Note: This is page devoted to all IT professionals who suffer
from psychopathic bosses. Only those who already suffered or still suffering from one of those types
can understand the level of pain as well as stakes involved in dealing with such individuals.
According to some data sociopaths represent around three to five percent of our population. Most
of them belong to so called non-violent, non-criminal type. But they are extremely socially toxic.
The term psychopaths should probably be reserved for those sociopaths who are the violent, serial
killer, ruthless predator types. The distinction line is fuzzy but still very important. We
will mostly be talking about sociopath, while not always adhering to suggested terminology.
Sorry about that.
If you are reading this page, you probably have problems with your boss or family member, or
co-worker. Now what ? Actually
the situation is bad, and you are really trapped, but it is not inescapable situation. You can and should
escape. As old saying goes "Knowledge is power" and this is the area where this saying is literally
true. Learning the ropes can help to find a way to escape, find way to defend yourself and your
dignity, and to lessen the current pain.
It is important to understand that whose managers who produce living hell are not all created equal.
But they have a common tendency to project their dissatisfaction
with their life and emotional emptiness outward and ascribe it to others. If they succeed
it is all them, but if they fail, it's your fault. Such people are organically incapable of trust, because everything they do is a facade, a lie, a Potemkin village.
The same Potemkin village as their family life, where wife and children
at best are viewed as desirable possessions.
They have utter contempt for other people, although they will use flattery, deceit and
other means to create a dependency while they are using them. And after that is done, you will
be discarded like an empty cardbox. In other words they are real sharks, endlessly seeking the prey to fill
their emotional emptiness with possessions, be they things or other people. And they are literally insatiable
in their needs, and are highly focused in their pursuit of them.
There two large group of dangerous managers who typically make the life of subordinates a living
hell. We will call them "toxic managers".
The first and the most numerous are Authoritarians. Those are quintessential "kiss up,
kick down" personalities. Among most typical traits:
1.Illogical Thinking:The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds:Authoritarians ideas are poorly integrated
with one another.
3. Double Standards :When your ideas live independent lives from one another
it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that
will justify (afterwards) what youve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy:The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their
opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest against various
books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves:self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism:Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into
in-groups and out-groups .in-groups are holy and good out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarians Last Ditch Defense:By dogmatism I mean relatively
unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions ..
The second less numerous but more dangerous are "well socialized psychopaths" or how they are called
sociopaths. The term psychopath (and its later 1930s term that is more applicable to corporate
environment, sociopath -- "socialized psychopath", or psychopath who did not (yet) committed any
crime) had always been a sort of catch-all, widely and loosely applied to both violent and
unstable criminals who ignore all the rules of civilized society as well as cruel corporate executives
who demean and exploit their staff using "dirty" methods to achieve their goals. Later this
condition was expanded to include certain type of managers which consistently demonstrate cult leader
qualities and who under
neoliberalism (the social system that became dominant sing early 80th) became a standard feature of most
modern corporation to the extent that we can consider modern
corporations to be a breeding grounds for psychopathic
personalities. Such "office cult leaders" like many high demand cult leaders need
only followers and try to completely enslave their victims.
Both types are power hungry and have inappropriate, intense anger or
difficulty controlling anger e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, etc.
(see Understanding Borderline Rage), which
serves as a vehicles of intimidation and can be carefully rehearsed. The key differential is the amount
of deceit in daily interactions and about personal and family history. Manipulation and deceit
are hallmarks of psychopathic personality. They live life as actors acting different roles depending
on what is profitable and what helps to achieve their goals. Much like cult leaders (which who
they have a lot in
common) socialized psychopath are masters of creating an "artificial past" inventing their personal
histories (including education, achievements, etc ) and sometimes even relatives as well as keeping
victims from escaping. See The psychopath in the corner
office for the list of traits that you need to try to match with to confirm this diagnose.
As this is not a psychiatry manual, we will use an umbrella term "toxic managers" for both
corporate socialized psychopaths and (more numerous) authoritarian managers.
That term actually allow us to avoid nitpicking about whether particular manager is real psychopath/sociopath,
or something else and concentrate of patterns of behavior many of which are surprisingly common to
For our purpose real psychological diagnosis is of secondary importance. It is methods to protect
yourself from attack of such class of
personalities that are of primary importance. In this sense the most dangerous subtype are
female sociopath, as they use their gender as bullet proof vest to deflect any counterattacks. See
some information about
Clinton as guide
In this respect, what matter for us is the fact that both authoritarians and psychopath of various
"denominations" are really dangerous predators of corporate jungles in general and IT jungles
in particular. And they blend extremely well into the current environment within government and mega
As all of them there is one important encompassing feature: predation. Most individuals in modern
societies are caught up in the perpetual struggle of striking a balance between pursuing their own interests
and respecting others' rights. When their own pursuits take precedent over others, individuals
typically feel some guilt or shame about their greed. But there is no such conflict inside sociopathic
managers. They do not need to rationalize their exploitation of other,
they simply feel they are entitled. Which makes them perfect predator of corporate jungles.
When in power, they typically use their animosity to keep others in line.
Often they create kind of cult of personality environment in which, like in Stalinist Russia, in order
to survive, employees must identify with their aggressor or become one of the leader's victims (and
please note that Joseph Stalin was a pretty charming personality in his narrow Politburo circle).
It goes without saying that presence of such individuals in the role of the manager puts a tremendous
stress on his direct reports. Psychopaths are more that rare among general population and by some estimates
represent over 1% of population and approximately 4% of managers. Authoritarians are more common and
often constitute majority of middle managers in the corporation. So both university students and
regular cubicle dwellers should better know your enemy as they might need to deal with them in their
first or next "manager-subordinate" relationship. They (especially Authoritarians) might be present
among your immediate or extended family too.
With those reservations, we would distinguish the following non-orthogonal types based on a single,
dominant behavioral stereotype (for example all psychopath are bullies, but only bullies has
this as a predominant feature). That's a crude and unscientific classification but it does has some
practical value in dealing with this type of predators because our emphasis is of classifying and describing
typical set of behaviors that those people use during "hunt" for prey. It is valuable to knew
something about what to expect if you are on the receiving end of such a behavior. We will distinguish:
Double high authoritarians. Which are not exactly psychopaths,
but demonstrate very similar cluster of behaviors and are much more numerous, almost prevalent in
Authoritarians are more numerous and and while dangerious and
toxic, they are less dangerous category in comparison with "real" phychopaths, especially micromanagers.
If you boss fits the description you need to go to the church and light the candle. While your situation
is bad and often justifiably can be called simply terrible, believe me it could be much, much worse
It is not always easy to detect authoritarian manager while not being his/her subordinates. Sometimes,
like in romantic relations, it is quote difficult until it's too late. Typically authorititarian kiss
up behavior can be polished to perfection and generally emogh equals he is often viewed as "normal"
person. Trobles start only when you report to him.
Still there are som indicatins that are usful even when you are reporting to this jerk. In the latter
case indications are useless, because you are already cooked :-(.
One of the few good indications of authoritarian personality are extreme right wing views (see
Double High Authoritarians). In any case
as soon as this guy/nice lady become your boss, "kick down" side of his/her personality will be demonstrated
to you in all glory and you will have zero problems with the detection. The only problem is that it's
too late ;-).
Also it is not necessary that authoritarian boss should be incompetent. First of all, while there
is correlation between authoritarianism and low intelligence it is just a correlation. Some authoritarians
are quite bright (for example, Bill O'Reilly -- a Fox News talking head to be more like double high
authoritarian rather then a typical psychopath).
Another important trait that can be observed by outsiders and should warn you is that
authoritarians tend to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning.
Specifically, they are more likely to make incorrect inferences from evidence and to hold
ideas that result from compartmentalized thinking. Moreover, they are
typically unable to acknowledge their own limitations and assume responsibility for errors and blunders.
Here is a short but very useful list from
Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice
1.Illogical Thinking:The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds:Authoritarians ideas are poorly integrated
with one another.
3. Double Standards :When your ideas live independent lives from one another it
is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will
justify (afterwards) what youve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy:The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents
of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves:self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism:Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups
and out-groups .in-groups are holy and good out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarians Last Ditch Defense:By dogmatism I mean relatively
unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions ..
I would put dogmatism higher as this is valuable test which works when this type of people
report to you or are on the same level as you and the personality they present to you is their "fake",
Potemkin village facade.
But other then that this is an excellent, simply excellent list. One missing, but important feature
is that authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control
than personal freedom and diversity. When discussing political preferences, tor example, they are more
willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the
Bill of Rights. They
also are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and they admit that they
obtain personal satisfaction from punishing such people. See Authoritarians
Aggression in inherent in psychopath as a predator in corporate environment, and to tell that a psychopath
is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet. So this is a sure sign that the boss is psychopath,
but it does not help in classification of the set of behaviors that distinguish this particular predator
from others. But for some sociopaths this pattern of behavior serves is the most favorite tactics that
they use systematically. Those psychopaths have a distinct a tendency toward sadism and derive perverse
gratification from harming others. They do like to hurt, frighten, tyrannize. They do it for a
sense of power and control, and will often only drop subtle hints about what they are up to (this is
also typical of authoritarians).
At the same time they systematically polish their aggressive, domineering manner in such a way to
disguise any intimidation as legitimate corporate behavior and avoid coming under HR scrutiny for their
behavior. Such pathological personalities always seek out positions of power, such
as teacher, bureaucrat, manager, or police officer. You can also distinguish several subtypes:
Authoritarian bullies -- this is the most dangerous type of boss for talented people.
Like death sentence with delayed execution. They always have bouts of incontrollable anger. Some
of them can beemotionally out of control and explosive each week or even each day.
Micromanager bullies (control freaks). This type does not need explanation. Not all authoritarians
are micromanagers, but all micromanagers are bullies.
Narcissist bullies. For them your humiliation is a way to make themselves more important
and valuable. They are often "gatekeepers" that try to steal all achievements and appropriate all
ideas of subordinates.
I would like to stress it again that direct or indirect aggression is inherent in sociopath (a socialized
psychopath) and to tell that a psychopath is a bully is just to tell that the water is wet.
US National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be broken into two categories:
Direct bullying. This is a schoolyard variety...
Indirect bullying which is also known as social aggression. The latter is characterized
by forcing the victim into
social isolation. This
isolation is achieved through
a wide variety of techniques, including refusing to socialize with the victim and criticizing the
victim's communication manner or other socially-significant markers.
Indirect bullying is more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as the silent treatment, arguing
others into submission, manipulation,
gossip, staring, and mocking. While women can be as aggressive or even more aggressive then
men they usually are more indirect. I would like to stress that gender differences in aggression
are subject to review; human society is too complex and direct projection from animal world, for example,
from great apes is of limited value. See important paper by Kaj Bjorkqvist
in Physical, Verbal, and Indirect Aggression: A review of recent research
Accordingly, one should not expect women to develop and use exactly the same strategies for attaining
their goals as men do. If strategies for aggression and conflict resolution are learned, not innate,
then women are likely to learn different methods than men. Important aspects are power and capacity,
not only physical, but also verbal, and social.
Human beings have nonphysical powers which are far beyond those of any other animal. Accordingly,
human aggression has faces and forms, inconceivable within the realm of animal aggression. Extrapolations
from animal studies are, therefore, misleading. Aggressive styles are also subject to developmental
change during the life course. As indicated, animal aggression is mostly physical. Also among young
children lacking verbal skills, aggression is predominantly physical.
Verbal skills, when they develop, are quickly utilized not only for peaceful communication, but
also for aggressive purposes. When social skills develop, even more sophisticated strategies of
aggression are made possible, with the aggressor being able to harm a target person without even
being identified: Those strategies may be referred to as indirect aggression (Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist,
and Peltonen, 1988; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, and Kaukiainen, 1992).
There are good reasons to believe that, as far as adult interpersonal
conflict is concerned, physical aggression is really the exception, not the rule. Other means are
more likely to be used.
Burbank (1987) reviews anthropological research on female aggression. She finds
females of different cultures having a large potential of aggressive
means to use in order to get even with their husbands, such as, e.g., locking them
out of the house for the night: she regards this as an act of aggression. Burbank (1987) found females
seldom to resort to physical aggression against their husbands, but they did so, occasionally. The
most common reason was that their husbands had committed adultery. Burbank found, however, that
women are much more often aggressive towards other women than towards
Here is one type from popular literature that fits the pattern:
The Fearmonger Boss. People do what a fearsome boss says because theyre afraid of him,
which actually encourages further intimidation. He always has a threat, and he constantly follows
through with that threat in order to keep his employees acquiescent.
Often bulling behavior is combined with paranoia tendencies (paranoiac self-defense). Again this
category is fuzzy.
Paranoid managers are psychopaths for whom continual mistrust and misjudgment of environment dominates
other (often no less pathological) personality features. Wikipedia defines paranoia in the following
Paranoid personality disorder is a
psychiatric diagnosis that
denotes a personality
disorder with paranoid features.
It is characterized by an exaggerated sensitivity to rejection, resentfulness,
distrust, as well as the inclination to distort experienced events. Neutral and friendly
actions of others are often misinterpreted as being hostile or contemptuous.
Unfounded suspicions regarding the sexual loyalty of partners and loyalty in general as well
as the belief that ones rights are not being recognized is stubbornly and argumentatively insisted
Paranoid managers are suspicious, touchy,
typically humorless, quick to take offense and slow to forgive,
self-righteous (Which makes them remarkably similar to authoritarians and micromanagers). They are often
argumentative and litigious. They seldom show tenderness
and may avoid intimacy; often they seem tense and brusque.
