Ross Rosenberg on Coast to Coast

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Sunnygal 11 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #45440


    He is a therapist who said people are psychopaths because of early environment. Sandra Brown says it is genetics.

  • #45482

    Donna Andersen

    it is both. People can be born with a genetic predisposition to become disordered. Their experiences as a child, including parenting, influences whether or not the disorder develops.

  • #45483


    Instead of saying targets have hyperempathy, he said they were weak. I thought he was a poor choice of a guest.

  • #45485

    Donna Andersen

    I didn’t know who Ross Rosenberg was until I read your comment and looked him up. If he says targets are weak, I wonder if he really knows what he is talking about. I am skeptical.

  • #45486


    He did not seem knowledgable to me. Coast to Coast usually has good people on but not this guy.

  • #45497


    I like the episodes about lizard people. That’s the real psychos. They’re like humans but they’re really just like giant Gators in a people suit. Or like aliens. I think psychos are really aliens, they can’t be real people because they would have feelings and stuff if they were humanoid.

  • #45498


    I sent an email to george noory, CEO. I said while most therapists say those targeted have hyperempathy, for him to say they are weak is a disservice to victims.

  • #45500


    The remark about “giant gators in a people suit” reminded me of Eric Garcia’s Anonymous Rex series of novels. Nothing to do with psychopaths, as it happens, but original, weird, and very amusing. Dave Barry found them funny, and he should know!

  • #45503


    james It is true psychopaths are not normal. their brains are not normal.

  • #45508


    “Weak” was a poor (not to mention tactless) choice of words on Rosenberg’s part. In the same way, talking about being “responsible” for literally everything that happens in one’s life was an unfortunate choice of words in Waleuska Lazo’s recent article. Although her article was well worthwhile, there’s more than one reason she took some flak for it, and I meant to comment on that. But the point here is that people cannot take “responsibility” in any meaningful sense if they have no way of predicting the consequences of their personal traits and choices. After the event they may be wiser, but not before. That message could benefit from rephrasing to make it fairer and clearer.

    The same is true of Rosenberg’s ill-chosen term. A far better adjective is “vulnerable,” which Donna has often used. There is an important truth that does need pointing out: that some people are far more vulnerable than most to being targeted by predators and other abusers. We can see this because some unfortunate people, unlike most, find themselves in one abusive relationship after another! But that doesn’t have to be because they’re “weak.” It’s important to realize that people can be “vulnerable” in spite of being “strong” in many ways—like Achilles with his famous Heel!

    Anyway there is no single reason why people end up as targets of an abuser, but the term I think is most appropriate is RISK FACTORS. We can never predict with certainty whether a given person will or will not become a victim. Some very vulnerable people are still lucky enough to land themselves a “nice” partner in life. Yet we can often say—admittedly with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight at times!—that some people have more or worse risk factors than others.

    I divide these risk factors into three categories. Some of them are purely circumstantial. They have nothing to do with “weakness” or even personal traits, only with one’s situation in life at a given time. If you’re lucky enough to have money, say, or a place to live in with space for a roommate, those aren’t “weaknesses.” If anything they’re strengths! But they could make you the target of a predator who’s after money or a place to stay, where someone lacking those things would not be a target. In the same way, rich people attract more burglars than poor people do. They have to take extra security precautions because of their vulnerability to thieves.

    And it isn’t all about material possessions. People may be especially vulnerable because they’re lonely, because they’re recently divorced or widowed, even in some cases because they’ve just moved to a new place where they don’t know anybody, feel socially isolated and in need of friends. This is all purely “circumstantial,” but can leave them more vulnerable than others to predators exploiting their neediness, however temporary.

    The second category of risk factors is more permanent: people’s innate personality traits. Perhaps the main one has already been mentioned above: namely, being “hyperempathetic.” It’s regrettably true that some people really do seem to have “too much” empathy—for their own good, that’s to say—in the same way that abusers of whatever kind have far too little! Another excellent article by O. N. Ward recently, with which I thoroughly agreed, touched on this unfortunate attraction of opposites. I won’t explore right now, but I will make two other commments.

    One is a speculation of mine, that being hyperempathetic might be a double whammy in terms of vulnerability to predators. It’s a risk factor for the obvious reason: that highly empathetic people can be too caring, too prone to “give away the store” to greedy parasites who don’t deserve it, and to “forgive them their trespasses” again and again when what these offenders need is a solid boot in the butt.

