Drink the Kool-Aid

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” ~Albert Einstein

Ted Bundy.
Charles Manson.
Jeffrey Dahmer.
Jim Jones.

These are the names that come to mind when someone hears the word “psychopath” or “sociopath.” But the truth is, most psychopaths/sociopaths aren’t serial killers. Most psychopaths/sociopaths don’t break the law at all. Most are so smart that they know how to destroy people’s lives and stay just inside the law. Most are non-violent (physically), but they are very much so psychologically and emotionally.

Now, for clarity, even the psychiatric industry can’t agree on the definitions for these two terms. Sometimes they’re used interchangeably. Sometimes experts say that psychopaths are worse monsters, others say sociopaths are. Some say they’re synonymous with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Some say all narcissists are psychopaths, but not all psychopaths are narcissists. Some say it’s the other way around. Some say they’re two totally different pathologies. Some say all three are.

Part of the problem is that experts have had very few psychopaths/sociopaths to study, and when they do study them, they are so masterfully manipulative and convincing, even to the experts, they can’t get a clear diagnosis.

So, for the purposes of this essay, and I think I’ve used the terms this way pretty regularly (without going back over every post I’ve written to ensure that statement), I’m going to take Dr. Robert Hare’s definition of Psychopathy (Author of Without Conscience), as he’s one of the leading experts on the disorder. Similarly, I’m going to use Dr. Martha Stout’s definition of a sociopath (Author of The Sociopath Next Door).

You can read up about both terms on your own, but basically, neither a psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist has the capacity for empathy. They are extremely charming. Both those things are across the board and agreed upon by every source I’ve ever found. Here is how I’ll use the terms:

Sociopath: Without conscience. 1 in 25 people do not have a conscience at all. That’s 4% of the population. They are likely born this way or something happens very young when that part of their brain is damaged and doesn’t develop. They are incapable of empathy. They are incapable of human emotion, except anger and frustration. They can mimic all emotions, including love and empathy. They destroy people for fun. No remorse. No shame. No guilt. No responsibility for their actions. There is no cure.

So, know 25 people? Statistically, one is not bound by conscience. One is a sociopath, and you’ll likely never guess who unless s/he picks you as their next target.

Psychopath: Has a limited conscience. Between 1% and 5% of people are psychopaths, according to Hare and other studies. Psychopaths seem to be created by a significant childhood trauma. They are incapable of empathy. They have genuine emotions, but they are very shallow and short lived. They do not feel guilt or remorse. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They are glib and/or superficially charming. They have a grandiose view of self-worth. Pathological liars to the point they believe their own lies at times. Cunning/manipulative. There is no cure.

Intelligent psychopaths, those with higher IQs, especially if they are also attractive, seem to be more along the lines of the Narcissist. From my extensive research, I believe that Narcissism is a type of Psychopathy, not the other way around. Even on Hare’s famous checklist, Factor 1 is even called “Aggressive Narcissism.”

Those psychopaths with lower intelligence seem to be more of the antisocial type, especially if they’re not attractive. They have a tendency to break the law and be petty criminals and stereotypical con artists.

Narcissist: Again, type of psychopath. Intelligent, charming, and very attractive. Many narcissists are sex-addicts (somatic). I’ve read that all sex-addicts are narcissists, but I haven’t done enough research on the two to have a firm opinion on that. Narcissism is a Cluster B Personality Disorder, and there are two kinds of Narcissists: somatic and cerebral. There is also what’s known as the malignant narcissist, supposedly an extreme form of Antisocial Personality Disorder with a tendency toward joyful cruelty and sadism. Narcissists, more or less, fit the description of a psychopath, factor 1. There supposedly is no cure, but in my research and in my personal experience, I’ve met people who claim to have been cured or who can cure narcissism.

I use these latter two terms more or less interchangeably, as they’re virtually synonymous, or I’ll use them together like psychopathic narcissist or narcissistic psychopath. But that’s rather redundant.

