When hope becomes malignant

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

What is hope? The word “hope” means a kind of “expectation of obtainment” and an emotional state of optimism, a trusting that what we want is going to come true. Here is how Wikipedia defines hope:

Hope is the emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”. Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”. In the English language the word can be used as either a noun or a verb, although hope as a concept has a similar meaning in either use.

And here is how Webster’s dictionary defines hope:

intransitive verb:
1: to cherish a desire with anticipation <hopes for a promotion>
2 archaic : trust

transitive verb
1: to desire with expectation of obtainment
2: to expect with confidence : trust

So we work because we hope and trust that we will get paid on Friday. We work hard in school to get good grades because we hope our work will pay off with a degree that we trust will allow us to get a better job and make more money. We are nice to others and we hope they will be nice back to us. We teach our children honesty and kindness because we hope they will grow up to be happy successful adults. We do lots of things because we hope and trust that those actions will result in good results.

However, there are times we hope and trust and work hard, but those good results do not materialize. Sometimes no matter what we do, or how much we hope, there is no possibility that what we want to happen is actually going to happen. It is at that point that we must accept the reality that our hopes are in vain. The doctor gives you or a loved one a diagnosis that there a limited time to live. What are the choices? To accept the diagnosis and get affairs in order, or do like Steve McQueen did and look all over the world for some quack who promises a “cure” to your terminal disease.

Webster defines another, less hopeful aspect of “hope” as:

hope against hope
: to hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment

Malignant hope

Many times it seems that in our relationships with psychopaths we seem to hold on to that “hope against hope” that the relationship will improve. We try first one thing and then another and the relationship does not improve, but we hold on tenaciously to that “hope against hope,” which I call “malignant hope.”

Why “malignant hope”? Well, being a former medical professional, I like those 50 cent words that medicine uses, but this particular 50 cent word is pretty well understood by the general public. “Malignant” means “toxic” or “cancerous,” and that is exactly what “hope against hope” is—it is malignant like a cancer, and it metastasizes to every part of the body and soul. It spreads like a cancer and it destroys like a cancer because it forever keeps our expectations from being met, yet we “keep on trying” because of that malignant hope.

Each time we “hope for” something and it fails to materialize we are disappointed in proportion to how much “hope” we had, and how important the result is.

When I buy a lotto ticket I know the odds are above 13 million to one that I will win. Of course I “hope” to win, but I don’t really “expect” to win ”¦ so I don’t base my payment of next month’s rent on me winning. If I don’t win, I am not devastated. I really didn’t have MUCH hope that I would win.

However, let’s take a ridiculous example, and say I bought a lotto and had a great deal of false hope, malignant hope, that I would win, even with the odds being against me. I just KNEW FOR SURE that my hope against hope was going to come true.  I knew I would have enough money to buy a house, a new car, a boat, and to live the life I wanted to live. I had never won before, but I knew I would win this time because I wanted it so badly. I needed it. When I watched the lotto drawing I just knew I would win. What happens when I fail to win? My hopes and my dreams are shattered, my entire life shatters before me, because I based everything I wanted on something that had little if any chance of happening. My hope of winning the lotto had become a malignant hope.

Psychopaths and malignant hope

Unfortunately, there are times when our hopes do become malignant hopes. When we hope against hope that a psychopath will change, will stop lying to us, stop cheating on us, bring their paycheck home. It never happens, yet we keep hoping it will.

People said to me concerning my son, Patrick, “he’s your son, you can’t give up hope,” or “where there is life, there is hope.” Those people were well meaning I am sure, but what they were telling me to do was to hold on to that malignant hope. I held on to it long enough, I saw over and over that he was not going to change, yet I kept hoping that he would. I saw proof that he had not changed over and over. Yet I continued to hope. Each time I was shown evidence that he had not changed in how he behaved, I was wounded again.

Someone gave me a sign once and I hung it on my wall, little realizing just how prophetic it would become. The sign said, “I feel so much better since I gave up hope.”

Actually I DO feel better since I gave up the malignant hope that my son would repent of his crimes, that he would change his attitude of entitlement.

It was only when I gave up that malignant hope that I ceased to be wounded and re-wounded by my son and the other people I had hoped would reciprocate my love and caring for them. I quit hoping they would change. It didn’t happen. It isn’t going to happen. I no longer hope or anticipate it will happen. I gave up the malignant hopes that I would win the “psychopathic lotto,” and the 13 million to one odds are not likely to be overcome just because I hope so much that they would be. People buy tickets and say, “Well, someone has to win, it could be me.” Well, I am no longer wasting my money or my hope on either the state lotto or the psychopathic lotto of malignant hope.

