A Crack in the Fragile Shell
Throughout my research over the past year+, I’ve learned a lot about psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists (P/S/N). I’ve written about it in posts like “Authentic vs. False Self,” as well as others sprinkled throughout the past 18 months.
These personality disorders seem to have one thing in common: no one can really agree on a clear definition. Sometimes psychopath and sociopath are used interchangeably. Narcissism is classified as a type of psychopathy, but, according to Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, the Narcissist is only half sociopath, devoid of empathy, but still possessing a conscience and able to feel emotions such as love, sadness, and guilt.
From what I’ve read, some experts believe a sociopath is born, not created. Others insist, like other personality disorders, the problem arose out of childhood trauma.
Nature or nurture. The clichéd dilemma.
A few weeks ago, I saw the new Burton film Dark Shadows, based (loosely) on the ’60/’70s TV series. Whereas many a fictional vampire has been portrayed with symptoms of P/S/N throughout literature, television, and film, in this movie, it is the witch who is the P/S/N in Dark Shadows. And the-genius-who-is-Tim-Burton portrays this character’s inner emptiness visually. She is literally a hollow shell. When injured, her husk cracks, displaying the void beneath.
For that is what they are: soulless.
Today I read on The Experience Project that there is no cure for sociopathy. Apparently, “Neurosurgeons have pinpointed the roots of what causes a true sociopath. Specifically, it is damage to regions of the cerebral cortex. This is the area of the brain that most neurosurgeons point to as the source of love, empathy, moral compass, compassion. Essentially, it’s the emotional center of the brain.”
Sociopathy can be tested with an MRI. It is incurable, but the condition can be managed with a set of rules, or a code a la Dexter.
With women, I’ve been admittedly cruel. Often, I find the sweetest ones, the ones looking for love and fairy-tales. Girls that won’t sleep with a man until she is truly ‘in love’ with them, those are the ones I go for. I’m not into the **** type, (not that I won’t use one on a lonely night.) I give them everything they dream about until they are convinced we are going to get married and grow old together. After we finally ‘make love,’ I lose interest and fall off their grid. I have received emails and calls for months on end from hurt and devastated women. Part of me likes knowing how much my absences hurts them.
It seems that Psychopathy, and especially Narcissism, is created. Perhaps that’s the difference? I’m still researching it.
How are Narcissists created?
Narcissism is almost entirely about gaining control over others, as is codependent behavior. Narcissistic behavior is most probably a reaction to an adolescence completely dominated by a narcissistic and/or codependent parent (or parents), controlled in all aspects of his young adult life, in a period when he needed to be allowed to develop control over his own life. Healthy parenting involves reprimanding their children so that they know where the boundaries lie, whereas narcissistic parenting involves the parent(s) establishing complete emotional control over their offspring.
The narcissist lives in fear of losing control. He sees other people in his environment – at home, at work, friends, relatives and neighbors – as extensions to himself. He sees himself at the center of the world, the controller, an idol to be adored and admired; in his mind this makes it acceptable for him to abuse others – he continually trys to rearrange the ‘significant others’ in his life to look towards him, and admire him. (Source)
Often referred to as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the narcissist excels at creating a very believable , charming and compassionately loving mask. It is only a matter of time, however, before you see his teeth, and by then it’s usually too late. He has taken a huge bite out of your heart, if you’re lucky, and your soul, if you’re not. This wolf seeks only to consume and degrade others to try and elevate himself. As the incubus or a vampire in literature, he feeds upon his target in an attempt to fill the black hole gaping inside them, but it can never be filled. So he sucks them dry, leaving them used and forgotten, and moves onto the next victim.
They seem like the perfect boyfriend, and in the beginning, they are attentive, thoughtful, generous, and kind. You become enamored and are swept off your feet. Although you may hear murmurings from friends or family that he seems “too nice” or that they just “have a hunch about him,” you brush aside their comments. You only have eyes for him, and in those eyes, he’s “the one.”
The relationship moves quickly, and he makes you feel chosen and special, as if the secrets he shares are only between you two. He seeks your sympathy, telling you woes about his hard life and the many people who have taken advantage of or hurt him. He might even speak disparagingly about his “crazy” ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, and you swallow the one-sided character assassination without question…
The secret he hides from everyone is his cruelty and coldness, which eventually transforms from subtle to overt psychological, verbal, and physical abuse…He’s no longer kind but arrogant, and he’s never, ever wrong. Our narcissist has no empathy or time for you or the children anymore, preferring instead to live a moody life of self-imposed exile succumbing to addictions such as work, alcohol, drugs, or affairs…
The wolf only cares about one thing in his relationship with you, and it is winning. He will do everything in his power to destroy you in the process, to extract vengeance upon you and the children for “abandoning” him and asking him to change his abusive ways. (Source)
Now, I find the character of Angelique in Dark Shadows fascinating not only because of her ironic name, but also because Barnabas’s cruelty of using her for sex again and again before casting her aside for his true love is what made her a monster.
Barnabas is not a narcissist/psychopath. After all, not all wo/men who sexually exploit their partners are narcissists, psychopaths, or sociopaths, mind you. Some are just spoiled. Selfish. Or just displaying general assholery.
Angelique is a psychopath.
He made her a monster, so she made him one, too.
Similarly, the Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman (a film that tells fairy tales the way they should be told!), was also made by the cruelty of a man who used her and cast her aside. Even in fiction, abuse causes psychological illness and sometimes psychotic breaks. And the cycle continues.
Same goes for Sweeney Todd. A narcissist, or perhaps even sociopath in the case of that blasted judge, ships Benjamin Barker off to a prison colony for 20 years, then courts and rapes his wife before casting her aside. She goes insane. Barker, now called Sweeney Todd, is hellbent on revenge and kills loads of other people in the meantime because “we all deserve to die.” Why? “Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief. For the rest of us death will be a relief.”
Sweeney’s monster was made, too. He was made by the cruelty of a psychopath.
Whatever one calls it…If it’s a psychological illness, a damaged brain, or just selfish callousness, the result is the same. The intent, however is different, and that not nothing. Regardless, even if it’s an illness or brain damage, I’ll say the same thing I’ve said countless times before.
We all have issues. We’re adults. Yes your shit is scary to face. So is mine. So is everybody’s. Face your stuff and deal with it. Find some courage and self awareness. Grow.
And stop hurting people.
But, of course, they won’t.
As Mr. Todd sings, “The cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru.”
So, friends, the best defense we have against those without empathy and/or conscience, is to learn the signs and recognize them early.
“You are young. Life has been kind to you. You will learn.”
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~ by omgrey on June 6, 2012.
Posted in Lost in the Aether, Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: angelique bouchard, author, barnabas collins, broken heart, dark shadows, empty, eva green, fear, healing, heartbroken, honesty, intimacy, johnny depp, love, narcissism, narcissist, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, polyamory, psychopath, relationship advice, relationships, romance, sociopath, sociopath next door, steampunk, tim burton