Dr. Marth Stout, in The Sociopath Next Door says this about narcissists:

The condition of narcissism is particularly interesting and instructive. Narcissism is, in a metaphorical sense, one half of what sociopathy is. Even clinical narcissists are able to feel most emotions as strongly as anyone else does, from guilt and sadness to desperate love and passion. The half that is missing is the crucial ability to understand what other people are feeling. Narcissism is a failure not of conscience but of empathy, which is the capacity to perceive emotions in others and so react to them appropriately. The poor narcissist cannot see past his own nose, emotionally speaking, and as with the Pillsbury Doughboy, and input from the outside will spring back as if nothing had happened. Unlike sociopaths, narcissists often are in psychological pain, and may sometimes seek psychotherapy. When a narcissist looks for help, one of the underlying issues is usually that, unbeknownst to him, he is alienating his relationships on account of his lack of empathy with others, and is feeling confused, abandoned, and lonely. His misses the people he loves, and is ill-equipped to get them back. Sociopaths, in contrast, do not care about other people, and so do not miss them when they are alienated or gone, except as one might regret the absence of a useful appliance that one had somehow lost.

When I first read this description months ago, I cried. A lot. It was the kindest, most compassionate view of a narcissist I’ve seen, and I have so much compassion and love for the man. Even still. The description speaks of such an underlying confusion and inability to fix what’s broken because they just don’t know what to do. To them, nothing really exists outside themselves, not in any real way. They love, but they can’t empathize. I cried and cried. I wanted desperately to reach out when I first read this, and it took my entire support network to keep me from doing so.

But the ball was not in my court.

Anyway, I digress. Imagine that.

Dr. Stout’s description of the narcissistic individual is very kind and compassionate, and it differs from Dr. Hare’s description of the psychopath in that she insinuates that a narcissist cares and sees other people as more than just objects to be replaced. Most other (in fact all other) things I’ve researched on narcissists aren’t so generous. Again, because of their grandiose view of themselves, they rarely seek therapy unless forced to. So little is known in detail.

Most accounts of narcissists explain how they discard a person with as much ease as a used wallet, and with as much emotion.

Narcissists are created, usually by a profound trauma in childhood, like say the death of a close family member or severe emotional/physical/sexual abuse. They can also be created by overindulgence and special treatment of an only-child (usually) or by a narcissistic parent. At the time of the trauma, the self is rather split in two, one part hiding away and the second becoming the mask of sanity. Many narcissists are frozen at an emotional age, like for example 12, when the trauma happened. This, as well as severe sexual abuse, could explain the sex-addiction common with somatic narcissists. There is no cure for narcissism, at least that’s the general consensus, but it can be managed quite effectively with extensive therapy, starting with dealing with the initial trauma.

Can’t run forever.

Unfortunately, so many people think “psychopath” means serial killer or psychotic axe-murder, and it does. Those are types of psychopaths (although they’re likely more sociopaths), but by far most psychopaths aren’t killers. They don’t break the law.

But they are no less dangerous.

Let’s have a look at what people said about Ted Bundy, a serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered over 30 young women and girls during the 1970s (wikipedia). He was “regarded as handsome and charismatic by his young female victims, traits he exploited in winning their trust.” Unlike the image of a “homicidal maniac,” he was attractive, self-assured, politically ambitions, and successful with a wide variety of women (that he didn’t rape or kill). He worked a suicide hotline in the early 70’s, and coworker said that he was “kind, solicitous, and empathetic.” His aunt one time witnessed a dissociative state in which he “seemed to turn into another, unrecognizable person…He turned into a stranger.” A prison official witnessed something similar: “He did a metamorphosis, a body and facial change…almost a complete change of personality” (wikipedia).

I’ve seen this happen, and it’s both terrifying and confusing. A man I once thought I knew has several symptoms of a psychopathic personality; i. e., aggressive narcissism. I saw this change occur briefly during the first sexual assault and then permanently (for me at least) starting the next day and for the rest of that last week, through the second assault and the end of the relationship. It was seriously as if he was a different person. He even looked like a different person, as I’ve said often on the pages of this blog. When I described his behavior to his ex, she said, “that doesn’t sound like [hisname],” and I said, “I know, that’s what I’m trying to say. Something changed. This isn’t [hisname].”

