Emotional versus sentimental in dealing with psychopaths

By Joyce Alexander RNP (retired)

Back when I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to travel to Africa, where I met a man who was to become world famous, and was almost single handedly responsible for the saving of both the black and white rhinos, Dr. Ian Player (the brother of golfer Gary Player.) Recently, the belief of rhino horn as a “cure all” has gotten to where the price for a single horn can top $400,000. This has caused the poaching of these wonderful animals, which still number less than 5,000 black rhinos and about 21,000 white rhinos, most of them located in South Africa.

I feel very privileged to have known Dr. Player when he was simply “Ian” in a pair of green parks department uniform shorts, with a wonderful library of African history in his home that he freely shared with a very young and very green little girl from Arkansas. I have also been privileged to know “Dr. Player” a very wise mentor who has loved me all these years.

Dr. Player and I have stayed in touch by e-mail for the past 15 or so years (isn’t the Internet wonderful folks!), and though he is now nearly blind and very frail, he still writes and speaks about his passion, the rhino. He recently sent me a copy of an article that quoted him:

Ilegal poaching and the endangered rhino, on Condé Nast Traveler.

In the article, Dr. Player talks about how he is emotional about the salvation of his beloved rhinos, but he is not sentimental. WOW! I thought “How profound!” As Dr. Player points out in the article, while the embargo on selling horn may be “sentimentally” right, the sentiment is killing rhinos as more and more are slaughtered to meet the high dollar demand for the rare horn. But if all the stored up horn were dumped on the market, it would meet the demand for product and bring down the price and stop the slaughter. (It would be hoped, anyway.)

Results of sentimentality

Well, what, you may ask, does that have to do with psychopaths?

Our emotions are bound up with the psychopaths in our lives. In some cases our DNA is shared with these people as well. But we must not let the sentimentality of the situation overcome us. We can maintain our passion, our emotional response, but we still have to do what it takes to handle the situation in a realistic manner and not be overcome by sentimentality.

If you were here a few years back, you may have heard me rant about the “no horse slaughter” bill passed as an add-on to a Senate bill that forbade the slaughter of horses by USDA for human consumption. The people who pushed this bill through had the greatest of intentions (and we all know what the road to hell is paved with), because they loved horses. They did not really take into consideration what the real life result of their sentimental law.

In 2007, 100,000 horses in the US were processed into meat. They were old horses, horses who were injured and unable to be ridden, horses with bad dispositions, and just horses that should never have been bred. Each one is 800 to 1200 pounds of meat on the hoof, just like my cows, and the meat is prized in many countries. It takes between $1,000 and $3,000 per year to feed and vet a horse. So multiply those 100,000 horses by say even $1,500, and you’ve got a substantial amount of cost to care for horses that have no use or worth.

So what happened when the “market” price for these 100,000 horses went from 75 cents per pound for meat to $5 per head? People turned their unwanted horses loose in the national forest to starve, or out on the roadways to be hit by cars. Then after the ban went into effect, a new market niche developed where these horses were now rounded up by dealers, put on trucks and shipped to Mexico for Mexico’s version of “humane” slaughter.

The unintended consequence of the sentimental decision to outlaw the humane processing of horses for meat for human consumption was that more horses suffered much worse deaths than a stun gun. I have personally bred animals (cattle) for beef, and there is no one who is more passionate or emotional about the care and keeping of her animals than I am. I accompanied my animals to the USDA slaughter facility and stayed there with them so they would not be afraid. And God help the stockyard yahoo who tried to use an electric cattle prod on my animals! I was very emotional about my animals, but I was not sentimental.

Sentimental about psychopaths

Unfortunately, where it came to my family members, I clung to the sentimentality of dysfunction. With my animals, I wanted them treated well, but at the same time, if an animal was wild, aggressive or tried to hurt me, I had no problem with sentimentality, I sent it to the butcher on the next truck! But not so with my family members who gored me!

I never had a problem setting boundaries for my oxen, and I stayed alpha in the pack of collies. If an ox even touched me with a horn (this is a real “no no” for a lower member of the bovine herd to do to a superior member who will respond with force) I had to respond immediately and with enough force to make them remember that I was the boss. It isn’t really very smart to sentimentally let a 2,000-pound animal be the boss or even think they might want to try to be. It also isn’t very smart to sentimentally allow a spouse or other abuser continue to use and abuse you, no matter how much you love them.

We may be very emotional about our situations, we may be emotionally devastated by what has happened to us as a result of what the psychopath has done in our lives, but we can’t afford to be sentimental about it. We have to make reasonable and rational decisions, devoid of sentimentality, about what to do to “fix ourselves” and “fix” our situations.

