By | May 9, 2011 136 Comments

Grooming a new generation of victims

Yesterday I attended a family celebration in honor of my little niece’s First Holy Communion. The guest of honor, my niece, is in the second grade and is a beautiful, vibrant child—blond hair, blue eyes with a sprinkle of freckles across her nose. In her white Communion dress, she looked like a little angel.

It was a sunny day and a pleasant get-together. Most of the guests had left when my niece and her friend, another little girl, wanted to put on a “show” for those of us who remained. We, of course, agreed to be the audience.

With a video clip from the Internet providing the music, the girls sang and danced to the song Beggin’ On Your Knees by Victoria Justice.

I was horrified.

Victoria Justice

Victoria Justice is 18 years old. She has been performing since the age of 10, and has acted in several TV shows on Nickelodeon. Without a doubt, she is a beautiful, talented singer and dancer. But she is also selling sex to little girls.

Here’s the video of Beggin’ On Your Knees.

The video is slick, obviously packaged by entertainment executives and corporate bigwigs to appeal to tweens—and younger. It’s set on a seaside amusement pier, with the actors playing arcade games and going on rides. The performers, of course, represent a nice multicultural mix—I’m sure the money men don’t want to miss any marketing opportunities.

So Victoria Justice sings about her relationship with some guy, and how he cheats on her. The chorus goes like this:

and One day i’ll have you begging on your knees for me
yeah, One day i’ll have you crawling like a centipede
You mess with me?
And mess with her!
So I’ll make sure you get what you deserve
yeah, One day you’ll be begging on your knees for me

So my little niece, who a few hours earlier was angelic in her white Communion dress, was shaking her body and crawling on the floor as she sang along to Beggin’ On Your Knees.

She, of course, had no idea what the words meant. But the messages are there for anyone to see: Girls achieve success by attracting good-looking boyfriends. Good-looking boyfriends cheat on their girlfriends. When cheating happens, girls take revenge.

Gee—when I was my niece’s age, I watched Shirley Temple sing Animal Crackers in My Soup.


This isn’t the first time I was struck by the blatant sexual messages being communicated to young girls. A few months ago, friends were in Atlantic City to watch their daughter perform in a big cheerleading competition. They invited my husband and I to join them.

This girl is a senior in high school and has been cheerleading since she was young. Approximately 3,000 girls were participating in this competition, ranging from high school age to girls my niece’s age—or younger.

As I walked around Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, I could not believe my eyes. All of the girls, down to the youngest ones, were parading around in cheerleading costumes that featured off-the-shoulder tops, bare midriffs and extremely short skirts. They all wore heavy make-up.  They were all being taught to strut, show what they’ve got, and smile.

Abusive dating

I, in the meantime, am preparing to talk to another group of high school students about Sociopaths and Abusive Dating Relationships.

Part of my message is that sociopaths use sex to trap their victims. If you’re lonely, you are vulnerable. And when you have sex, you form a psychological bond that makes it difficult to get away if the person turns out to be an abuser. This is how domestic violence starts.

Yet according to the constant bombardment of messages directed towards young girls, their success depends on how sexy they are, and whether they can attract a hot boyfriend. Any girl without a boyfriend, therefore, will feel lonely, and will be vulnerable to the abuse of a sociopath.

So how do I compete with overwhelming, lifelong marketing? How do I tell these high school students that sex may get them in trouble when they’ve been fed a steady diet of “sex sells” since they were little kids?

Girls are being brainwashed by marketers out to make a buck. I don’t even know how parents can protect their kids from the onslaught—they’d have to raise their daughters in a cocoon. As a result, so many little girls are probably ripe to become the next generation of victims of sociopaths.


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Oh dear Donna. The problem is so much bigger.

Flashbacks aplenty. The struggles to be a good mom. And the vitriole of parents who totally disagreed and condemned me as one of “those” moms… whatever that meant… a mom who was a killjoy.

Memories….A soccer team fundraiser where the girls had a massive sleepover and took in the children to be babysat for the night during a huge local community event. Should have been fun for all right? I objected to a horror film with extreme sex and violence being played on the vcr (yep, a vcr…remember those?) in front of kids right down to toddler age and was treated as if I were bizarre… “my kids watch this all the time and they love it” was the challenging hiss from the organizer… as if there was something mentally wrong with any kid that got nightmares from it.

My daughter being the only kid not permitted to watch rated R movie in the 4th grade, she had to do homework. I had been the ONLY parent who did not sign the permission slip.

And arguements about school dances after pics were printed in the local paper showing of 10 yr old girls with boys hands on their butts (they thought it cute)… and the dance was chaparoned but I was told to shut up about making a big deal out of nothing.

And it wasn’t so much little girls learning that success was having a boyfriend, it was Their parents who felt shame if their little girl wasn’t hooking up, like she was deficient if boys weren’t after her sexually… Parents measured their success on the popularity of their kids.

Parents needing to raise their kids in a cocoon? No in my experience, it was the parents who put their kids out there to be exploited. THAT is the norm.

I feel heartsick. This post is a graphic example of the impending doom of our society. As opposed to the movies where good people are revered as heroes, in reality people HATE goodness and attack it and destroy it and they get huge approval from others when they do destroy anything morally “good”.

Ox Drover

Wow, Donna, you are starting to sound like ME!!!! LOL

Yep, Donna, this has been going on for over a generation and getting “worse and worse”—-How about those “kiddie beauty pagents?” the ones like Jon Benet Ramsay was in, 6 year olds dressed up like little tarts and paraded around? Sex sells to all ages, ain’t that GRAND?

Many parents now are home schooling their kids in an effort to not only give them a better education in “the three Rs” but in keeping them from being so influenced by the culture of “SEX, drugs and media” in schools.

I did my attempt at keeping my kids out of the worst of it by not having a television in my home for 7 years between 1979 and 1986…fat lot of good it did. LOL But I tried.

When I was director of student health at an “upper class” liberal arts college where most of the kids were bound for professional school after college, “casual sex” was pretty much the norm and I passed out free condoms in student health and did programs on STDs.

Unfortunately, “casual sex” is not “casual”—biologically it isn’t meant to be, because it releases bonding hormones in normal people and sets up normal girls and guys (yep, guys too) to be bonded to the ones who are incapable of bonding with anyone.

It isn’t just about “morality,” it is about biology and bonding.

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said “sins are bad not because they are labeled sin, but are labeled sins because they are bad for you.”

Back when I was a kid starting out dating in the 60s, the question was “Are you loose if you kiss on the first date?” now it seems that the question is “is it okay to have sex on the first date or should you wait til the second or third date before you have sex?” Then again, in the 60s the youth in America started the “free love” movement where “casual sex” was starting to become OPENLY “okay.”

Also, apparently there is the “oral sex” thing with girls now, that this is not “real sex” so if they have oral sex with a young man but not vaginal sex, then somehow that is okay.

With the combination of sex, drugs and consumer goods that is being sold to people in our society as what makes you “cool” and “happy,” it isn’t any great wonder that the next generation is being groomed for abuse.

How can you, teachers, mentors, and parents compete with the media sales pitch in all the movies, television, and other media as well as peer pressure to be popular? I wish I knew the answer to that question, Donna.


Yeah, it’s really hard to keep it out of girls’ head, the influence of peers and media, certainly if parents go along with it.