He’d also go into a dissociative state for sex. In his own words, time and again, he told me he could only truly be himself during sex. And there was a visible difference from the man in the bedroom to who he’d be when we’d get out of bed. Visible. He told me that even right after a sexual encounter, he often couldn’t remember what happened during sex just moments before. He even said he was in “a different state.”

Let me be very clear again, I am not even remotely suggesting this man is a serial killer, not by any means. Not even a little bit. Please don’t read into this. Seriously. But, unfortunately, the only wide evidence we as a culture have of psychopathic tendencies are those of high profile court cases like Bundy’s. Like I said before, the grand majority of psychopaths aren’t criminals in the legal sense. They aren’t physically violent. My purpose in pointing out the way others saw Bundy is how an entire community–even family members, spouses, GFs, friends, and coworkers–can be fooled by the very convincing mask sociopaths/psychopaths/narcissists wear. Nothing more.

This is just about their skill at hiding their true selves. Nothing more.

Things aren’t black and white. There is a spectrum of psychopathic/sociopathic behavior, and Bundy is at the extreme end of it. There is a spectrum of sexual assault, and violent, forced stranger-rape, especially gang rape, is at the extreme end of it. It doesn’t mean “lesser” offenses aren’t perpetrated by psychopaths or aren’t considered sexual assault or rape. It’s a spectrum.

Now, the lets go down Hare’s psychopathic checklist:

  • Glibness/superficial charm. Check.
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth. Arrogance. Huge Check.
  • Pathological lying. Check. (And in my experience, they lie masterfully with half-truths or deceive as well as tell outright lies and hide things.)
  • Cunning/manipulative. Double and Triple Check.
  • Lack of remorse or guilt. Check.
  • Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric). Check.
  • Callousness; lack of empathy. Huge. Fucking. Check.
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. Check. (paraphrased from a likely psychopath’s OKC profile “I take responsibility very seriously, therefore I avoid it at all costs.”

No empathy, but the narcissist wants plenty for himself. And he gets plenty too. After all, (everyone say it with me) they are very, very convincing. A narcissist can really turn on the tears when it suits him. One has turned them on for me, and I sure fell for it.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

Plus, psychopaths and sociopaths are surrounded by conscious-bound, loving, empathic people who haven’t seen behind the mask yet. Even when they catch a glimpse, they won’t believe it. So, of course they get empathy.

Dr. Stout says the sociopath’s greatest weapon is sympathy. They are masters at appearing to be the victim, turning entire situations around for their own benefit and playing on the heart strings of those around them. She calls this the “pity play.”

The most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy…When we pity, we are, at least for the moment, defenseless, and like so many of the other essentially positive human characteristics that bind us together in groups–social and professional roles, sexual bonds, regard for the compassionate and the creative, respect for our leaders–our emotional vulnerability when we pity is used against us by those who have no conscience.

But where is the empathy for others?

Here’s a story: two months after a specific narcissist split from his ex, they carpooled with another friend to an ecstatic dance retreat. On the way there, he spoke about how wonderful his life and his new relationship was (a woman he’s still with) in happy, excited tones. His ex, still in great pain from the breakup, had to listen to how easily he had moved on, feeling cast aside, replaced. She went to sleep because she couldn’t bear the pain. Just checked out. (Boy, can I relate.)

Where was his empathy then?

That same weekend, at the retreat, she broke down wailing and crying in the dance hall, in agony over the split and how easily and callously she had been replaced. While her community surrounded her and comforted her, much as they are doing for him now, he went out for a walk in the woods to get some peace and quiet.

Where was his empathy then?

