They Just Can’t Understand – Why It’s So Hard To Explain The Truth To Others

This week’s post is based on recent experiences and inspired by this comment posted on a previous article —  “the eyes see only what the mind knows” (thank you ”˜woundlicker’). It’s the on-going subject about how on earth we can open other peoples’ eyes about the psychopaths who live and breathe among us. My recent experiences have highlighted, yet again, how tricky it is for people to get their head around this kind of information — let alone accept that they have been duped!

I often think back to the early days after I discovered the truth about my ex, and how puzzling I found it when people just didn’t seem to believe me when I told them what had happened. No matter how many reams of black and white evidence I had to support my claims, no matter how many times I repeated the story, and no matter how many ways I explained how a psychopath works (based on what I learned after the event) they would still ask questions that left me open-mouthed and speechless. “But surely he must be feeling absolutely terrible, and he must be missing you so much now — do you think there might be a chance you will get back together?”

I remember every time a question or statement like that was made — in all innocence, of course, because they were only trying to understand the unthinkable truth — I felt the emotional blows to my chest and my stomach as if they were real. Over and over, the shame and guilt would be relived as people screwed up their faces trying to make sense of what I knew to be the truth “but surely, Mel, a bright and intelligent person like you, surely you must have known something was going on?”  “How can anyone tell so many lies for so long — it must have been exhausting!”  Many times I felt like screaming out loud”¦ although on most occasions I decided that calm responses would serve me better in the long run! Yes, I am bright and intelligent (although there were times I began to wonder whether perhaps I might have been better understood had I been deemed slow and dim-witted!) and yes, lying is exhausting for the likes of normal people. But as everyone here knows, we’re not dealing with a ‘normal person’ — these people simply don’t tick the way we do!

We’re NOT All The Same!

As is often discussed here on this site, we don’t know what we don’t know”¦ and the fact is, in order to learn new things, people need to find something — anything — to connect with something they already know. It’s like finding a foundation stone, or a solid piece of ground from which to start”¦. The difficulty with explaining the psychopath, though, is that while they may look like us and often come across better than many normal people, that is where the likeness ends. So people who are doing their best to understand, automatically link the appearance of a normal person with what they know to be the behaviours of a normal person — specifically themselves, or people they know. And unless someone has already been targeted by a psychopath, the idea that such ”˜creatures’ exist and influence others in such a negative way is often pooh-poohed as being far fetched. As if such a notion is as ridiculous as early childhood fears about bogeymen and monsters under the bed.

I remember many times feeling certain that well-meaning people were quietly calling my own sanity in to question “well, you’ve been through an awful lot — perhaps you’re over-reacting a bit? It’s understandable, of course”¦ I’d do the same”¦ but perhaps, you know, it’s not as bad as you think”¦?” I knew at the time that they meant no harm. That their kind eyes and hugs were meant to reassure me”¦ but each time I heard words like that, it would be another kick in the teeth and I’d shut up and hide myself away even further — becoming more and more determined, absolutely resolutely and passionately determined, that some day I’d tell every detail of my story so that I would be heard and believed. Certain that in doing so, not only would I vindicate myself, but that my actions would also provide others with a platform to identify with and make sense of their own experiences. I’m coming to realize, though, that this is just the start.

The Parasitic Predator

In my professional career, I work in the field of leadership development. This means that I am regularly exposed to top-level directors and managers within large organizations. According to Robert Hare and Paul Babiak’s recent study of more than 200 executives, nearly 4% scored at or above the traditional cut-off for psychopathy. Dr Babiak uses the phrase ”˜parasitic predator’ to describe corporate psychopaths, saying “They are parasitic in that they are looking for a host to support them. A big company is an easy place in which to hide” Couple that with the fact that many leadership skills can arguably be translated in to psychopathic traits, it makes even more sense that this level of professionals could indeed include around four times the number of psychopaths than research suggests we should expect to find in every day life. In the corporate world where profit is king and ruthless decision-making can be viewed as a positive if not necessary attribute for successful leaders, it makes perfect sense to me that psychopaths should be attracted to this arena.

It also makes perfect sense to me that, with an increasing awareness about psychopathy thanks to the work of people like Dr Robert Hare, and the growing audiences on sites like Lovefraud and I Am Fishead, people are finally starting to wake up and smell the coffee. Not as much as I’m sure most of us here would like — but it’s a start. Take for example the scathing resignation letter by Greg Smith, the executive who worked for nearly 12 years at Goldman Sachs. Whatever the gentleman’s reasons for writing the letter, he clearly stated the existence of unethical, immoral and callous tactics that he alleges were used by employees of the firm. Regardless of where the ”˜blame’ lies, I for one am pleased that truths like these are being aired — allowing people more opportunities to vote with their feet, and also to become curious as to what is meant by a bad or ”˜toxic’ culture. Along the old adage that no publicity is bad publicity, I buy into the idea that the more these issues are talked about, the more people can choose to find out more — and that, surely, can only be a good thing.

