringing or very early on in life.

It is the Secondary Traits that are connected to damage, and in this sense I guess you can say at least a good part of psychopaths are damaged to some extent. Then again, this does not account for why they have become psychopaths as there are undeniably a very large number of people who have been subjected to the same, or likewise, debilitating abuse during upbringing or throughout their lives, and who are not psychopaths.

The answer to this "paradox" is that psychopathy is largely a question about personality. Indeed, the question - in my convinced opinion - is not so much if somebody is a psychopath as if that somebody has been taught/given the tools and the opportunity to form a life that doesn't create acessive damage towards other people that he comes into contact with throughout his life. as things are at present in society, where the mainstream has no knowledge about what psychopathy is and therefore also has no way of recognizing a future psychopath in a disconducted and unresponsive or rebellious child, it is no wonder that the approximately 1% of the population who are psychopaths are involved in so much damage and discomfort on various levels of society.

"... that love and connection (i.e. EQUALITY with others) will actually cause them stress as they must totally repress this in their mind to prevent enormous pain."
As you correctly have said, love and connection doesn't happen to psychopaths. We generally don't experience it, and if or when we do, it is fleetingly and in small ways. I think I have felt at least strong sympathy several times, but I have to say it has never given me the least sense of pain or discomfort. Quite the contrary, and there have been cases where I was disappointed when the connection was broken and the other party left.

More often it has been me who tired of the experience, but again there was no pain involved and I moved on without regret.

With this in mind, and my knowledge that I am far from unique as a person who has been diagnosed with psychopathy, I doubt that the absence of connection and love in psychopaths has anything to do with pain. Indeed, I don't think even Secondary Psychopaths experience pain in relation to connection and love, because they lost the ability to form bonds and feel love before they had ever heard the words 'connection' or 'love'. What they do suffer from is anxiety, and a lot of us experience anger and frustration every now and then.

I have to conclude - at least for the time being - that since a psychopath has never experienced love and connection that he could feel pain about, I don't see how what you describe would be the case. Maybe I misunderstand you, maybe you can elaborate?

Secondary Psychopaths - and to some extent most psychopaths - have experienced Absence of love and connection, and this would be painful to a little child, provided the child had the neurological wiring required for a person to experience 'connectedness' or love. The damage to a psychopath has happened before any love or connection was experienced to begin with. What you are describing could refer to several other categories of Personality Disorders, among which the one that comes closest to resembling psychopathy is Borderline Personality Disorder. People with this condition can, and often do, on occasion behave much like a psychopath. But note that I say 'like' a psychopath, there's an important difference, and Psychopathy and Borderline Personality Disorder are NOT the same thing.

"Most psychopaths may not be this bad and compartmentalise things a bit more but generally they view the world very irrationally as they can't stand EQUALITY just as a scientist can't stand IRRATIONALITY they also have a misguided view of the world." 
I have to object to the part of this statement concerning psychopaths' ability to 'stand' Equality. I will explain and use myself as an example:

It is true that in my interactions with other people I tend to be 'above' the rest, there's no denying it and I don't care to deny it. However, I do not by definition choose to take this position at any time and for it's own sake, it all depends on a variety of things, one of which probably is obvious: Getting what I want as easily and with least possible effort and fewest possible obstacles is undeniably easier if you're the boss. But this is not what you think to be my motivation, is it? If I'm correct, you meant to say that psychopaths take the 'superior' position because they can't tolerate being on level with others, even if they don't loose anything by being so.

This is where I disagree. It's just not how it works. I have on many occasions been very much equal with others that I interacted with, and it honestly didn't bother me one bit. Why not? Because I had, and I got, what I wanted and needed as things were, there was simply no need to waste energy on becoming superior, and certainly not just for the sake of being superior in the eyes of others. When I am content I care nada about how others see me, this is a fact and I'm not alone with this personality trait.

I think this belief about psychopaths wanting to be superior just for the sake of looking better and stronger than everybody else may be a remnant of the common mistaking of psychopathy with narcissism. The two are not the same.

That said, it is true that I do tend to end in the 'superior' position. And the same is the case with a good number of psychopathic people. So why do we do this? In my view there's several factors at play. One is the fact that psychopaths really do see themselves as marvellous, great beings who can fill any position, including leading everybody else. But there's also the fact that most normal people do not see themselves in the same way, and that is reflected in how they behave and respond to a person who is naturally assertive.

I think psychopaths so often end up as seemingly superior because both we ourselves, and others around us, perceive us this way. It's a result of interpersonal dynamics.

Look at it this way: If you could easily out maneuver almost everybody you meet in any setting, and you knew it would give you privileges - and let's remember that you, if you were a psychopath, did not have the need for bonding or connectivity, just as you would not be responsive to the stress people around you feel when you display dominant behavior - wouldn't you take them when they were apparently given to you so willingly? Of course you would... or rather, of course you would if you were a psychopath.

Still, it would not be motivated by a need in you to look superior. To be as frank as I can possibly be about it: I truly do not care if I'm equal with people around me, provided I get what I need and want. What's more, I am not unique in this respect. Indeed, I have met plenty of psychopaths who didn't care about putting themselves in a leading or superior position if their lives depended on it. Some of these people have lived all their lives at the bottom of society being petty thieves and drug addicts. If they get their pitiful fix of drugs or excitement by stealing a random stranger's wallet in passing, they're satisfied....AND they're convinced that they are marvelous - and superior in spite of the obvious!

This last sentiment is something most psychopaths share, and I am no exception. However, I believe I have good reason to feel this way, and I will add that I am not arrogant or contemptuous because of it. On the other hand, I can't make myself feel differently when I keep seeing what I feel proves me right. Another thing is that I don't believe I'm a bad person for being aware that I'm superior to most other people. If I was, all leaders throughout the existence of our species (and all other species as well) would be bad, and we know they're not. But there's not much I can do about it, I honestly believe I'm superior to most - but certainly not from all - other people, it's just the way I feel. On that note I think average people could use some of my self confidence. - But again, I digress.

Does a psychopath have an irrational view of the world? Probably. Most people do, after all, and it's very difficult to be completely logical about everything. Even the most brilliant men of all time did not have All Knowing Insight about the world. The world is an organic, living and breathing entity which is ever changing along with mankind. What is true today may be a fallacy tomorrow. It's the only thing about existence that we can know for certain: There is no absolutes and nothing really lasts indefinitely, not even one of our most beloved Holy Grails, the Absolute Truth. The very idea is a construct, and it has done more harm than most everything else that mankind ever created.

Are psychopaths misguided? Oh, absolutely. But so are everybody else in varying degrees, it is not unique for my 1% minority. The guidance I was given about the world was so obviously flawed that I saw through a great deal of it long before I hit 1st grade. So like a very large number of people - not least in our time - I found it necessary to form different views, and I quickly learned to listen mostly to myself and always be weary of 'knowing adults'. I am still adjusting the views I made yesterday, it's a never ending process.

(1*) - I have done this myself, though obviously not by actually loving my attacker, but by pretending to love and understand her I succeeded in talking her out of completely ruining her own life and ending mine by killing me.