By | October 17, 2011 49 Comments

Sociopaths in classic dramatic arts

Last week my husband and I went to the opera to see Carmen. We saw the opera at the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Before the performance, an opera expert gave the background of the story and the characters.

Carmen was written by Georges Bizet, and premiered in Paris in 1875. Here’s the basic story, as described by Wikipedia:

The story is set in Seville, Spain, around 1820, and concerns the eponymous Carmen, a beautiful gypsy with a fiery temper. Free with her love, she woos the corporal Don José, an inexperienced soldier. Their relationship leads to his rejection of his former love, mutiny against his superior, and joining a gang of smugglers. His jealousy when she turns from him to the bullfighter Escamillo leads him to murder Carmen.

In his presentation, the opera expert explained that Carmen was a complex character, apparently based on one of Bizet’s lovers. She was seductive, headstrong, flirtatious, demanding, temperamental, argumentative, quickly became bored of her lovers and wasn’t terribly concerned about predictions that she would die.

“Gee,” I said to my husband. “She sounds like a sociopath.”

After watching the entire opera, it sure seems to me that this character is, in fact, a sociopath. Here’s the famous aria from the first act, called The Habanera. To set the scene, Carmen flirts with all the men in the village, and they all want to be her lover. She has everyone captivated, everyone except the soldier Don José. He, then, becomes a challenge.

Habanera from Carmen, performed in Covent Garden in 2006.

As the story progresses, Carmen gets in trouble and is sentenced to prison. Don José is supposed to guard her, but she seduces him. Don José forsakes his sweet village girlfriend, falls in love with Carmen and lets her escape, ending up in trouble himself.  Then he throws his entire military career away and joins Carmen’s band of gypsies. Carmen, however, gets bored of Don José; she falls in love with a bullfighter and flaunts it. Don José tries everything to get Carmen to return, from pleading to threats. Carmen knows the former soldier is on edge, but throwing caution to the wind, she taunts him with her love of the bullfighter. Don José flies into a rage and kills her.

The story was right out of the sociopath playbook: Over the top love bombing, followed by devalue and discard. Don José tries desperately to recapture the original euphoria, but failing, he becomes somewhat sociopathic himself—like some abused partners do—and lashes out.


A few months ago, I saw another classic drama with a sociopathic theme—Shakespeare’s Othello.  This is a tragedy of love, deception and death, written in 1603. Othello is a Moorish general in the Venetian army, married to Desdemona. Iago, Othello’s trusted ensign, is angry because the general has promoted a younger lieutenant above him, and he hatches a plot to play people off each other so he can get what he wants. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

Although eponymously titled, suggesting that the tragedy belongs primarily to Othello, Iago plays an important role in the plot he reflects the archetypal villain, and has the biggest share of the dialogue. In Othello, it is Iago who manipulates all other characters at will, controlling their movements and trapping them in an intricate net of lies. He achieves this by getting close to all characters and playing on their weaknesses while they refer to him as “honest” Iago, thus furthering his control over the characters.

The Shakespearean dialog is admittedly a bit difficult for our modern ears to understand, but with good acting we can see what is going on. Iago actually talks directly to the audience and reveals his intentions. You can see it here:

Iago’s monologue in the 1995 film Othello.

As a result of Iago’s plot, many of the characters in Othello end up dead.

Don Giovanni

Another opera that I saw (my husband likes opera) was Don Giovanni. This opera was written by Mozart and premiered in 1787. However, it is based on the legend of Don Juan. Yes, that Don Juan—the guy who went around seducing women for the fun of it.

The original legend dates back a play published in Spain around 1630. Here’s how Don Juan is explained in Wikipedia:

Don Juan is a rogue and a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women (mainly virgins) and enjoys fighting their men. Later, in a graveyard, Don Juan encounters a statue of Don Gonzalo, the dead father of a girl he has seduced, Doña Ana de Ulloa, and impiously invites the father to dine with him; the statue gladly accepts.

In the first act of Mozart’s version, Don Giovanni first tries to seduce a woman, Donna Anna. Her father shows up and Don Giovanni kills him, then escapes with his servant, Leporello. They come across another woman, Donna Elvira, who is upset because her lover has abandoned her and she wants revenge.  And who was the cad? Don Giovanni. He makes a quick exit, and tells Leporello to tell Donna Elvira the truth about his character.

