Psychopaths and Power: Hand, Meet Glove Pt2 - Using Our Knowledge of Psychopathy

(If you haven't read Pt1 - Psychopaths and Power: Hand, Meet Glove- pt 1: Civilisation and the Rise of the Psychopaths, it can be viewed here)

Many people do not want to know about psychopathy. It is not something I relish thinking about for too long myself. Who wants to contemplate evil? But to survive, we need to learn about it. If we leave it to the 'authorities', then we are leaving it to the foxes who are in charge of the hen-house to police themselves and to inform us as to their goings-on as they see fit.

We are in this world with psychopaths amongst us and in charge of us whether we like it or not. And psychopaths will exploit us at every opportunity regardless. They bring about the wars and the poverty and much else besides including serious crimes against us as individuals and as nations. So it behooves us to learn about them and their condition. Once we learn to recognize them, we can actually improve our individual lives because we can remove them from our personal lives (or ourselves from their lives) and not continue under their spell and not keep following their destructive advice.

It may be unpleasant to recognize one or more family members or acquaintances as being psychopaths but once you do and take appropriate action, life for yourself and for the rest of your family or social circle can improve markedly. The same applies to businesses and all sorts of organizations. With growing awareness of this condition, we can affect government and politics for the better. This path is the only one that will bring an end to wars and poverty because no matter how ingenious an answer to a problem that is enacted, it will be undone by psychopaths who will be attracted to your organization or your solution. If you can't spot them coming, then your work will be in vain.

If you have read my previous article, you will have read that psychopaths believe they can create reality. This is a delusion, of course, but they do 'create' delusions. I say 'create' because delusions, by their nature, do not exist in reality. But they can exist in peoples minds. If your mind is out of sync with the objective world around you, you will sooner or later find yourself in a world of pain. Your progress through the world will become like trying to navigate through a minefield with a faulty map.

To illustrate this, we have a quote from Evgeny Fedorov, a deputy of the Russian Parliament, talking about the Ukrainian disaster but it is applicable to most situations, “Many, many thousands of people will die in this slaughter. This slaughter will only increase. You know why? Because when people don’t have the truth, they can’t solve the issue.”

The problems that face mankind now are a result of following that faulty map that has been drawn up for us in many ways by psychopaths over many centuries. We are not entirely innocent either. I will discuss the ways that normal, empathic, people contribute to the madness of this world in the next essay. But for now, we'll focus on the psychopaths.

Psychopaths are ever ready to tell us we are just like them. Essentially, this is how they hide amongst us. This is how they normalize their behaviour in our eyes. A good example is war. They claim that it is “human nature” to go to war. It is not. It is psychopathic nature. “Human nature” will fight but not kill if it is not necessary to defend oneself.

After the First World War, returning soldiers were often traumatized and diagnosed with “Shell Shock”. Pretty soon though, research on this condition was stymied by the military and governments. After WWII, the same condition was observed and called “Battle Fatigue”. Again research into its causes and treatment options were halted by governments and the military.

Presumably, “Battle Fatigue” attracted a different name from “Shell Shock” to avoid the connection being made and perhaps shift some of the attention away from the cause and place it with the victim. During and after the Viet Nam War, the same condition was observed and called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again, we get a name change. And again, the research that was being conducted in the US and in particular in the Veteran Affairs hospitals with veterans was halted. But this time, the scientists and medical researchers, led by Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk, didn't accept the status quo. They continued on with their research by themselves and the world is better for their effort. (A better name for PTSD, in my view, is Post Traumatic Stress Injury which indicates that the condition is due largely to circumstances outside the victim. We are getting back to "Shell Shock" in that.)

So why do the military and governments want to suppress knowledge of PTSD? PTSD is a neurological and a psychic injury caused by overwhelming trauma and usually together with the perceived threat of imminent death. If it was human nature to go to war, we would not expect to see soldiers to be psychologically overwhelmed by what they do and see; by the killing. If it was human nature, we would have evolved to cope with it as an everyday thing. But we haven't and PTSD is the 'smoking gun' that proves we haven't. PTSD proves that war is not part of human nature. Fighting, yes, but not war. It had not been part of our human evolution until the advent of 'civilization' and the coming to power of the psychopaths in the last 5-10,000 yrs or the last 1% of human history.

