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The answer: Why psychopaths do what they do

Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator."

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator.”

Perhaps the biggest question asked by people who have been targeted by psychopaths is, “Why?”

1. Why did he work so hard to win me, proclaiming his love and promising a beautiful future together, and then suddenly dump me?

2. Why does she intentionally scare, upset, demean and embarrass her own children?

3. Why does he lie about stupid things, even when he’d be better off telling the truth?

4. Why doesn’t she care that she’s hurting me?

I’m sure you have your own list of “why?” questions.

We try to make sense of the psychopath’s unfathomable behavior. We look for explanations that we can understand: Perhaps he was abused or felt abandoned as a child. Perhaps she has low self-esteem. Perhaps he’s under a lot of stress at work.

There must be a reason, we tell ourselves, because normal people just don’t act that way.

Here’s what you need to understand: Psychopaths are NOT NORMAL.

Please don’t respond with, “Well, duh.”

The degree to which these people are NOT NORMAL is truly astounding, and difficult to absorb. But it’s key to understanding the “why.”

Terminology

First, some explanation of terminology. Generally, when I write articles on Lovefraud, I refer to the disordered people we discuss here as “sociopaths.” I use that word as an umbrella term encompassing all people with personality disorders who live their lives by exploiting others. It covers several clinical diagnoses — psychopath, antisocial personality disorder, narcissist and borderline personality disorder.

For more explanation, read Psychopath/Sociopath.

Usually I don’t bother differentiating among the various disorders. The conditions overlap, and they’re all bad news for anyone who gets snagged by these exploiters. From the victim’s point of view, arguing over the terminology is like splitting hairs.

But sometimes the differences are important, and this article is one of those times.

Psychopaths cannot love

Psychopaths are NOT NORMAL because they are missing the traits that are essential to our humanity. According to Dr. Liane Leedom, psychopaths have no ability to love. They cannot truly care for another person, or put anyone’s interests ahead of their own.

Think about what that means. Think of all the things you’ve done out of love for another person  — your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends, your military buddies.

Now think about what it must be like to be someone for whom the motivation of love simply does not exist.

Psychopaths are like the “Terminator” characters from the movies. I’m referring to  the bad guys — Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie, the shape-shifter in the second movie. They can think, analyze, learn and evaluate. They can mimic human emotion. But they cannot love, and they have no conscience.

Their emptiness is frightening. Just like the emptiness of a psychopath.

Psychopathic motivation

So what motivates a psychopath? Why do they do what they do?

Dr. Lianne Leedom says psychopaths are motivated by three things:

  • Power
  • Control
  • Sex

That’s it.

So let’s look again at the questions from the beginning of this article, questions that you may have asked yourself:

1. Why did he work so hard to win me, proclaiming his love and promising a beautiful future together, and then suddenly dump me?

Despite what he said, it was never about love. He liked the power of seducing you, and the sex.

2. Why does she intentionally scare, upset, demean and embarrass her own children?

She feels no love for them. She only wants to control them.

3. Why does he lie about stupid things, even when he’d be better off telling the truth?

Lies change what you believe, which is a form of power. Some experts call it “duping delight.” Psychopaths like it.

4. Why doesn’t she care that she’s hurting me?

She has no ability to care about your emotional pain. But she does like the power of making you feel emotional pain.

Yes, it’s really that bad. Psychopaths feel no love. They are driven only by their desires for

  • Power
  • Control
  • Sex

Lovefraud originally posted this article on August 11, 2014.

 


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9 Comments on "The answer: Why psychopaths do what they do"

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Why does a sociopath try to win you over then dump you later. Well I can explain, everything to a sociopath is like a game. They love to play games, they play people friends, family, coworkers, and anyone just for the sake of the game. Playing people with their games is how they think and act. As soon as your on to them and start to figure out their games, lies, and deceit, they start to loose interest in the game then they will run and discard you. They start to leave when they realize that they got caught and game is over then they will find new targets. My old friend of mine was a spath and he would always say, “Let the games begin”.

And the one I knew used to say, “You think this is some kind of game?”.

My question is why must you stigmatize people with mental illness by putting all personality disorders under one big umbrella, insinuating they’re all basically the same? Especially people with borderline.

The difference between NPD/sociopathy and BPD is that people with NPD and anti social PD LACK insight. People with BPD are able to understand that some of the things they do might hurt others, and then they feel horrible about it. I know countless people with BPD and i cannot tell you how many times they get upset with THEMSELVES rather than someone else because they KNOW there is something wrong with them. They have no place in a category with sociopaths and narcisissits. It makes me wonder how many people with BPD you’ve actually met and have gotten to know.

I have narcissists in my immediate family and they can seriously do severe damage and THEY lack the capability to look inward. Ive also had a personal experience with a sociopath. He thought there was nothing wrong with him. But, borderlines are not the same and i do not think it is fair to put them in the same box, as many of them KNOW their behavior can be hurtful. It is painful to watch.

I do agree that sociopaths get off on power, sex, and control, though. I might even say the same for most narcissists. Not for BPD though. Also remember, every person with an illness has it on a spectrum. This is the second time ive seen an article on this page heavily stigmatizing people.

Sleepyleaf
Ever been made “black” by a Borderline who previously regarded you as “white?” That is their pattern, you are on the Borderline’s side “against the outside evil world”… until you aren’t. Then YOU are the “enemy.” And a new supplier is the “friend.”

From the victim’s perspective, you lose and you are devalued, you are not treated with basic human decency regardless of whether the partner is borderline, sociopath, or psychopath.

truthteller~ VERY WELL SAID. When we agree.. we are on their side… when we disagree….. we are nothing at all to them. So confusing and frustrating.

I had a Narcissist mother….. a sociopath for a husband….. and there are others in my family as well….. it makes ones head spin and for YEARS…. I wondered why and I tried to figure it all out.

I can say that I am finally done trying to understand it all… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make my head spin when I have a moment of remembering all the chaos and the drama…..

it is so sad, so damaging and so toxic. I am glad to be rid of it but no doubt… I have recovery work and healing that will likely live on for the rest of my life on some level… just grateful to be away from it all finally.

Have a family member who I think is a sociopath, and one thing I notice is he “triangulates” a lot, more simply put, he plays one person against another. He also bullies his wife into not speaking to me. She is deathly afraid of him. Call him weekly, and sometimes he’s friendly, and sometimes he’s not. Have no idea what mood he will be in. When he attacks me, I gently put the phone down. Don’t slam it down, as then they know they have gotten under your skin. Will not call him until he calls me, and I will wait until at least a month. Thank God I have Caller I.D. on my TV!

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