Leporello does, in a famous aria called Madamina, il catalogo e questo. He tells Donna Elvira about all the women Don Giovanni has loved—640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, but in Spain, 1,003. Watch how Donna Elvira reacts to the news—it will seem familiar to many of us who were involved with cheating sociopaths.

Leporello’s aria, Little lady, this is the catalog, in a 1988 performance at London’s Royal Opera House.

Moral of the story

So why am I writing about opera and Shakespeare? To point out that sociopaths have been with us forever. I’m sure the playwrights, librettists and composers who created these characters were drawing from people they knew in real life. Watching these characters, we can all see reflections of what we experienced. The characters may have seemed unbelievable and outlandish to many audiences, but we know that the behaviors are real.

The only problem I saw with these particular stories was that in each one of them, justice was served. Carmen was killed, Iago was arrested and Don Giovanni was turned into stone. In the real world, as we know, that doesn’t always happen.

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Ox Drover

Some good points, Donna, and if you look back in ancient history as well as the Old Testament, and ancient writings and plays, the sociopath has EVER been with us, and since the dawn of literature has been the subject of writings and plays.

There is an old “Chinese curse” that says “may you live in INTERESTING TIMES” and sociopaths do give our lives DRAMA and INTERESTING STORIES to relate.

The lashing out of Don Jose against Carmen that you mentioned, when in total frustration and pain, he murders her is unfortunately to often true as well. Not that I think he was a sociopath, per se, even though he gave in to his rage and murdered her, but that he allowed himself to be driven to the brink of insanity….stepping over his own moral compass to do something that was not typical of or possible in his previous way of living.

I think that we, in our righteous rage against the devaluation and discarding done to us by the psychopaths, must be cautious that we don’t allow ourselves to become like Don Jose and strike out in that righteous indignation and righteous rage to our ever living regrets.

I can’t honestly tell you that I never harbored the sincere desire to murder or severely hurt one or more of the psychopaths that have attacked me. If I did tell you that, I would be lying. I have very definitely experienced that murderous rage, but I can only thank God that I did not give in to it. What I did learn from that rage though, is that if I do not keep control of myself, I can reach that point, and the feelings that it gives me are not pleasant and I don’t like them.

While I think being RIGHTEOUSLY indignant or angry is certainly no sin, even Jesus himself was righteously angry at the hypocrites who were money changers in the Temple, I do think that as He advised “do not let the sun go down upon your WRATH” (which is cultivated and malignant anger and rage). I think we must protect OURSELVES from that “wrath” because it destroys US, as it did Don Jose.

Great Article, Donna, Thanks!

I watched that youtube clip. Jeeze. Disgusting. The dialogue is so accurate, what she says and then how he responds, calling HER crazy.


I would be interested in your take on Madame Butterfly.

After my best frienemy, K, met my spath, K decided he wanted to take me to see the opera of madame butterfly. This was highly unusual. K didn’t usually take me anywhere, we just hung out.

Now I know that spath had revealed to K that he was gay (as K is) or bi- or whatever. K wanted to do a “tell” about men who keep women for beards, for money or for whatever reason, but don’t really love them. The story is really tragic because madame butterfly (if I recall) kills herself and the spath and his new, more acceptable, wife take her son as their own. This opera doesn’t end with the spath getting just desserts at all.

Still, I’d like to hear people’s opinions about the spath character. Was he really a spath?

Yes, just like a spath. My P father tried to seduce my mom’s best friend on HIS wedding day. When my mom confronted him, he said, “Who are you gonna believe now, your friend or your HUSBAND?” What freaking PLANET are these scumbags from?! And can we send them BACK there? Sick.

Donna, you also bring up something very important about this topic, which is that sociopaths are not new to mankind. There may not be psychological literature tracing them back into the depths of history, but the creative literature sure does tell stories we all know too well….I really feel bad for the people who dealt with these types back before there was even a name for them, let alone books and support groups.


Sky, I am pretty sure you are right about Madame Butterfly.

On earlier threads there was a great list of movies with SPATHS in them. I put every single one in my netflix queue. There are a few that are unavailable now, but still, it is quite an education.

Getting a list of the classic arts featuring SPATHS would be a great idea.