Even though I did fall victim to a P, I did not feel guilty when he wasn’t treating me right and responded to it (sometimes reacted to it), and he has been unable to hurt me in my identity, my feelings of honor and self-belief. I don’t even feel I lost self-esteem or self-respect. Of course it would have been best if I had not entangled myself with him in the first place, but that’s another story.

Anyhow, a child story that always resonated in me as having a powerful message is that of the little mermaid by Anderson. Avoid at all cost the Disney version, because it teaches exactly the opposite of the original version. For those who don’t know it…. little mermaid is curious about the human world and sees a good looking prince in a ship that is about to go down in a storm. She saves his life, and helps him ashore, and sings for him, having fallen in love with him. But she has to return to her father’s palace, and the prince wakes to another beautiful human woman who found him on the beach and helps him to the convent to be nursed. He thinks she is the one who saved him and falls in love with her.
Little mermaid searches out a witch to ask her to make her into a human woman so she could be with her prince. The witch gives her a pair of shapely legs, but in return the little mermaid has to give up her voice by which otherwise the prince could recognize her. She is human, but mute. And also, as walking and legs are not natural to her, she bleeds from her feet with every step she takes.
She ends up being the prince’s favorite companion. The prince has never seen the other woman again, nor does he know where to find her, and he likes the little mermaid enough, and intends to settle for her. When he’s sent out to another country for an arranged bride, he even promises her that he would not want the other woman. He’ll stay with the mermaid.
But once he enters court and sees that the arranged bride is the woman he assumes saved him, he forgets about the mermaid altogether, and instantly marries the other woman.
Little mermaid ends up being heartbroken. Worse, the witch had also warned her that if she could not achieve to win the heart of her prince, she would die and turn into foam. But her sisters want to come to her aid. They give her a way out: if she kills both newlyweds with the dagger from the witch before sunup, she can return to sea as a mermaid.
And the little mermaid enters the honeymoon tent on the ship to kill both the prince and his bride, but she is unable to kill hte man she loved. When the prince and bride wake up with the sun and stand at the railing of the ship, they marvel at the beautiful foam appearing like flowers on the sea around the ship.

The story is pure tragedy, but ought to be so. First of all, the little mermaid denies to herself the reality that she and the prince are two different beings.
Secondly, she attempts to be someone she is not, alter her identity, change her nature in order to be with a prince who’s only good asset is that he’s pretty. By changing who she is, she loses her ability to communicate. In order to remain with the prince, she is forever bound to be misunderstood and easy to push away. She has no voice to stand up for herself. Worse, being someone she isn’t is a torture, a daily pain.
Thirdly, the prince is a fool, who gives away his heart (if he has any) to the first woman that passes by. He would never truly love the mermaid, not even if she’s human.
Fourthly, the prince is an undeserving clout, who first promises to marry her, only because he can’t find the other woman, and ditches her as soon as another presents herself who is more to his preference. His promises are worth nothing. At the very least, he is fickle.
And lastly, no, the little mermaid cannot become who she used to be anymore. The whole experience has changed her too profoundly. Both the old self as well as the persona she takes on to be with him are dead. And even knowing all that now, she is still in love with a man whose only merrit are his looks.

It is a children’s story that parents can use to try to teach what not to do, based on attraction alone.


Oxy-OK that whole issue with kids and sex really grosses me out. I have decided recently that I do not plan on having kids after all-mainly cuz I am SCARED TO DEATH to have a daughter and have to try and raise her with all this crap. I think it would be a little easier raising a boy. Once I completely got over ex boyfriend and came back out as my true self, I realized that it’s hard for kids too if parents are gay and primarily, since I am planning on being a police officer, I have to be realistic that there is always a possibility of me not coming home at the end of my shift and there is NO ONE on this earth that I would trust to take my child. If something happened


OK Guys ~ try being 63 and raising a 10 year old!!!!!! Talk about a generation gap.

The really scary part of this is, these CHILDREN, from about 8 years on, actually view themselves as the teenagers in these various TV shows. MANY shows on Nickelodean and Disney channels are directedly marketed to their age. Try watching some of these shows if you want your eyes opened to what Donna is talking about.

Oh, yes OXY, those beauty pagents, with the parents (not just the Moms) yelling at their TODDLERS to shake their rears and show the judges’ what they’ve got. I want to reach through the TV and slap those parents. Then I want to reach for a barf bag.

At least a thousand times a day I am saying “You are ONLY 10 years old, not 13, not 16, you are 10.”

Oh My …..


KatyDid…what you describe is so the norm these days…I cannot believe how parents have checked out, and yes, how they live vicariously through their children, and want so badly for them to be “popular”. I will never forget at a local festival, a group of 2nd graders, from one of those quasi “dance” schools, dressed in, what I can only describe as “dance bikinis” gyrating to the song Love Shack on stage. I just thought, did none of these parents think about what their kids were dancing to? What they were wearing? REALLY? Pedophile heaven it was, that day…I have 12 kids and it’s a constant fight, this world is a scary enough place without inviting the scare into our homes/lives …I’m no puritan, and I can’t protect them from everything, but my kids know their boundaries.


Hi All,

I have been reading but not commenting. I would have to write a novel for my recent past but will spare you all.

Instead, to comment on the above, well, it is not just with the little girls but the little boys too. My daughter thought it was so cute when she “taught” my grandson age 4 to sing and dance a Michael Jackson song. I love Michael Jackson’s talent and his ability to dance etc. But watching my grandson sing and dance to Billy Jean was too much.

Especially when he grabbed his groin and pushed his body to the audience as MJ does in his video. Then he was singing Beat It and again the inappropriate gestures etc.

I just told him when he is with me, that is wasn’t nice to do that particular gesture and instead to do this and show him another move.

My daughter is has a bi-polar disorder and borders on SP. I went through the symptoms here with you friends some time ago, and she is impossible. At another time, I will extend out to you all for some help about some issues, but I have not the time right now…..

But don’t these “grown up children” foresee what all the above instills in the little minds and hearts of our children??


I was the “perfect” victim for a sociopath. In highschool I was never asked on a date. Never had a date for prom. I was basically invisible in highschool. I was extremely lonely.

I was 18 and working in a bad neighborhood. So I decided to take some martial arts. I never even knew the abusive mindset. Absolutely nothing.

I am so happy you are educating highschoolers. (this is when i needed it most!)

I was preyed on by my martial arts instructor.

I am now 22…and no longer a naive nice girl…but a smart woman.


Excelent post and point Donna!

“sex sells” and it has for decades, hundred of years since the early days of fairy tales.

If you examine all the fairy tales like “Sleeping Beauty”, “Cinderela, “Little Priinces”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Little Red riding Hood”, etc. etc. the archetypal message is alleays the same for little girls; Be beautiful, sexy, kind, generous, HELP THE BEAST BECAUSE WITH YOUR SWEETNESS AND BEAUTY YOU WILL TRANSFORM HIM INTO A PRINCE…or you will lay sleepiing in eternity until the ultimate PRINCE CHARMING comes to wake you up and transform you from a troll into athe beautiful princes that you are.

The messages to little girls have always been the same, only now in this modern society of mass marketting and media, it’s become an outrageous blatant norm.

