THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE PSYCHOPATH CHARACTER
The Emotional and Interpersonal Aspect of “Lack Of Empathy”
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE PSYCHOPATHIC CHARACTER
The Emotional and Interpersonal Aspect of “Lack Of Empathy”
Psychopaths show a lack of feelings towards people in general; they are cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate and tactless (Hare, 1999).
This lack of empathy is the base of many of their characteristics—pathological lying, shallow emotions, chilling violence, shamelessness, egocentricity, lack of remorse, deceitfulness, manipulation, etc.
With their empathy effectively switched “off ”, they callously think only about themselves.
It appears that having no empathy arises from abnormalities in the empathy circuit of the brain, leaving psychopaths underdeveloped in empathic responses. Therefore, they can be single-minded and callous, and indifferent to the rights and sufferings of others. They are as emotionally famished as androids. Without the ability to experience real emotional attachments, they have no sense of moral duty to anyone beyond their own self-interests.
They treat the vulnerable with disdain because psychopaths see vulnerability as weakness. To them, whoever is weak deserves to be exploited. Unbelievably, they can justify their actions, and even rationalize that they, in some way, are in fact the victim. This lack of empathy allows them to dehumanize people into mere objects to be manipulated. Psychopathy begins early in life (in what is labelled “childhood conduct disorders”).
These individuals may have tortured animals, abused family members or committed cold-blooded acts against others while growing up. It seems that this lack of empathy leaves them unable to figuratively step into the shoes of another person in order to understand and identify with their situations and feelings. It is as if psychopaths simply lack the ability to construct mental and emotional facsimiles of another person. Because of a lack of empathy, psychopaths are very drawn to highly empathic people as a source of supply.
Empaths are able to put themselves in the narcissist’s shoes, giving them the concern, warmth, comfort and attention they crave. Unfortunately, the victim’s empathy also sets them up in a way that feeds the psychopathic need for power and dominance, giving the psychopath control over their victim’s emotions and keeping them hooked into the relationship.
However, I am not convinced that the psychopath’s empathy quotient is stuck on zero. In all probability, psychopaths know how to turn “on and off” their empathy switches, and even conflate empathy for grasping another’s emotional state. This makes them more efficient when it comes to knowing which buttons to push for baiting and hooking purposes.
They also seem to know how to use empathy as a solvent for resolving interpersonal problems and getting into the minds of others. In fact, their understanding of empathy allows them to use it to their own full advantage for becoming highly skilled and effective in their range and scope of abuse. But empathy is a complex emotion, so it must be understood at the outset that people can do the most horrible things, identify closely with their victims, and learn to live with the angst that accumulates (Turvey, 2012).
There are many incidents of psychopaths having shown empathy towards their victims at the scene of a crime. For example, a rapist laying down a coat for their victim, or the abductor deciding not to harm a victim when they have cried, and even returning them back to where the abduction took place. Sometimes the psychopath will agree to accommodate the victim’s request, such as using a condom during a rape, untying their hands or apologizing after the offense.
What the psychopath really lacks is generally a sense of compassion. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist, states that psychopaths use empathy to their advantage. Even serial killers know that when a child cries they are in distress probably because they’ve been separated from their mother. Where the compassionate person feels sad for the child and takes measures to reunite the two, the psychopath uses the opportunity to take the child by the hand and pretends to get them back to their mother, but instead kidnaps them (as was the case of two year-old Jamie Bulger, who was murdered by two ten-year-old boys, Venables and Thompson).
Lack of empathy is a core feature of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and it is what keeps the pathological narcissist locked into their constant adversarial and oppositional positions.
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It seems like they are everywhere! A person has to be so careful who you let into your life. As soon as I start to see a couple of tiny red flags, I’m running. I just went 100% no contact with one. The rage of this person must be amazing, It can take a long time to heal but now I feel better and better all the time. I would rather be alone the rest of my life than have another one in my life.
I wish I’d known about this 50 yrs ago.