The best thing for me personally is going to those spath sites and reading how they think. Even if it’s full of lies, i can see through to the truth now that I’m educated by LF.

Holy shit.

This is what inspired me to change all my contact information today. For good. There is NO HOPE HERE.


There is a recent movie called Water for Elephants with a spath in it. It was a validating moment for me when I saw that movie, cause I pointed at my screen and said, “Sociopath!” the moment this guy came on screen. By the end of the film, there was absolutely no doubt that this guy was a spath.

There’s another movie called Twilight….oh, wait, I guess they aren’t spaths if they sparkle, are honest about their extreme desire to eat you, and confess that they broke into your house and watched you sleep all night….totally normal behavior….very romantic…yup.




Other spath stories:
– Dangerous Liaisons: two spaths have a bet over whom to seduce: a virgin to help revenge the other spath’s ex lover who wishes to marry the virgin, and a virtuous wife who resists the lovebombing for a long time, until she gives in, leaves her husband and is ditched like a vile rag. She dies broken hearted. One spath has an epiphany during a duel, sees the light and discovers he loves one woman (and I hold very high scepticism for the end). The other spath is exposed by the dying spath, and ends up literally losing her face.
– Usual Suspects: a whole crew and gang have been killed at a burned boat. There is one man who gets away from it without a scratch: a cripple and conman who gets immunity for his witness account. Police think an ex corrupt policeman was involved and used it as cover up to turn out dead, but still lives. So they interview the cripple. But there is one other survivor, a burn victim, who claims it was the infamous and allusive Keiser Soze behind it all. The cripple can finally go, only for to the cop to realize he has been lied to from the first word to the last (watch a spath lie and do his pity play). A witness drawing is made of Keiser Soze and faxed… Keiser Soze walks away from the police station, losing his gimp along the way.
– The tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte: a woman runs away with her boy and takes residence at Wildfell Hall. A farmer falls in love with her, and manages to make her trust him insofar she reveals in a diary what her past is. Married young to a libertine who lovebombds her, but once married the relationship becomes abusive, chaotic, full of empty promises and lies and cheating. He’s not alone. He has a whole set of friends who care nothing about her, her son, nor their husbands and wives. Not until he keeps her from raising her son and starts to corrup him with his ideas of what a man ought to be, does she decide to run. But the farmer finds she has returned to her husband, who has been taken gravely ill for his excessive drinking. He eventually dies, and she’s free to marry her farmer.

– Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy: Tess is raised in a poor family, but the drunken father believes they have some important ancestor related to a noble family, and they send Tess to this family to do the work of a maid in the hope they wish to help far cousins. Alec the son of the family and her ‘cousin’ helps her to her working position, tries to seduce her, and though she hopes to stay out of his schemes, the non-worldy girl ends up being raped. She learns the family are not the infamous relations. The noble family had died out, and the rich (but not noble) family bought the name. She returns to her parents, pregnant, the shame of town and delivers her stillborn child. In the hope to find a society where she can live without the scandal, she works as a dairymaid someplace else, and falls in love with ‘Angel’. They marry, but upon their wedding night Tess finally reveals her past, just as he confesses his ‘sins’. Tess can forgive him, but Angel thought she was still pure and cannot forgive her. He leaves for America. Without anyone to turn to, the destitute Tess wanders into Alec’s web once more. Alec wanders the country as a fiery preacher, meanwhile looking for Tess everywhere. When he finds her he convinces her to live with him again. Angel finally sees the error of his ways and returns in search of his wife, only to discover she lives with Alec as his mistress. Still he wants to rescue her, but comes upon her right after she murdered Alec with scissors. Tess gets hanged for her murder. Angel ends up marryng Tess’s younger sister.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – Mr. Wickham is the spath here, who uses the dislike of Mr. Darcy by the village to smearcampaign him. He’s a soldier and first is Elizabeth Bennet’s favourite, believing him instantly, because she dislikes Mr. Darcy for his pride. She even forgives Mr. Wickham when he transfers his affections from her to a young woman MRs. King who is to inherit a lot of money. But Mrs. King’s uncle manages to get her away from Mr. Wickham. Meanwhile after she rejects a marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy she finds out the true story behind Mr. Wickham: a gambler with loose morals who did not want to be a clergyman and was financially compensated to go into another profession, who hoped to elope with Mr. Darcy’s 15 year old sister. Just as her view on both men reverses, her narcistic younger sister elopes with Mr. Wickham, ruining the chances of herself and her beloved sister Jane of making a good match. But Mr. Darcy who knows the connections Mr. Wickham might use comes to the rescue to make Elizabeth’s sister marry Mr. Wickham and helps him to a soldier commission up north. Elizabeth and Jane marry their beaus. Mr. Wickham will remain as he is, and her sister forever doomed to beg them for money.