Paranoid personalities find causal connections everywhere; for them nothing is coincidental.
They are constantly on guard and are hypersensitive to critique.
That means that they often take offense where none is intended. Often they have problems with understanding
humor. They appear cold and, in fact, often avoid becoming intimate with others. Often pride themselves
on their rationality, objectivity and fairness. Paranoid managers rarely come forward to seek help from
Often paranoia combines with "toxic incompetence" as they cannot make decision on time (analysis
paralysis), insists of creating tons of useless documentation and due to this skip important project
milestones, etc. Fear of exposure of paranoid manager is blended into a
pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness. An inability to trust, doubts about
others' loyalty, distortion and fabrication of personal histories, qualifications
and facts, misinterpretation, and bearing grudges unnecessarily are generally hallmarks
of the disorder. Pathological and instinctive aggressive counter-attack, the need to control others
is also a prominent feature. They like to collect evidence of subordinates.
Paranoid managers often can be classified as "raw bullies", as in relations with subordinates
they prefer to rely on brute force and direct intimidation.
Tendency to micromanage subordinates is often combined with paranoia and bulling in various (but
of course lesser then those classified as bullies or as paranoid) degrees. It also pretty often demonstrate
itself as a distinct condition close to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OSD).
Micromanagers are remarkably close to authoritarian personalities in patterns of behaviour and demonstrate
typical for the latter category bouts of anger (Borderline
Rage). Reverse is not true, some authoritarians avoid micromanaging. Micromanagers often have almost
pathological neatness; the latter is especially typical for women. Often their hairstyle is distinctly
Especially dangerous are paranoid incompetent micromanagers (PIMM)
the type which we will study in more detail on a separate set of pages:
Micromanagers is one of the few areas were gender stereotyping might provide some survival
benefits. Women tend to be more detail oriented, and female corporate psychopaths more often tend to
behave like micromanagers. Female PIMM can be mean, evil, vindictive and quite petty.
If a female boss is insecure about her skills and abilities she is more likely to exhibit PIMM
behavior. Female PIMM are usually more skilled in using indirect aggression, especially isolation.
Level of paranoia is elevated and often micromanagers simultaneously can be classified as paranoid
managers. Among common traits are complete absence of trust in the staff, pathological need for control,
pathologic dissatisfaction with results, and recurring "tantrums."
Many of PIMM can be also classified as bullies but again they, especially female PIMM, prefer indirect
aggression to direct. Usually, female PIMM cultivate spying on subordinates and encourage "little
birds" to rest on their shoulders and whisper all forms of gossip. This, these minions believe,
ingratiates them to their bosses.
The narcissistic bosses are characterized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity,
need for admiration, and lack of empathy," often evidenced
as envy, taking advantage of others, an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement, and arrogant
or haughty behavior. There is not much hope for the poor shmacs toiling for the narcissistic personality-disordered
boss who demands perfection, absolute loyalty, and 24/7 devotion to the job.
Narcissistic managers are not that different from other types and also suffer from compulsive need
for control ("control freaks"). Narcissistic behavior is dominated by compulsive desire to project highly
positive image resulting in unstable behavior with emotional outbursts caused by insecurity and
weakness rather than any real feelings of confidence or self-esteem. One interesting feature of
narcissists is that their behaviour in family environment is often more brutal and tyrannical then with
subordinates of the office. That makes they close to micromanagers.
Typically they are oversensitive to criticism and do not accept slightest criticism from below. They
often can be simultaneously classified both as bullies and micromanagers. As they need to steal all
the achievements of subordinates to built their image they are typically "gatekeepers" who try tightly
control all the communications channels with the superiors'. Can be quite paranoid and react inadequately
on any threat to their projected image.
Manipulative psychopaths are probably the smoothest of corporate psychopaths. Here we will mean a
class of corporate psychopath who excels in manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery
and seduction. All psychopaths use this to a certain extent, but for this type this is a preferred tactic.
Also they are typically talented actors and can wear their fake, "invented personality" with confidence
and aplomb typical for great actors in movies and theater.
While manipulative behaviors including, but not limited to flattery and seduction are prominent,
other features typical for corporate psychopath are usually present too. They are very similar to paranoid
managers in their behavior toward subordinates, but unlike paranoids are capable to create a real smokescreen
over their real personality by using flattery and seduction.
Unlike bullies they prefer indirect aggression to direct. They have tendency to play by the rules
only as long as it suits them and break rules as soon as this is needed for achieving thier objectives.
They are notoriously capable to exploit "grey" area in their favor. This distinguishes them from
paranoids. Like narcissists they fear becoming less valued, if their underlings get any recognition
for exemplary work. Manipulator bosses are backstabbers who'll go to frightening lengths to look good
to their superiors at the expense of denigrating subordinates.
Typically have a dual personality syndrome and behave completely differently with superiors then
with subordinates. Here is how they are described in one of Monster career self-help
The Manipulator Boss
Also known as the Machiavellian boss, this type is extremely intelligent and one of the most
dangerous. The manipulator boss is highly focused, very motivated, and always has a secret plan.
He looks at people as a means to an end. The world is
a giant pyramid and the apex is his. People he touches or runs over on the way to the top are casualties
he writes off. If you work for a manipulator, watch your back. Your best bet is to be open and honest
with him. Volunteer information. Your boss, who has long forgotten what truth is, will be left impressed
We need to distinguish between normal and abnormal incompetence. Normal or institutional incompetence
is inherent in large bureaucracies and in reflected on
Peter Principle and
Parkinson law. In this case the manager
was competent on some lower level of hierarchy but became incompetent after promotion or as often happens
in IT due to loss of technical qualification in the current position.
But there is also other, abnormal incompetence, when a person got to his position due to some "institutional
lift" (for example being close friend or relative of one of the higher level managers, or a secretary
who is a mistress of the upper manager and was promoted to some technical position in IT department).
This case is also called pathological incompetence or colloquially "empty suits".
It is usually quite toxic if such a manager is also aggressive.
Unfortunately more often then not it is correlated with extreme aggressiveness as well as other personality
problems -- most toxically incompetent managers are micromanagers or narcissists or bullies or some
combination. No substance and not much style. Just very sharp claws and elbows.
Such managers are more widespread that this is assumed in Harvard Business Scholl publications: in
a large organization competence is not the primary value. Politics, connections, and clever tactics
can compensate for incompetence. The sad truth that they are pretty typical in large organizations for
reasons completely different from The Peter
Principle. In "bootlickocracy", the most incompetents are valued for "different reasons"
and can easily propel themselves into a supervisory role.
Toxic incompetence is usually correlated with various other personality disorders and is prominent
among corporate psychopaths. Common clues include:
Inability to make decisions: An incompetent boss often waffles over decisions that should
be made instantly.
Tendency to make bad choices: Ineffectual bosses often make poorly planned, miscalculated
decisions. Miraculously, most incompetent bosses manage to save themselves at the 11th hour.
Reliance on subordinates to get work done: Incompetent bosses may not have a clue how
to get their own jobs done, yet they have the uncanny sense to rely on their teams to cover for
Ability to keep the job despite failings: You'd be shocked that this jerk kept his job.
Don't be so quick. Here is the really important revelation -- that's happens because your boss in
not incompetent in dealing with higher ups. And socially much more competent then you are. And most
probably is quite psychopathic and as such quite successful in "fogging" their glasses. A
classic example are former secretaries who sleep with their former bosses, while they provide them
cover. Thos nice girls can be first class predators, so forget about underestimating them
even if their only computer skill is touch typing and their position is a director of computer security,
network architect, or even head of Unix administration group.
Psychopathic bosses are people that are so different from normal people that they can be truly called
aliens. And those dramatic differences cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development.
They operate using different set of assumptions, and it is the latter that
makes them the natural "predators" of the corporate world, "criminals without criminal
In corporate environment psychopath is the person who fails to recognize, much less to empathize
with, the personal human dignity and rights of subordinates. That's why they are called "people without
conscience". They do not feel remorse at lying or manipulating, and
they typically lie without limit creating an elaborate edifice of their fake past. This
"addiction to lying" (and related inconsistencies in their descriptions of their past) is probably the
most telling early warning sign about psychopath. Typically they "invent" their past. They have trouble
with teamwork for the same reason. They will say one thing to one person,
and something different to someone else.
As psychopaths are addicted to lying, they frequently
contradict themselves. Typically they also enjoy harming and bullying others.
In young age they are often cruel to animals...
And it is difficult to understand how alien they are from "common people". To a certain extent they
are insane. Please note that "sanity" does not mean perfection; it merely means
sufficient engagement with the real world and society to
allow us to survive both day-by-day and in the long term thus sane individuals usually tend to obey
traffic laws, learn from their mistakes and practical experience and, in the case of moral sanity, they
recognize in others their worth and their capacity for joy and suffering. Psychopaths are by definition
reckless. This actions aren't merely misguided, but often are clinically dysfunctional. That's why they
Furthermore, sanity implies an ability of introspection: capacity to critically evaluate ones experience,
to distinguish fact from fiction, and to tune behavior, to adapt to the real world. Insanity, by implication,
suggests a significant level of detachment from reality and inability to
change one behavior despite negative feedback from the environment. For example,
a psychopath not only can't recognize the human worth and the capacity for pleasure and pain in others,
he does not recognize any value of that. For him treating people like objects is "normal" and any empathy
is for suckers. In this sense he/she is living in an "unreal", artificial world. Detached for
reality world, the world were no empathy exits. It is often correlates with other psychological disorders
such as paranoia.
or absence of conscience and related lack of emotions is a deep human division, arguably as
significant as intelligence, race, and closer then many would think to gender differences.
We don't know what makes psychopath ticks and how they acquire the set of behavioral patterns they
demonstrate. So most of modern literature is limited to "traits based description". For extensive
list of traits see The psychopath in the corner office.
This "trait classification" method that prevails in the literature is very limited and in general should
be considered unscientific. As such, it overlaps with "popular urban mythology". Still even mythology
is better then nothing and we do not have any other approach that is really better.
You need to understand that those description are pretty much ad hoc. Reality is more complex
and does not fit well within this rigid scheme. Often traits are intermixed in a unique way that defy
classification. That's why you need really put an effort into studying your particular type and
documenting his/her behavior
to get some real insights into particular beast you are dealing with. One important variable partially
omitted is the level of intellect (also low IQ is reflected in
Empty Suits (Aggressive Incompetent Managers) type).
Often psychopaths have high or very high IQ.
There are probably several more important factors that were omitted. For example, gender differences
are also very important and color psychopathic behavior in a unique way. See
Methods of attacks used by psychopathic bosses vary but one common is based on performance reviews.
There are several traps there you can and should avoid. See
Surviving a Bad Performance Review
For psychopaths the office environment is a theatre of war and like in any war ends justify means.
So dirty tricks are ok as French proverb A la guerre, comme a la guerre implies.
They are typically used by psychopaths without any constrains (spreading dirty rumors is the specialty
of female sociopath and those skills are usually polished since childhood to perfection.). The
greatest variety is observable from Machiavellians Manipulators
but sophistication is typical for psychopath in general. See Machiavellians
You should remember famous saying that "War is a continuation of policy by other means"
and don't overreact.
First of all, like in real war, there is a "fog
of war" over the whole situation (i.e., you are facing incomplete, dubious, and often completely erroneous
information and high levels of fear, doubt, and excitement). Which complicate rational assessment of
the situation so delays with the reaction and keeping your cards close to your chest might in many cases
be not detrimental, but advantageous.
war tactics which were discussed, for example, in famous Clausewitz On War (available free from
clausewitz.com.) and The Art
of War is not a bad idea. Among them (cited from
the asymmetrical relationship between attack and defense
the nature of "military genius" (involving matters of personality and character, beyond intellect)
the importance of "moral forces" (more than simply "morale") as opposed to quantifiable physical
"friction" - the disparity between the ideal performance of units, organization or systems and
their actual performance in real world scenarios (Book I, Chapter VII)
There are several good books on the subject that you should definitely read. Stakes are so high that
any additional ammo worth much more then its nominal cost. See a list of suggestions in
Toxic managers: The Problem of Corporate Psychopaths.
But again, you should took information provided with a grain of salt.
Watching films that depict psychopath also provide some additional insight and this way of study
should not be overlooked. Unlike real events you can watch the film over and over again and that's
enhance the understanding of specific tricks and attack methods. See
Psychopaths in Movies.
Some behavior patterns are really easier to study via movies. This is especially true about female
sociopaths. For example there is certain logic in outbursts of anger used by psychopath. They are not
completely spontaneous, but more of a sign that you entered the territory they already staked. Or they
want something that you refuse to give. The same is true for authoritarians (authoritarian rage).
See Understanding Borderline Rage.
At the same time, being reserved is very important. One of the tactics used is to provoked
you into a burst of your own impulsive behavior as this way psychopath can play victim, while being
actually an aggressor. See Anger trap
In my opinion the most under-reported event of the Iraq war was the suicide of military Ethicist
Colonel Ted Westhusing. It was reported at the end of a Frank Rich column that appeared in the
NY Times of 10-21-2007:
"The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long
hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military
ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of
a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces
in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq."
"Colonel Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors
fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who
documents the case in his book "Blood Money." Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer
left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph
for America's engagement in Iraq as a suicide note."
" 'I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,' Colonel
Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. 'I am sullied.' "
"The tiny pink candies at the bottom of the urinals are reserved for Field Grade and Above." --sign
over the urinals in the "O" Club at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, 1965.
Now that sentiment, is Officer-on-Officer. The same dynamic tension exists throughout all Branches
My background includes a Combat Infantry Badge and a record of having made Spec Four , two
times. If you don't know what that means, stop reading here.