As I cried and cried and cried during that last sexual encounter, more recently known as the second assault, he didn’t stop. Afterward, I continued to cry and apologize, terrified of losing such a significant relationship. Wondering what happened to the man who had told me he was happier when I was around and loved me and adored me and was crazy about me and attached to me just one week earlier, but he just got off and rolled over and went to sleep. Not saying a word to me other than to scold me for being upset.

Where was his empathy then?

Or, one of my favorite examples, is when he was so upset because I said I had felt neglected the night before. He asked me to take into consideration his feelings before expressing mine, which I, of course, always did. I took great responsibility for my emotions and for his. He scolded me in a cold, rational rage for not just talking to my husband about it and leaving him on his ego-high from the auction. I apologized profusely, swearing I’d do whatever I could to make that weekend perfect. The next morning, he raped me, punishing me for my horrific slight. Later that week, in the final devalue/discard, hours before the second assault, he said that he didn’t want to take my fears into consideration before doing or saying something. Huh. The exact. same. fucking. thing. he. asked. of. me. just days earlier.

Where was his empathy then?

Classic narcissistic behavior, when it’s about him (and, let’s face it, it always is), he expects concessions and responsibility and compassion. When it’s his “loved” one who’s hurting, it’s not his problem. Not his responsibility. When I was hurting or scared, there was no empathy. No compassion. It wasn’t his responsibility. It wasn’t his problem. He couldn’t be bothered.

Go talk to your husband, he’d tell me, I’m going to play ultimate frisbee.

And there are so many more stories and examples of where those came from. So many more.

So, yes, believe the narcissist. Empathize with him. Drink the kool-aid. It’s yummy yummy yummy (much as he tells you you are), but it’s drugged, helps you remain in the dark with blinders on. Helps you live that dream just a little longer, and I don’t blame you. That drug-induced dream is quite euphoric. Unlike that I’ve ever known or will likely ever know again. Such a sweet, transcendent drug. Ah, yes. That connection was so gorgeous…

But the withdrawals are a bitch.

Anyway. The point is…when I use the word psychopath or sociopath on the pages of this blog, I’m not saying “serial killer.” I’m using the terms as defined above, mostly: lack of empathy and/or conscience, those very things that make us human, along with the rest of the checklist.

It’s not all that absurd, really.

If the Vibrams fit…


Related blog posts:


For some very *very* interesting reading, check out these blogs and posts by sociopaths & psychopaths as well as others who are close to them. You can see for yourself how they think and how very well they manipulate.

Please remember that the definitions of these words vary from site to site, some use psychopath the way Stout used sociopath and sociopath he way hate uses psychopath. Forget about the label and look at the characteristics.

And…if you really, really can’t stand the use of the words psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist. Call them Darth Vaders or Dark Souls or Monsters or just “Players” or “Bad Boys.” A narcissist called by any other name does as much damage. Rape by any other name is still rape. Just learn to recognize these dangerous people (men and women) early so you can stay away from them and protect your hearts and your souls.

~ by omgrey on August 10, 2012.

14 Responses to “Drink the Kool-Aid”

  1. It’s a funny word, psychopath. The knee-jerk people have to it is instantaneous, emotional and indisguisable. I heard that word used today to describe people who don’t participate in social media. How HR departments are hesitant to hire anyone not on FaceBook, because they are “suspicious” for not engaging in social media. And could therefore by “murderous psychopaths” like the Colorado shooter (as he had no friends and no facebook- everyone else w/o one must be the same).

    Once I finished frothing at the mouth, I found myself thinking over your recent posts about rape-apologist culture. Having never been a victim, I can’t even begin to understable the reverberations of “unsafe” that now define a victims world. However, I can speak as a woman who tries to keep herself safe.

    A woman like me who doesn’t FaceBook, and never uses her first name or location online. I merely don’t want to facilitate stalking (cyber or real world alike). I want to prevent being victimized by limiting the amount of information I give the world, but to imagine myself the victim of a rape- I wouldn’t want a FaceBook. Actually I would probably shut down all by the most rudimentary functions. Blogging not being one of them, but I would absolutely shun all public venues where there’s even a ghost of a chance I could have contact with my attacker.