As a designer and a concious marketter, I am always appalled at how the most mundane products are presented with sexual overtones to sell. And when it’s in your face like the constant bombardment of TV commercial for viagra, etc. the message is always there SEX, and with out it your nothing….. disgusting.

I don’t have a daughter, but I see the girls in school when my sons were in primary school and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I always wonder, what are the parents thinking? well it starts with the fairy tales they read.


Pefectly flawed,
I’m glad you got your education early in life. keep learning, it is a complicated subject and if you aren’t familiar with the red flags, another one will get you. Please don’t spend 25 years with one, like I did.

I agree, it is the fairy tales. And the twilight series has got to be the worst of all. Vampires are glorified. Supposedly, the male vampire sabotages the human female’s car and stalks her and tries to control her. All this is because he really loves her, but being a vampire, he uses his super human control powers. Well that is exactly what my spath did to me and he certainly is a vampire as well as a murderer and child rapist. But I also know he NEVER loved me and is incapable of love.


Yes Ayelah,

Even the frog turns into a prince. My frog sure didn’t. It was more like the prince turning out to be a frog. But little mermaid is one of those tales of real life tragedy. It is very educational imo. It tells the tale of what happens if you want to change yourself in order to be with a man, for no other reason than that he’s attractive. Of course, most of Anderson’s tales come with a sting and tragedy.

Little Red Riding Hood though is not about being beautiful and sexy. It explicitly tries to warn against the wolf. Red capes were a typical dressmode for inexperienced teen girls that were about to come out into society, and might be preyed upon for sex by money and sex lusting guys.

Sleeping beauty can be seen from a mysoginic point of view: a woman in that tale is portrayed as neurotic and wanting to ward off the men (the thorns around the castle). The men then have to override the neurotic self-protection and rape her (in the oldest versions, sleeping beauty is not just kissed, but raped).

Snowwhite has a similar mind: she hides away from discovery of possible evil and ends up poisoned, and only a man can overcome it supposedly.


Another great article Donna, and wonderful comments so far.

I feel for anyone bringing up children in this day and age. I fear we’ve collectively allowed the spaths amongst us to take over our entire culture. And I believe it’s abusive to everyone involved which is, I believe, the whole point: to foster and celebrate abusive behaviours and exploitation in order to create a morally bankrupt society.

Below is an excellent article I ran across, which shows another aspect of this that rarely gets talked about – that children of abusive parents are almost invariably “groomed”, but they are frequently as liable to be groomed as criminals as they are to be groomed as victims.


wow! thanks for that link. It succinctly zeroed in on the “golden child” version of abuse which so many narcissists do.

such a great link with so many GREAT articles. Thank again Annie.

Ox Drover

In looking back at some family dynamics in some families I know well, where the parents were VERY abusive, it is interesting to see that some do turn out just like their Parent, and others turn out to be victims…..few seem to turn out “normal” unless they CONSCIOUSLY work on leaving their victim status and becoming fully functioning people.

Many of the “victims” marry abusers, lead chaotic lives, or even become co-abusers with their abuser spouses….their children grow up in chaos as they did, and the cycles continue…some abusers and some victims in each generation.

The criminal or semi-criminal aspect of many of these families, the, at best, irresponsibility inherent in the life style of producing many children, often at a young age for the parent, inability to independently provide for these children financially, much less emotionally or spiritually, frequent changes of partners, violence and emotional abuse witnessed by the children from birth…little or no chance for success in school for the children, and almost no chance to rise out of poverty created by the irresponsibility modeled for them by the family….exposure to early sex and drugs, media hype creating desires for things they can never afford…fancy cars, cool clothes…and people wonder what is taking over our society/culture or why our kids graduate from high school unable to read, or why they have no real concept of history, geography, our a work ethic.

Who is idolized by our youth? People like Michael Jackson, (a pedophile who could sing) Mel Gibson (an abusive man), Paris Hilton, a beautiful woman whose only claim to fame is being born rich and beautiful, O. J. Simpson and Michael Vick—strong men who can throw a ball but are violent and dangerous to others, and I could go on with the list.

Our political “leaders” such as John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Jim McGreevey, and Blaggo, who have the moral compasses of alley cats—and I could go on with that list as well.

Men and women of “faith” who are pedophiles and their bosses who cover up for them, pass them on to a new group of people to abuse…Churches who allow this (not only the Catholic church but others as well).

What happens to a culture, to a nation when the morals of that country break down, when cheating, lying, become “normal”? I think the same thing happens to a country that happens to a family in such a situation. Look at Mexico now…dangerous to try to stand up for justice, law and order…dangerous to NOT participate in the drug/money culture.

There are areas of our country that seem to be going that direction with violence…and the violence seeping into more and more “mainstream” neighborhoods—and the next generation being taught “macho” is good, “sexy” is where it’s at and just “shake your booty”—it is sad. Fortunately there are those who are working against this, pushing back the tide of abuse, but sometimes it does feel like you are pithing into the wind to do so, or trying to move mountains with only a spoon, not even a shovel.

Keeping motivated to keep on digging, even with our spoons though, to reach one person at a time if that is the only way to do it, we can’t give up.



Yes, thank you for pointing out some of the variations in the fairy tale themes like “little red riding hood”….ultimtely like in this fairy tale, little red riding hood is the “good girl” taking food to her grandmother and risking her safety going into the woods. She encounters the “big bad wolf” in BED and she questions his identity, there are different variations on the ending including her getting rescued by the woodsmen who hear her screams.

There ere are variations on fairy tale endings, but typically they compromise the female to be nurtutring, submissive, good, loving, giving and try to change themselves or the frog or big bad wolf for the better. Ultimately they all pose the woman as the responsible one for her relationship with the male.

In the case of dealing with S/P/N, you are right….they start out being “prince charming” only to turn into FROGS. But, we end up in the ARCHETYPAL FEMALE CHARACTER, responsible for turning that frog around back to being a prince.


Thanks Skylar. I found that site through a link to my favourite article of her’s (so far): “How Not to Raise a Rapist”. Very powerful articles, and so true. Thanks for your link to the epigenetics article on the other thread, btw!

Oxy, I’ve been saying the same thing for years, that you almost always come out as either the next generation of victim or the next generation of perpetrator (although there is a third ‘opt-out’ category which is completely insane – and can sometimes be a mix of the two). It takes some *serious* outside intervention to break that cycle. BUT THAT CYCLE CAN BE BROKEN!!!!!



You are absolutely right. We have become a culture void in morals and consumed in the drama of cheater, liers, violence and chaos

This is “PAX AMERICANA” ….we are headed in the same direction as that of the fall of the Roman Empire!


Oxy, re: your point about this feeling like moving mountains with only a spoon. Have you read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell? He compares the behavioural characteristics of societal trends to epidemics, and says that there are three main ‘factors’ involved that all need to be ‘just so’ in order for an idea to ‘take off’ (i.e. become trendy): a ‘sticky idea’, an effective carrier, and a conducive environment. But he also talks about how those trends can (sometimes quite simply if not easily) be interrupted by countermanding one of the three ‘legs’. I think a large part of our problem is that unethical behaviour has becoming ‘trendy’ in today’s society.

I think interrupting that cycle is what Donna is doing through her school outreach program – it’s making the environment less conducive to spread the disease of exploitation and abuse. And I see signs everywhere that society has had just about enough, and is ready to turn around things around. So perhaps, here’s hoping, that mountain is less of a real mountain and more of an insufficiently supported illusion of a mountain? Perhaps a few good well-placed kicks to its supports (e.g. Hollywood and the Gaming industry) might be enough to bring it down a bit?