I feel that no one should be promoted E-5 or O-4, if they are to command men in battle, unless
they have had that life experience themselves. It becomes virgins instructing on sexual etiquette.
Within the ranks, there exists a disdain for officers, in general. Some officers overcome this
by their actions, but the vast majority cement that assessment the same way.
What makes the thing run is the few officers who are superior human beings, and the NCOs who are
of that same tribe. And there is a love there, from top to bottom and bottom to top, a brotherhood
of warriors which the civilian population will forever try to discern, parse and examine to their
lasting frustration and ignorance.
It is the spirit of this nation [Liberty, e pluribus unum and In God We Trust ] that is the
binding filament of it all. The civilians responsible for the welfare of the armed services need
to be more fully aware of that spirit and they need to bring it into the air-conditioned offices
they inhabit when they make decisions about men who know sacrifice.
"... The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school. ..."
"... The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. ..."
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should
have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan.
Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been
replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things
while expecting a different result.
Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital
factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme
of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was
an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were
then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps
is the best of our services.
Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says
that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military
competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more
rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the
rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.
Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking
from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our
vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank
of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining
who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators,
military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)
Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where
they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer
but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy
can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training
exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination
of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No
one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that
he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him
in any Army school.
The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military
ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed
to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war.
Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption
of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are
in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less
about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing
the military courtier.
"... Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time. ..."
What with all the glorification of our "heroes" in uniform, a glorification that seems to grow
in inverse proportion to the real need for them, a person could begin to feel afraid to utter aloud
the sort of jokes that people used to make. For instance, you might feel the need to look over your
shoulder before you repeat the old George Carlin observation that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron.
The growing military hype and the sort of military intelligence with which I became all too familiar
in my two years of service, 1966-1968, came together on this Veterans Day weekend. The picture of
the U.S. Navy's finest engaged in the Sisyphean task of
mopping dew off the basketball court that had been laid on the deck of the USS Yorktown said
it all. That was in coastal South Carolina on Friday night, November 9, in what was to have been
a big military advertisement to kick off the weekend. The same fiasco played itself out on the
deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida, except that the college basketball players there
put themselves in harm's way for an entire half, attempting to play on the virtual skating rink that
the very predictable condensation had made of the surface.
... ... ...
Now think about it a minute. These are the people to whom we have given the authority to make
life and death, godlike, decisions, over thousands of their subordinates and millions of people in
less fortunate foreign lands. As you will see toward the end of this article, their manifest failings
have had some rather serious consequences-that could have been much worse-in an episode in Korea
in the 1960s that is revealed in full here for the first time.
... ... ...
Before we were to do our one dry run we had a planning meeting, presided over by the lieutenant
colonel from Eighth Army Headquarters in charge of the operation, at which the action plan was handed
out. Right off the bat we noticed a problem. Each of the teams was identified with a number. We were
team four. Each of the islands was also assigned a number, one through four, and they were called
"sites." Our team four was to go to site one, team three was to go to site two, and so on.
We wanted badly to suggest that it might be a better idea to match up the sites and the team designations,
so that team one went to site one, etc., but we were told that we would have an opportunity to make
suggestions for the final action plan after we had done our dry run, so we held our fire.
... ... ...
"We're implementing the action plan," said he, or words to that effect. "Move out immediately."
Patting myself on the back for the decision I had made, and in a state of rather high excitement,
I pulled out the phone number of the contact in the Kimpo engineer battalion to make sure that there
would be boats for us when we got to our destination.
It's a good thing the phone worked-the military phones were something of a hit-or-miss thing at
that time in Korea-considering his response. "We haven't had any move-out order," he responded to
I immediately got back on the phone to the Eighth Army lieutenant to ask him what was up.
"Hold that first order," he said. "We've decided to give it a little more time."
Now I was thinking that it was an especially good thing that I had not taken the "immediately"
part of his move-out order too literally, and I was really glad I had gotten that boatman's phone
number. Considering the weather conditions, "high and dry" doesn't precisely describe the position
we would have found ourselves in at the evacuation site without the boats and without even a need
for them, but it comes close.
Having heard many reports of predicted river flooding on the news where the levels expected are
based upon levels already recorded upstream, I inquired of the lieutenant as to the basis on which
the final decision would be made. I remember his response as though it were yesterday:
"Colonel 'Geronimo' is down looking at the river."
As it turned out, no one drowned because some would-be rescue helicopter had landed at Site 3
instead of the correct Site 2 because he had received an emergency radio call from Ground 3, and
we never suffered from the lack of manpower that the Korean Army might have provided at our site.
None of the islands flooded that day-or that year-and the "hold" on that first call from the Eighth
Army lieutenant continued into perpetuity.
"... a kid who is 8, 9, or 10 years old commits a transgression or a crime while alone, without the pressure of peers. This reflects an interior impulse toward harm. Criminal versatility-committing different types of crimes in different settings-can also hint at future psychopathy. ..."
"... That really happened? ..."
"... The second hallmark of a psychopathic brain is an overactive reward system especially primed for drugs, sex, or anything else that delivers a ping of excitement. ..."
"... Their brains ignore cues about danger or punishment. "There are all these decisions we make based on threat, or the fear that something bad can happen," says Dustin Pardini, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor of criminology at Arizona State University. "If you have less concern about the negative consequences of your actions, then you'll be more likely to continue engaging in these behaviors. And when you get caught, you'll be less likely to learn from your mistakes." ..."
shy away from calling children psychopaths; the term carries too much stigma, and too much determinism.
They prefer to describe children like Samantha as having "callous and unemotional traits," shorthand
a cluster of characteristics and behaviors , including a lack of empathy, remorse, or guilt;
shallow emotions; aggression and even cruelty; and a seeming indifference to punishment. Callous
and unemotional children have no trouble hurting others to get what they want. If they do seem caring
or empathetic, they're probably trying to manipulate you.
... ... ...
Researchers believe that two paths can lead to psychopathy: one dominated by nature, the other
by nurture. For some children, their environment-growing up in poverty, living with abusive parents,
fending for themselves in dangerous neighborhoods -- can turn them violent and coldhearted. These kids
aren't born callous and unemotional; many experts suggest that if they're given a reprieve from their
environment, they can be pulled back from psychopathy's edge.
But other children display callous and unemotional traits even though they are raised by loving
parents in safe neighborhoods. Large studies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have found that
this early-onset condition is highly hereditary, hardwired in the brain-and especially difficult
to treat. "We'd like to think a mother and father's love can turn everything around," Raine says.
"But there are times where parents are doing the very best they can, but the kid-even from the get-go-is
just a bad kid."
Still, researchers stress that a callous child-even one who was born that way-is not automatically
destined for psychopathy. By some estimates, four out of five children with these traits do not grow
up to be psychopaths. The mystery-the one everyone is trying to solve-is why some of these children
develop into normal adults while others end up on death row.
A trained eye can spot a callous and unemotional child by age 3 or 4. Whereas normally developing
children at that age grow agitated when they see other children cry -- and either try to comfort them
or bolt the scene-these kids show a chilly detachment. In fact, psychologists may even be able to
trace these traits back to infancy. Researchers at King's College London tested more than 200 five-week-old
babies, tracking whether they preferred looking at a person's face or at a red ball. Those who favored
the ball displayed more callous traits two and a half years later.
As a child gets older, more-obvious warning signs appear. Kent Kiehl, a psychologist at the University
of New Mexico and the author of The Psychopath Whisperer , says that one scary harbinger
occurs when a kid who is 8, 9, or 10 years old commits a transgression or a crime while alone, without
the pressure of peers. This reflects an interior impulse toward harm. Criminal versatility-committing
different types of crimes in different settings-can also hint at future psychopathy.
But the biggest red flag is early violence. "Most of the psychopaths I meet in prison had been
in fights with teachers in elementary school or junior high," Kiehl says. "When I'd interview them,
I'd say, 'What's the worst thing you did in school?' And they'd say, 'I beat the teacher unconscious.'
You're like, That really happened? It turns out that's very common."
... ... ...
The second hallmark of a psychopathic brain is an overactive reward system especially primed
for drugs, sex, or anything else that delivers a ping of excitement. In one study, children
played a computer gambling game programmed to allow them to win early on and then slowly begin to
lose. Most people will cut their losses at some point, Kent Kiehl notes, "whereas the psychopathic,
callous unemotional kids keep going until they lose everything." Their brakes don't work, he says.
Faulty brakes may help explain why psychopaths commit brutal crimes: Their brains ignore cues
about danger or punishment. "There are all these decisions we make based on threat, or the fear that
something bad can happen," says Dustin Pardini, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor
of criminology at Arizona State University. "If you have less concern about the negative consequences
of your actions, then you'll be more likely to continue engaging in these behaviors. And when you
get caught, you'll be less likely to learn from your mistakes."
Researchers see this insensitivity to punishment even in some toddlers. "These are the kids that
are completely unperturbed by the fact that they've been put in time-out," says Eva Kimonis, who
works with callous children and their families at the University of New South Wales, in Australia.
"So it's not surprising that they keep going to time-out, because it's not effective for them. Whereas
reward-they're very motivated by that."
Listed below is the Hare
-Revised, a diagnostic tool used to identify
It was compiled by Dr. Robert Hare, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the
University of British Columbia, where he has taught and conducted research for
more than four decades, devoting most of his academic career to the study of
Dr. Hare created the
as a tool to
determine the length of stay for criminals in prison. It's obvious that the
present in criminals would play a
deciding factor on the length of stay. Dr. Hare ranks each trait on a scale of
0-3. For example, if a prisoner ranks 1 on all 20 traits, then he or she would
rank 20. Someone who ranks a 3 on all 20 traits would receive a score of 60 and
would probably receive a longer length of stay in prison.
Dr. Hare spends much time with each prisoner and consequently, scores them to
his best abilities. But even to Dr. Hare's own chagrin, he has been duped by many
psychopaths. With that in mind, please do not read through the traits and
instantly analyze everyone in your life. This information is meant to give you an
overview and it's something you can use as a tool to assess yourself and to use
wisely when assessing others.
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised
GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM
- The tendency to be smooth,
engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in
the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never
gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about
taking turns in talking, for example.
- A grossly inflated view of one's
abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart.
Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.
NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO BOREDOM
excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances
and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have low self-discipline in
carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail
to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks
that they consider dull or routine.
- Can be moderate or high; in moderate
form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form,
they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and
CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS
- The use of deceit and
deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished
from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is
present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of
LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT
- A lack of feelings or concern
for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned,
dispassionate, cold-hearted, and non-empathic. This item is usually
demonstrated by a disdain for one's victims.
- Emotional poverty or a limited range or
depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open
CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY
- A lack of feelings
toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.
- An intentional, manipulative,
selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack
of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete
POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS
- Expressions of irritability,
annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate
control of anger and temper; acting hastily.
PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
- A variety of brief,
superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of
sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a
history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking
great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.
EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS
- A variety of behaviors prior to
age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity,
fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.
LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS
- An inability or
persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic
existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.
- The occurrence of behaviors that are
unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation,
frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the
consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.
- Repeated failure to fulfill or honor
obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans,
performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor
FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN ACTIONS
failure to accept responsibility for one's actions reflected in low
conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial
of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.
MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS
- A lack of
commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable,
and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.
- Behavior problems between the ages
of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of
antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless
REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE
- A revocation of
probation or other conditional releases due to technical violations, such as
carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.
- A diversity of types of criminal
offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them;
taking great pride at getting away with crimes.The word psychopath can be
replaced with the word sociopath throughout this page. The meaning is very
similar, if not the same.
General caveat: in the absence of generally accepted "objective" categories, the ICD/DCM "deviancy"
descriptions skew heavily towards (or certainly smell of) lack of expected social conformance.
(Even less than a century ago, it was not uncommon that "uncooperative" relatives or wives, or
reticent individuals were committed to get rid of them, strip them of their civil rights, or obtain
control of their assets - with the cooperation of the public and private sector psychiatric profession).
That's not to say they don't have a basis in fact.
W.r.t. sociopathy, a characterization I found useful was "treating other people like video
game characters" (and the word "pawn" (in the sense of chess) pretty much suggests itself). It
is consistent with the criteria you listed.
Other than that, it is a sliding scale/shades of gray, not a yes/no kind of thing.
W.r.t. sociopathy, a characterization I found useful was "treating other people like video
game characters" (and the word "pawn" (in the sense of chess) pretty much suggests itself).
It is consistent with the criteria you listed.
Other than that, it is a sliding scale/shades of gray, not a yes/no kind of thing.
That's a very good observation. Thank you !
Treating people like video game characters = lack of compassion = objectification
"(Even less than a century ago, it was not uncommon that "uncooperative" relatives or wives,
or reticent individuals were committed to get rid of them, strip them of their civil rights,
or obtain control of their assets - with the cooperation of the public and private sector psychiatric
Of course you can create a clichι out of any definition and use it against people you do not
like. But sociopathy is a real danger in modern society, especially in terms of "high functioning
sociopaths" (if you look under this angle at Clinton family you will find some interesting and
disturbing correlations) which neoliberalism implicitly promotes as it by objectifying everything.
And in this sense neoliberalism is a sociopathic ideology == natural, very convenient ideology
Paine said in reply to Peter K....
March 30, 2017 at 07:34 AM
Corporate aims are inevitably sociopathic at key moments. The
contradiction between corporate aims and social welfare is
Social democracy in the 30 - 60's was an attempt to
cushion society from the welfare depredations of its
The struggle to constrain corporations by progressive
liberals having failed abysmally by 1930. The liberals joined
de facto social democrats in a new wave of regulations
imposed on financial corporations.