    And the notion that this could hinder mine (as a non-victim) and others (those who have been victimized) chances of being hired, infuriates me like I haven’t been in a long time! It feels like a disgusting, invasive discrimination. A violation of the sanctity of privacy, for all women- who unfortunately have to spend their lives in a state of hypervigilance.

    At this point I think this planet’s a bust. I hear we’re setting up digs on Mars. Anyone wanna set up a colony there?

    • It is, indeed. The media and society love to use that word to mean all sorts of things, which is why it has lost most of its meaning.

      I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything so absurd as to make a blanket statement that people who don’t use social media are psychopaths. How ridiculous. Then we have an entire generation of psychopaths who are over the age of 55. I know a lot of people who don’t like Facebook, and I can see why. It’s time-consuming and can cause a lot of trouble, especially in relationships.

      It is invasive discrimination, btw. How absurd. The country is still in overreaction-mode right now because of this horrific event. This is the problem with refusing to have these conversations *before* tragedy strikes. Like the communities I’ve spoken about in the Austin area, one seems to be talking about it, and it’s because they’ve dealt with this before and knows what happens. Another has their feathers ruffled and has dug in their heels. When the next woman comes forward saying she’s been assaulted (IF, as she’ll have seen first hand how they reacted to this one), they might be kicking themselves or they might bury their heads further in the sane. According just to the few comments on my blog, and I have several hundred readers, but by far most aren’t in the Austin area, it hasn’t been the first assault or person accused of rape in the poly community either. Still, they turn a blind eye. “Let’s just pretend it goes away. After all, she must’ve done *something* to deserve it, or maybe she’s just lying, or maybe it was a misunderstanding. It’s none of our business anyway. And it can’t happen to me or my wife, never. I mean, we’re careful who we choose as lovers.” Etc. Etc. Ad nauseum.

      So, instead of having a *real* discussion about mental illness, which is rampant, and how to address that culturally, we close our eyes and ears and mouths and go about shopping and working and going to little league games. Then, when it happens again, express such an outrage! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?

      Same thing with rape.

      And I’m no different. I wouldn’t talk about rape. I didn’t want to hear about rape. Nothing scared me more. It was right up there with abandonment, so lucky me, I got both of my greatest fears realized by this man all at once. I wouldn’t read books with rape. I wouldn’t watch movies with rape. I didn’t want to hear about rape because it was just too awful, too horrific, too impossible. I was always careful. I always watched where I was going.

      I’ve protected myself from stranger rape, and I’ve done a good job of it.

      I never expected to be raped by a trusted lover. Never. Never. Never. And, I wouldn’t believe it for months.

      Anyway, you know that story, so I won’t repeat it. I get what you say about the safety thing, and that’s exactly what I did. I used to be very, very active on social networks, and I pulled way way way back after the split. I unfriended him immediately from both my accounts, and I blocked him about 2 months ago. I’ve blocked his new profile now, too, as well as the women (drunk on his kool-aid) who joined him in humiliating me (by my real name) in a public forum. I’ve stayed away from anywhere he might be, places I enjoyed going. Every time I went out *anywhere* I was scared. Always looking over my shoulder. Heart pounding. Finally, I left that city to come out west, where there is a nice 2000 miles between us. I feel safe here.

      But then, Facebook. Yep. Still pushing me out.

      I’ve gotten off that FB group, so I don’t see if/what he writes anymore. I’m going to Burning Man in a few weeks, and he’ll be there too, I hear. I’m very nervous about that. It’s a much smaller place than Austin. But I’ve taken precautions, and I’ll take more once I get there. I’m working on a post now that talks about that. Basically, the organization knows. The rangers know. B.E.D. knows. BM911 knows.

      Every. single. sex-positivie-themed camp will know.

      Picture. Name. Description. Police Reports. Letters from sexual assault professionals.

      Yep. The entire city of Black Rock will know. And they’ll be watching.