– Theseus in the Minotaur myth could be spathic for his empty promises. Ariande, his enemy’s daughter helps him with a thread to kill the minotaur and find his way out again out of the maze, because she loves him at first sight. In return he promises to take her with him to Athens and marry her. He actually takes Ariadne and her sister Phaedra aboard. But he leaves Ariadne behind on an island after sleeping with her, where she curses him. So full of himself, Theseus also forgets his promise to his father Aegeus to hoist the white sail if he returns alive. His father jumps to his death when he sees the black sail, naming the sea at Athens as Aegean Sea. Theseus marries Phaedra. But before that he is one of Helen’s initial abductors when Helen is still a young child for his mother to raise her. This abduction later causes the other Greek men to promise to each other they will wage war to anyone who ever abducts her again. As a punishment, Theseus gets trapped in the underworld at some point, and becomes stonelike. He gets forgiven, only to abduct Hypolytta, an Amazon queen, who goes with him to Athens and gives him a son Hyppolyte. When he later takes Phaedra for his wife, she kills herself and is revenged in a way, when Phaedra falls madly in love with Hypolyte, who is a pure young man and refuses her. She accuses him of rape, making Theseus kill his own son, and she commits suicide over it. But Theseus remains a hero… oen could argue that Ancient Greek was quite a spathic society to begin with: women were but tools to get offspring and who were isolated and locked away, totally meaningless for Greek society in any other way.

Those are some of the movies, books and myths the past months where I thought…. hmmm, very spathic characters.

Ox Drover

Darwin’s mom,

There is a thread here about spaths in the movies….you might enjoy that.

Most of the Greek and Roman mythology and much of the fairy tales of the British, and other myths and early stories are about the S-pathic behavior of some character and how they victimize someone who is innocent, or someone who gets sucked into doing something they otherwise wouldn’t have done. I think they have been with us since we lived in caves and dressed in skins.


Actor’s get paid to lie, to pretend to be someone they aren’t. Early in our relationship the xbf told me that so and so had told him he would make a great actor. It’s no wonder all the hollywood trash go through marriages like I go through a loaf of bread.

Ox Drover

Good point, Hens….I think being a “good actor” may require a bit of narcissism as well as the ability to “lie well.”


Great article Donna. That is one I can relate to since I am into the arts a lot and I never really thought about the spaths in opera. I gotta say though that Carmen was very fun for me to sing though-because she is so unlike me. My friends and family would be amused when I did Habanera because they look at who I am and how Carmen is totally not like me at all. It’s kind of fun for us performers to do characters that they wouldn’t relate to in real life. Carmen was actually very challenging for me at first because my voice teacher told me that I needed to pretend to be the slut and I don’t even know how to flirt.



‘This is what inspired me to change all my contact information today. For good. There is NO HOPE HERE.’


OXy, you mentioned that thread before, and I searched for it, but couldn’t find it…. Any help is appreciated!


Phantom of the opera……





I LOVE the music from Phantom….

I remember Spath went out with a visiting friend…..he stayed out all night and NEVER came home.
(after me being up all night waiting for him and worrying about his safety)….he strolls in at 8am.

I was soooo pissed…..and when the kids got up, we had a morning of culture and dancing on the wood floors…..we put on hard heeled shoes and CRANKED Phantom…..over and over and over as we danced and sang away right above the bedroom where spath went right to bed.

Still Crank Phantom and sing at the top of my lungs! (Alone these days….) 🙂


I do agree wholeheartedly with the article, Donna. Psychopaths have been with us since the dawn of humanity. And a number of storytellers—novelists, playwrights and others—have been sufficiently perceptive to draw authentic and detailed character portraits of these miscreants in their artistic creations.