Various hallmark sociopath traits are listed below. It is
important to note that not all traits will be present in all
According to ICD-10 criteria, presence of 3 or more of the
following qualifies for the diagnosis of antisocial
personality disorder (~sociopathy):
1.Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.
2.Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and
disregard for social norms, and obligations.
3.Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though
having no difficulty in establishing them.
4.Very low tolerance to frustration, a low threshold for
discharge of aggression, including violence.
5.Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from
experience, particularly punishment.
6.Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible
rationalization for the behavior that has brought the person
into conflict with society.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM IV-TR) is another widely used tool for the diagnosis and
it defines sociopath traits as:
A) Pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the
rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated
by three or more of the following:
1.Failure to conform to social norms with respect to
lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts
that are grounds for arrest
2.Deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of
aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3.Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
4.Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by
repeated physical fights or assaults
5.Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
6.Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated
failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor
7.Lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or
rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
... ... ...
Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy vs. Antisocial Personality
There is often confusion between these terminologies
because of wide overlapping of the features. Sociopathy is
nearly synonymous with antisocial personality disorder.
Antisocial personality disorder is a medical diagnosis which
is commonly termed as sociopathy. However, some people may
have some features of sociopathy which may not be suffice to
meet the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality
disorder. They may also be called (albeit wrongly)
Some people consider psychopathy synonymous with
sociopathy. However, psychopathy is a more severe form of
sociopathy. Psychopathy is not a defined diagnosis in the
widely used DSM-IV criteria for the diagnosis of mental
disorders. Most of psychopaths will meet the diagnostic
criteria for antisocial personality disorder, however vice
versa is not true and only 1/3rd of the sociopaths will meet
the criteria for psychopathy.
High Functioning Sociopath
High functioning sociopath is term used to describe people
with sociopath traits that also happen to have a very high
They are likely to be highly successful in the field they
endeavor (politics, business, etc.).
They plan very meticulously and the presence of
sociopathic traits like lack of empathy, lack of remorse,
deceptiveness, shallow emotions, etc. makes it very difficult
for "normal" people to compete with them.
Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 06:52 PM
Furthermore, Tony Podesta's favorite artist is Biljana Djurdjevic, whose art heavily features
images of children in BDSM-esque positions in large showers.
Psychopathy in the Pedophile (From Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior, P 304-320,
1998, Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, et al, eds.See NCJ-179236)
This paper argues that pedophilia may represent a special case or subcase of psychopathy and
that the main aims of both the psychopath and the pedophile are to dominate, to use, and to subjugate
another person in service of the grandiose self. [...] It notes that the major differences between
psychopaths and pedophiles are that the object of the predation for the pedophile is a child and
that the overt behavioral manifestation of the pathology is sexual.
"Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of parenting, human beings
aren't born with the inclination to be ruled, controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human
]. Hierarchies are artificial constructs designed to serve a purpose. They are
a necessity within any society that boasts high degrees of wealth and power inequities. They are a
necessity for maintaining these inequities and ensuring they are not challenged from below."
"Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of
parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled,
controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings" [The Hampton
This is a complex subject, but I'll hazard a guess that Colin Jenkins, the
author of the article, is wrong. Our close relatives the chimpanzees and
gorillas have dominance hierarchies, and one's position in the hierarchy can be
enforced by violence. Even bonobos have dominance hierarchies, although they
are much less violent than their cousins. Human hierarchies have existed for
tens of thousands of years, which has been verified by differences in burial
goods at grave sites. With the invention of agriculture around eleven or twelve
thousand years ago, hierarchicalism really took off.
I'm not saying that hierarchies are good simply because they are natural.
Complex hierarchies and the associated severe inequality are very bad.
Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race. Outside of
parenting, human beings aren't born with the inclination to be ruled,
controlled, 'managed,' and 'supervised' by other human beings.
True, maybe, for hunter gatherers, but unlikely.
Otherwise the assertion is not supported by any facts for any human group
anywhere. Please provide examples which support this statement.
I've lived in many places and seen many things. I've never even heard of
a group of humans without a leader, and hence a hierarchy.
Even hunter gatherers have hierarchies. They just don't have much
material inequality. But there is probably some inequality, as grave
sites have shown (of course there is uncertainty and controversy about
this). See this for more information:
The Rainbow Family is a (dis)organization with no leaders. There are
those who "focalize" (focus + organize) people to get things done but no
leader or spokesperson. It makes it much harder to quash a movement that
has no discernible head to remove or co-opt.
If you want to borrow from Deleuze & Guattari in Capitalism and
Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus, the hierarchy learned within the family is one
of the main methods society uses to prepare you for an authoritarian
society, and that the existence of the nuclear family shouldn't be seen as
separate from society but one of its basic building blocks. I'm greatly over
simplifying, but one of its many basic arguments is that conditioning
children to unquestioningly accept the authority of the father is a sort of
training wheels version of the eventual submission to the boss, the drill
sergeant, the political leader.
I'd also argue that this split between what is and isn't natural is
tenuous at best. Even if I were to accept the argument that hierarchy "isn't
natural" it's not like we could ever hope to return to such a state of
nature, so it becomes almost a complete non sequitur.
Hierarchies direct significant resources toward enforcing the Order.
Empires have larger standing armies and military sectors than free states.
Impoverished people, that is, those excluded from resources by the Order,
tend to find their communities more heavily policed and less valued as
Jeremy Belknap propagandized the "unable to govern themselves" bromide
for his personal and/or church-corporate benefit.
Societies with higher personal longevity and higher inequality tend to be
more conservative, as vested interests constitute a larger proportion of the
In other words, how many generations of scientific husbandry and
selective breeding does it take to create "nature"? That's why I'm not
Ditto. My sentiments run toward equality and fighting hierarchy seems a
noble effort. The status quo affects of entrenched hierarchies are pretty
ugly in the lower tiers and justice would be served by altering the social
system to accommodate the grievances. To argue that social hierarchies are
not natural is tantamount to arguing against societies at all.
create structures to reproduce.
re: Hierarchies. I'm convinced sociopathy is at the root of this problem.
And there may be something about the species that makes us all prone to this
condition. Much more work needs to be done and I think the answers will make a
lot of people uncomfortable.
Re "Hierarchies aren't natural phenomena within the human race." As a
sociologist, I must with regret snark: "Further research is necessary." (Ha,
ha, how do you answer this question with research?) This is, nonetheless, a
central question of human nature which sociologists and anthropologists are
unable to reach consensus on. If we're in a sociopathic system, that's
mote-or-less a Marxist view and actually a hopeful sign that our cultural
pathology can be overcome. If what we have now is a social system that
reflects the inherent nature of humans to dominate one another -more-or-less
a Weberian Iron Cage view-, the implication is clear. Another possibility:
Hierarchy appears as surplus resources are generated, and an egalitarian
system develops when resources cannot be accumulated, i.e, hunters and
gatherers. As opposed to the certainty with which economists speak (false
bravado though it may be), sociologists and anthropologists are best
characterized by the phrase, "Well, on the one hand " To me, it's astounding
how few sociologists are deeply engaged in recognizing and then studying the
collapse of the current system and how it bears on the hierarchy question.
(I first posted this in 2014. It is
worthy of another posting.)
Back when I was a boy, I watched
entirely too much television. Of course,
who could blame me? Tempted by a luxuriant
three, count them, three channels, albeit
one of them fuzzy in bad weather, to choose
from! However, I do not regret watching
on Channel 3. Back
in those bygone days, many stations would
run old movies from the thirties, forties
and fifties, between 3:00 PM-5:00 PM. Thus
I first experienced some of the classics of
cinema, and one of my favorites was
, 1944, the first of
the film noire genre. Adultery and murder
were perhaps too mature topics for me in my
initial pre-teen viewings, but I was
fascinated by it because it seemed to be a
playing out on screen of what I was
learning at the time from
: that sin will lead
inevitably to destruction unless contrition
and amendment are made. The film was
fortunate to have at its center three
masters of the craft of acting.
Fred MacMurray, born in Kankakee,
Illinois, 37 miles from my abode, in 1907,
was a good guy in real life and usually in
reel life. A firm Catholic and staunch
Republican, he tried to join the military
after Pearl Harbor but a punctured ear drum
kept him out of service. He adopted a
total of four kids with his two wives: his
first wife dying from cancer in 1953, and
his second wife remaining his wife until
his death. (Such fidelity was as rare in
Hollywood then as it is now.) On screen
MacMurray played to type and was almost
always a good guy, but not always, and it
is ironic that the two best performances
of his career came when he played bad
guys: weak, lustful and doomed Walter Neff
scheming, cowardly Lieutenant Thomas
The Caine Mutiny
Barbara Stanwyck had a Dickensian
childhood from which she was lucky to
emerge alive, her mother dying of a
miscarriage and her father going off to
work on the Panama Canal and never being
heard from again. A series of foster homes
followed, which Ruby Catherine Stevens, as
Stanwyck was then named, constantly ran
away from. Dropping out of school at 14 to
begin working, she never looked back.
Breaking into show business by becoming a
dancer in the Ziegfield Follies at age 16,
she was a star on broadway in the play
before she turned 20.
Changing her name to Barbara Stanwyck, she
broke into films immediately thereafter,
displaying a flair for both drama and
comedy, specializing in strong independent
women. Her personal, as opposed to her
professional, life was a mess. Married in
1928 to her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay,
they adopted a son, Stanwyck having been
rendered sterile by an abortion at 15. The
marriage ended in divorce in 1935, Fay
during the marriage often slapping Stanwyck
around when he was drunk. Stanwyck got
custody of their son. Stanwyck was a
hovering and authoritarian mother, leading
to a life long alienation from her son
after he became an adult. Stanwyck married
actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and, after
numerous acts of infidelity on both sides,
divorced in 1950. Ironically Stanwyck and
Taylor did stay friends after their
divorce, Stanwyck, who never remarried,
referring to him as the true love of her
life. In her politics Stanwyck was a
staunch conservative Republican who
supported the investigations of Congress
into Communist infiltration into
Hollywood. Remaining in demand as an
actress almost until her death in 1990, she
filled her last years with charitable
work. Stanwyck was well equipped by her
own tumultuous life to give depth to her
portrayal of the murderous, scheming
Phyllis Dietrichson in
Although remembered today chiefly for
his gangster roles and his portrayal of the
rat-like Dathan in
Edward G. Robinson was
actually an actor with a very broad range
of work: comedies, dramas, historical
epics, you name it. By 1944 he was age 51
and realized that his days as a leading man
were coming to a close. His half
comedic role as the insurance claims
adjuster Barton Keyes in
he viewed as a step in his
transition to being a character actor.
Always a liberal, Robinson was blacklisted
in Hollywood due to his affiliation with
Communist front groups. Robinson admitted
as much by an article he wrote for the
American Legion Magazine
the Reds Made a Sucker Out of Me". His
comeback came when anti-Communist director
Cecil B. DeMille, who thought that Robinson
had been treated unfairly, cast him in the
scene-stealing role of Dathan in
This book is a desperately needed wake up call to NS men needing fluorescent illumination
in the middle of "gaslight" and other
" I really identified with the "role reversal" and truth that there are men that suffer under
a female N's tactics. The severity and persistence of the female N is exposed brilliantly in this
Having Zari identify the male as a victim of the narcissist is crucial to helping men break
free of the craziness, while also helping men identify why they feel so stuck loving the woman
they have committed their souls to.
Also crucial, is the chapter that breaks out the difficulty
of "no contact" when children are involved. While many N relationships share much in common, the
male NS suffers under societies prescribed male strengths, and serves to undermine the ability
of men to overcome being trapped.
Society typically has the female's back, especially narcissistic
women, as they are often the victims of stereotypical males (in real life and fictional portrayals).
Kudos to the Author for helping unlock the chains of this forbidden subject. There are, not undeservedly,
many explicatives used in this book. I believe the strong words are appropo representations of
the years of suffering and pain inflicted by the narcissist on their supply.
The author's insights
will likely help release many NS men from their prison within.
on December 11, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Need to get off the crazy train? This is your first stop!
" Guys, if your life is one gigantic roller coaster ride of being seduced, destroyed emotionally,
and then kicked to the curb when you say anything, then this is the place to start. If you're
looking at this review, then you know something in your relationship is slowly poisoning you to
death. It is NOT you! Wanna know why? Get the book!!!
on December 2, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Worth The Read
" If you have any questions about the patterns in your relationship this will help. More research
on narcissism and manipulation will be needed, but it offers some good advice about seeing more
clearly the issues that might lie hidden in the shade.
Men under pain by narc women deserved to get a book like this.
" I was married to a narc women for several years, and we share a daughter. I thank Zari Ballard
for this excellent account of how narc females move around in society, mostly unknown to other
people, friends and relatives who judge them just as "weird" or "arrogant".
In my case, I felt
like a man who was for years playing on a stage and with a choreography designed by my ex wife.
Now, thanks to books like this one, I can stand aside and *understand* what went on, and what
is currently going on. As a victim, narcissism makes you crazy, the more you delve into it to
understand it, the more you get tangled in the lies, distorted views of reality, crazy nonsense
I spent years married with a woman with whom I had no real dialogue, without
If you are a man in distress, and you feel some woman makes you feel miserable, please
read this book to go deep into the causes of your pain. Thanks Zari for your book, thanks from
the many men that suffer the pain inflicted by narcissistic women.
on December 5, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best reads on Female Narcs out there
" This was an amazing read and helped me far more than even therapy. Zari has helped males
understand the Female Narc better than any of the myriad of books I have read on the subject.
on May 17, 2015 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a must read if you've been on "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" with one of these psychopaths at
" After being systematically brainwashed then discarded, I educated myself by reading everything
I could get my hands on regarding Narcissism and Narcissist abuse, specifically male victims of
these pathological parasites.