I’m glad you ‘get it’ about the whole golden child thing. Most people either refuse to consider/accept that concept or haven’t thought about it at all. I think that concept is one of the keys to interrupting the whole cycle of abuse. You sound like you’re another person with an ‘inner geek’ like me – someone who goes digging deep into seemingly obscure sources to look for bigger truths. Note: for all those who think calling some a geek is an insult, I say that with only affection and admiration.

Because of my own family background, and as a result of some of the coverage around the Russell Williams case (which I read from an entirely different perspective than most) I started to take a look at the background of rapists and serial killers. And what I found, frankly, shocked and appalled me. And it wasn’t the rapists and serial killers themselves that shocked me (the crimes they do are obvious and well-documented). What shocked and appalled me was that the version of the ‘truth’ about that type of criminal as I’d been led to understand it by the media and the HUGE industries of ‘victim’ services, social workers, mental health professionals, justice system professionals, etc… is pretty much the 180 degree inverse of the actual truth. For instance, as the “How not to raise a rapist” article illustrates, rape is a learned behaviour; rapists are trained by various exposures that could be controlled &/or that training interupted or countered..

What appalls me the most is that these professionals either know, or should know, what goes into creating the vast majority of these criminals, with the possible exception of the most genetically pre-disposed, and yet seem to remain deaf, blind and dumb. On a technical forum I follow there was a recent discussion about how ‘rent-seeking’ behaviour corrupts any process and dooms the product that process produces. When I look at how narrow and parochial the discussion seems to be about violence in society I have to wonder how much of the professional behavour and opinion which describes/proscribes it, as in the wonderful book Oxy reviewed the other day, is truly altruistic, how much is well-intended but severely misguided, and how much is something else entirely.


I have a comment in regards to teenage boys – they are being taught even worse things because of all the hype about how “sexy” the girls should be.
Mine just turned 16 and I swear to BOB that just within the last year, my little boy that used to have manners and respect has completely disappeared. I’ve heard the way he talks about the girls in his school with his buddies over the phone and I know how he talks to me now.
I’ve sat him down and tried talking to him about respect and he just rolls his eyes at me.
His father and I share custody of him – literally 3.5 days a week for each of us. It was an amicable divorce because his dad just couldn’t seem to find time for his family between working nights and coaching, playing, reffing rugby and I wanted the freedom to be the single mom I already was in the marriage and his dad got his freedom during the week without having to hear “blah blah blah” from me. When I try talking to his Father – he just blows it off as “that’s the way boys are nowadays” (no wonder he never remarried either)

so it’s not just girls, but the boys are losing respect for the women around them. It really makes me sad that I’ve given birth to someone who is just as shallow and could very well be on his way to a Sociopathic life just because of their generation.

(shake my head in shame & pity)


Yesterday, a 4 y/o was found neglected & starved to death, by his aunt & her boyfriend. BUT, get this, The neighbors saw 4 children always playing in the yard, & they NEVER knew that another child was in the house. NOW, Imagine what thoes 4 children are used to seeing, at home? Did the children think that the abuse is normal? I doubt the children will get the help they need, as they become adults.


Hmmm, while I understand the concept of the “golden child”… There was one thing that I found suspect. It mentioned that empathy is learned and a “behaviour”. I put some question marks with that statement. Stranger even, the article seems to say that learning empathy can only be done in very young childhood, so young that a child won’t remember it anymore.

If a “behaviour” is acquired only through learning, then it makes little sense to me it could only happen at such and such stage in development. It would imply that the degree of empathy one feels would depend on how it was taught. An Empath would be the opposite of a Psycho. Hence the baby must have gotten a lot of lessons on empathy, while it was at such an unconscious age, it can’t even remember that time.

Weird… when it comes to learning a “behaviour”

First, empathy is not a behaviour at all, it is a skill, and one that seems neurologically inborn to the majority of people. A neurological study presented on a symposium of scientists of different skills (social, neurological, antropologic, physicatry, etc) organized by Richard Dawkins showed how that if a person got pricked with a needle in their fingertip an erea in the frontal cortex would light up (that is get more oxygen, and thus more blood, and thus more active). If that person was then later to see someone else being pricked with a needle in the fingertip, the same area in the witness’ brain would light up again. This strongly suggests that we feel the pain inflicted upon someone else as if it was done to us, even if isn’t.

So, the study above suggests there is an inborn potential for empathy or there is not. It may not be there if a child is born with certain brain damage or deficit for needed neurotransmitters. Such brain damage or problems with neurotransmitters can also be caused through head trauma or a hormonal imbalance. Another way to damage the neurological ability to experience someone’s pain as your own, would be through forcing the mind to use escape routes away from pain. Dissociation is a mental flight response for people to escape their own pain. Once a certain neurological link is made in the brain, even a faulty one, it is hard to get it undone again. If the brain has been taught to use dissociation for mental survival during or after trauma, then it is more likely to keep doing that. The neurological pathway becomes like a track in farming land. Even if the farmer attempts to shift the tracks, the tools end up dipping back into the old track. If someone dissociates from their own pain, and thus avoids feeling pain, then that person will also certainly use it to avoid experiencing pain by witnessing someone else’s pain. In this way, abuse can lead to people who may have the potential to empathize not to feel any type of empathy at all.

So, it seems to me far more realistic for the author to state that empathy is a potential, but ended up being blunted.


Sometimes this stuff is easier to interrupt than we think. It just takes some courage and willingness to stick our necks out a bit to stand up for what’s right.

At the time of the Columbine shootings I worked for a telecom company with very good employee benefits (compensation for working you almost literally to death…). Most people were decent, but there was a fairly laissez-faire attitude. I was taking a break in the staff lounge that had, amongst other things, a MASSIVE flat-screen tv alongside computer gaming stations installed with all kinds of toys including some of the latest war games. So I vividly remember watching the live coverage of the panicked students escaping while two of my co-workers were simultaneously playing war games where they were stalking each other with assault rifles while wearing combat uniforms. I didn’t say anything, but someone else obviously did. The very next day the gaming stations were removed. My company had sent out a very clear message that they had reconsidered their position, and that type of leisure activity would no longer be tolerated.

From that point on we were a much less laissez-faire corporate culture. And all it took was two people to make that change – one to speak up and the other to appropriately respond and do something about it.


“So, it seems to me far more realistic for the author to state that empathy is a potential, but ended up being blunted.”

Brilliant observation.

Ox Drover

Annie and Darwinsmom,

Can’t recall where I read the study (CRS!) but I did read a psychological study on infants showing empathy at a very early age, about 8 months, I think….and it seems that a certain amount of empathy is more or less ingrained in children from a very early age.

That empathy can be “smothered” though, I firmly believe, or it can be “cultivated” by the caregivers….

Annie, the “war games” and the terrible violence in television and other visual media, as well as in music (or what passes for music) I believe has a profound impact on the youth of today. Even the rapid fire television cartoons and programs aimed at young children I think contributes to the kids having to be “entertained” with rapid stimulation…rather than the kids exploring their environment and learning by doing.