The only trouble I have is that it’s hard for me to enter into a serious discussion of Carmen without dissolving spontaneously into laughter. That’s because I can never think of the opera without remembering the infamous “program notes” in English (of a sort) allegedly handed out at a performance of the work by the Genoa Opera Company in 1981. They read as follows:


ACT ONE: Carmen, a cigarmakeress from a tobago factory loves Don Jose of the mounting guard. Carmen takes a flower from her corsets and lances it to Don Jose. (Duet: “Talk me of my mother.”) There was noise inside the tobago factory and revolting cigarmakeresses burst onto the stage. Carmen is arrested and Don Jose is ordered to mounting guard on her but she subduces him and lets her escape.

ACT TWO: The Tavern. Carmen sings (Aria: “The sistrums tinkling.”) Enter two smugglers (“Ho, we have in mind a business.”) Enter Escamillio, a Balls fighter. Carmen refuses to penetrate because Don Jose has liberated her from prison. He just now arrives. (Aria: “Slop here who comes.”) But here are the bugles singing his retreat. Don Jose will leave and draws his sword. Called by Carmen’s shrieks the two smugglers interfere with her. Jose is bound to dessert. Final Chorus: “Opening Sky Wandering Life.”

ACT THREE: A rocky landscape. Smugglers chatter. Carmen sees her death in the cards. Don Jose makes a date with her for the next Balls fight.

ACT FOUR: A Place in Seville. Procession of Ball-fighters. The roaring of Balls is heard in the arena. Escamillio enters (Aria and chorus: “Toreador, Toreador, All hail the Balls of a toreador.”) Enter Don Jose (Aria: “I besmooch you.”) Carmen repels him. She wants to join with Escamillio now chaired by the crowd. Don Jose stabbs her. (Aria: “Oh, rupture, rupture.”) He sings: “Oh, my subductive Carmen.”

Ox Drover


ROTFLMAO!!!! Yea for the BALLS!!! I love ball fighters! They are sooooo manly! I love to subduce the balls fighters! LOL ROTFLMAO

Thanks for the laugh, i needed one tonight, Red!


You’re welcome, Oxy! 🙂

super chic


Ball fighters!! hhahahahaahahaaa
what a scream, thanks for the laugh!


Ok, late to this party, but LOVED this: “Toreador, Toreador, All hail the Balls of a toreador.”

Unfortunately, I can actually picture some people who would say this…

Ox Drover

STILL LAUGHING TODAY!!!!! You know I think I’ll keep this thread in my “favorites” for those days that I REALLY REALLLLLLY NEED A LAUGH! Like today!


I’m not so good with the jokes, but assuming that if this is the kind of day where you need a laugh, a hug would also come in handy…


I would love to see a list of the movies also, but cannot find that thread. Would you consider Scarlett of Gone with the Wind Fame a spath?

Ox Drover


She was definitely HIGH IN P TRAITS and very manipulative. Very narcissistic as well, so yea, she was pretty nasty. There are “levels” of psychopaths though, and some are more violent than others, and some more toxic than others, but NONE of them are someone you would want a relation-shit with.

I haven’t been able to pull that thread up either….I’ll check under SOCIOPATHS IN THE MEDIA….MAYBE can find it there. I’ll post it if I find it.



Yes, Cleckley actually writes about Scarlett being a psychopath (the term he uses) in “The Mask of Sanity.” So good observation on your part!


And here’s an excerpt, in case anyone is interested (some interesting observations, I think)

“Scarlett O’Hara, in my opinion, is a very convincing figure and really shows some of the emotional impoverishment described here in the patients presented as partial
psychopaths. Her incapacity for a true commitment in love is apparently unmodifiable; her egocentricity is basic. She seems to be without means of understanding the strong
emotions in those about her or of having adequate awareness of what makes them act when they act in accordance with principles they value. Unlike the complete
psychopath, she successfully pursues ends that lead to her material well-being and she avoids putting herself in positions of obvious folly and shame. In her, however, we
sense an inward hollowness and a serious lack of insight.”