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tobehappy: having a troubled daughter, myself, her, at the very tender age of 12…no less…all I could do was ‘let go’ but I did so in a ‘protective environment’ so to speak.

to make a long story short, she went to school one day and asked me for money to buy a pack of cigarettes. i told her no. that i was not giving my children money to smoke and harm themselves with. well, she went to school and made a big stink, just spitefully, because i wouldn’t support her smoking habit. she went to the principal, to her counselor, etc., and made up these wild accusations of me being that ugly mother you see on crime t.v. shows when that just was not the case.

they ended up putting her at the children’s shelter, instead of her coming home, which i was very impressed with, them keeping such a close watch over the situation, truly. instead of her coming home after school, on the school bus, SHE ended up at the children’s shelter and “I” had a knock on my door from the police, saying they had a warrant for my arrest for child abuse. hahahahahaha THUS started a long and drawn out process of getting my daughter back.

she went through every single ‘foster home’ in our county at the time and me, being quite ostracized, a working mother, with a child acting up like this and, a working mother in the legal system, no less!!! every single ‘foster home’ she was in returned her to the court. the court took her out of my care because they felt i was being too strict and too harsh on her. they believed every word she said about me and none of it was true. well, after she exhausted the foster homes, and after submitting her to numerous psychological evaluations, it was determined that there was NOTHING wrong with her, whatsoever, that she was just being a trouble maker…so the next step was she was going to be sent to a very strict Catholic girls reformatory. 🙂

WHEN she found THAT out, she escaped the children’s shelter and ran home to me, illegally, mind you, begging me to rescue her and save her from the Catholic girls reformatory. Needless to say, her and I spent most of the night together talking and I had to return her to the shelter, or I would have been in trouble myself, at this point…

to get to the end: the court summoned me back to court and they requested I take my daughter back because they think they have made a grave mistake and ‘error’ in judgment. I told THEM that since she was of such a young age, and they wanted to hold me legally responsible for every rotten trick she was pulling, that I wasn’t really in a huge hurry TO take her back but that I would under one condition…that condition being that they emancipate her and they completely make her aware and informed of her responsibilities and her rights and MY lack of responsibility for her any longer. As soon as I did THAT, the whole roadshow and story completely changed. COMPLETELY.

I am sorry for you tobehappy, that you are coming through this. You and your daughter are going to be alright. It just takes time and patience. It takes perseverance and lots and lots of prayers. I am happy to report to you that after all of the ‘troubles’ my daughter had ‘adjusting’ to life, she is one of the most wonderful women, mothers and people that exist on the planet! She is everything I had ever hoped she would be and beautiful too! 🙂

I would suggest that yes, YOU go to counseling, even if she doesn’t want to go. It will help ‘stealth’ you for the journey ahead. DO take care of yourself physically and emotionally. She will come back to you, tobehappy, sooner or later. They always do. Once I learned to see my daughter for the ‘adult’ she really became, at such an early age, she began to see ME as the irreplaceable, loving mother I truly was being to her. She is grown now and a mother herself and we often have the most amazing conversations!!!!

I have never, at no time, ex communicated my children from me. Even when I thought they were being ‘poops’…instead, I have always told them that no matter where I was in life, or where they were, I was always their ‘mom’ and as long as I lived, they would always have a place next to me, in my life. It’s one of those ‘wrestling’ moments we have with our kids. Where they think we are old and grouchy and they are so much wiser. Sometimes, as parents, it’s easier not watching while they stumble. It’s scarey, but we all have our lessons to learn.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, tobehappy….
you and your daughter and your other children. And, yes, you need to be strong and stay focused. I know how difficult that is and if you need some true support and friends, we are here for you. Remember who you are and your value and worth, 2B!

Love to you ~ Dupey

Thanks Duped…for sharing ur story.

I haven’t responded to the texts she is sending me in the past few days, for contact lenses. Its ridiculous. If she really wanted them, she is working and she can buy them. There is something deeper to this “request”.
He dad, who has been NO part of their lives for the past ten years and moved to Florida to avoid paying support….called me last night and left a message….”I don’t know whats going on there ..if D is living home or what…but she keeps calling me for contact lenses…please call me”.

WOW! NOW he wants to step up to the plate and play “daddy”???? Puhleaseeee! He owes me 3 yrs of child support…40k!!! I ignored him as I am ignoring HER.

This is getting crazy.

Until she comes to me face to face and wants to make peace with me….I am NOT supporting her move.

As I said, before….The “roof” is here. The “food” is here…NO extras…phones, contacts…etc. I am NOT supporting her if she isn’t living here. Let her file charges!!! I’m going for my walk now.


GOOD FOR YOU! tobehappy.

I’m so glad you aren’t participating in the drama.

Gray Rock all the way. Yep, you’re right, there is something deeper to her requests. These are emotional needs which she is projecting as physical needs. She is being manipulative and dishonest. Perhaps even with herself.

The reason that children are not classified as spaths is because they typically act that way toward their parents. It’s only when they grow up and keep trying to get the world to “parent” them, that we call them spaths.

My spath was determined to get the millionaire dupe, S, or me, to pay for everything he needed. Even though though spath had his pockets lined with money from drug deals, he would spend it all at the casino or on hookers or whatever he did and then he used the pity ploy to get someone else to pay for a new transmission for his car. He refused to fix his car until someone else bought his transmission. WTF? who does that?

Well, he left home at age 12 and was probably scared for years about not having a safety net. I think that became integrated into his personality. He needs to be reassured that someone will take care of him, no matter what. Even when he doesn’t need it.

Makes me feel bad for him.

Wow, Skylar…..some people just go thru life feeling “entitled”.

The only reason I worry that my D may never change, is because her father and grandfather were both diagnosed as having “no heart”, “no remorse”, and they “feel superior” and “entitled”….and have “more nerve than God”.

I hope that she will change, but when I see her, I don’t see the same little girl that I raised, who was sweet and helpful, and loved animals…etc.

I see a quiet, blank look on her face.

I don’t know if she will ever be “normal” again….


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