Psychopaths survive war just fine. The reason they cope so well is because they have no emotional connection with other people. They are not appalled by the insanity of people dying senselessly around them. Waging war is part of psychopathic nature and is not part of human nature but psychopaths continually try to convince us that we are like them; that their nature is our nature. So whenever you hear the expressions, “that's just human nature”, or, “you're just like me”, be 'en guarde'. You have just been warned.

So I'll go over some of the attributes of psychopathy again and then lead onto how we can recognize them in our daily lives. Finally, I'll talk about some do's and don'ts in dealing with them and some of the benefits of knowing about psychopathy.

Attributes of Psychopathy

From a previous essay - Psychopaths are deficient in some human qualities. It is well known that they have no compassion for others and no sense of guilt or shame. This allows them to do things that ordinary human beings are inhibited from doing such as exploiting others and even killing them if there is an advantage to doing so. When you hear in a gangster movie the line spoken by the mafia hit-man about to execute a victim, “This isn't personal, you understand; it's just business”, you know you are looking at a portrayal of a psychopath. What the 'hit-man' means is that he has no personal connection to the person about to be killed and he has no emotional reaction to his impending behaviour. There is no possibility of guilt, shame or remorse or of any emotional attachment. To them it makes sense to kill someone if there is a profit to be made.

Psychopaths are very aware of this lack of connection to others and see it as a freedom and a winning advantage over the rest of us. And there is some truth in that. But there is another side to the condition. It is not only what is missing that identifies a psychopath, it is also what replaces it; the imperative to dominate and exploit others for their own benefit. They want to play at being god in others' lives.

Psychopaths do not learn from their mistakes like we do. Because they have no inhibitions and no internal brakes on their thinking and behaviour, they are unable to self-reflect. With no sense of guilt or shame, there's no imperative or desire or perceived need to reflect on their behaviour. In their minds, they are never at fault. Therefore they cannot integrate the lessons that you or I would learn from and use. They cannot admit a mistake and always see the mistakes as belonging to others. They cannot learn from their behaviour for the simple reason that they don't perceive that they have done anything wrong.

Another reason is because they do not believe in an objective reality. Every thing is subjective to them because they have this firm belief that they can shape reality to their will. “We are an empire now and when we act we create our own reality”. So saith Karl Rove.

So if you think you are able to shape reality, you can leave out the consequences you don't like as if you were writing a script for a teevee show. Therefore, in their minds, should anything actually go wrong that they didn't foresee, no troubles, because they can deal with it because they shape reality, right?! People generally applaud those that refuse to accept defeat. But it can be a sign of madness and/or psychopathy, too.

Now, in practise, they often do avoid consequences but they do so by putting them onto other people. Or more accurately, by bluffing other people into accepting the adverse consequences as their own. Hence the constant tactic of 'blame the victim'. This reinforces the delusion for the psychopaths and disempowers the victims. And it works for a time but not for the reasons the psychopaths think. It only happens with the victims' co-operation – witting or unwitting. Eventually, the victims shoot back or the psychopaths run up against someone who doesn't buy the omnipotence 'schtick' (the spell) that these crazies project.

Psychopaths cannot be reformed because they cannot perceive that they ever do anything wrong. This has profound implications for our legal/justice system and it has real implications for our social and business dealing with psychopaths. To further complicate the matter, many senior people in the legal system are themselves psychopaths because psychopaths are automatically attracted to organizations and positions of power. Be very wary of people who cannot admit to mistakes or wrong doing.