“An interesting feature of Gone With the Wind and one that illuminates an important distinguishing characteristic of the psychopath can be found in a comparison between Scarlett O’Hara and Captain Rhett Butler. Although the captain’s conduct is often at variance with most ethical standards, although he evades joining wholeheartedly
in the war effort and even seeks to gain personal profi through complications of the war, he can hardly fail to give readers the impression of a man warmly and deeply
human. If his objective misdemeanors and other bits of wrongdoing are added up and balanced against Scarlett’s actions in the book, it is possible that his score would be
technically worse and that he would be more liable to legal action and social censure. Scarlett, as a matter of fact, is kind in the shallower ranges of feeling, rather consistently considerate about all matters except the most vital. The real contrast becomes clear when fundamental personal issues are at stake. Here Captain Butler’s nuclear integrity and his valid reactions of love and compassion are communicated not
so much by narration and exposition or by what he directly says as in small reflections of his essential personality that cumulatively reveal him. It might be argued that of the two, Scarlett, as depicted in the novel, is on the whole a more conforming person, one who can better avoid conduct which will bring about social retaliation. Without attempting a judgment based on ethical absolutes, which is not the province of this book, a significant contrast can be shown between what appears to be the inmost core of each. As indicated already, the fictional Scarlett
O’Hara would be a poor representative of the clinical psychopath, but limitations in her
personality so effectively brought out in the novel seem closely related in quality to the
more disabling deficit that I believe is fundamental in the enigmatic disorder.”


Also – for what it’s worth – notice how in the first paragraph Cleckley makes the distinction between a “full” and a “partial” psychopath based on “successfully pursuing one’s material well-being and not putting oneself into positions of obvious shame and folly.” We have discussed this at length already, so I won’t go into it here. Just to say that our distinction of “high functioning” verses “low functioning” seems to me a much better way of putting it than, “full” verses “partial.”

Ox Drover


I think your division of “high” vs. “low” functioning is better than Cleckley’s “full” and “partial” as well. Just as Dr. Baron-Cohen points out, even Empathy is on the Bell Curve with most people being in the “middle” and only a few at either of the ends…but whether they are “high” or “low” functioning doesn’t I think necessarily mean that they are or are not “criminal.” Look at that Canadian guy who was the top officer at their Airforce base—and he was breaking into people’s houses and stealing underwear at first, then progressed to rape and murder. He was “high functioning,” but at the SAME TIME he was also CRIMINAL and VIOLENT. I think how “highly functional” they are is an independent variable from VIOLENT or CRIMINAL….look at Bernie Madoff as an example. He was criminal, but not violent, and he was highly functioning but totally selfish and narcissistic and very low on empathy for his victims.



Yes, and as most of us know, the greatest betrayals often have nothing to do with technical “law breaking.”

I’m probably biased from my own experience, but I think I prefer the “old school” psychopaths who can’t hold down jobs, drink themselves into a maudlin stopor, beat their wives, rage at their loved ones – and then end up falling asleep (right after wetting their pants!) in a field somewhere. Because at least those F-ups have the decency not to try and hide it! But the Scarlett Oharas, Bill Clintons, and Bernie Madoffs of the world just think they’re so superior! – because while they have the identical soul as the guy sleeping in the field, they hide it beneath the “Slick Willie” facade, or behind the charming mask of “poor Ms. Scarlett.”

Ox Drover

Well, Constantine, at least the drunken bums are generally more identifiable than the “Slick willies” of this world who pose in a high dollar suit of clothes and donate to the opera. Like Bernie Madoff who was donating STOLEN money. LOL

My egg donor would not score very high on the PCL-R so would not qualify as A psychopath on Hare’s list…but she is very much like “M’s Scarlett” in that she manipulates and hides behind the mask of the socially acceptable. Manipulative, controlling, passive-aggressive, etc. TOXIC to the max. Her brother was finally outed in the community and known for the wife-beating nasty drunk that he was…but the egg donor still pulls the wool over people’s eyes and hides behind her mask. Doesn’t change the TRUTH, but is frustrating at times.


the guys sleeping in the field, wouldn’t qualify as a psychopath in my book. There can be all kinds of reasons why they behave that way. Rage issues, entitlement issues, narcissism, ignorance are all possibilities. The book, “Why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry men”, goes into it a bit. Some of them are manipulitive and can go from sweet to sour. Maybe the term anti-social or sociopath could fit.