I found the content of this book very insightful, helpful, and matter-of-fact.
Zari does not claim to be a doctor, teacher, or therapist. However, she provides a great insight
for surviving this painful ordeal with proven methods of healing from a former victim's prospective.
" An extraordinary, concise, at times darkly humorous and sobering road map to help you on
your way out of the long dark tunnel designed by the female Narcissist. I had suffered for over
a year in this kind of 'relationship', and after the discard was left tortured by self doubt,
depression, and confusion.
After reading Zari's book just once, i gradually felt that much needed
shift - the chapter 'Tactics Of Emotional Warfare' details a list of characteristics of the Narcissistic
personality, which left me feeling as though i had been exorcised by a friendly priest, leaving
me without a shadow of doubt that this was not something i had imagined, nor could have done anything
By the second reading, (the very next day) that brick wall of denial slowly began to crumble,
allowing the undeniable facts to speak for themselves, and sink in. It's easy to feel alone in
times like these, perhaps your friends or family may not completely understand your pain, but Zari does - and I believe this book is the only friend you will need to guide you on your way
back to sanity.
Gaslighting: An insidious form of emotional abuse
Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00 UTC
Once in a while, it's normal to have a fleeting moment where you question
your own sanity, like when you're severely
sleep deprived or
stressed out . But if a relationship leaves you constantly
second-guessing your own instincts and feelings, you may be a victim of a
sophisticated form of
emotional abuse : gaslighting. Like other types of abuse, gaslighting can
happen in all sorts of relationships, including personal, romantic, and
Ben Michaelis, PhD, a New York City-based clinical psychologist, has worked
with victims of gaslighting. For one of his patients-we'll call her
Marie-the gaslighting began when her husband shouted another woman's name
When she tried to discuss the incident with him, he
flatly denied what he'd said and told Marie she was hearing things.
Marie figured she must have had too much to drink. But then the lying
continued: Marie's husband would
change his alibi constantly
and when Marie questioned him, he'd say she was acting delusional. It wasn't
until almost a year later when Marie realized her husband had been hiding an
affair the whole time.
"[Gaslighting] is like someone saying the sky is green over and over again,
and at first you'll be like 'no, no,'" says Gail Saltz, MD a psychiatrist
and host of the podcast
The Power of Different .
"Then over time the person starts to
manipulate you into saying 'I guess I can't really see what color the sky
is.' It's just this sense of unreality."
Acknowledging you're a victim of gaslighting like Marie did can be tricky at
first, says Michaelis, who is the author of
Your Next Big Thing: 10
Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.
"Initially, if someone is
insisting on a reality that is different from your own, you'll think,
Why was I off that day?
Was I tired?
" As the gaslighting
victims begin to question themselves and their judgment
more and more.
Michaelis says this can go on for months or even
years before they realize they're being gaslighted. "People who experience
gaslighting may show obsessive-compulsive symptoms because they want to
constantly check themselves and recheck themselves," says Dr. Michaelis. The
confidence-depleting nature of gaslighting could contribute to increased
anxiety in many or all aspects of a victim's life, not only in the
relationship. Many gaslighting victims berate themselves or feel the need to
apologize all the time, explains Dr. Saltz.
Gaslighting can manifest in a workplace environment as well. "Your boss may
use gaslighting to hide a mistake or cover up information they didn't mean
to share," says Michaelis.
"It can also be a passive-aggressive
gesture used among peers who are competing."
If you realize you're being gaslighted, the first thing you need to
recognize is that a gaslighter may not be conscious of the effects of their
actions, especially if they have issues with being wrong or out of control.
In this case, confronting the gaslighter could work. Michaelis suggests
conducting all conversations you have with the gaslighter in a recorded
format, like through email or text. Then, when gaslighting occurs, tell the
person what they originally said.
"If they continue do deny what
they said, you can supply the recorded evidence so they have a concrete
understanding of what happened,"
says Michaelis. This method works
best when confronting a friend or partner.
In professional relationships, Michaelis suggests reaching out to a third
party, like human resources, which can make the confrontation more
objective. You can take this route in your personal relationships as well by
enlisting a friend or family member to help. "If you find it happening to
you, be thoughtful of the person's motivations," Michaelis says. "They don't
usually do it out of pure ill-will. It usually correlates with trying to
cover something up, so first try to repair the relationship if it's worth
If confrontation fails and ending the relationship is an option, Dr. Saltz
recommends doing so. Michaelis agrees: "All relationships are changeable.
Maybe not immediately, but they are changeable or
severable if need
," he says.
If you have to stick it out with a gaslighter, though, try to boost your
confidence with the support of good friends. "If you're having a hard time
changing the situation, they can bolster your reality otherwise," says
Michaelis. In a work environment,
you should also be wary of what
information you share with a gaslighter
. Michaelis suggests
withholding personal life details with a gaslighting co-worker or boss to
protect yourself from emotional abuse in the office.
No matter which method you choose, it's important to take control of reality
again, says Dr. Saltz. This involves
setting limits that stop
gaslighting attempts in their tracks
. For example, if your boss
calls you overly sensitive when you ask, "Why won't you let me work on big
company projects?" demand true feedback rather than accepting blame on your
character. "It's holding the line for what you're wanting to achieve," Dr.
Saltz says, "and not buying into accusations intended to knock down
Many psychiatric professionals agree that even
strong, intelligent, confident, and stable people can become vulnerable to
this form of emotional manipulation. Intelligence and emotions are not the
same thing and
a gaslighters' key maneuver is to prey on emotion
rather than intelligence.
Gaslighting is a
conscious, deliberate tactic of manipulation and control.
"... this book is the first I have seen that really, truly provides answers and healing for victims. ..."
"... I believed I had brought this misfortune upon myself. What is worse, unless someone has been through what some of us have, they can't understand, and so one is left feeling adrift, lonely, confused and misunderstood. It is also very easy to turn to non-constructive ways to block, drown or diffuse the anguish one suffers after a relationship with a psychopath ends. ..."
"... I now understand what happened to me, and I now realize, through the power of the words and insights in Thomas Sheridan's book, that it was NOT my fault. I was targeted. I was intentionally used in the most despicable ways. And I am not alone. ..."
"... The term for these people who have no empathy, conscious and who prey on vulnerable, decent caring people is PSYCHOPATH. If any of you out there are having trouble recovering from such an ordeal you are not alone. ..."
"... I was a strong, intelligent and happy person until I was targeted by a female vampire..idealized, devalued and thrown in the garbage like a used napkin. It nearly brought me to suicide. But guess what....didnt happen...to bad for the psychopath...thats what they want ..."
"... I found them to be very useful despite the fact I had already encountered psychopathic people before, my first (to my knowledge) being in a relationship in 1997. When it collapsed, so did I. Why had someone been so cruel, dishonest and manipulative toward me? I didn't deserve to be treated this way. I then went on to learn a lot about psychopaths. ..."
"... There is a section on the psychopaths that are at the highest levels of government and corporations, and the methods they employ to keep people in their grip. ..."
"... In addition, he explains the psychopathic organizations. He discusses individuals in politics, in religious organizations and possibly the person sleeping right next to you. ..."
"... The title of the Introduction summarizes the way we cannot stop being used: Know thyself - Know thy predator. ..."
"... They were good books, but this was the first that acknowledged and accurately articulated the emotional devastation from the victim's point of view. ..."
"... It was the book that convinced me that my tormenter is a psychopath. It also helped me free myself from the shame and self-blame, the feeling that I was weak or stupid for getting drawn into the crazy-making web of a parasite. Also, I was accepting of the fact that I needed to go completely no contact. ..."
"... Finally, it put to rest any impulses I had to try to get even with or expose this person. I've realized that it's pointless and probably dangerous to do so. I know I've already been trashed to our mutual acquaintances. I can only hope the people who've seen through this monster won't believe what they've been told. But if they do, I suppose it's their loss. ..."
"... A Good Place to Start. If you have only just cottoned on to the existence of psychopaths and the trouble they bring into your life this book is a good place to start. If you've been the target of a psychopath it will help you understand why. It will also help you plan your escape, survival and recovery. If you want to learn more after reading this book look at books by Jon Ronson, Martha Stout and Robert D. Hare. ..."
Finally - a book
that truly helps victims of psychopaths
This is an amazing, life-changing book for anyone who has
been a victim of a psychopath. I was in a relationship
with a psychopath for over five years, and while I had
read other books that were very helpful (including check
lists that made my blood run cold) this book is the first
I have seen that really, truly provides answers and
healing for victims.
I had spent the last seven years
feeling that I was only partly healed from my experience.
I still felt a big part of myself was missing and I was
deeply depressed. I had come to accept that I would never
be the same - that I would always bear a large amount of
damage to my psyche, my self esteem and my sense of who I
was. I felt that a big part of me had been taken, but more
importantly, I believed that I had ALLOWED it to happen,
and that it was ALL MY FAULT.
I believed I had brought
this misfortune upon myself. What is worse, unless someone
has been through what some of us have, they can't
understand, and so one is left feeling adrift, lonely,
confused and misunderstood. It is also very easy to turn
to non-constructive ways to block, drown or diffuse the
anguish one suffers after a relationship with a psychopath
ends. This book saved my life. I read it within about 3-4
short evenings, and it has completely changed the way I
perceive what happened in a way that is highly empowering.
I am re-claiming my fundamental spirit and joy.
understand what happened to me, and I now realize, through
the power of the words and insights in Thomas Sheridan's
book, that it was NOT my fault. I was targeted. I was
intentionally used in the most despicable ways. And I am
not alone. There is help, there is hope, and you can
regain what you lost of yourself. They say there are no
magic bullets for curing deep trauma, but I am here to
tell you, this book is that magic bullet for survivors of
psychopaths to not only recover, but emerge stronger, more
whole and more joyful than ever before. Read it. Learn it.
Get your life back.
very best work out there..author under attack from cult
Let me start out by saying that Thomas Sheridan's
brilliant work about the world of psychopaths in both
personal relationships and in society at large...is
currently being subjected to a smear campaign by a
disgruntled cult leader....hense as you can see after
sometime in mid August there appears on Amazon numerous
one star reviews denigrating his book. Prior to mid August
you will see that the book is universally raved.
Enough of that. Let me tell you my opinion having had the
mis fortune to be in a romantic relationship for six
months with one of these soul rapers.
First off only people who had been involved with these
entities will truly understand how helpful and
extraordinary Seridens work is in helping them make sense
of what happened to them. Personally, I spent the last six
months studying narcissist personally disorder,
borderlines etc...its all nonsense. The term for these
people who have no empathy, conscious and who prey on
vulnerable, decent caring people is PSYCHOPATH. If any of
you out there are having trouble recovering from such an
ordeal you are not alone.
I was a strong, intelligent and
happy person until I was targeted by a female vampire..idealized, devalued and thrown in the garbage
like a used napkin. It nearly brought me to suicide. But
guess what....didnt happen...to bad for the psychopath...thats
what they want. To murder you and get away with it.
Sheridans work is brilliant and I've read everything in
the world that is out there. If you've been targeted by
one of these creeps read Sheridan's books.. you'll feel
100% better and you will come to understand the dark ,
empty, lying subhuman demon that passed trough you life.
There's nowhere to go but UP from there and on to becoming
the loving, caring beautiful and now knowledgeable
empathetic human you are. Do not pass go. Get both books
you won't regret it. Pay no attention to the negative
reviews by the psychopaths online trying to smear his
timely, brilliant and important work.
Upon recently breaking up with what turned out to be a
psychopath, I found the YouTube channel of Thomas
Sheridan. There, he posts videos pertaining to the subject
of psychopaths in our society.
I found them to be very
useful despite the fact I had already encountered
psychopathic people before, my first (to my knowledge)
being in a relationship in 1997. When it collapsed, so did
I. Why had someone been so cruel, dishonest and
manipulative toward me? I didn't deserve to be treated
this way. I then went on to learn a lot about psychopaths.
This is the third book I've read on the subject. It is
written in a very easily understood language, rather than
using too many clinical terms that are encountered in
books written by authors who are admittedly in possession
of a PhD. I don't believe the lack of a piece of paper
makes Puzzling People any less valid. After all, anyone is
capable of making a study of people and documenting their
findings, and perhaps go on to publish those findings.
I finished the book off in two days. The various key
traits of the psychopath are outlined. Often I would laugh
upon reading some of the paragraphs. That's because they
resonated so strongly with my own experiences. Admittedly
I did not learn anything startlingly new from this book,
since I have previous experience with psychopaths and have
read other books, but this book is useful to read
nonetheless. In fact it might be useful to remind oneself
now and then of this unfortunate type of person. The
psychopath is a shell that houses an entity unlike most of
us. It has no conscience. It is devoid of the wide range
of emotions the rest of us have. It can do what it wants
to you and me and it can sleep at night. It is sub-human.
There is a section on the psychopaths that are at the
highest levels of government and corporations, and the
methods they employ to keep people in their grip.
The book concludes with ways to regain your life and
energy after an encounter with a psychopath, and reminds
us to close the door on them and never ever open it again.
The only complaint I have with the book (and you can call
me pedantic if you like) is that it really ought to have
been proof-read before publishing because it is,
unfortunately, littered with typographical errors. At
times I found that a little distracting. However, it
doesn't take away from the fact that it's a good read on a
subject more people really need to be aware of.
Steven Haackon December 8, 2015
Know thyself - Know thy predator
This book is a must read for every adult. Sheridan opens up the inner world of the psychopath.