    However, I suspect hyperempathetic people might be vulnerable for a second reason: that they may have a harder time than most comprehending that people are different from themselves, and find it almost impossible to fathom that ruthlessly exploitative people can exist. Consequently they’re more easily fooled by “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

    The reason I think this could be true is the extreme contrast between hyperempathetic people and psychopaths at the opposite pole. Psychopaths have no “empathy,” but they do have a dispassionate comprehension of how other people think and feel. I gather that most psychopaths realize, probably from childhood, that they differ from other people. However, this does apparently give psychopaths the ability to be coldly objective, to study other people like specimens on a microscope slide and figure out how their minds work: knowledge that psychopaths then use to exploit and manipulate others.

    The hyperempathetic person by contrast may be too prone to use his or her faculty of empathy as the predominant means of comprehending the minds of others. If so, what this amounts to is projection. That’s not to say “projection” is a “bad” thing in itself; on the contrary, it’s a valuable tool we all use, however unconsciously, as a means of understanding others. At some level our minds are asking questions like “how would I feel in this person’s situation?” or if we’re trying to figure why they’re acting a certain way, “what kind of thing would make me act this way?” Often this gives us the “right” answer—but sometimes it doesn’t! “Projection” works as far as other people (or their situations) are similar to ourselves. It can fail as far as other people are different from ourselves. And if hyperempathetic people are too prone to regard others as being essentially “like” themselves—kind and caring—they could be more blind than most to the possibility that they’re being callously exploited and abused.

    My other comment is that it would be grossly unfair to call anyone “weak” simply for being highly empathetic. And there’s a worse problem. Frequently when anyone tries to point out the vital fact that certain risk factors do leave people vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, certain people (for various reasons I won’t try to explore right now) interpret this as “blaming the victim.”

    I’m heartily sick and tired of hearing people accused of doing this when it has nothing to do with “blame,” and these accusers need to get their thinking straight. But the topic of hyperempathetic people may be the best place of all to point out that what can make people vulnerable to abuse by no means has to be a “blameworthy” characteristic. If anyone is a mite “too caring,” clearly that’s not a “vice” they should be “blamed” for, but a virtue they deserve praise for! If it does get them abused, that’s only proof that “life is not fair,” and that sometimes “no good deed goes unpunished”!

    Being hyperempathetic is the only personality trait that can leave people vulnerable to abusers. Another one is credulousness: the tendency to accept what one is told without questioning and challenging it—even when it does seem questionable. Again, this is not the time to examine that trait in more depth. I mention it in the main because it bothers me that more than once I’ve seen news articles linked to on this site that readers accepted without question as true, when my own reaction was the opposite: “That sounds unlikely, if not impossible! What are they lying to us about this time?” And on rare occasions when it’s been possible to check from other sources, sure enough, someone was lying through their teeth! About being a “victim,” for instance.

    Yet the topic of credulousness is a complex one. It touches not only on the reasons why people are prone to believe or disbelieve a particular thing—including how well informed they are on the topic and whether or not they want to believe a certain thing!—but also on factors as diverse as how much curiosity they have about one topic or another, and how much confidence they have—or have been “taught” to have!—in their own judgment!

    As I write this, off the top of my head, I’m grateful for this discussion because it revives useful knowledge from the past. I suddenly realize that this is another example of “polar opposites,” one I was already familiar with but which I can never recall being discussed on this site of Donna’s. That is, that while the victim of abuse is so often uncertain of his or her own beliefs and “rightness,” the abuser has to be “always right!” It’s a standard characteristic of abusers. It’s what their “blameshifting” is based on, among other things. “I’m right, and you’re wrong.” It’s not a normal, polite assertion of our own opinions in the face of the reality that other people’s beliefs often differ from our own. Psychopaths of course spew lies, partly to pull the wool over their victims’ eyes and partly from sheer habit, but a lot of other abusers—many narcissists especially—“can’t stand” to be proven wrong. Their egos are shaky. They fall apart, or explode into rage. A. E. Van Vogt, best known as a science fiction writer, also wrote of what he called the “Right Man” traits that characterize, not a man who “is” right in any moral sense, but who is so rigid he can’t stand to be wrong, and as the criminologist and philosopher Colin Wilson observed, is typical of serial killers and other criminals. I suspect Van Vogt became aware of this trait as a victim of an abusive father, but I haven’t dug into the history far enough to verify that.

