By January 16, 2008 227 Comments Read More →

The psychopath’s bewildering ways of talking

A reader says: “I kept wondering what was going on in his head. I could never follow his thinking. I think he might have been into alcohol and drugs and that in itself messes the brain, and along with his other personality disorders, sure makes for a confusing relationship.”

The thinking patterns of the psychopath are indeed weird. It seems there are biological and intentional reasons for this. In others words, he is unable to think very logically PLUS he intends to mislead. No wonder he is hard to follow!

Below I list several factors which together make the psychopath a most bamboozling character.

The odd speech of psychopaths
The psychopath makes “frequent use of contradictory and logically inconsistent statements”, says Robert Hare in ‘Without conscience.’ E.g. “A man serving time for armed robbery replied to the testimony of an eyewitness, “He’s lying. I wasn’t there. I should have blown his fucking head off.” It is as if, says Hare, they have “difficulty monitoring their own speech”.

Psychopaths may also construct strange words: ‘unconscientious’ for unconscious’, ‘antidotes’ for ‘anecdotes’. Perhaps there is something about the brain of the psychopath that contributes to his odd speech.

Drug and alcohol abuse
With their poor ability to tolerate frustration and their high need for stimulation (same thing?), the psychopath is likely to abuse drugs and alcohol which obviously affects the ability to think. Chronic abuse damages the brain.

But, as M.L. Gallagher recently writes, he speaks in riddles purposely too.

The intention to deceive
This doesn’t need much elaboration here. The psychopath wants to get something. He may simply take it by force. Otherwise he will use his cunning to fool the other person. (Interestingly, the illogicality of his arguments doesn’t stop him successfully conning one person after another.)

Logical fallacies
Most of us use logical fallacies when we argue or try to persuade. Some of these are errors in our own thinking, some are conscious manipulations. Just accentuating a different word can make all the difference: “Mom said that we musn’t throw stones at the windows” (i.e. she didn’t say anything about hitting them with a tennis racket).

We can fully expect that the psychopath, with his flawed thinking plus his intention to deceive, will use every logical fallacy in the book. Bear with me for a couple of paragraphs.

Take the example the logical fallacy, the ‘ad hominem argument’. It has two types, circumstantial and abusive. In the circumstantial ad hominem argument the circumstances of the other are confronted instead of the evidence: “Of course you don’t accept that it’s OK to be a loan-shark. You’re a Christian and Christ drove the money lenders out of the temple.” (But that’s irrelevant; if I was Jewish what would your defense be then?)

In the abusive ad hominem argument the opponent is attacked instead of their argument: “You criticise me for loan-sharking, but three years ago you were arrested for drunk driving.” (What does that have to do with loan-sharking?)

But the psychopath uses fallacies with an evil twist. Whenever possible he’ll use a logical fallacy as a paramoralism. In other words, he won’t use a fallacy only to win a point but also use it moralistically in order to corrode the other’s moral thinking.

How would a psychopath argue ad hominem? Several readers have mentioned precisely this example: “What kind of Christian are you to accuse me of this?” (Again, the other’s Christianity is irrelevant to the topic at hand.) Can you see the difference? Unlike the examples above where the opponent’s Christianity is used to score a point or bring the argument to an end, here the other is being denounced as a bad Christian. An open-minded person is likely to say to themselves, “Maybe he’s right. Perhaps I’m the bad one here.”

Perhaps you have an example to share of the bewildering speech of a psychopath?

For glimpse into the wacky thought-processes of the narcissist see this article.