Because it’s a tough job getting people in senior positions to understand and accept exactly how damaging continuing actions of some of their peers can be — to the staff, to the culture and ultimately to the business. I came across a specific case last year, where it was perfectly clear to me that one particular senior person was creating havoc within her department. She was one of those people who knew all the right things to say and could turn on the charm at any given moment. Her bosses adored her, believing her to be the best thing since sliced bread, and her peers admired her business knowledge (marveling at her experience and buying her rather off-the-wall strategy for the business). Her team, though, was terrified of her. When I asked them on a confidential one-to-one basis how they would describe the culture, their eyes would dart around the room, they’d shift in their seats and they’d ask me how confidential their answers were going to be kept. After a great deal of reassurances, I got the truth — both barrels. As these people talked, words such as “fear-based” “abusive” “bullying” and “controlling” came out time and time again.

That, in my opinion, was bad enough. But when the performance of this particular department was actually scrutinized for factual proof of performance, it turned out that the results had plummeted since this lady had taken over — despite her consistent and eloquent affirmations that her plan was working! I found it baffling to understand how she was able to maintain her position — and what was stopping her peers and her immediate bosses from seeing through her performance. Until, that is, I started talking with them and really hearing what they were saying.

I Thought It Was Me!

Yes, they’d heard the rumours and had of course realised that the figures were not stacking up to the original plan. They also knew that it was difficult to stand up to this person in meetings, as she would shout people down and baffle them with long-winded justifications about what she was doing and why they need to stick with the plan.  The entire team, not just those who worked under this person, had learned to walk on eggshells around her. This had been going on for so long that many of them had simply given up any idea of questioning her tactics — because it had become just too draining and too much hard work. “And anyway” whispered one of her peers when the truth started to emerge “I thought it was just me! I thought I was the one being stupid! I thought that I just wasn’t bright enough to understand the plan!”

It was a Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment for me. Well of course people are going to find it hard to stand up to people who are highly likely psychopathic — in exactly the same way it was difficult for me to break free, or even realize what was happening. Even after the truth became clear, there has still been (and continues to be) a long journey back to health and self-respect. So I can fully appreciate that it may seem the ”˜easier’ route to just let things continue, particularly in the workplace where (in many cases) you can leave it all behind when you leave at the end of the day”¦ better the devil you know eh?

Well no actually. The devil you know is certainly not the best option in my opinion. Because if we don’t stand up and do something when something is clearly wrong, well then we’re giving the message that this kind of behaviour and culture is ok. It’s in these kind of places that the good people tend to walk away when they realize what’s happening. These are the kind of places where the workforce that is left is emotionally shut down and just there to get through the day rather than being there to develop enthusiasm and passion for the business.

But you know what I’m realising? I’m realising that when people begin to understand and consciously embrace positive team and leadership behaviours, the ”˜devil you know’ is suddenly left out on their own — because they can no longer thrive or manipulate when their peers and bosses are learning about honest and open communication. When the team trust each other enough to say “no” whenever inappropriate behaviour creeps back in. When they are confident enough to ask each other to explain the detail when something is not clear. With those behaviours becoming second nature, the psychopath’s manipulation and mind-games are suddenly ineffective — because fear is replaced with trust, silence with questions, and uncertainty with passion.

And I’m learning that there is no need to point the finger or even use the word psychopath — which, in a corporate environment can create some pretty big responses. No. The fact is, the more we as ”˜normal’ people learn to step up and say “yes” to the good stuff (the things we like, that are healthy, that enable us to grow as individuals and as a collective) and say “no” to the bad stuff (fear, control, manipulation and deliberately confusing word-smithing) the less psychopaths will be able to thrive among us.

And you know what? It only works 🙂


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50 Comments on "They Just Can’t Understand – Why It’s So Hard To Explain The Truth To Others"

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20years yours was there after I hit post. You are so correct. You have to own the emotions that are there. That is admit that they exist. Face them then as you say they sort of burn themselves out. There is also an nlp way of striping the emotions from the remembered event that is quick and easy to do. I’ll gladly post it if anyone wants it.

I get the connection with Stockholm Syndrome. I would have never known about that or compliant codependency or addiction to the drama/spath if not for everyone here on LF.

March was such a hard month because that’s got the most significany dates related to my experience with the ex spath and Lent always takes a toll on me so I felt worse than I had in a very long time. And I thought I was getting better. But also what I learned here recently is that I had issues I needed to face and that opened me up to getting involved with a sociopath in the first place. I’m just starting to delve into that part now and try to fix myself, insecurities, fears, self-loathing and all.

I honestly feel like I have made an enormous step forward for the first time in 3 nonspath years. I woke up today not hating myself for the first time since as well.

And I owe it all to you here, to your advice and thoughtfulness, your kindness in reaching out and to God for bringing me here to this community. I don’t feel alone anymore. Its truly wonderful!

God bless you all and many hugs. 🙂

Spoon I’d like to see that. I used rapid eye movement therapy to help me “strip the emotions from the event” AND it did. AMAZINGLY SO.