Sheila, I agree with you that lack of respect for girls and women is being taught to our young men as well…to view “conquests” of girls and women as almost a sport. It probably doesn’t help much with your son that your X doesn’t seem to have much use for women either…or that he takes such an attitude about “boys will be boys.”


Ayleh, yes… it is not just fairytales. This is the cultural gender type teaching, true.

I still maintain that the original little mermaid version (not the Disney one) is the sole one that I know that actually wants to teach a woman not to change herself to cater for a man.

But not all of it is culturally taught. I was raised as a single child, and luckily for myself, my parents bought both cars, lego as well as dolls for me to play with. I was encouraged to play with both.

My first memory, is of my 2nd birthday at the home of my daycare mother while my mother went out working. For the birthday party there were 3 giant kid sunglasses with big monocolored rims: one red, one blue and one yellow. Now, I was pretty particular about the colors I preferred: red and green. Those were strong colors for me, whereas blue and yellow just seemed “weak” colors to me. I thought of them as little ninny colors for girls who would act very girlish. To own the truth, I kinda wished I could be a boy at the time, and red and green were boy colors to me.
Unfortunately for me, the girl that was a few months older than me, had picked one of the sunglasses before her turn, and she picked the red one.
I felt (a) envious that she had the red one (b) an injustice had been done to me cause it was my birthday after all (c) a great shame for being envious. The reason I probably remember it at all is because I had these three big emotions all bundled together at once. Most people do not remember things from before 5, except if a strong sensation or emotion is involved.
The shame won out. I didn’t say a word at all, and instead picked the blue sunglasses, and walked around with them for the rest of the day, feeling pretty miserable about it.
I never told either my parents or my daycare mother until I was 12 during a re-visit for old times’ sake at the daycare mom.
The only tangible reminders to help me retain that memory are the pictures of that day. And when wearing the crown with 2 you see a toddler with a big grin, icecream running down the chin. It was taken before the sunglasses were being picked. And then pictures of toddlers with sunglasses in the couch, but the smile of the toddler with the blue sunglasses is subdued, more forced.

As I said, I was a single child. I had no children at home to compete with. And no situations where my parents had to teach me to be ashamed if I were to take a toy away from another child. My daycare mother even told me on that re-visit what an easy child I was. She never needed to reprimand me for taking someone else’s toys. It was just something I did not do out of my own accord.

For me this memory is important because it’s anecdotal evidence that people might have strong inborn ethics that they never need to be taught: justice and fairness, not being an egotist and esthetical values in my example above. It suggests also that the boyish-versus-girly view of the world is inborn and does not come from teaching alone. The only other girl I knew at the daycare mother’s house was as much a tomboy as I was, and neither my mom nor the daycare mom were “girly”. I can’t for the life of me imagine where this “girly” idea originated from, because I did not even have girly girls in my surroundings at the time.

I got over the not-wanting-to-be a girl fairly rapidly, probably because my mother was a good role model that proved to me that a warm, loving motherfigure (archetype of a woman) could also be strong an assertive and do her own thing in life.


I agree Oxy. I see empathy similarly as IQ (logical intelligence). You may be as bright as Einstein, but without any nurturing of the potential, chances are the person won’t come up with a formula to explain the correlations between nature’s forces. You may have a high creative talent, but when it’s not encouraged and even discouraged, the chances are unlikely you end up being a Picasso, Dali or Miro.

Ox Drover

There are different kind of IQs–from emotional intelligence to logical intelligence, to “talents” such as perfect pitch, or creativity, and our genetics make up a great deal of the potential for these different forms of IQ and talent, as well as our empathy or lack of it, and then you factor in the actual versus the potential for each of these and the changes that are made by environment and we become individuals who are a mix of both genetics and a product of our environment and opportunities.

It started to become apparent during WWII about babies who were “well cared for ” but not cuddled and nurtured died at an alarming rate with a “failure to thrive” syndrome…and I have actually seen the same thing in infants who were born to young mothers who didn’t really know how to hold and cuddle their infants. I’ve seen failure to thrive in older children who experienced high stress levels due to divorce and insecurity, and they actually stopped growing to an alarming level. Their normal growth hormone levels would drop to almost zilch though their pituitary glad was normal…

Stress can do a number on our bodies, minds, thinking, and behavior.

Trauma bonds (the book by Patrick carnes is great!) which is essentially stockholm syndrome, makes slaves stay with their masters, made Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart and Patty Hearst stay with their captors and identify with them. It is said that 85% of abused women return to their abusers….trauma bonds. What can be done to break this cycle? Education before the abuse and education and support when the victims try to escape. Unfortunately, the support is not always there, so people return to the “devil they know” rather than face life uncertainly without support.



Agree….some people are born with strong empathy and ethical values with out being trained by example. This is the element that is lacking in Sociopaths neurologically all togehter, based on scientific studies I’ve read elsewhere.

Being girly or manly is an equal part of genetic XY and XX chromosone as it is learned behaviour from our role models. My sister is a tomboy and her daughter is a supper girly girl. My sons were raised with no toy guns or violent games in our home, yet they made the gun symbol with their hands as soon as they were todlers. I remember being shocked because they were not exposed to it, yet they playd the shoot’em’up bang bang game any way!

Our current society plays tremendous importance on role playing and gilrs being sexy. Boys are taught they need to be “men” at an early age by the equal suggestion that being provocative and sexual at an early age proves their masculinity.

I have a 23 year old son who has only had one girl friend and he can not stand the way girls come on to him! He thinks for the most part they are petty and only interested in sex. He’s looking for substance…..Imagine that!!!! my son is considered an outcast by most of his peers because he dosent party and partake in the games. My 20 year old son has taken ful responsibility for his 20 year old girlfriend….and is playing the care taker role model….. Maybe I did raise a men that are considerate of women as people. I sure hope I did! time will tell.


I used to think my husband so socially gifted b/c he was the most charming man I’d ever met. But without empathy, he’s not truly socially gifted, he would never fit in with normal social interactions, just exploitative events. I don’t see where machiavelliaism fits on this list, the ability to manipulate without conscience? THAT is where he was a master.


empathy is very much like language in humans.
We are genetically predisposed to learn it, but we can learn it best between the ages of 0 and 4 years old. if we fail to learn language or empathy at that age, we will not be able to learn it very well if at all. Some people are predisposed to better language SKILLS than others. For some it comes more rapidly, and they talk early on. Others take longer. Girls are usually better at both language and empathy, than boys.

So although it is a skill, it is one that needs to be learned in childhood or the part of the brain that “gets” it becomes “gelled” without it and it’s very hard to create the neural pathways for language or empathy afterwards.

Once we learn language or empathy, though, even if it’s the most rudimentary bits of it, we have the capacity to expand and refine it. It’s very interesting how language and empathy seem to go hand in hand. I wonder if there isn’t a connection.



The X-S in my life is very similar…in fact he joined Toastmasters to learn to become a “better comunicator” and “better listener”….even claiming this has helped him in his relationships. All it’s done is taught him how to be a better manipulator with out conciousness.

I talkied to someone in his club who described how glib and manipulative he was, and how he’s created chaos out of the club! totally socially inept!

I saw him at an event last Saturday and he was walking with a cane, looked older and feeble and harmless like never before. I have had NC with him for that past 6 weeks until then, he thought I would take pitti on him and ask him how he was doing. I ignored him completely treating him like a potted plant. You know what I got in return? a text message saying “love you, always will” manipulation at it’s best!
p.s.- I did NOT reply


Aeylah = 10
Spath = 0
Excellent payback.