To go back to the cameo of the mafia hit-man, psychopaths have no empathy, shame, conscience or feelings of guilt. They often get away with the most outrageous behaviour because they display no guilt or shame. Not even embarrassment. It is quite shocking for the ordinary person to experience this behaviour from another. When the psychopath displays absolutely no discomfort of what they have done or have been alleged to have done, we try and fit this behaviour into something we can understand and if we do not have an understanding of psychopathy, we try and fit the situation into normal people's behaviour. Invariably, we think that the problem must be in the way we are perceiving the situation because the psychopath is behaving as if nothing is wrong. So it must be us, we think. Psychopaths, of course, are fully aware of this reaction on the part of normal people and use it to their advantage. But once you know about psychopathy, this behaviour of theirs stands out like a red flag

As mentioned previously, they cannot learn from experience in the same way as we do. So if you come across someone who keeps repeating the same mistake (at the cost of others) you are well advised to consider psychopathy at work. As an example, an entrepreneur who repeatedly goes bankrupt and takes investors money with him time after time and bounces back hail and hearty each time. Or the United States government, for instance, repeatedly invading other countries and reducing them to rubble physically and socially and still eager to invade yet another country.

They are never to blame. It is always someone else's fault. The only time they express sorrow is when they are caught red-handed and are about to be prosecuted or punished in some way. They are expressing sorrow for themselves; sorrow that they have been caught and are suffering loss – not for their victims. They have no empathy for others.

Psychopaths can be very charming. In fact, they are very often too charming for a given circumstance and this can be a tell-tale sign once you are alert to this behaviour. Psychopaths usually start their manipulation of you with a charm assault because it is often very effective and leaves the victim unaware that they have been used and so are ripe to use again … and again.

If however, the charm assault does not achieve results for them, you can expect them to move to using guilt to induce you to feel as if you are doing something wrong. If this is still ineffective, they then move onto anger starting with veiled threats and progressing to open threats and intimidation. The next tactic if this, too, proves ineffective is to suddenly play the victim and you might even witness tears and apparent great distress. The clue here, of course, is that this is a very unnatural progression of emotions and the switching from one to another is often instantaneous and also unnatural.

Psychopaths also have an unnatural 'flashy' smile. Their face can go from dour to a big beaming smile in a 'flash' (and back again). Normal people take a little longer to smile. You can watch as their smile progresses across their face. It may take less than a second to happen but you still see a progression. By contrast, a psychopath's smile can be instantaneous. A normal smile involves a persons eyes. Psychopaths find that hard to do. An interesting exercise is to mask the bottom half of a picture of a smiling politician to see if his or her eyes are smiling too. Very often the top half of the face does not match the bottom half.

What all this says is that psychopaths mimic the outward signs of emotions that they don't experience themselves but which they observe in normal people. They learn to do this from an early age and spend their whole lives practising it. They are consummate actors as a result.

Because they are constantly acting, they are also constantly manipulating. Everything that comes out of their mouths is calculated to get an effect. Truth has no meaning for them. All that matters is what works for them. In other words, what will get them what they want. It has been said of psychopaths that they do not know who they are (no ability to self-reflect) but that they only know what they want and they will pursue whatever it is even if it kills them. They are addicted to power and it drives them. The fable of “The Frog and The Scorpion” is a classic story of a psychopath and his gullible and trusting victim who represents us!

The saying, “When you are on a good thing, stick to it”, can be seen as a motto for psychopaths. Once they hit on a winning strategy, you can be certain that they will repeat it endlessly until it no longer is effective for them. This makes them predictable to a large degree.

Recognizing Psychopaths

We have mentioned already some signs of psychopathy in detailing their attributes. To recap -
they are often too charming for a given situation
they smile mostly with just the lower half of their face
their smile is often 'flashy'
they switch from one emotion or affect to its opposite (and back again) with alarming speed.

Watch for asymmetrical facial expressions. Asymmetrical facial expressions are evidence of contempt.

Watch for 'micro-expressions'. These are facial expressions which transit the face for a micro second. These micro-expressions are counter to the expression or demeanour adopted by the psychopath in your encounter. They betray the psychopath's real attitude.

Normal people can often get angry very quickly but we cannot calm ourselves down instantly as psychopaths appear to be able to. I say 'appear to' because they are often not, in fact, as angry as they make out. They're acting/manipulating.