The psychopath has no conscience; they are experts at manipulation. They cannot be changed.
In addition, he explains the psychopathic organizations. He discusses individuals in politics, in
religious organizations and possibly the person sleeping right next to you.
The title of the Introduction summarizes the way we cannot stop being used: Know thyself -
Know thy predator.
Michael Harrison October 18, 2015
Must read for anyone in the corporate world
Absolute required reading, to survive and thrive in our world...Sheridan will help you
understand the world, and help you to understand how to relax,. and thrive.
Artist on March 10, 2014
Good and bad, but mostly good
This book is tremendously comforting for anyone who's emerged from a relationship with a
psychopath. I've read Robert Hare's and George Simon's books on, respectively, sociopaths and
manipulators. They were good books, but this was the first that acknowledged and accurately
articulated the emotional devastation from the victim's point of view.
It was the book that convinced me that my tormenter is a psychopath. It also helped me
free myself from the shame and self-blame, the feeling that I was weak or stupid for getting
drawn into the crazy-making web of a parasite. Also, I was accepting of the fact that I needed to
go completely no contact.
Finally, it put to rest any impulses I had to try to get even with or expose this person.
I've realized that it's pointless and probably dangerous to do so. I know I've already been
trashed to our mutual acquaintances. I can only hope the people who've seen through this monster
won't believe what they've been told. But if they do, I suppose it's their loss.
The only problem I had with the book was that it went off the rails about three-quarters
of the way through, turning into a screed against "institutional psychopaths" in popular culture,
government, etc. I understand the author's passion, but his points could have been made more
succinctly and with more restraint. As they stand now, it sounds like ranting.
William Heagueon January 31, 2014
A Good Place to Start. If you have only just cottoned on to the existence of psychopaths
and the trouble they bring into your life this book is a good place to start. If you've been the
target of a psychopath it will help you understand why. It will also help you plan your escape,
survival and recovery. If you want to learn more after reading this book look at books by Jon
Ronson, Martha Stout and Robert D. Hare.
Hoosier Hayseed January 21, 2014
Extremely helpful advice
Following an episode with a family member which absolutely left me dumbfounded that anybody
could be so cold and indifferent to the needs of another human being - even a relative - I looked
for any books I could find about psychotic behavior.
I found one, "The Sociopath Next Door," which was excellent, and then, later on, I began to see
other books on the subject, and bought several of them.
But Thomas Sheridan's book has been, hands down, the best of the lot, and probably has
satisfied my need to search for any more information on the subject.
He really covers all the bases about psychopaths, and explains many things - some of which I
already knew, and others that I had surmised on my own, but there were many other things which
were completely new to me, which I found invaluable to learn about.
His humanity, and his love for the other members of humanity simply shines through, and he makes
a couple of very profound comments, which offer much encouragement for anybody who has ever been
subjected to one of these freaks.
One is the observation that once you learn what a psychopath is all about, you are probably,
from that moment, safeguarded from ever being fooled by one again, which is extremely comforting
The other thing is his conviction that, as bad as they are, they are always doomed to failure,
and that we will ultimately win, is very encouraging.
But one thing that still confounds me is just trying to understand exactly what they are. They
appear for all the world to be human, and you may know for a fact that they came from human
parents - maybe even your own family - but they act like aliens, or anything but someone of this
I had thought that the only answer was that they were simply evil, and that may be the
But if the problem is that their brain is actually defective - missing the genes that account
for empathy and compassion - then it stands to reason that they simply are not "playing with a
full deck," as it were, almost literally.
But whatever they are, they are a living nightmare for anybody to encounter, and even worse
than that, if you happen to be so unfortunate as to find yourself married to one.
"... No. Don't do the selfish thing or the self-serving thing ..."
"... I don't care what happens to the world because I'm getting even ..."
"... Someone who has money, and sex, and rock and roll, and everything they want may still be psychopathic-but they may just manipulate people, or use people, and not kill them. They may hurt others, but not in a violent way. ..."
The key question is whether he is a charlatan wanting publicly or a honest reseracher? If I
were him I would make a second scan in othe demical instition befor jumping to conclution, That fact
that he did not do even this completly undermined his credibility. Also phychopath is not medical
Jan 21, 2014 | http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/ | Judith Ohikuare
Neuroscientist James Fallon discovered through his work that he has the
brain of a psychopath
--[and he might be wrong -- NNB]
You used to believe that people were roughly 80 percent the result of genetics, and 20 percent the
result of their environment. How did this discovery cause a shift in your thinking?
I went into this with the bias of a scientist who believed, for many years, that genetics were
very, very dominant in who people are-that your genes would tell you who you were going to be. It's
not that I no longer think that biology, which includes genetics, is a major determinant; I just
never knew how profoundly an early environment could affect somebody.
... ... ...
While I was writing this book, my mother started to tell me more things about myself. She said
she had never told me or my father how weird I was at certain points in my youth, even though I was
a happy-go-lucky kind of kid. And as I was growing up, people all throughout my life said I could
be some kind of gang leader or Mafioso don because of certain behavior. Some parents forbade their
children from hanging out with me. They'd wonder how I turned out so well-a family guy, successful,
professional, never been to jail and all that.
... ... ...
I found out that I happened to have a series of genetic alleles, "warrior genes," that had to do
with serotonin and were thought to be at risk for aggression, violence, and low emotional and
interpersonal empathy-if you're raised in an abusive environment. But if you're raised in a very
positive environment, that can have the effect of offsetting the negative effects of some of the
... ... ...
After all of this research, I started to think of this experience as an opportunity to do
something good out of being kind of a jerk my entire life. Instead of trying to fundamentally
change-because it's very difficult to change anything-I wanted to use what could be considered
faults, like narcissism, to an advantage; to do something good.
... ... ...
I started with simple things of how I
interact with my wife, my sister, and my mother. Even though they've always been close to
me, I don't treat them all that well. I treat strangers pretty well-really well, and people
tend to like me when they meet me -- but
I treat my family the same way, like they're just somebody at a bar. I treat them well, but
I don't treat them in a special way. That's the big problem.
I asked them this -- it's not something a
person will tell you spontaneously -- but they said, "I give you everything. I give you all
this love and you really don't give it back." They all said it, and that sure bothered me.
So I wanted to see if I could change. I don't believe it, but I'm going to try.
In order to do that, every time I started to do something, I had to think about it, look
at it, and go:
No. Don't do the selfish thing or the self-serving thing
Step-by-step, that's what I've been doing for about a year and a half and they all like it.
Their basic response is: We know you don't really mean it, but we still like it.
I told them, "You've got to be kidding me. You accept this? It's phony!" And they said,
"No, it's okay. If you treat people better it means you care enough to try." It blew me
away then and still blows me away now.
But treating everyone the same isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? Is it just
that the people close to you want more from you?
Yes. They absolutely expect and demand more. It's a kind of cruelty, a kind of abuse,
because you're not giving them that love. My wife to this day says it's hard to be with me
at parties because I've got all these people around me, and I'll leave her or other people
in the cold. She is not a selfish person, but I can see how it can really work on somebody.
I gave a talk two years ago in India at the Mumbai LitFest on personality disorders and
psychopathy, and we also had a historian
from Oxford talk about violence against women in terms of the brain and social development.
After it was over, a woman came up to me and asked if we could talk. She was a psychiatrist
but also a science writer and said, "You said that you live in a flat emotional world-that
is, that you treat everybody the same. That's Buddhist." I don't know anything about
Buddhism but she continued on and said, "It's too bad that the people close to you are so
disappointed in being close to you. Any learned Buddhist would think this was great." I
don't know what to do with that.
Sometimes the truth is not just that it hurts, but that it's just so disappointing. You
want to believe in romance and have romance in your life-even the most hardcore, cold
intellectual wants the romantic notion. It kind of makes life worth living. But with these
kinds of things, you really start thinking about what a machine it means we are-what it
means that some of us don't need those feelings, while some of us need them so much. It
destroys the romantic fabric of society in a way.
So what I do, in this situation, is think: How do I treat the people in my life as if
I'm their son, or their brother, or their husband? It's about going the extra mile for them
so that they know I know this is the right thing to do. I know when the situation comes up,
but my gut instinct is to do something selfish. Instead, I slow down and try to think about
it. It's like dumb behavioral modification; there's no finesse to this, but I said, well,
why does there have to be finesse? I'm trying to treat it as a straightaway thing, when the
situation comes up, to realize there's a chance that I might be wrong, or reacting in a
poor way, or without any sort of love-like a human.
... ... ...
In some ways, though, the stakes are different for you because you're not
violent-and isn't that the concern? Relative to your own life, your attempts to change may
positively impact your relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues. But in the
case of possibly violent people, they may harm others.
The jump from being a "prosocial" psychopath or somebody on the edge who doesn't act out
violently, to someone who really is a real, criminal predator is not clear. For me, I think
I was protected because I was brought up in an upper-middle-class, educated environment
with very supportive men and women in my family. So there may be a mass convergence of
genetics and environment over a long period of time. But
what would happen if I lost my family or lost my job; what would I then become? That's the
For people who have the fundamental
biology-the genetics, the brain patterns, and that early existence of trauma-first of all,
if they're abused they're going to be pissed off and have a sense of revenge:
care what happens to the world because I'm getting even
. But a real, primary
psychopath doesn't need that. They're just predators who don't need to be angry at all;
they do these things because of some fundamental lack of connection with the human race,
and with individuals, and so on.
Someone who has money, and sex, and
rock and roll, and everything they want may still be psychopathic-but
they may just manipulate people, or use people, and not kill them. They may hurt others,
but not in a violent way.
Most people care about violence-that's the thing. People may say,
"Oh, this very bad investment counselor was a psychopath"-but the essential difference in
criminality between that and murder is something we all hate and we all fear. It just isn't
known if there is some ultimate trigger.
... ... ...
,,, For personality disorders it's
not really known when they will emerge because it's very understudied. People will say, you
can't do anything about it, it's locked in and there seems to be almost no treatment.
Whereas, for things like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, you can do
something about it. There are drugs, or things you can do with brain stimulation and talk
therapy, so that's where Big Pharma and the whole industry goes.
...A lot of kids,
bullied and they may get pissed off, but that doesn't create a personality disorder. But
there are 20 percent of kids who are really susceptible and they may ultimately be
triggered for a personality disorder in puberty. If
we know these children can be helped by making sure that they aren't abused or
abandoned-because you've got to get there really early-well,
then, that would be important to do. I don't mean to preach.
... ... ...
It means, for example, that if you have
to go to war, and sometimes you probably have to go to war-I'm not talking about a
belligerent country starting war or fomenting discord, but if you
to go to war and to engage infantry-you
do not send 18-year-olds into it, because their brains aren't set. They don't know how to
adjudicate what's happening emotionally and hormonally with the intellectualization of
it. When you're 20, 25, it's a different matter because things gel a little more. Our
emotions don't get away from us as much in terms of what is happening. Other factors,
sociological ones like what soldiers return to, are also important, but we're not going to
get rid of war any time soon, so we might as well engage in a way that does the least
amount of damage.
In terms of legal action, you've been
used as a researcher for court cases-not to determine guilt or innocence, but for
sentencing. Do you think there's a moral boundary for that since we don't have enough
knowledge on this field yet to determine guilt or innocence?
We don't have enough research. You can't just take genetics-even though I'm a big
proponent of it-or imaging, and tell if someone's a criminal or a psychopath. If you put
together all that information, you could explain a lot of behavior and causality and early
abuse-but we don't know enough.
So, when I get a case to look at, first
of all, I don't accept money-and
it's not because I'm a nice guy. It's because I think I'd be biased. I don't accept any
payment and I don't want to know who the person is. We all try to create a story or
narrative, and I'm just as weak as anybody. I'll tell the defense attorney, or public
defender, or whoever it is to just send me scans, maybe with normal scans to try to throw
me off, and then I'll look at them and discuss what the traits of the person might be based
on the lack of activity in certain areas or not.
I can usually say, "Oh, this person
might have a language problem," or "This person might have trouble with impulsivity." After
all of that analysis is there, we can look at their traits and see what they've done.
... ... ...
Some people have this psychopathy or
are almost psychopaths, and they get into trouble and go right to jail and end up in the
prison system as 18-year-olds. It's awful because they get unlucky and they don't have
enough impulse control to pull it back at the last instant. So, what is that edge where
somebody's got these traits, and they are impulsive? What puts one guy on a pathway to
becoming an attorney or successful in general, and the other one has life in prison? We
just have to find out what that edge is. I think we will have parameters to work with, but
it's not the same for everybody.
3 years ago
I am looking forward to the sequel, where he learns that he really isn't
a psychopath after all. His brother switched the MRI's as a practical
joke to get back at him for the African incident.
3 years ago
In my lifetime I've known 2-3 people like Fallon - fully functioning,
non-violent psychopaths. It didn't surprise me that his friends and
family were not surprised. It did surprise me that he did not see these
qualities in himself.
3 years ago
What would be very interesting would be to hear his wife's
perspective. What attracted her to him? When did she realize he was a
psychopath? Why did she stay with him? What is marriage to a
non-violent psychopath like?
3 years ago
I just read Sam Smith's comment (above) and I imagine that goes
some way towards answering your question. The individuals I knew
were psychically attractive and quite charismatic. They functioned
very well in group/social situations, but when it came to
one-on-one a lot of people (myself included) wanted nothing to do
with them because they were manipulative and used other people as
a means to an end. 'What is marriage to a non-violent psychopath
like?' A great question. One of the people I knew was a room-mate
for about a year. It was appalling. You do begin to question your
own sanity. It was only after the experience that I was able to
see what had really been going on, and I can't imagine how much
more intense it would be if you were also in a sexual relationship
or a marriage.