That may mean leaving in the middle of the night with a suitcase and our purses, or it may mean any number of decisions that we may not have even considered before. It may mean finding new homes our dog or cat because we can’t take them with us, or it may mean a divorce when we took vows that we meant “for better of worse, til death do us part.” It may mean going no contact with our parents, sibs, lovers, husbands, wives, children or friends.

We may be very emotional about some of these decisions, but we can’t afford to be sentimental. We have to do what we have to do.

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23 Comments on "Emotional versus sentimental in dealing with psychopaths"

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I needed to read this for so many reasons. Thank you.

I couldn’t find an area to post this comment/story, but I knew I would not be able to sleep if I didn’t speak in this.
As of last night, I made a decision I hope I never regret. I had to go “No Comtact” with my ex-husband. I don’t know if there are steps you should take, just do it or work your way up to this.
Well basically it started 2 days ago when we left a bar-b-que at a friends house. I sress early because normallyy we don’t leave before 2 a.m. That night we left atound 10 p.m. ehich I dodn’t care because I’m still trying to tecover from gallbladder removal surgery. Well my son was super angry. My ex said that his stomach didn’t feel right. I know that it was an excuse and not a very good one. He wanted to leave because he was not the center of attebtion st this party. Matter of fact, he looked like the preverbial child in the corner only he was sitting all alone at this long pic-nic table. Our son and myself were the sttention hogs and nnot purposely. I had my place at the table discussing compartisons of surgery and my son was discussing movies with the guys. As we approach 10 p.m. he is gearing up to leave. I went around saying my goodbyes and our son was set off by something my ex said to him. Anything he says to him is exclusively to bring him to punching something we might have to oay for or get him stitched up for. They argue in the car while making attemps in vein to get me either on team dad or team son. I sat in silence. My punishment for this was a text message about how disrespectful the boy is and how I always take our son’s side. I remained silent for a reason and thats to watch if it took much effort for my ex to get his foot in his mouth (never).
I replied to my ex’s text truthfully and without reservation. “You act as if my input on sons behavior will suddenly over-come him and his eyes will light up and all will be rainbows and glitter. “Do you fail to remember your mother, sisters and even your neice telling you how erong you were in raising him and that it would come back on YOU with a vengence. Well, you did a good job with the monster you raised so now you must live with your decision on trying to teach him that his mother is crazy so don’t listen to anything she says because it will be bad. Of course you had maje a weak willed attempt to scare me into seeing thins your way by telling me that by the time he was 17 he would be his own parent. Am I right on? Well you are the one who he no longer has respect for. On many things he was able to zoom in on you and decide for himself that you probably shouldn’t have been who he chose for guidence. Must have been putting him in that choke-hold tvat did it. With that he texts “Goodnight” like he wanted to slam a verbal doir in my face in mid sentence.

Well the next day we did errands and I cane up short after picking up some medicine and post-op supplies for my incisions. I was angry because my ex is frequently borrowing money from me and paying it back but he has a job that pays weekly and I recieve my $550 government disability check that I have to budget down to the dust on the coins. I also receive 400 dollars in alimony but all is gone beforethe end of the week which was the case as always. Of course he has 4 garnishments due to his delusions that sweet talk, manipulation and sex with what ever tart he can coax to pull her skirt up around her backside and charm her into letting the bill go for the week. I was so angry with myself for paying half the storage for what he wss court ordered to oay, I decided I had enough. Now all my plans would be one week late, once again,I won’t be able to take anything out of the storage that is mine, I don’t get to have a follow up to this surgery and I have only 10 dollars to eat between my son and I. He started rapid texting me at noon. Thats when I installed the apps to block his phone calls. This is where sometimes big phone corporations bite themselve at. The apps are useless as he can still call my phone and send me “I hate both of you but I’m lonely without you and our son and you both are my world” messages. He called me 30 times in a 45 minute span of time. I looked up phone blocking and called my provider. My ex called and somehow the apps that blocked his call hung up on the rep. I re-dialed quickly and managed to get thru to ask if it could be done. In a matter of minutes it was. Alk I had ti do was hang up for two minutes turn my phone back on and I’ve alls stopped. So for 30 days free of charge and $4.00 a month he cannot call or send me messages. If he calls me from another phone, I will trace the number and might block that one if I don’t let them know what he’s doing. But this is a double edged sward if you have children. He calks him constantly and earlier tomd him he was going to kilk himself. My son went into “Please forgive him” mode when I say to him its a bunch of bull. I tell him to think about some famous person who told all his friends and family that he was going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. They would all take turns surrounding him and not let him out of their site. They don’t tell you about how they are going to end their lives for a reason and its not sympathy. I’m glad again the deception of his father was foiled. Not so easily done tho. He called him back with how he would pay me tomorrow and attempted to send me a third party bribe of my favorite through our son. I can’t stop crying. I almost cannot hold on any longer. It fetting to be too much but I trust that God and close friends along with famiky that I have left will help me not to give up when I’m so close. Thanks for listening.


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