I’ll also put in a plug for EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) which you can do on yourself (learn how on the internet — you do not have to go to a practitioner or buy any books or take any classes — though you certainly can if you want to). It has brought amazing results for me.

I tried it without expecting results, because it just seemed very weird to me. But I had nothing to lose, and was in desperate pain. It definitely worked for me.

To remove the emotions from a remembered event.

The reason to do this is, it is not the event but the meaning we gave the event that we keeps us reliving the event. And what is causing it is the emotion(s) that we have attached to the event.

The higher the emotional state the harder it is to over come it intellectually. So in most cases the emotional state will always trump our rational thought process.

The simple explanation of the removal process is you are going to play the memory in reverse. This can also be used on the crap we say to ourselves. And any emotional state that is causing problems.

The steps.

1) Sit down and replay the event in your head. When you feel the emotions from the event reach over and pinch yourself, doesn’t matter where and hold it. It doesn’t have to be hard, just so that you feel it. What this does is anchor the emotional state.

2) Now let your mind go back in time to where the event happened. Now go past the event if the emotional state drops off then go back to the event and go to the next step.. If it doesn’t then continue going back in time till you hit the next event and check passed it. What we are looking for is where this emotion first started. But if you don’t get the first one it’s no big deal. If the emotional state shows back up just go kill it again.

Now that we have the problem event we want to Killing the emotions hooked it.

Pretend your setting in the projection room of a movie theater. There is a thick glass window and nothing can get to you. [you can let go of pinching yourself.] Now play the movie of the event backwards about double speed. When it ends, the screen goes blank. Play it again. Screen goes blank. Play it again faster. Each time it ends the screen goes blank. Now around the fourth time let the movie screen start sliding out and keep running the movie and just let it keep sliding until it disappears.

When it has disappeared step back into the event right before it happened and follow it back to the present then watch it continue on into the future. This will clear out any other events that use this emotional state in the past and in the future.

If you have trouble seeing the movie not a big deal. You know it is there. The effects will be the same.

If you have trouble finding the seed event. This is where you have followed it all through your past but you can still feel it out there beyond you. Simply turn your head toward the feeling. This one you will kill by turning your head through the feeling. You will feel the pressure of it like a bubble. With this one you’ll butt it up against your temple and then move your head until it is passed the other temple. For most left to right. And you will feel it as it passes from temple to temple. Do this repeatedly. Then when you can push it out and let it slide out just like the movie exercise.

The effects is you can still remember the event but you will not have the emotions. So no more need to relive it. Plus you’ll have a hole in your head. You may be more emotional, cry, angry etc.. Sleep can be messed up for a few nights. The bigger the emotional state that was killed the greater the effects, will be. And it can open up other things you have suppressed or forgotten about. This is a good thing. If it is in you then it will effect you until it is dealt with.

And each time you kill something. Smile that crap is no longer going to bother you. Tell yourself good job, way to go etc. Then bring on the next one. Because the sooner they are killed the sooner you can have your revenge. And that is to have a happy life.

The steps will shorten as you do this a few times to the point that you will no longer need to do the projector room you will just play the move backwards, letting it slide out of sight and follow it back to the present and let it move on out to the future.

Another pointer is any time you find one that you want to kill but you can’t do the exercise at that moment. Just anchor it with the pinch and with this one pinch hard but don’t bruise yourself. Now when you have the time pinch the same place and the emotional state will pop up and you can follow it back and kill it. Make sure that you pinch a place you will remember. Like squeeze the middle finger. In a sense your flipping off the emotional state.

Any questions just let me know.

There is also one they call the boyfriend destroyer it can be use to unhook the emotional state that is tied to him or her.


thanks… that sounds very helpful. I’m going to try it. 🙂 (thankfully, I don’t bruise easily, LOL)

Thank you for mentioning Annie Kaszina. I found her web site: awesome!
spoon: is this procedure NLP? Sounds similar to what I did in EMDR.

woundlicker: so good to hear your progress 🙂

I see my english sucks well really my editing. I missed erasing the first “we” part. I had “we keep reliving.”

The reason to do this is, it is not the event but the meaning we gave the event that we keeps us reliving the event. And what is causing it is the emotion(s) that we have attached to the event.

Like this one better:
The reason to do this is, it is not the event but the meaning we gave the event that traps us into reliving the event over and over. And what is causing it is the emotion(s) that we have attached to the event.

clair, I haven’t looked at EMDR might be the same. I learned this about 15 years ago when NLP was just starting off. With experience I’ve change it a little. I added the sending it out till it disappears. It can pop some times when it goes. I’ve never had it resurface when I’ve done what I call popped it.

The moving the head just came from finding ones I couldn’t locate. They seem to be off the time line and more of a main emotional state.

I’ve tried EFT but like mine better seems to do a cleaner job for me. Could just be that I’m use to it.

Annie Kaszina I thought had some good stuff. The 7 things o found for a friend of mine that need some structure. Can’t say anything about her books since I haven’t read them.

Here a couple of other good links to read.


And Empowerment Series #9 – THE POWER OF DISCIPLINE which is referenced in the first link.


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