    Trying to imagine myself in the “victim” position, it’s not hard to see how anyone who feels their security depends on the approval of an abusive “protector” would find it frightening to challenge the assertions of someone who “has” to be “right,” who overreacts by raging, rejecting, and abandoning the “challenger.” That’s a threat to survival that a small child could never tolerate.

    Getting back to “risk factors,” anyone who’s too “uncertain” of themselves, too little inclined to question what they’re told, is a natural victim of the arrogant abuser who asserts total rubbish with apparently complete confidence. The naturally nervous person, as O. N. Ward observed of herself, may be actively attracted to someone whose blustering self-confidence feels “reassuring” to them, while other more “average” people might feel uncomfortably overwhelmed by such a bombastic personality. However, this is also a segue into the third category of “risk factors” for victimization: namely, the debilitating conditioning to which so many victims have been subjected, nearly always in childhood by parents or other instances of what we laughingly call “care”-givers who gave them anything but true “care” in their tenderest and most formative years.

    Regarding this topic of “credulousness”—or to put it on the right foot, curiosity about the truth and confidence in one’s own judgment—-it’s easy to see how oppressive or abusive “parenting” can suppress these natural and healthy urges. While many of us had the good luck to be praised for being “smart” and for what we learned for ourselves, others were told to “shut up” because “I’m right and you’re wrong,” that “you’re stupid,” “not worth listening to”—or often though sheer neglect, just left to feel that what they thought or felt was of no importance: that their job was to “look after” those “care”-givers who in fact had it backwards, because it was their job to “look after” the children.

    Loss of confidence in one’s own thoughts, feelings and opinions, loss of the natural curiosity and urge to learn that’s such a vital and appealing characteristic of childhood: these things are deplorable and destructive consequences of neglectful or downright bad parenting. Yet they’re far from the only consequences, which range from the loss of self confidence and self esteem (the two are similar yet different), to the notion that neglect and abuse are “normal” and have to be accepted as part of life. Or even (for some) that the child actually “deserved” the abuse heaped on him or her—and still deserves it, from whatever abuser is currently in his or her life.

    That, and more, is what “conditioning” is all about: that third category of risk factors that leave so many victims (often subtly, but no less insidiously) vulnerable to abuse by others. Screwed-up parenting!!!—whether it’s a “sin of commission” of merely of omission—against the fact that children need support to grow up healthy. As a father, I’m aware that my daughter has a profound sense of responsibility—believe me, there is nothing “wrong” with her morally, so I’m lucky she’s not “personality disordered”—but although she’s healthy enough, she may be “over-responsible” on occasion, and it’s up to us as parents to help get our offspring “centered” between their feelings about themselves and their attitudes toward others. (I’m only putting it that way because some parents veer the opposite way and “spoil” their children into selfishness.)

    Anyway, that, I believe, was the most valuable message that Waleuska Lazo had to offer in her recent article—as well as what I think Donna has said herself in her own story. If I got their message wrong, I can only apologize. To be precise, what I got out of what they said was that they unknowingly let themselves be victimized by abusers because of beliefs that had haunted them all their lives, due mainly to childhood conditioning. While the experience was agonizing in itself, it drew their attention to the reasons why they let it happen—the “risk factors” that had also been spoiling their lives for so many years up until that time—and once those were reexamined, overcome and banished, their lives were immeasurably improved, in ways I can only applaud and celebrate.

    I know there’s a little more to that, a part that is debatable depending on other people’s outcomes, but never mind. This is all about what I call “risk factors.” They exist; they’re important; and many people need to overcome or compensate for them to avoid being victimized in the future. They are not helped when misguided people deny the existence of these “risk factors” by referring to them as “blaming the victim,” when it means no such thing. That’s about as stupid as saying that if anyone got cancer because they inherited the tendency from a parent, that’s “blaming the victim” too! As if they could help what they inherited! It’s a fact, that’s all.

    But it’s certainly not helped either by people like Rosenberg, no matter what else of value he has to say, if he uses thoughtless words like “weakness” to describe the risk factors that lead some people to be victimized. Imagine telling a cancer victim—John McCain (from my own state of Arizona) comes to mind!—that he got cancer because he’s “weak”! How absurd, for such a man who was never “weak,” merely vulnerable in his advanced years to the particular ravages of cancer! Let’s get the message right, along with the facts. That’s all.

  • #45509


    redwald- Well said.

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