3 years ago
I had a mentor in grad school that I would armchair diagnose as
a non-violent psychopath. He was so manipulative, that while
working for him, you would begin to question your sanity. He
didn't know how to manipulate people in a positive manner
(because he made promises and never kept them), so he would
resort to threats. He once defended a threat he had made to me
(to kick me out of his lab with no degree for failing to
discover why 2 proteins of unknown function were interacting
fast enough) by saying, "You should have realized that I didn't
mean it. I tell my kids all the time that I don't love them
when I'm mad at them, but I don't mean it." All I could think
was, "Thank God, I'm only his student and not his kid."
3 years ago
Me too. I don't know how a faculty member in my former
academic department kept her job after the things she said
and did to me and to others in my presence. No one seemed to
notice, or was too afraid of her to bring it up.
3 years ago
Productivity. As long as he was publishing, he was given
free reign. When I finally went to talk to the dean, the
comment was, "What took so long? Everyone from your lab
comes to see us sooner or later." WTH?
3 years ago
I try not to be repetitious, but this was a
life changing event for me. It caused me to
completely rethink my philosophy of life and
had the additional benefit that it worsened a
chronic disease I have, the more aggressive
treatment of which made it possible for my
daughter to be conceived. It also lead me to
declare some behavior as unacceptable and to
refuse to accept this type of behavior
(rather than taking responsibility for others
behavior and finding excuses for them ad
3 years ago
By all means, repeat the story if it fits.
In no way was I being critical. Besides,
for internet purposes 'a year or so ago'
is as good as, 'in the time before
2 years ago
Her publications and grants were mediocre; far from
the best in the department. I think it was that
administrators didn't want to draw attention to her
actions in the first place. She did leave and not for
an academic department, at least not in the U.S.
a year ago
Your faculty member sounds quite a bit like Dr.
Valerie Fabrikant who eventually was imprisoned for a
long time in Canada when he went completely off the
rails. Whilst Fabrikant was producing papers and his
colleagues got to add their names to his papers then
everything was rosy but Fabrikant took exception to
his colleagues trying to ride for free on his
2 years ago
I worked with someone like that at MIT. One of her grad
students came to me right after I started working there
to warn me about her. I didn't understand at first, and
then the bizarre manipulations started. Her previous
assistant left because she had a nervous breakdown, and
all of the other division staff refused to even talk
directly to her. She was charming and flattering to all
of the faculty above her, though.
ability to manipulate that wins the psychopath sex and friends,
at least in the short term. Apparently my dad was only violent
while he was young - he did a stint in prison and then 'got
religion', but the manipulation was how he got what he wanted
the rest of his life.
His third wife seems to have been happy enough with him, but
I don't really see how. I wanted nothing to do with him and I'm
2 years ago
I think what is difficult to remember and to wrap our heads
around is that these individuals truly don't care if you
care. Your dad's manipulation was part of his character as
easy and un-noticed as his other characteristics. Don't we
all have characteristics that we don't recognize in
ourselves but may be very apparent to others?
2 years ago
The hallmark of a psychopath/sociopath is that they make
everyone around them feel crazy, because they show no evidence
of doubt in their own rightness...and normal, well-adjusted
people will always leave room for doubt, so when faced with
someone who repeatedly and adamantly insists that the sky is
100% green by every measure, normal well-adjusted people will
begin to think, "Well, maybe it IS green..."
2 years ago
Also known as self-righteous types. So why the clinical
nomenclature (I ask this of all people who
moralize--articulate normative judgments--in the guise of
scientific objectivity)? It doesn't make your evaluation
(disapprobation) any more consensus worthy. Self-righteous
types are generally disliked and always have been.
Especially when they are right. We just prefer
self-deprecation and the constant refrain:
"that's-just-my-opinion" to obviate "friction" (= envy,
resentment, irritation). The sort of arousal activated by
the sympathetic autonomic system.
Feeling crazy is our
problem. It's not other people but our perceptions of other
people that induces 'craziness.' We may feel crazy in
response to non-pathological behaviors. What constitutes the
feeling of craziness? Contempt? Aggression? Resentment?
Envy? The self-righteous is not least of all labeled
anti-social because he inspires "anti-social" responses. But
this just means that we project our own momentary
derangement--a by-product of our 'empathy.'
We are responsible for our reactions. What we find
unforgivable (blameworthy) in "sociopaths" (boors) is the
sense that they do not have the same scruples we do--they do
not feel the same sense of responsibility about their
reactions because they are busy ACTING. Then we retaliate
for feeling diminished (put in a passive-reactive position)
by calling them psychopaths. Clinical psychology lends
itself to such exercises in retribution.
2 years ago
As someone else said, psychopathy and self-righteousness
are two different things, as are sociopathy and
boorishness. Clinical nomenclature (naming) allows for
diagnosis and treatment (pills and stuff). While the
terms are thrown around at times without actually meaning
the clinical disorder, they do have value.
there a reason in any event for disapproval
(disapprobation [evaluation]) when something causes harm?
If a child kicks another child (taking a foot and mashing
it into some part of the other child's body), are we not
going to reprimand them? So if an individual is causing
psychological harm to another, wouldn't we see that as
You remind me of a roommate I once had who said that
if I was crying because he threatened to put my dog out
on the street, that was on me; he wasn't _making_ me cry.
No, he was not forcing me to cry, but he was taking an
action that was cruel, and my being upset was a
justifiable (completely understandable and okay)
2 years ago
You seem to have a rather glib view of what
"disapproval" entails in the case of a diagnosis of
psychopathy. The harm caused, retributively but also
by the sheer act of categorizing individuals based on
some perceived pattern of behavior, may outweigh the
Given that there is no consensus on the
construct of psychopathy and the devastating
consequences it has on the lives of those labeled
psychopaths, we need to be very careful about
diagnosing and medicating 'disorders' whose existence
is a matter of conjecture. Diagnosis is a question of
interpretation, which basically makes it an art. But
unlike a doctor of medicine, who can rely on
established etiologies and facts, psychiatrists must
rely on hypothetical constructs legitimized by
We obviously need to treat people who suffer as
well as to disapprove of and punish them. But when the
stakes are so enormous as in the case of diagnosing
so-called psychopaths it is useful to remind ourselves
of the theoretical nature of our constructs and to
proceed with due caution (skepticism) about what we
think we know.
Clearly self-righteousness and psychopathy are
"different things." But the same behavior may be
labeled as evincing either characteristic. The
behavior has to be interpreted. That means an
explanatory/decriptive paradigm must be selected. So
my question is, what are we doing when we categorize
(select) a behavior as psychopathic? How do we avoid
not presupposing what we imagine ourselves to be
"discovering" (avoid confirmation bias)?
Ultimately what the clinician and layperson are
both doing is judging a behavior, and the guidelines
for such evaluation are ultimately moral and political
rather than strictly scientific. The fact that it is
consenus that establishes whether a disorder obtains
is further clue that clinical psychology functions as
a form of applied ethics (the social enforcement of
P.S. Your room-mate was right. You should have more
control over your feelings. On the other hand, having
too much control (or not having any feelings) may
obviate suffering at the cost of putting you at risk
of cold-heartedness. Your room-mate seems to have
enjoyed manipulating you because you were gullible.
Being vulnerable, trusting and compassionate is
good-within reason. It's a judgment call. His point
was that you should be in a position to make it, to
decide how to respond, and not be led around by your
reactive-self. It may be less warm and fuzzy, but it's
pro-active and reality-syntonic.
2 years ago
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A standard narcissistic
psychopath technique is to interject themselves
into this kind of debate and make it so confusing
to figure out who is a psychopath they can skate
under the radar. Those of us that are vampire
hunters are on to you.
2 years ago
It's pretty clear who is the narcissistic
psychopath is. I am a little confused that Sonke
seems to care that others view him or her as a
psychopath. Maybe it makes manipulation more
2 years ago
The standard no-nothing technique of someone who
cannot engage in argument is to resort to
pitiful ad hominems (character assassination).
Have you ever met a confirmation bias you could
resist? Get ye to the Salem witch trials.
2 years ago
Certainly there are problems with the diagnostic
tools available to the medical community. And
absolutely there are issues with labeling. However
without diagnosis, individuals would not get the
proper care. I was misdiagnosed as having
depression for years (see below before you think
this proves your point). I don't feel it my duty to
share on here what my actual diagnosis is, but
being properly diagnosed has allowed me to have a
functioning life. The diagnosis of mental disorders
may also save an individual from the death penalty.
And diagnostic tools are improving. If you read the
article above, brain scans were used to uncover an
individual's psychopathy. While these tests are not
done routinely, they do exist. And diagnosis is not
strictly "conjecture." The behavior patterns aren't
"'perceived." They're observed, both by the doctor
and the patient. I hid my true feelings and
behavior from my doctor and that is what
contributed to the incorrect diagnosis. When
correctly diagnosed, medicine and therapy has been
proven to help treat mental disorders. I bear the
stigma of mental disorder every day, but I'll take
that labeling if it means I can function.
However, your assertion that I and others should
not be upset about things that would justifiably be
reasonable is illogical. I love my dog; putting her
out on the street when I was out of town would
result in the loss of my dog. If I had not been
upset about this, had I not cared, I would not have
argued against his doing so, which would have
resulted in harm to my dog. So the emotion that
resulted from his threat has value, just as being
frightened by a bear has value in that it would
save your life. Your argument also removes
culpability from a individual who is behaving in an
unacceptable manner and places it on the victim.
This means we can act however we want and
consequences be damned. Emotional abuse is real.
It's a purposeful attempt to harm another person,
the same as if someone used physical force.
And you seem to be arguing for compassion for
those who have mental disorders. That is admirable.
But then why wouldn't you have the same compassion
for those who are affected by the deeds of others?
2 years ago
Whether things (one's reactions) are
"justifiably reasonable"is precisely what is in
need of determination. Reacting emotionally has
"value" if and when it is accompanied by a
judgment (evaluation) and a course of action.
Being upset per se has little value except as
spur to taking action. In and of itself it is
passive-reactive. My point was that gullible
types set themselves up for manipulation by
those without scruples, on the assumption that
your 'friend' was in fact jerking your chain.
You did not mention that you had argued about
his threat in your original post. Since you
confronted him, your upset reaction was
instrumental, therefore valid. I'm the last
person who would question the cognitive
significance of affect.
My larger point is
that sensitivity as well as objectivity
vis-a-vis feelings, which inform the empathic
process, are both valid up to a point. They
exist, as does the human personality generally,
on a continuum. But too much reactive
affectivity is as problematical as the
objectivity of the "cold-blooded." And not being
able to turn off empathy is not the hallmark of
optimal mental health some doctors of the soul
would have us believe it to be. We are all
potentially "psychopathic" under the 'right'
circumstances. There are any number of social
roles whose discharge would be unduly
complicated by the kind of empathy we value in a
friend, family member, or co-worker.
Brain scans are indeed used, but there is no
consensus on what they mean in relation to
personality disorders. They yield correlations
subject to interpretation by fallible
specialists. That would be problematical enough,
but add to that mix the controversial nature of
the clinical entity some call "psychopathy"
(among other disorders) and what you wind up
with is very much a process of conjecture.
Granted, some conjecturing is more informed than
others, but that doesn't change the basic nature
of the process.
Read up on the controversy surrounding DSM-5
revisions for a sample of just how divided the
field of psychiatry is.
If you found relief from your suffering
through medication and therapy more power to
you. That's your bottom line, and I respect it.
But bear in mind some people find relief taking
placebos. The human mind is profoundly
suggestible. Perception creates reality. And
that's very much a double-edged sword.
a year ago
Not forgetting that there are many psychopathic
psychiatrists about who deliberately misdiagnose
psychopathy just for the 'hell' of it, and Dr.
David Rosehan proved just how incompetent
psychiatrists and nursing staff can be when it
suits their hid_den'igrating agendas.
a year ago
Don't ever fool yourself that just because psychopaths
lack empathy that they must also lack the capacity to
know right from wrong because they 'feel' that they
have the God-given 'right' to do many things that they
know are 'wrong'.
2 years ago
You're probably a psychopath, pal. Psychopaths do lots of
things, but one of the key things is mess with people's
sense of time, which makes folks feel nuts. The other
thing you keep repeating is the individuality of response
-- and psychopaths are big on the idea of an isolated
sense of self.
2 years ago
I had come to the same conclusion, indeed we might
have to do with one. It seems obvious that he is
desperately trying to manipulate himself out of his
own disposition, not only to try to, unsuccessfully,
mask his PP behaviour towards us, but primarily to
trick himself into thinking he is not a PP.
2 years ago
Psychopaths are not also known as self-righteous types.
Nor are psychopaths 'crazy' in the way that, say,
schizophrenics are 'crazy'. I suggest you do a little
reading before opinionating on something about which
evidently you know very little.