I had been thinking that it might be similar to language. I know of the examples of kids raised by pack of wolves never learned to speak later on in life when discovered. They would just growl.

I would think there is a link. Language is an extended form of body language to make yourself understood. Animals express their emotions and or intentions with body language (fear, curiosity, contentness, excitement of having prey near) and in some cases make sounds. I’m mostly familiar with cat language (body and sound), and it’s a special case for cats, because housecats kept as pets are essentially kittens with an adult cat body. But closing your eyes signals “I’m not going to harm you.” (and why people who are scared of cats and avoid eye contact often end up having the cat of the person they visit jump into their lap). They purr to signal contentment when getting attention (naturally kittens do it when drinking from the mother cat who purrs in response to encourage them to keep drinking). The might do a little rrrr in greeting. Mine talks back with and without sound if I use a high pitched voice and short words or sounds. Anyhow, animals communicate to show the other animal what their mood and intentions are. And I’m of the opinion it is nearly impossible for animals to understand the signs without it being connected to somesort of sensation that would release stress or aliveate it, and that this may be somesort of instinctual empathy. If the other animal fails to read those signs, then they might end up in a fight. So, it’s highly important for survival that they learn the meaning in their nest life.

A common example of miscommunication across species is that of a cat or dog where at least one is unfamiliar with the other one’s body language. Dogs introduce themselves and get familiar with each othe by sniffing each other’s rear end. Cats do nose-nose touching, and a stranger going for the rear is a threat. A cat wags its tail only if excited of seeing prey or when about to attack. It’s an aggressive sign. So, a content dog wagging its tail and going straight to sniff the cat’s rear shows nothing but threat signs. When the other can hurt the cat (size and weapons such as teeth and claw) a cat resorts to a tactic that will automatically instill fear in the “enemy”: they mimic body language signs of snakes. Tail will blow up, and wriggle, they hiss and even spit. If the dog doesn’t back off, there will be a quick strike with the paw to scratch the nail across the nose, like a snake striking and biting. Fear for snakes is instinctive (though people may learn to control it), because the risk of deadly injury is too high when encountered. There is no second chance to learn that snakes are dangerous, if the animal ends up being bitten by a venomous one.

The reason though why the body language in the animal world is not majorly instinctive is proven by the fact that if at least one is brought up as a little pup or kitten with the other, the sign language can be crossed over to the other species.
There’s for example a purring squirrel after it was adopted by a mother cat.

In other worse, all these mammals at least must know the same sensations (well emotions) and intentions, and have some type of primal form of empathy in order to feel what the other must be feeling. They normally develop their own species body and sound signals if growing up with their own species, but they are able to learn and act correctly upon the signals of other species if they end up being adopted into it.

Most of our communication, even with humans, is done via body language and pitch and tone in our voices, rather than the words itself. Someone breaking up in tears and pleading is very heart to resist. If the same please were said without those body signs and intonation in the voice we would never believe that expression of grief. What we do not realize when encountering a P for the first time in our lives, is that it can be acted convincingly. We know actors do it, but we imagine them to pretend deep down in their mind the recollection of something that actually was painful and made them sad. They must have studied empathic humans closely in order to know how to pull it off: pitch, tone, intonation, movement… And I can imagine that indeed it must give someone a kick that if you know you lack emotion you can act so well that people believe it to be real. It is once their is no stimulus around, that you can notice the real emotionless state of them: they just sit, stare, and seem fathomless in their expression.

A primal type of empathy not only serves to understand the other animal in an unexpected encounter, it mostly serves I think to create a bond. And even solitary species create a bond in their infancy, with the siblings and mother that nurses them. The bond is not only important for the kitten, the mother must feel a bond as well, in order to get the motivation to starve herself while nursing initially, and later to give up the hunted prey to the nest instead of herself. The more social a species is (existing in packs and depending on it), the more bonds needs to be created, more than just the mother, and the more this primal empathy matters.

Especially baby animals seem to inspire a type of empathic response within adult female mammals. It must be nature’s way to still try and save a newborn animal, even if its chances of survival are small. Or it’s because the primal empathy needed to overcome mere self-serving survival needs within the mothers must be so strong to accomplish that and nature is unable to make it specially only. It probably is both. Since often females are the sole or the primary caretakers of the young, it must be mostly developed within females, and since language is a tool of both creating the bond as well as making oneself understood that might be a reason why women are often better communicatioin skilled than men. But even male mammals, including solitary species, can feel a protectiveness towards baby animals. Darwin was taken care of by his presumable father after the mother disappeared. Darwin’s survival tactics (hide, not make a sound, not move, until mom physically gets you out of the hiding place) show though that the male was incapable of rearing the kittens properly. He just mimicked what the mother taught the kittens at the stage of their development, when she disappeared.

There’s the case where a lioness keeps adopting baby oryxes.

Or a jaguar trying to take care of the baby babboon after killing the mother babboon

And we cannot but help when reading or seeing such “weird” interspecies adoption stories to feel fuzzy or eaven tearful.

In that sense, Psychos are a freak of nature, an aberration, because they lack what is a natural responsive reaction in most mammals, even across species. They are comparable to the male lion, who lets the females do the hunting for him, and kills off the babies of other males to get the females of the overtaken harem in heat again.

Denise Guiney

Yes they are exactly like male lions, if you have a den they will try to take it over for themselves and push out your children like a cuckoo does. Especially if they are Leos as well LOL. Like male lions too they will not adapt and will stay in their territory after the herd has moved on following the rain and the grass. They just stay there getting hungry waiting for the next batch of victims to pass by.

Ox Drover

Most species are not cannabalistic or predatory of their own species, even if those animals are not “herd” animals, but live solitary lives exscept when breeding or raising young.

Psychopaths though are predators of their own kind…I can see some advantages in their predation at times of short supply of resources because they would take the resources from others to keep themselves alive.

For example, they would kill and eat the young of others (an example is the story in the Bible where the two women agreed to eat each other’s sons and the women ate one son, but then the other woman backed out and the woman whose son had been eaten already complained that the other woman renigged and wouldn’t give up her son to eat.)

We’ve all read of instances in life boat or other starvation situations where one or two in the group would kill someone else to eat their body…the person who could do such a thing with little or no guilt would have an advantage of survival over those who would not do such a thing.

The same thing in “breeding” in that the psychopath who will take the women by force, “spread his seed” and move on leaving behind more and more offspring might have the reproductive advantage over the man who stayed around to raise the children.

Male lions’ behavior is obviously successful or they wouldn’t have survived. Wolves’ pack behavior with only the alpha couple reproducing is also successful, and cooperation is necessary for them to do well and survive, with more than one set of adults better able to provide for hungry pups and to train them. Wolves, too, will kill a pup that does not adhere to the social norms of the pack. Occasionally wolf packs will go to “war” and kill another pack “just for the hell of it” even though the territory is not one they can actually take over and use.

Humans are “herd” or “pack” animals just as some other mammals are, tigers are solitary for the most part except for breeding. Cheetahs are also solitary except for breeding times and solitary hunters rather than cooperative like lions for the main part.