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227 Comments on "The psychopath’s bewildering ways of talking"

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How do I get that book? I have heard others talk about it. Why was is so important for me to meet the needs that SHE couldn’t or wouldn’t for him. When I was in the relationship, I could never understand why he went home to HER everynight. He said that she met his needs socially and that was it. Why was that so important to me? I took such good care of him and I got nothing back but getting discarded.
I am sick right now-stomach flu and just starting to be able to eat crackers. I remember that when I had this last year that he came over with medicine, fluids, stomach friendly foods that would last for a week and one of his shirts to sleep in and he offered to move the tv into the bedroom. He sat down in my bed with me until I fell asleep and then let himself out. I remember being so grateful for that-like he was SO wonderful. Truthfully, if he deserved me and was any kind of a real man, he would have stayed with me and not left. He is not a real man. He is a fake, an illusion. He doesn’t deserve someone like me. I don’t deserve someone like him-he is SO beneath me but it is hard to be sick all alone. My best friend was so right when she said that the man that I fell in love with never really existed.

Dear ERin1972

“what is wrong with me?” That is a question we all have to ask ourselves, WHY did we get tied up in this (and or other bad or dysfunctional relationships) it starts out about THEM and then becomes about US.

Our own thinking and ideas about ourselves and others, our self esteem, or “dreams” and how we have learned to cope with stress are all part of it.

I realized that I had a big case of “hyper-responsibility” for others, it was MY job to make everyone else happy, no matter what it cost ME. A lot of it went back to my child hood and the fact that there was a LONG (generations!!) history of the men being abusers and the women cleaning up the messes, in the name of “being a good Christian and FORGIVING”—but I found out that I didn’t like this arrangement any more. I realized I had emotionally “bought into” this CRAP. Not that I can BLAME it on my egg donor for trying to feed me this stuff but I didn’t really 100% buy into it, but it was just “easier” to go with the flow than to stand up and take the punishment for trying to rebel against the family mottos:

“let’s just pretend none of this happened” or “let’s pretend we are a nice normal family”

It never felt right, not from my earliest memories, but any time I would “rebel” against the “party line” I would be beaten into submission.

I just read a story today in the NYTimes that there is mass murder going on in Mexico, even one branch of the US embassy was closed for over a week, but the reporters are NOT PUTTING anything about this on the news or papers, because the fighting going on by the narcos and the police is something the narcos don’t want publicized so they have threatened the reporeters, killed several and five have “disappeared,” so though you might hear gunfire in your neighborhood, or see murders, when you turn on the news or pick up the paper there is NOTHING ABOUT IT REPORTED.

Just as the bad eggs of a society will punish anyone in the society that tries to bring a spot light on to the bad deeds of some of the society, the dysfunctional toxic family group will do the same thing. Punish anyone who is bold enough to buck the “system.”

Sure, if you want to be a reporter in Mexico, you are RISKING your very life, and the lives of your kids, but look what happened in Nazi Germany when people were afraid to speak up about what they knew. I don’t know if I would be brave enough to stick my head up and “report” the truth in Mexico, sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut to live to fight another day, but when everyone does that, you know what the outcome is.

Confronting any psychopath inside a group will get you “smeared” or “hurt” in one way or another. It is painful. I waited though until my own life was literally at stake before I had the courage or good sense, and stood up and “reported” what was going on, but I had been too “go along” to “get along” for wayyyyyy tooooo long!

I just finished a novel about a family in WWII Germany and it followed the family from aftger WWI to after WWII and how they knew what was going on, and how they hid Jews in their cellars, but how many people in their town kept their mouths shut, or worse, participated in the Nazi control, but then after the war tried to pretend that they had not.

Life is not always fair, not always safe if you do what you know is right, and soometimes we have some tough questions to ask ourselves about how we make our choices. Some of those choices are tough.

You are right Erin1972, he is NOT a “real man” or even a “real” human being with emotions that are real or any kind of altruism.

When I was 18 I thought I knew the answers to all the world’s problems, now that I am 63 I know I not only don’t now the answers, I don’t even know all the questions, but I do know that an honest and just society starts with ME. I must be honest with others, and honest with myself, and just with others and just to myself. So I CAN do those things and if more people did those things, we would have a better society. Even if I can’t change the whole world, if I can change my CHOICES to be the kind of choices that are honest and good, then I will have influenced the world itself as well. ((((Hugs)))))

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