Start with 'The Mask of
Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the
So-called Psychopathic Personality'; Hervey Cleckley, MD;
Fifth Edition: private printing for non-profit
educational use; Emily S Cleckley; Augusta, Georgia
2 years ago
My comment mainly addressed OUR reactions ("crazy" was
emikoala's term) to so-called psychopathic
behaviors. Try reading comments in context. My point
was that any trait ascribed to a so-called psychopath,
taken by itself or in combination, can be variably
interpreted. The only people helped by the
patholigization of behaviors are prosecutors, the
criminal justice system, pharmaceutical and insurance
The problem of "opinionating" is not my
problem, it's the problem of clinical psychology as a
whole, as witness the controversy surrounding the
process of devising DSM criteria. There is no
consensus about what constitutes psychopathy, as a
cursory glance at the Wikipedia page would inform you:
(" no psychiatric or psychological organization has
sanctioned a diagnosis titled "psychopathy.") It is an
interpretation, a construct, regarding which the only
fitting scientific attitude to assume is one of
skepticism. There is no place in science for true
2 years ago
Maybe not ALL traits...but what about a person who
has a desire to kill people, strangers or known,
just because they think it would be fun? One who
feels joy from lighting animals on fire? A person
who literally feels no regret, remorse, or guilt
about anything in life (even things that cause
fatal harm to others and ruined lives)? One who
simply doesn't understand when others are upset,
for whatever the reason, because they themselves
have no such feelings. I know I am just a regular
person but to me, those are pretty psychopathic
traits no matter how interpreted.
2 years ago
They are "psychopathic" because you use that
concept to summarize the traits you enumerated.
But there is no necessity in doing so. You could
simply describe such individuals as lacking
compassion and being cruel. Either way you
express moral disapprobation and signal a
threat. Which is the whole point of this
exercise in applied ethics (clinical
For me the interesting question
is: how often does one have to lapse in one's
sympathizing and abstention from violent
aggression before one becomes "a psychopath?"
What day of the week are we talking about? which
hour of the day? We are all capable of selfish,
aggressive behavior and of not giving a damn.
2 years ago
I would think if someone were a psychopath
they wouldn't be lapsing into such thoughts
and behavior.. that is their norm. More like
they would lapse and have moments of what we
define as normalcy.
a year ago
Cleckley is no more an expert on psychopathy than the
many putative specialists whom Dr.David Rosenhan et
al. exposed as being but charismatic charlatans of the
very first water.
It's not for nothing that the Royal Society has as its
motto: *Nullius in verba*
a year ago
People have always utterly despised *sabelotodos* since
time immemorial and it's simply because they *don't know*
any better about how to save themselves from
a year ago
correct it is an absolute nightmare you are never" special" you
are taken for granted..emotionally manipulated and
discarded...left with the aftermath all the time and everyone
else thinking it must be you because he is such a lovely guy!
Have you ever sat next to your loved one and felt totally
lonely? that is how I would explain living with a
psychopath..it IS soul destroying...
3 years ago
Why not ask the Darth Cheney family what life is like with a
'non-violent' psychopath. Just because some psychopath do not
practice direct violence does not mean they can not end up killing
millions, in fact they end up killing far, far, many more people
than then ' directly violent' psychopaths.
Chief act of the psychopath is to defend psychopathy and their
power and influence. Every war, every economic collapse, every
ruthless exploitation of humanity can be laid at the feet of
psychopaths. Don't ever let the nice words fool, one of the main
skill of a psychopath, charm, enabled by the complete detachment
from the harm their lies cause, the complete lack of conscience,
in fact they take pride in their lies, their superior skill over
9 months ago
And is that what your propaganda tells you? First of all,
they are individuals. Second of all, the intent of most of
their actions have been to relieve the pain of people, as do
most democrats--politics aside it is the mission statement
of the democratic party to be socially inclusive and help
the disenfranchised. Contrast that with the actions of the
Republican Party of mean and no. Taking food from babies,
and elderly's and sick's mouths. Attacking the very weakest
members of a country, The party leadership and much of the
membership demonstrate the pathology under discussion. Any
protestations otherwise and I call gaslighting
2 years ago
I was thinking that about Dubya. He tortured animals as a
child. He suffered neglect at the hands of his cold, distant
parents. His over-privileged life immorality and willingness to
be a tool made him President. Then he killed, stole, lied and
ruined millions/ billions even as the damage continues.
3 years ago
"Don't ever let the nice words fool, one of the main skill of a
psychopath, charm, enabled by the complete detachment from the
harm their lies cause, the complete lack of conscience, in fact
they take pride in their lies, their superior skill over
Who was it who said over 30 times about the
Act, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan"?
9 months ago
Sorry millions of people now have health care that did not
before aca and millions more would have access to free or
low cost care but do not because they live in red states and
their Republican Governors lack the compassion and humanity
to accept federal subsidies for their poorest citizens due
to personally held ideology or ambition. So they are
allowing people to die, aka, killing them
3 years ago
He wrote that he was married at 21 and, even though he had
tendencies as a kid, probably didn't fully develop psychopathy
until his mid 20's. His wife was apparently very stable and
adjusted to this.
3 years ago
It was the author that thought his wife's stability kept
things together as he developed more psychopathic traits
when he got older. I did say "adjusted to this, " not "used
2 years ago
Don't you realize that mates may never pick up on good/positive
traits in their spouses so why question, when in the throes of
love one would pick up on bad/negative characteristics?
3 years ago
That whole women-as-gatekeepers-of-heterosexual-sexuality
sort of thing. If a guy can be manipulative enough, he'll be
successful with more women. Supposedly.
Of course, the
people presenting this argument never stop to think that
being genuine would work as well, with the added benefit
that you get to see your kids grow up because there's never
a reason for your partner to wake up to who you really are
and get the kids the hell away from you before you ruin
3 years ago
Dana, now for some weird reason, your reply strikes me as
funny! People have asked how a wife could live with such
a person but I'm wondering about the kids. If a loving,
positive upbringing helps to keep psychopathic tendencies
in check, what effect on a child is there when one parent
(God help you if both parents are of the 'like attracts
like' mode') treats you like an object?? You can't piss
on a geranium every day and expect a lovely flower.
EXCEPT for the gentleman Dave Pelzer who wrote the book
'A Child Called It': This book chronicles the
unforgettable account of one of the most severe child
abuse cases in California history. It is the story of
Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his
emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who
played tortuous, unpredictable games--games that left him
nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's
games in order to survive because she no longer
considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy,
but an "it." Then I remember the true story that I cannot
forge, 'When Rabbit Howls'. Her life turned into multiple
personalities. Now these parents were extremely
physically abusive but what about the emotional coldness
of a parent? What 'failure to thrive' in the mind
It's like not understanding that
someone might have, say, an immutable reason for an
illness. "Why can't you just go outside, take a walk
and shake it off.? Surely that would make you feel
People tend to frame everything in context of their
own experiences. If some powerful adult makes you (as
a child) a delicious plate of food, places it in front
of you and pats your head, don't you assume they feel
the love for you that you feel for them?
I was married to a man who was unable to feel
empathy for years. The entire time I ascribe to him
feelings that I had ignoring his demonstrations of a
lack of feeling, trying harder all the time to provoke
the good feelings he surely had for me. It was decades
after we split that I realized it was an impossible
2 years ago
I would assume that being a psychopath is great for
attracting mates, but terrible for keeping them around and
for raising kids. Men can have dozens of children with
dozens of women and contribute nothing to the care of any of
them. Women don't really have that option, so the upside is
a bit more limited. Even if you're able to marshall lots of
resources via your psychopathy, chances are you won't want
to spend most of them on your kids, so the genetic upside is
still not great.
2 years ago
In fairness toward men, I would imagine that it is an
option for women that many do exercise, not to be with
their kids. It's just as possible for a woman (who
doesn't care) to leave her kids as it is for a man.
3 years ago
As humanity is a social species psychopathy is a negative
trait. As their percentage increases so the complete collapse
of the society becomes inevitable through over exploitation of
everything within their greedy grasp, the resources, the
environment and of course their prey, their fellow citizens who
do all the work which the psychopaths parasitically live off
(which is why you see them as such a huge percentage of the
financial sector, produce nothing, parasite everything).
Basically the human society like any other living organism can
no longer sustain that percentage of parasites and effectively
starves to death, poverty in the face of riches.
Like the watch, how many resources were wasted in it's
production (not just the watch but the facilities to produce
the watch) and how much pollution was generated and of course
how many food stamps could it have bought, how many meals for
those living in poverty 10,000 meals perhaps, obscene gluttony
in the face of global starvation (for them that is part of the
2 years ago
You neglect the role of warfare in survival. Sometimes
tribes/nations are attacked. Individuals answering to the
traits we identify (interpret) as "psychopathic" come into
their own when the exigence of the day is kill or be killed.
Peace-time is not the rule or the norm for the human
primate, but the psychology we've evolved assumes it is.
Whence all the nonsense about psychopathy. It too has its
function in the hierarchy of ends.
Ergo--the positive only
signifies in conjunction with the negative.
2 years ago
" Sometimes tribes/nations are attacked. Individuals
answering to the traits we identify (interpret) as
"psychopathic" come into their own when the exigence of
the day is kill or be killed."
People who are 100%
selfish and manipulative could prosper in time of war,
but it'd be by f**cking over their group.
2 years ago
Your emotionalized appeal here is really disordered and
contains a mish-mash of two orders, the moral and the
biological, and a bunch of question begging. What you're
left with is moralizing. Considered in purely
"evolutionistic" terms, what you have are populations of
humans which can possess considerable variation in
principle. Adaptive advantage can come in various forms and
so to say that human beings are intrinsically "social"
(psychopaths are social, just not in the normal sense) and
then presumably define morality as something that is a
function of some tendency which happens to be common though
not absolute seems rather relativist and arbitrary. I am
reminded of Nietzsche's slave and master morality. The lambs
define their morality in terms of their own interests and
then universalize it (how conveniently self-serving) in
order to condemn the birds of prey that hunt them. The birds
of prey, being of a different nature, find it all amusingly
petty-minded, bearing no grudge against the lambs, for to
them the lambs are tasty.
So in the end, the weak shall
often maintain their morality (what is good for us and not
in itself or for itself; instrumental morality masquerading
as intrinsic morality) and the strong their own. The
difference is that the strong act in good faith, that is,
authentically while the weak act out of ressentement and
jealousy and thus through disingenuous ulterior motives.
And then there's the story of the frog and the
2 years ago
I personally don't like being dumped into a category with the
above description. Really??? Why do we never talk about men who
go for "bad" women? Women who are destructive, manipulative,
and generally bad people? What is wrong with men that are
attracted to those types?
2 years ago
I'm more curious how someone like that falls in love and marries.
Do they have to do so before that gelling he speaks of? The one
that I knew the best laughed about the fact that the only reason
his wife was still with him was because as a Catholic, she didn't
believe in divorce. I know perfectly well he had been mentally and
emotionally abusing her (and their children), if not physically
too. How do I know that? He abused all of us unfortunate enough to
be trapped in his company, whether it was as family members,
co-workers, or fellow parishioners.
2 years ago
I always thought my older brother was a psychopath when I first
heard the definition around the age of 12 (over 35 years ago), and
this article only confirms it. My brother has always been
supremely narcissistic, manipulative, has bouts of violence, is
quick to anger, is very charismatic, is an alcoholic (he uses it
to calm himself down), everyone is always wrong and he's always
right, and most of my family tries to stay away from him.
completely exhausting to be around because everything is about
him, and to hell with anyone else and what they think or feel.
He's my go to guy if I want to feel like a pile of dog poop.
My brother is about to turn 54 and I am dreading wishing him a
2 years ago
Wow. It was hard enough to deal with a boss like this for 7
years, I can't imagine the pain of having a family member like
this. I'd say not to let his comments get to you, but in my
experience, they smell out vulnerabilities like sharks and
blood. They can also compliment you (if they want something),
but their compliments are so insincere and manipulative as to
be worthless (My boss once compared a painting of mine to Van
Gogh - clever in that it was influenced by Van Gogh, but
If there are people you know, who know you and your brother,
and understand the situation, probably the best you can do is
to talk with them afterwards, so you don't let any of his ideas
or criticisms affect you. I know for me, the biggest help was
when I talked to another member of my committee after my boss
had just sabotaged me behind my back, while claiming to me that
he had fought for me, to no avail. She asked what he had told
me happened during the closed portion of the meeting. When I
told her, she paused and the looked straight at me and said, "I
was there and that's not how I remember it." Having
confirmation that he was sabotaging me and lying to me was such
a relief, as their manipulation can leave you doubting your own
Psychopaths are still people who make
decisions in life. They can choose to be good. They have an
inherent ability to be charismatic and intelligent, and that is
surely attractive. Once actually in a relationship, things can go
quite badly. But they might not. Especially not if the spouse
knows or intuits that they are married to a psychopath, and can
For the majority of cases, sometimes it is hell on earth to be
married to a psychopath, and other times it is bliss, depending on
the ups and downs of the disease.
The question is - what would we do
without them? They serve a purpose. The trip to the caves - normal -
danger was there. But nothing out of the normal. The chances to get
killed or sick are rather small. We evolutionized in excactly that
environment and anyone who did this knows how natural and
invigorating a night in the bush is. So maybe something is terribly
wrong with his brother and todays society? Riskaversion did not get
us anywhere. Time to think and start nurturing those intelligent
3 years ago
The problem with that story is a.) the risk was wildly
disproportionate to the reward, b.) there were less risky, equally
rewarding options available, and c.) he didn't get his brother's
informed consent. Instead of risking contracting an incurable
hemorrhagic fever, why didn't they just go to a different cave?
a: the risk is manageable, a
riskaversive person panicked because of wrong riskevaluation.
b. Staying a night near a waterhole or saltrock - is very
rewarding. Contracting a disease - chances are minimal -
staying in an african village and contracting something is
c.getting consent would mean to succumb to someone with a
So nothing wrong with the authors behaviour. Brother leaving
the house in the morning - much higher risk to get killed every
day. Now that is nutty behaviour, taking a daily risk without
Thawed Cave Bear
3 years ago
It was the author, not his brother, who had faulty
risk-evaluation capacity. That trait is why many psychopaths
are non-functional. This man is lucky to have kept his
within reasonable bounds.