Psychopaths have vacant eyes. If you look into them there's nothing there. They have been described as having 'fish eyes' or 'dead eyes'. Mind you, if you do genuinely anger a psychopath, you can expect to get a blast of hatred from their eyes. It can be quite a shock and is a warning sign of psychopathy.

The psychopath is a parasite and so is constantly trying to do something that is in their interests and against yours. To achieve this and to stop you from thinking clearly, they will endeavour to confuse you. So if you come away from a conversation with someone and you are confused, be 'en guarde'.

Psychopaths rely on people's sense of pride to not ask the questions they need to to understand because they know the ordinary person does not want to be seen as foolish or ignorant. The irony is that it is foolish not to ask the questions you need to to achieve clarification. And keep asking them till you are satisfied or the confuser refuses to answer any more questions or gets angry. At that point, you have all the answers you need.

Creating dramatic scenes over something that does not warrant the drama is another sign of an attempt to confuse you. The psychopath is trying to engage your emotions against you so you do not think about what is going on. Anger is used to promote fear which will inhibit clear thinking as well.

A typical tactic to confuse people is the use of 'word salad'. This involves the use of words and catch-phrases that sound impressive but have vague or nonsensical meanings. Never be afraid to ask someone to define their terms. It is what a police interrogator would do and what every diligent student should do. If someone is presuming to instruct you in some subject, then they should be willing to answer questions about what they are saying. If they don't, then, again, you have your answer!

Lying is, of course, a give-away for psychopathy and Dr Martha Stout employs the Rule of Threes – three lies and you're out! There is a problem though with lying because we all do it in some circumstances. But there are two types of lies which we should be aware of and our psychopathic culture does not teach us the distinction (of course!).

There are lies that are told to deceive others for the purpose of exploiting them and there are lies that are told to protect oneself (often from manipulative people). One is violence against another and the other is self defence and usually quite valid. If armed intruders broke into your home and demanded to be told where your children were, would you lie to them? Would you consider it wrong to lie in those circumstances? So, it is clear that not all lies are wrong and be aware of the distinction when answering questions and/or evaluating someone as possibly a psychopath.

Psychopaths are alert to people lying, too. A favourite tactic is to catch someone in a defensive lie and try and make them feel guilty as if they were telling an exploitative lie. It is very often effective because people are not taught the fundamental difference. Professional interrogators will use this tactic, too, to break down a suspect by shaming them about lying.

Some people lie when there is no discernible reason to. Very often this is a sign of psychopathy because it is simply habitual for psychopaths, they have no inhibitions against lying and they enjoy the deceit. It is sometimes called "dupers delight".

Scoffing, like the asymmetrical facial expression, is also a sign of contempt and is used to cover lies. Scoffing is an "ad hominem" attack on you. When a scoffer says, "bosh, poppycock, you're talking nonsense" or "don't be ridiculous", they are targeting you and not the content of what you are saying. When someone scoffs at me, I know that they are lying and that what I'm saying is correct.

Another sign of lying is an immobile body and face. The liar will hold themselves as if frozen to hide any body language that will give their lie away. Ironically, this in itself is a tell-tale once you know what you are looking at.

The opposite can apply, too. If someone gets animated, waving their arms about, describing a situation that doesn't call for that level of emotion, be wary because it could be an attempt to distract and confuse you. They could be trying to overload your sensory input.

Another sign is being too charming for the occasion. This was mentioned before but it might be worth elaborating on. When first meeting a psychopath, you might find yourself being subjected to “The Interview”. In the interview, the psychopath will be entirely focused on you. This can feel rather flattering at first because we are so used to being treated dismissively or at least superficially by most people. But the psychopath is evaluating you to find your fears and weaknesses to use against you. They will boost you up by flattering you in the area that you feel most vulnerable in. Once you lower your guard even further they will ask very personal and often inappropriate questions of you. If you find yourself afterwards asking yourself why did you answer all those intrusive questions, be prepared to consider that you were being 'interviewed' by a psychopath. Needless to say, beware of excessive flattery.

