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Archive for May, 2008

Fear: The gift sociopaths/psychopaths didn’t get by their third Christmas

If you read the stories of victims of sociopaths, many common themes are apparent. One of these is the victim complains that he/she is riddled with anxiety while the sociopath goes on with life effortlessly. From the point of view of a victim then, it is hard to see fear as a gift. Many say they wish the sociopath suffered some anxiety over the mess of their lives. The worst sociopaths (psychopaths) even go to prison multiple times, only viewing this fate as “an occupational hazard.”

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Listen to the gift of fear

Editor’s note: The following story was submitted by a Lovefraud reader.

There was something odd about his intense gaze. Even though I felt funny about the way he stared at me the first time we met, I ignored my discomfort. I met my former boyfriend after I had been attending services at a Unitarian Universalist Church for several weeks. We engaged in small talk for a few minutes then swapped numbers. Even though I felt somewhat uncomfortable, I ignored my gut feeling and gave him my number anyway. I was very needy and desperate for friendship.

Help in gathering evidence for a restraining order

“D” Spotwell knows the frustration of trying to get a restraining order. She had a violent husband (currently serving a life sentence, which is why I’m not using her first name) and another relationship that turned into stalking. She went to court numerous times to get restraining orders, complaining of telephone harassment. She left court empty-handed. Why? Because she had no evidence of the harassing calls.

Spotwell has since learned how to get proof of telephone harassment that a judge will usually accept. Now, she’s helping women (and men) in similar situations.

Do psychopaths/sociopaths make choices?

Hopefully, many of you read this blog because you want to know how a trained psychiatrist deals with the issues you also face. I am not glad to be eternally tied to a psychopath, but since I am, you and I share the same challenges. We can reflect on these challenges together and we will all be better and stronger.

This week I received an email from one of my ex-husband’s family members, so I will put off the planned discussion of psychopathic anxiety to address the issues raised by the email. The email points to the trivializing of the sociopath’s/psychopath’s behavior that family members often do. This week give some thought as to how you will deal with others who trivialize a sociopath’s/psychopath’s behavior or perhaps your own tendency to “excuse” what he/she does.

Evil – a simple definition

I love my wikipedia. I learn a lot I didn’t know and I refine my thinking by finding fault too. (The problem is knowing what is worth learning and what needs unlearning!)

Consider the wikipedia definition of evil:

Evil is generally defined as any activity which takes advantage of another person for one’s own benefit….(In contrast, good is helping others, even sometimes self-sacrificially; see saint, sainthood.)

There’s something dodgy about the form of this definition and also something very familiar about its implications. For one thing, it fits with the the lable ‘anti-social’ which refers to behaviour which has ill effects, but good intentions – “well, in his culture that behaviour is normal”. Whatever happened to ill intent, though? (For another thing, what’s the counterpart to sainthood?)

Finding a real relationship after a sociopath

The following story was sent by the Lovefraud reader who comments under the name “LovingAnnie.” This woman—we’ll call her Annie—spent four years waiting for a relationship to materialize with a policeman who tantalized her with flattery and promises. Here’s what Annie wrote:

Annie and the cop

I called 9-1-1 for the first time in my life (a neighbor problem), and when I answered the door, my first thought on seeing him was, “wow—he is sooo cute.”

We ended up talking for almost an hour and exchanging phone numbers.

Manage anxiety using understanding and conscious intention

Did you know people actually have two brains? We have a conscious brain that produces thoughts, ideas and intention and we have an automatic, unconscious brain that produces impulses. There are advantages to having two brains. The conscious thinking brain makes us smart and deliberate but the problem is it is slow. On the other hand, the unconscious automatic brain is fast, but the impulses that arise from it are sometimes undesirable. Automatic impulses do not always serve us well.

The verbal attacks of the sociopath

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Lovefraud reader Aloha Traveler.

Who are you calling BLEEP!?

I have always been a person that is hard-wired for honesty. If you are into astrology, I am an Aries and my Chinese sign is Rooster. This doesn’t mean much to me but a friend once wanted to know my birth sign and the year and then responded “Oh. Now I see.” According to my friend, Aries born in the year of the Rooster have a double scoop of honesty.

 

Anxiety: An inevitable outcome of involvement with a sociopath/psychopath

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, “anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder.” Put another way anxiety is supposed to help us. The parts of the brain that produce feelings of anxiety are similar to the parts of the brain that process pain, another negative emotion. Anxiety and its cousin pain help us by signaling danger and causing us to avoid. Their job is to inhibit behavior. The part of the brain that processes pain and anxiety is called the Behavioral Inhibition System or BIS.

There is no drabber place to be

Why is it that in the popular media super-psychopaths like serial killers are portrayed has having such rich inner lives? (Consider the highly cultured Hannibal Lecter.) That’s not right at all.

Anthony Lane, film reviewer for the New Yorker, makes the point well:

There was a time when, as a God-fearing member of the community, you could commit a single murder, drop a couple of clues, and wait to be unmasked. Now it’s all serial slayers, stacking up bodies like air miles. Filmgoers are supposed to find this multiplicity enticing, and we are constantly being invited to enter into the “mind” of the serial killer, but in truth there is no drabber place to be, and the idea that there might be an artfulness, even a style, to the act of homicide is one of the more pernicious fantasies that movies like to hawk.

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