Humans have like many mammals chemical bonding agents that are released during birth, nursing, and sexual contact. The psychopaths have been shown to have fewer receptors to this hormone (Oxytocin) Dr Leedom did an article here on it about how if this hormone is blocked mammals will not “bond” to their babies.

In “normal” people oxytocin is released during sex, thus bonding the pair, especially women….but with a psychopath, they are much more able to have sex and NOT have the bonding, thus making it much easier for them to have multiple partners and to change partners frequently.

Not that everyone who has multiple partners is a psychopath, I don’t mean that at all, because there are other and cultural considerations as well, but that natural tendency to bond with those we are sleeping with being there, sex is one way they keep us hooked. Also the natural tendency to bond with your offspring, even adult offspring, keeps us trying to “help” those offspring even when they are themselves psychopathic. Unlike the wolves, we don’t tend to want to kill abberant offspring.

kim frederick

I just lost a huge post. GRAAAAAAHHH!!

I thought it an important post, so will try again.

This point that feral children are unable to develope language skills, if they miss the window, and the ethics of adopting pets as babies…..the experience of the trauma bond often being precipitated by a seperation from the primary care-giver in infancy.Nuerol pathways in the brain.

I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago. Pinky has decided that he wants to follow me everywhere. So when he tried to follow me to the store, instead of trying to catch him(he had his mind made up, not to be caught), instead of picking him up, carrying him back to the house, climbing the stairs, I decided to charge him, thinking it would scare him into running home. Interesting result: While he obviously startled, he chased after me more ferverantly. I tried it twice…he became MORE dtermined to be close to me and go where I go.

Pinky is a rescue cat who was nothing but skin and bones when I started feeding him, and caring for him. He had a severe eye infection, and was very weak. Not even sure if he HAD a mother.

Now, I’m not suggesting that there was anything unethical in my rescuing Pinky, but it does raise questions about taking our pets away from their mothers for our pleasure and benefit.

Also, about empathy and language skills: They both develope at about the same time as the ability to walk upright. Also, toilet training, and the terrible two’s, the child’s love for the word, “NO” and the resolution of the OEdipal complex.

It is the ability to use language, and our ability to walk upright as well as the incest taboo that seperates humanity from animality, so I don’t see why empathy isn’t apart of the dichotomy, as well. This is in perfect keeping with the idea that spaths developement is frozen in infancy, for some reason.

Just thinkin’.


There was something about my P regarding bonding that I wondered about. There was something that he seemed to crave for all the time, when we were private. If he laid down, he would take my hands and put them on his head and I was supposed to rub through his hair. When I originally did it the first time, it had been on my initiative, and I simply rummaged softly through his hair, and pulling it softly. After that, it became a habbit, one he would ask for if I forgot. He would fall asleep like a baby almost if I did that, and if I stopped too early, he’d moan, take my hand again and put it on his scalp again.

He’d grow truly peaceful and relaxed. It might be possible that it may have relieved a bit of the headaches he often complained about. But I just kinda think it simply soothed him in general. And though it wasn’t intended like mothering from me, he would be so peaceful like a babe, that picturing him with a thumb in his mouth would not be far from correct in comparison.

Kim, I too feel like as if they’re stuck in the ego phase of infancy. But if it would just be stunted development in the older toddler phase, then it would not explain the lack of empathy.

LOL, the oedipus complex, for girls it’s called the Electra complex. When I started at kindergarden (age 2.5) my parents interviewed me on the kids I played with (on a big revox tape) and asked me who I was gonna marry. I mentioned a boy from kindergarden, and shocked my mom asked, “What? Don’t you want to marry your dad?” Then there’s a few seconds of silence, as I pondered how to answer that question most diplomatically. “I’d rather not,” was my answer… hehe


As for seeing us as apart of the rest of the animal world. Every animal has its specialisation, and if it had cognitive reasoning, would argue they are different and set apart from the rest. Birds can fly. Whales and dolphins can live in water. Cheetas run the fastest. Fish can breath under water. We have the biggest and most developed brain in proportion to the rest of our body mass.

Incest is not just a human taboo either. The examples mentioned with chimp sons trying to have sex with their mother, is one of chimps in captivity. If humans would be stuck with each other for 20 long years in a cage, without any possibility to meet other people, there would be more incest occurrences as well.

I agree though about the proximity reactin when growing up. I went to a public HS (in Belgium there is little or no academic difference between private or public, though the private may try to claim so) where girls and boys would share classes. When I went out and some girl of an all girl’s school learned that this or that guy was in my school or class or year, they wondered aloud how much fun it would be to be at our school. They thought that we were busy all day with flirting with each other or something. And all I could think of was the guy as a kid of 12 in our first years there. There was NO interest, not from them to us, not from us to them (except maybe those of a year higher, who you only knew from the lunch breaks, from far away). I always thought that the best way to keep your kids from overromanticising the other sex was by having them grow up with each other in close proximity.

kim frederick

Wow, What diplomatic sophistication at such a young age. But, you mean you really didn’t want to marry your Dad? 🙂
I did.
Yea, I know about the Electra comples. It is even more comples than the oedipal complex, because, her first love interest, like a boy’s, is her mother. She has to resolve two love interests instead of just one. She transfers her love for mom to Dad, then resolves both by identifying with Mom. A boy only makes the move away from one love object. Girls have to do it twice. Interesting. Not enough study has been given to this topic. It is assumed that the Oed complex is what motivates us all, because we are subsumed into the dominate paradigm.


Another article on incest prevailance

the examples mentioned in other animals are mostly those of lifeforms such as insects, fish, and amphibians. These are evolutionary much earlier lifeforms, though the species may be rather recent.

kim frederick

Darwinsmon, I didn’t mean to slam the animals. What I meant was that we have a taboo against incest where the animal kingdom does not. Most animals have no problem mating with immediate family members, but we have a strict prohibition, in place. This is absolutely necissary, and human culture depends upon it. Now the only reason to have a taboo is because there are strong desires and drives at play that must be discourage and repressed….and I agree. We are animals, and I agree that any and all species might like to think of themselves as different and seperate from the rest. Good conversation.


Nope, I did not want to marry my dad at all. I liked and loved my dad, but we’re too much alike in temper. I did not even think of him as attractive. Only when I was near my 30s did I start to recognize that my dad was quite attractive as a young man (think Adrian Brody). But the worst is that he has the habbit of telling me what I should avoid doing when he’s concerned about me, even if I’m not even yet thinking of doing the thing he is worried about. Sometimes it even insulted my feelings that he would think I’d do such a thing at all. He jumps too conclusions too fast too. I know he does it out of concern for me, but as a kid and teen I absolutely loathed it. And it can still irk me.

So, almost any men in my past was someone who deviated a lot of my father in personality, which also implies I avoided men with too much of a comparison of my own temper.

My father though was made happy though when I told him I knew of an attractive actor who looked like he did when he was younger, and especially when I showed him some pictures of Adrian Brody. He was pleased to know that finally his daughter was not finding him abhorrent anymore.

And the P was actually the only guy that I felt was much alike to my dad and myself: social, talkative, extravert, somewhat chaotic, having to search for his stuff all the time and where did I put it (I always ask my mom carefully whether she saw such and such, and my dad will accuse my mom of having misplaced it)… I just felt that he was like a younger version of us, and a louder, more extreme one. But that would be the mirroring, what would make me feel comfortable. It were the good things I liked about him.

