Mythbusting psychopathy (part the second) 

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Here we are again, back to kick more stupid myths into the long grass where they belong.

What myths or misconceptions about things would you like to bust, if only people would listen?

 

MYTH: Psychopaths have no emotions.

This is one myth psychopaths themselves (and narcissists) love to propagate to enhance their mystique, but it’s bullshit. Everyone has emotions. The only living people with no emotions are comatose or else so severely brain-damaged they can only live with the help of a life-support machine. Even dementia patients with little or no sense of self, a completely blank memory and utter dependency on caregivers show signs of emotion when properly stimulated.

Psychopathic emotions are selfish and inward-looking. In my experience, these emotions are often fleeting and can change rapidly. Some emotions are very blunted and don’t really cause much of a change in mood, while others can be so strong they temporarily obsess or enthral the psychopath. It can also be the case that the physical signs of an emotion are there (e.g. sweaty palms, quick heart rate, out of breath) but the psychopath feels calm in themselves, in their mind.

 

MYTH: Psychopaths are crazy, or ‘psychotic’

Psychopathy and psychosis are two different things. Just because a word looks similar, doesn’t mean they refer to the same thing. Psychotic people are people who have lost their grip on reality; they may hear voices, hallucinate or show magical thinking. They are very much not in control of their behaviour and generally need close medical attention for their own and others’ safety. Many otherwise healthy people suffer from psychotic episodes throughout their lives, and often recover with time or medication. Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.

Psychopaths are fully aware of their surroundings, their behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour. Psychopaths do not have a conscience, and are not unwell in the normal sense of the word, nor will they ‘recover’ with time or medical help. As a personality disorder with roots in an individual’s genetic makeup, this is who they are for life. Both psychopaths and psychotic people can be dangerous and violent, but many are not.

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.” – the Cheshire Cat

There is absolutely no reason I can see why a psychopath couldn’t develop a psychotic disorder separate to and unaffected by their psychopathy. This is called co-morbidity. In fact anyone can reach sub-clinical psychosis simply by staying awake for abnormally long periods of time (symptoms start kicking in beyond the 36 hour mark). I’ve tried it once or twice; it’s an interesting experience, though not an especially pleasant one. I heard shouting voices in my head and felt off balance when I tried to walk. Overall, my memory of the experience is fuzzy. Yay, temporary brain damage!

Oh, while we’re on this subject, unlike what certain pop psychology crackpots would have you believe, “psychopathology” is not the study of psychopaths, nor is it anything whatsoever to do with psychopaths. Psychopathology is the psychiatric version of pathology, therefore it is the study of all mental illnesses and psychological disorders / abnormalities. I repeat, similar-looking words don’t always have the same meaning!

 

MYTH: My psychopathic ex planned to ensnare, manipulate and abuse me from the start of our relationship

Psychopaths enter relationships in a very positive frame of mind; they often love everything about the other person and are so obsessed they want to learn every tiny little detail about them, know their entire history and the full spectrum of their emotions and thoughts. In extreme cases, the psychopath may have a painful urge to possess or climb inside their new partner. They try to please the other person by mirroring them closely and being the ideal mate for them.

After a period of time, this effort is exhausting and the other person starts to lose their appeal. Most psychopaths’ relationships stall at this point as the other person ceases to have any interest. It’s all just the same old person, same old stuff. Boredom sets in, and the psychopath either moves on without a backward glance (I prefer this), or else takes their anger and frustration out on the other person.

I have no citation for this and am just recounting from experience; you’ll just have to take my word for it (or not). If anyone can find actual research done in this field that contradicts me and not just pull up Lovefraud or similar bilge, that would be very welcome.

 

MYTH: Psychopaths are in all the positions of power and are the puppet masters behind an international conspiracy to bring about a new world order.

Image result for illuminati funnyWhile there are undoubtedly psychopaths in high places, including bankers, businesspeople and world leaders, the idea of them all working together behind the scenes for not just years, but decades, is frankly absurd.

Listen, I don’t have any evidence to back this up, but psychopaths are not nearly co-operative enough for this to work. We don’t tend to get on well with each other, and are not known for our willingness to work in teams. Every single one of the conspirators would want the top job in the Illuminati and would be working to eliminate the competition, i.e. each other. The bloody thing would not get off the ground.

And of course, when you realise this is the exact same idea as the Evil Zionist conspiracy theory, the exact same poisonous garbage just with the word “Jew” switched for “psychopath”, you know what kind of beast you’re dealing with.

 

MYTH: Psychopaths are lizard men in skinsuits

No, just no. You are welcome to verify that by getting hold of your nearest psychopath and opening him up to check all his lungs and bones and whatever else you humans have inside you are in the right place. You might need the help of a surgeon, except she’ll probably be a psychopath too and will naturally be in league with one of her kind, so you see the flaw in the plan? But seriously, demonising people (even psychopaths) is, apart from being rather insulting, a lazy way out of trying to understand why others are different. Speaking of demonisation…

 

MYTH: Psychopaths are demons from hell

Hell is a fairy tale designed to scare the gullible into obeying the clergy – who as you’ll remember are all psychopaths of course. The idea of demons may well originate from uneducated mediaeval people’s encounters with illnesses they couldn’t explain, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. In fact, enough ignorants are still unconvinced about this that there is a whole department of the Royal College of Surgeons dedicated to correcting idiotic superstitions among certain communities.

Despite the hysterical imaginations of cretins who swear they’ve seen a satanic glint in the eyes of their psychopath, I assure you I am not a demon, I am a liz-… human like you (I’m assuming here. If there are any non-humans reading this, I’d love to hear from you.)

Talk to me. Read part 1 here.

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