Do's and Don't's

We are always trying to understand them as if they have our normal emotions and drives. And they are always trying to present themselves as if they do have the normal emotions that we do. But they do not. They are thieves at base and are parasites. They live off other people one way or another. They have no regard for anyone else and are always on the look out for how to steal your money, your property, your ideas, your time, your energy, your body and even your life. Because they get all their power from normal people, to disempower them means to isolate them from us and hence isolate them from their source of power.

The absolute best way to deal with them is to not deal with them at all. No contact. This is not always possible, of course. You might realize you work for a psychopath or you maybe married to one. When there is a power disparity, you are always best to find the back door and exit it as soon as possible with as little warning as possible.

In a relationship where you have the power over them, the answer is to dismiss them or disengage from them and then have no more contact. In the case where power may be rather evenly balanced and you have no recourse to complete disengagement, then the “tit-for-tat” strategy has been proven to be effective. This means returning their assault against you (in whatever form it took) in like manner but calculated to be slightly less in effect or magnitude than their attack. This says to the psychopath that you will defend yourself (at a cost to them) while also saying you will not escalate the conflict.

It is also important that the response is timely i.e. as immediate as possible. I mentioned that psychopaths do not learn in the same way as normal people. Normal people have three basic avenues of learning.
We model our elders as children and our peers as we get older – we learn from others mistakes.
We learn from correlation/association as in touching a hot stove and
We learn from self reflection – we learn from our own mistakes.

Psychopaths learn via the first two avenues but not the third – self reflection. This is because they cannot genuinely admit to making mistakes. So you cannot communicate with them by appealing to their reason when it entails anything to do with compassion for others or their own mistaken behaviour even if it involves long term consequences for them. Just as you cannot reason with a drunk, you cannot reason with a psychopath because they are addicts to power. The addiction controls their thinking.

That leaves the other two avenues. Modelling is only useful for them if they can see an advantage for themselves and so is of limited use to us in getting through to them. They learn from modelling how to change others but not themselves. Remember that they cannot learn any wisdom from self reflection on their own behaviour.

Therefore the most effective way of communicating with them is through correlation/association (tit-for-tat) but this requires speedy follow-up. The quicker the better to reinforce the association. If there is too much time between their offensive action and your reaction, the association is lost in their minds and so is the lesson. Tit-for Tat does work but, never-the-less, keep contact to the minimum and never be alone with them if it is at all possible.

If you have to negotiate with a psychopath (your boss, for instance – until you get a new job!), take notes in front of them about what their instructions are or what the deal is. It puts them on notice and you are less likely to get jerked around later. They will also look for an easier 'mark' next time. Even so, if they are in a position of power over you, get out as soon you can even if it costs you. It will cost much more later if you don't. Cut your losses.

If you suspect someone of being a psychopath and you have to continue to deal with them, research their past history. Contact old work colleagues or friends and acquaintances and ask them about their experiences with the suspect. Check everything they tell you about themselves. Their CV's are usually full of fabrications.

If you want to warn others about the psychopath makes sure you stick to relating the facts of past events and noting the lies that occurred. Do not get into personal judgements and never use the word 'psychopath'. We may be able to recognize a psychopath but we cannot prove that fact to others and the chances of a charge of psychopathy backfiring on you is large. If you use judgemental words to describe them, they will accuse you of attacking them for personal reasons and assume the victim's position and appeal for sympathy from others. Just keep emphasising the facts.

If you find yourself in a position of authority over others, a good book to read is “The No Asshole Rule”, by Prof Robert Sutton. It's about how to organize an 'asshole free' work environment and the costs of not doing so. Though Sutton doesn't use the word 'psychopath', you can read it interchangeably with 'asshole'. Psychopaths bring incompetence into the work environment and also create divisions between people in order to control others. Both are destructive. "Divide and Rule" is the psychopaths primary tactic in controlling people whether it be within a family, an organisation, a nation or between nations.