But in a way that’s a positive for myself, and for my dad. It means I reconciled with myself who I am when I fell in love with my P, and that I reconciled with what often be the source of disputes between my dad and I.

kim frederick

I married someone who was a lot like my Mom. OCD, and contolling. Infantalizing.
Years later, I went to the opposite extreme and hooked up with someone a lot like my Dad. Alcoholic, social, gregarious, light hearted. My Dad wasn’t spath, though, and the spath took these charatoristics and ran with them.. He was a user, and a con. My Dad wasn’t.


Great conversation.
My take on the oedipal complex is that it doesn’t have anything to do with incest at all. The only reason oedipus married his mom is because he took his father’s place as the ultimate authority (king), so naturally, since he was wearing his father’s skin, he would need to have everything his father had, including his mother, to really “BE” his father.

This matches up perfectly with the way spaths mirror us, become us. They want our self-esteem, so they get close to us and manipulate us into loving them. We, naturally, hold anyone we love in high-esteem because we hold ourselves in high-esteem and we jump to the conclusion that we couldn’t love anyone who isn’t worthy – RED FLAG: MAKING ASSUMPTIONS!!

Once we love someone, we have “lent” them our high self-esteem, just the way they are lent credibility by being with us. That’s why they choose us, good, moral and responsible women to be with. They know how we think.

But we didn’t realize that they think exactly the opposite. They have extremely low self-esteem, since they see themselves for the infants that they are. (not that they see this logically, but the feeling of being needy and helpless is there) Before you love them, they are envious of your self-esteem and want you to love them to prove to them, that they are worthy of love. (Remember Hulga/Joy’s lover demanded that she say it?) But it’s never enough, because their self-esteem is so low that instead of proving to them that they are worthy, instead it proves to them that YOU are unworthy. Once you say, “I love you”, to them, they see you as pathetic and an object of disdain. Which is what they wanted in the first place. They wanted to bring you down from that pedestal and this is done by making you love someone as revolting as they believe themselves to be.

It’s the exact opposite of how we think, that’s why there is no redemption for the spath, it’s because he refuses it when it’s offered.

kim frederick

Sky, Oed murdered his father and married his mother without knowing they were his father and mother.

His bio Dad, Laus had paid a visit to the Delphic oricle and had been told that his son would grow up to murder him, and would then marry his wife, Jocasta. Because of this prophesy, Laus, refused to name Oedipus, peirced hos ankles, bound them and exposed him to the elements.

In a day or two, a wandering shepard stumbled upon the infant Oedipus, and took him home to his own Kingdom and gave him to his childless King and Queen.

Oedipus grew into his young manhood, crippled and walked with a limp. He used a cane.

One say, Oed was just hanging out in a place a lot like a bar. He over heard a group of roudy drunken youth gossiping about him. They said that he was destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified, and not knowing that Menelous (the King) and what’s her name (the Queen) were NOT his real parents he left their Kingdom, in an effort to cheat fate and protect them from himself.

On his journey he encounters a carriage at the cross roads and in it is a real entitled individual who orders Oed off of the road…This man strikes Oed with a cane, and Oed reacts violently and kills him, along with all but one of his coachmen.

He continues his journey and comes upon the dreaded Sphinx, who has been terrorizing Laus’s kingdom ever since he was found mysteriously murdered at the cross roads.

The Sphinx tells Oed that the only way he will be spared is if he can answer a riddle correctly. (This is often refered to in Literature as a “neck riddle”)

“What goes on all fours in the morning, walks on two in the afternoon, and walks on three legs in the Evening?” asked the sphinx. Oedipus answers Mankind and gestures toward himself. The Sphinx throws herself into the abyss, and Oedipus becomes the hero of his new Kingdom….they need a King cause Laus has been murdered so they crown him, and Jocasta ( origins of her name: the Joke) takes a liking to him and they marry.

It is Only MUCH later when a plague ( same root word as plaguerism) ravigess the land, that Oed determines that the reason for the plague is that it is a punishment for L.’s murder and if they want to end the plague, they must find the murderer.

Later, a shepard comes and tell’s Oed that his father is dying and wants to see him. It is only then, that Oed begins to suspect himself as murderer. He tries to stay in denial, but eventually realizes the truth.

Jocasta kills herself and Oed. blinds himself and exiles himself to wander the country side aimlessly, forever.

Oed. accepts Scapegoat status to save the community, just as Gerard would suggest.

But there is an extreme unconsciousness about the whole thing…and remember that the word “tragedy” comes from the Greek and means “goat-song.”

Oedipus begins his life as a victim of abandonment and is crippled for life. He is set-up for tragedy by his unconsciousness. I love this stuff.

So the growth of an individual is reflected in Oed’s answer to the sphinx…we start our infancy crawling, then we walk, and when we are old and wise we walk with a cane. It also speaks to the evolution of human culture. We start out on all fours, raise to our feet and develope language skills, then in our later evolution we go on three…the cane is a crutch, and can also be compared to a pen….thus language evolves from the spoken word to the written word.


I had heard the story before, Kim, but I love the way you tell it! Yes, the oedipus syndrome is (I’m going to say “subconscious” rather than “unconscious” because there is a subconscious drive).
The killing of his real father at the crossroads is symbolic of meeting authority and deciding to kill it and take it’s place when you come to a cross road in your life. All this happened because his own dad tried to change the inevitable course of human nature: that you give birth to your own replacement. It’s destiny. So because of that narcissism, he ends up crippling his child, so that what should have been a normal transition of passing the crown from father to son, we have a violent rebellion against authority and a perversion of nature.

That, I believe, takes all the elements of how the spath thinks and lives and ultimately suffers, and puts it all into a drama that nobody, could imagine actually happening…

kim frederick

Are you saying Oed is the spath? If so, I disagree. I think it’s a warning against unconsciousness, and harkens back to Girards ideas about the cultural need to remain unconscious of primal drives and project them outward onto the other. The other that is then sacrificed for the sake of the community….so that they can remain in their comfy state of unenlightened ignorance.
Oed is faced with the emerging “knowledge of good and evil” rising up within himself. He was at first innocsent because of this unconsciousness, but becomes guilty as soon as he aknowledges it. This is the perfect place for a scapegoat to be. He is the primal scapegoat….
Then, as Gerard would point out, Jesus comes along and makes sacrifice obsolete. Jesus says, “Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone.”
Just brain-storming a bit.
Sorry about my long-winded re-telling of the tale.

Have you read Girards, “Violence and the Sacrid”? I think you would really get into it, Sky.


whew! my internet was down and I went into withdrawal!
Yes, I read Girard last in 2009 right after “all the evil happened”. I needed to understand evil and it helped alot.

It had never occured to me that Oed was a spath, but maybe so. It would fit: he’s born entitled, he is wounded and crippled and he’s got mommy issues. But as in all myths, the characters aren’t meant to be fleshed out, they are 2-dimensional, for a reason: they symbolize parts of ourselves. These are not fleshed out characters, so I couldn’t actually call him a spath except for that spaths are all 2 dimensional. LOL!! But in myths, all the characters are flat and shallow, even the good ones. That’s why they can end up doing anything.

Wow, the more I describe mythological characters, the more I sound like I’m talking about a spath. There is no difference!

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