      Let’s go to Mars! I’m with you! I sure don’t understand this society. That’s for sure.

  2. I also dated a sociopath, and while there were some hints of his sociopathy while we were together, I ignored them, because he treated me well, regardless of how he treated others, and that’s all that matters, right? Wrong. Eventually he discarded me too, and then heaped abuse upon me because in his mind he couldn’t be the one who was cruel and wrong. I must have done something to deserve it. He convinced many of our friends to abandon me as well, as he was very charming and manipulative. Five years later, and I still have panic attacks thinking about running into him anywhere, or about him trying to join my new circle of friends. Sadly, this lesson about dating sociopaths, about letting them into our hearts and lives and giving them emotional control over us, is a lesson some of us learn the hard way. I’m so sorry that your relationship with a sociopath progressed to the point of sexual assault. I consider myself lucky that mine never did, and very lucky that I got out when I did, even if he was the one who ended it, instead of me. I only wish I’d stood up for myself and ended it sooner. I can only hope that posts like yours will reach the women (and men) out there who haven’t experienced this yet and save them the heartache of making this mistake.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this, Sara. They do leave a swath of devastation in their wakes. I can relate to the lingering anxiety, even though it hasn’t been as long for me. I moved across the country to avoid running into him. If I ever see him again, it will be too soon.

      Yes. I hope people will be warned, too. But I don’t think they will take heed. I’ve warned people personally with examples of his dishonesty and manipulation and lack of integrity, and they don’t listen. They all think it will be different with them. They think they’ll be able to control their hearts and souls. They’d be wrong. You can I know. People who have actually experienced the devastation left in the wake of a narcissist and/or sociopath know. No one else can fathom the depth of damage. Tragically.

      So, I guess they’ll learn for themselves. It is only ever a matter of time before they are devalued and discarded, too. Hopefully they won’t be raped first. And raped in a way that leaves them questioning if it really was rape for months. If it wasn’t somehow their fault or their perception. Somehow that they weren’t good enough or thin enough or sexy enough or happy enough. But, hopefully, they’ll have a support system like I’ve had. Hopefully, they’ll report him to the police, whether there is enough for a criminal investigation or no. Hopefully, they’ll survive him better than I have.

      I consider myself lucky for getting away, too. And in such a short time. I’ve seen the effects of long-term attachment to this man, and it isn’t pretty.

      They’re all so charming and manipulative. It’s why they can keep feeding.

  3. […] Drink the Kook-Aid […]

  4. […] Please remember, the monster is well hidden. The mask is so very convincing, even those close to him won’t see it, and even when they see glimpses, they’ll excuse them away because everything else is so wonderful. The control and manipulation happens so very gradually that it’s like a frog in a pot of boiling water. No one sees until it’s far, far too late. […]

  5. […] of an abuser, a callous, selfish person who is most using you, at best, and at worst, s/he is a psychopath, incapable of empathy or accepting responsibility for their actions. Incapable of love or any real emotion. Run. Very […]

  6. […] Drink the Kool-Aid (omgrey.wordpress.com) […]

  7. […] Possibly anyone I come into contact with. One in every 25 people are sociopathic, that is, without a conscience and incapable of […]

  8. […] note. The number of sociopaths in society are also at 4%. One out of 25. You know a sociopath. You know a rapist. They might even be the same person, and they are likely your friend.) Again, […]

  9. […] my former blog I wrote a lot about the no-empathy spectrums, especially sociopathy and narcissism. Some types of autism also have limited-empathy, but this manifestation differs […]

  10. […] written about Narcissism, Sociopathy, and other forms of Emotional and Sexual Predators on my former O. M. Grey blog […]

  11. […] written about Narcissism, Sociopathy, and other forms of Emotional and Sexual Predators on my former O. M. Grey blog […]

  12. […] in this  blog I wrote a lot about the no-empathy spectrums, especially sociopathy and narcissism. Some types of autism also have limited-empathy, but this manifestation differs […]

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