In dealing with other organizations, it is well to remember that the more authoritarian the organization, the more likely abuse is to be part of the culture.
Same applies especially to religions, of course. They are amongst the worst offenders. Religious schools are more likely to harbour paedophiles because they are, by their nature, more authoritarian than secular schools. Religion is the most insidious form of power and as the saying goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

A friend of mine reminded me the other day what 'absolutely' means in this context. It means there are no limits to the corruption and abuse. So expect stuff beyond your imagination.

Benefits From Understanding Psychopathy

Once you recognize a psychopath, you can employ some effective tactics against them. The first tactic is no contact. If you have the power, you can make them walk. If they have the power, then you walk. If there is a more even power relationship and you have to engage with the psychopath, them you can use Tit-for-Tat.

You don't have to keep repeating the same mistake with the same people (psychopaths)

You always have the power to walk away and change your life.

You recognize they do not have power over you unless you agree to stay.

As you learn more about evil, you learn more about love and compassion and the value of human connectedness. Love becomes more remarkable and more precious.

As you become more compassionate, you perceive reality more clearly. You perceive more of reality and make less mistakes. You become saner.

As psychopaths become more deluded, more insane, the more exploitative they become, so we become more sane, see reality more clearly, the more compassionate we become.

You avoid potentially destructive people and situations the more clearly you see reality. You have more peace in your life.

You can be happier with less money because you are not hankering for the relief that society holds out for you – at a price. Relationships become more valuable than 'valuables'.

There is less need to fill the void within with that which can never satisfy.

The Future

Education is the key to changing the situation of the dominance of the psychopaths over the rest of us and ending wars, starvation and poverty and an epidemic of personal trauma. A psychopath's power relies on their nature remaining hidden from you. Once we recognise them, their power evaporates because they need our co-operation to cause harm.

Eventually it will be necessary to educate high school students about the nature and prevalence of psychopathy in our society to protect it and to ensure we have a future. In the meantime, every person that becomes aware of psychopathy diminishes the power of psychopaths over us all.

The next part, Power and The Rest of Us, can be read here


thanks James

I've been waiting for part 2 for a long time. And this is really good. Makes a TON of sense.

After you explain the basics in simple terms, the implications, ramifications, and recommendations follow in a very logical way. So the reader is left thinking, "Well of course! How else could it be otherwise?"

Thanks Winter. And thanks for

Thanks Winter. And thanks for your kind words. I'm pleased it works! Yes, it's been quite a while since the first part but at least both parts were written in the same year . . . just! wink

really! just in time!

can't help thinking: "Get 'em in by New Year's!"

not to be confused with: "Get 'Em Out By Friday"

[Genesis live]


I saw Genesis live many years ago. Great concert! I also remember a great song from Phil Collins, "Tell Me Why" which is very appropriate for this essay

Another Day In Paradise-

psychopaths and prophecy

My own weird beliefs will not let go of me, having been drummed into me my whole life, by my entire family. Revelations about the nature of psychopathy correspond so clearly with Biblical references to demonic possession and evil. In particular, I find that our entire existence is revolving around this whole psychopathy/compassion conflict, just as Biblical prophecies apparently point to a major psychopathy-generated global war in our future, with the psycho-heirarchy pitted against the human race. As to the Biblical reference to this, it is the reverse of the common Bible-belt belief in a "rapture." This Adventist-belief gone viral teaches the opposite alternative to the teaching. It is the evil ones ("tares") who will be gathered together and burned, leaving a world freed from the chains of psychopathy.

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. --Matt. 13:30

The missing Matthew quote

Thank you for your very insightful comment, Peter. To me, the world cannot make sense until you understand psychopathy and psychopathy needs to be understood in spiritual terms for it, in turn, to make any sense.

Your illustration of "The Rapture" being the reversal of Jesus' words is spot-on and a perfect example of something else Jesus said. Paraphrasing - "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil".

Those words may seem nonsensical to many at first but they perfectly describe the essence of Satanism. And I have heard satanists say exactly that; that good is evil and evil is good. Satanism seeks to pervert everything good and creative and to reverse the meaning of everything. 'Blaming the victim' is another everyday example of this reversal of meaning.

Thanks for the quote from Matthew. It is very apt. I wish I'd thought of it!

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