I reserve the term psychopath for those who wear an impeccable mask while deep down having no soul. These are the ones whom nobody would suspect of being anything less than saintly, a really good person, the best friend you could ever have, and of course MY SOULMATE.



Why are you shoveling gravel???

Yes, I’m with you about parents being jealous of their children.
It took me forever – a good 20 years – to realize that’s why my mother treated me so badly.

I picked her up from the airport in my city one day. She had some man with her. She introduced me, saying, with sarcasm, “this is my SUCCESSFUL daughter who EARNS THE BIG BUCKS”. If you just read the language, it sounds like a compliment, but it was delivered with a sneer.

I was shocked, but that day brought clarity to me.


I scored 3 yards for $20 on craigslist and it’s going into my concrete slab in the shop. Actually I realized a lot of it needs to go UNDER the slab because there isn’t enough gravel in there so my slab is 5 inches thick and costing me too much. By putting more gravel down first, my slab can be 4 inches and somewhat easier and cheaper to pour.

Your mother sounds extremely shallow. Who the hell introduces her daughter by her income? WTF? She is equating who you are with how much you earn. Boy you better never stop earning or you’ll cease to exist in her eyes!



Good for you! A score!

My mother is insanely shallow, but I never recognized it until after I got educated here. My grandmother recently died. My mom showed no remorse. She didn’t cry. Instead, she used the opportunity to deliver a well rehearsed speech and command everybody’s attention at the service. She waited for applause.

It is engrained to me to surround myself with N’s and Ps.


My current boss is a N and triggers me every day.

Either I am going to get healthy pushing back every day living in an inherently unealthy work environment , or I gotta get a new job.



it’s a very personal decision whether you decide to find a different environment to earn a living. For me, I don’t mind being supply if I’m getting PAID to be supply. It would probably be healthier though to work somewhere that values each employee as a fellow human being rather than as an asset or resource.

My BF can’t stand the words “Human Resources”, he finds them offensive and perhaps, dehumanizing.


callmeathena – i remember how gleeful my dad was about his best friend’s daughter’s salary (she is a pharmaceutical rep – on of the few inherently evil professions in my opinion). I was appalled.

this was at a time when i had started my own business, working really hard, taking care of his ill wife….and having to keep all my stock outside under a tarp because there wasn’t room in the 4500 sq ft house, the double car garage or the 1500 sq ft barn.




The “drunk guy sleeping in the field” was simply a reference to the type that is described over and over in “The Mask of Sanity” – and likewise in Hare’s writings. (Hence I refer to them as the “Cleckley/Hare f*ck ups”!)

But I do agree with you as far as the “mask wearing,” high functioners go. Absolutely. At the same time, I’m not willing to say that the buffoon/wife beater/small time con ISN’T a psychopath. I think he’s simply a different KIND of psychopath. (For that matter, he is the MORE GENERALLY RECOGNIZED kind.) What you are saying about the chameleon P who fits in perfectly, gets the “Mother of the Year Award,” etc., is a healthy corrective to the excessive focus on the other, social outcast type. (And as far as that is concerned, you are preaching to the choir!) Nevertheless, I think it’s an overly nice distinction to say that a P who doesn’t wear a convincing mask is therefore not a P; because I think it’s more than possible to have Ps of BOTH types.


Sky, For a long time I had N bosses and I was paid to provide supply, and I didn’t realize it. And then I had a SPATH experience. So now I learned my lesson, and I have a N boss again, and I’m smarter, so it triggers me every day. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to be able to RECOVER FROM MY SPATH and actually get healthy after decades of disfunction while operating under yet another N. I am thinking about it. I’ve beeen lucky enough to get calls from recuiters, I have two more interviews next week. It is a big decision, always is. I take my career seriously.


Your dad was gleeful over her salary? Weird. What is the story about the stock? I’m not following that piece. Was your dad intentionally keeping you down?



Thanks for the comments, I am still learning.

My dad, although he does have feelings, is a bit emotionally shallow. I am not really sure what to think about him. He was faithful, a good breadwinner, and did protect his family.

However, I do know it really hurt my feelings, when, just five months ago, as his first child to go to college (I am 49), and getting straight A’s, I asked him what he thought about me going back to school.

