Psychopaths as puppet masters

puppeteer and puppet businessYou and I feel personal satisfaction through accomplishment, or warm human relationships, or being of service to others.

Psychopaths feel personal satisfaction through pulling the so-called strings and making people jump.

They do something that they know will upset you just to see you cry. They trap you into no-win situations to watch you squirm. They devalue and discard you, so they can watch you fall apart.

Why do they do this?

Social motivations

The answer lies at the heart of the personality disorder. According to Dr. Liane Leedom, psychopaths have an out-of-control power motivation.

Researchers have identified four social motivations. These are basic motivations that people, as social animals, have regarding other people. They are:

  • Attachment desire to be with other people, especially mates, family and tribe
  • Sex for enjoyment, bonding and reproduction
  • Caregiving doing what is best for other people’s health and wellbeing
  • Power desire for higher rank and privilege

Anyone can have these motivations to greater or lesser degrees. In most people, the social motivations balance each other out. For example, the power motivation makes people want to achieve and be leaders, so it isn’t necessarily bad. Usually, the attachment and caregiving motivations keep it in check. Most people are willing to go after what they want, but don’t want to harm other people in the process.

Psychopaths are different

Psychopaths feel the attachment motivation they want to be with other people. They certainly want sex. And they really want power.

They do not, however, experience the caregiving motivation. Psychopaths are really only interested in themselves, and have no concern at all about the welfare of others. (If they seem to be displaying concern, it’s only because they have an ulterior motive.)

The bottom line, then, is that psychopaths have a really strong power motivation, and no caregiving motivation to but the brakes on it. So what they really want in life is power and control.

Yes, they want sex, but they want power and control more. Psychopaths aren’t necessarily sex-crazed fiends. Many either engage in sex or withhold it in order to increase their power and control.

Do NOT react

Psychopaths love being the puppet master making other people react feeds their desire for power and control.

That’s why No Contact is so important. No Contact changes the dynamic. It takes you out of the psychopath’s feedback loop, because they can’t get their power-and-control fix.

If No Contact is not possible, or not possible yet, the next best strategy is DO NOT react. When psychopaths try to provoke you, do not respond emotionally at least in front of them. Even if you have to temporarily be the world’s greatest actress or actor, do not let them know that they’ve upset you.

If you can keep this up, hopefully the psychopath will get bored and lose interest in you. When you don’t react, you’re no fun anymore.

The idea is to cut the puppet master strings, so that you can achieve your freedom.


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Hi Steps, Whenever I would come up with something about improving our relationship, the alcoholic I was married to foe 9 years, would say in irritation: “What have you been reading NOW???” First of all, if you tell your significant other/husband that he’s a sociopath, he probably won’t believe you, or accept this. I also think it could be dangerous. Also, it would just give him more power over you because he’s know you are onto his tactics and he’d develop/conjure up, more subtle tactics against you. I hope you can find a way out of this relationship. Another caveat: If you have any books on how to escape, or how to handle this bad situation do NOT leave them around where he can find them. Maybe even leave them at the home of a trusted friend. Two books I’d recommend: “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans, and “Getting Free” by Ginny Nicarthy. Both of these helped me escape.
Both these books warn painting leaving them around where he can find them. About verbal abuse: I had a good friend from AlAnon, who reoommeded the one on verbal abuse. She said that something my then husband was saying was verbal abuse. I was very amazed! I asked here, What’s verbal abuse? How do I know this is verbal abuse?” She said, “Read the book. Then if you have any more questions call me.”

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