I am in the human services field. My dad told me I was wasting my time because I would not make enough money. I thought I was doing really good even going back at this age, and here he is cutting me down again that what I am doing is not enough.

I know some of my issues come from a dad that was emotionally absent and not able to celebrate my B’s when I was a small child but instead asked me why they weren’t A’s.

Ox Drover

Dear Stillinshock,

Many of us have issues of FOO (family of origin) and parents that may not have been “abusive” in the traditional sense of beating or starving, but didn’t nurture us or provide the emotional support that we needed as children.

Congratulations on going back to school, and congratulations on your A’s….and BTW you ARE good enough, and you know, I think it is WONDERFUL that you are going back to school, not just to make money but for YOU!


Still in shock,
you must be my long lost sister. ((hugs))
My dad is an N and treated me the same way.
My mom is a P and when I came home with ANY grades, she would ask me about how other people in my class did. She knew their names and even if they weren’t my friends, she would ask me about their report cards. puke.

In a way, I wish that I had not fought back against my parents and allowed them to beat me for as long as they wished. Because I fought back, they changed their tactics. Instead of raging at me, they love bombed me and did all their stabbing in my back. I didn’t realize how many knives I had in there until I was 43.

If I had allowed them to think they were beating and controlling me, they wouldn’t have kept up such perfect masks. The mind fuck was so much worse than any beating.


1. In reading the article and some of the comments, it struck me that my own instigating event happened as the result of an abusively aggressive dog aka Psycho Dogg!!! Psycho Dogg belonged to a housemate”who had two dogs” one of which was obnoxious, out of control, abusive. The housemate always had an in your face excuse for this obnoxious, totally out of control dog”who jumped up my clothes and jumped up on chairs at the table and slobbered in my meals. That dog never gave up, watching closely to pounce into his next “assignment”. I did finally research dog behavior and training. I began to stop facing the dog at all and that worked a lot of the time. The dog seemed to have a neurological disorder and a personality disorder. Long story short”when my housemate went away for a couple weeks and the dogs were staying elsewhere, I became obsessed with Psycho Dogg. I found myself planning all sorts of ways to “do away” with the dog. This lasted for about a week. These plans were all consuming. It was as if a demon had taken charge of my thoughts and feelings. It actually became very painful to experience. I felt ashamed yet compelled to move forward with fantasies about the dog’s demise. My thoughts jumped from plan to plan to plan about how I would accomplish the dog’s “end”. Thankfully, I got sidetracked with healthier thoughts and feelings. Before the housemate returned, I had moved on. But today I know that I allowed myself to get pushed over the edge by that personality disordered Psycho Dogg. It is a bit scarey to think about today ”“ the result of reading that article brought everything to the forefront – because typically these kinds of thoughts aren’t something I dwell on. Today I can see some humor in my over reaction. But it’s just one more example of what can happen when I allow myself to get sucked in by the rest of the sociopaths/psychopaths that have crossed my path over the past 15 years or so. They know how to push your buttons and are ruthless about it. It requires no effort for them because it’s their natural state of being. Nothing can stop them”except being annihilated. This is why no contact is the most effective way to deal with them.


Thank you, Ox Drover. I do feel pretty good about school. I actually love it and I am excited about the field I am going into.
skylar… HI sis! 🙂 And I’m sorry to hear about the mind games that were played on you, that is absolutely worse than the beatings….My mom was actually pretty nurturing when I was little. It pretty much ended though when I hit puberty. Fun was over! I think the FOO comes from living with a self-made martyr and an emotionally absent Drill Sergeant.

I also know that the reason I choose emotionally absent men is because I am looking for the love I needed from my dad (yeah, I’ve done some therapy….)

I haven’t quite figured how to break that cycle yet, but I am working on it.

Ox Drover

Stillinshock, I think it takes us a long time to break the cycles, and each time we get stronger in one area, we are forced to confront another area in which we had challenges…but as we “peel the onion” of our dysfunction, each layer we peel gives us another chance to improve our lives and weed out the problems. (sorry about the mixed metaphors! LOL) None of these problems goes way on their own, we have to confront them and deal with them, clean up the “mess” as it were. If we keep on working though, each day our internal “rooms” become more orderly and peaceful, so just keep on keeping on! One day you can change your screen name to NOT IN SHOCK! (((hugs)))

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