As usual your articles are spot on and I can offer a couple of examples of the inner workings of what I believe to be the psychopathic brain:
My husband had once again came home bragging about how he was driving his co-workers crazy by humming a melody at work and getting the melody stuck in the brain of over half the of his co workers. He told me how he would stand quietly in the aisle by the cubical, quietly hum the tune and walk away. Later that day, his co workers started complaining about how they have this tune stuck in their head and they didn’t even know how it had gotten there. He laughed uproariously about their frustration. I snapped at him that was enough and it wasn’t a nice thing to do and asked why he was doing that to people. I found his reply stunningly revealing. He responded that it was fun and that it was interesting to watch how easily suggestable people are and he didn’t see anything wrong with doing it.
My husband also once told me he makes friends with people for what they can do for him. When I replied that friendship is supposed to be about emotional connections, he just looked at me blankly.
These and other examples are what lead me to believe that I’ve been in a long term marriage with psychopath versus a narcissist.
It seems that psychopathic narcissism is on the rise largely because we have been silenced, thanks to political correctness, for fear of “off-ending” anyone. We have been conditioned to apologize for faults of others and our ability and we have been denied, through bullying and coercion of all kinds by using the phony label of censorship to deny us our sovereign right to speak our truth.
Our culture has been shamed and conditioned to cower at the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for exactly the reasons each of us who are victims of psychopaths now find ourselves; persecuted for the sake of love.
People today do not understand what love means. We live in a hypersexualized culture, if that’s what we call it, that has thrown God and morality out the window for the sake of concupiscence, which is what largely fuels our world. Holiness has become taboo; the more vulgar and profane, the better, and we call this art. Once again we have something as egregiously ridiculous as ERA trying to pass while those sponsoring this horrible bill haven’t a clue of how damaging it actually is to women. But it takes too much time to do the research; it is much easier to mouth off and scream women’s rights while all the while all this proves is how incapable so many women are, who view corruption as virtue, to hold high office within government. But the psychopath has no shame, can not be embarrassed, insulted, and because she has sold out, has no ability to reason, so instead the entire world suffers from the tantrum beastly baby fits of the psychopath who can’t have his or her way.
There is very little if nothing we can do to actually change or even help the psychopath. Only God has the power to shine the light of the Holy Spirit, that of wisdom and the seven gifts, into the hearts and souls of these people. We, for now, should afford ourselves the gift of giving our fear of these people to God long enough to empower ourselves by holding the mirror of truth to their faces. We worry too much about what others think of us. Can we afford to?
Years ago there was a pop-psych help-self book about a return to love. What we need is a RETURN TO GOD, and that means Jesus Christ, like it or not. There is only ONE God, unless we think polytheism works and we can really co-exist and worship everything. Looks to me like that doesn’t work.
They deny themselves and others. They feel that they do not have responsibility in their profession. That is what the other person must do who is gotten smacked in that way and has been deceived by them. You can not speak of a profession at all. They deny their profession and their client and all what has had happened and been said they deny completely. They don”t know you anymore. Putting the blame on the shoulders of their client or victim while they can get away with it. Shameless and brutal. It”s said that he was a bad boy in astrology as so called astrological advisor. It was a wild one and a dangerous person who don”t give a damn about the feelings of others after they went through. .
After dealing with Narcissists all of my 61 years (both parents and both ex husbands) there isn’t any doubt in my mind. They know EXACTLY what they are doing and saying at ALL times. They are sadistic, manipulating, angry, revengeful people.
Dear Christine , Your excellent article describes evil people. There’s garden variety sinners, then there’s reprobates.
Some people are very lonely and if you have bad luck you can meet a predator who feels this weak spot and can turn you on to talk nice and seductive. You rater be safe. Where can you have safe contacts cause they can hide everywhere. I thought that they were hanging around in nightclubs disco”s and bars searching for a prey. They can feel from a very far distance if somebody is having a wound or weak spot such as lonelyness want to have attention but from both sides. After you let them in the relationship is onesided. It is too head over heals in that relationship. .
Lonely people selfsacrificing people people who are lovehungry and people with poor boundaries who don”t know who to let in or not to let in, and idealistic people without it is tempered with a realistic view vulnerable and defenseless people and naive and trustfull people and people who are too good and too kind, they have a problem and that is they are kind to everybody. You have to cut off all this toxic ties in your environment. To be in good contact with your self and to trust your self again. It is if some people know it how to live and who to trust but the trust on other people is after that abuse not so strong. Maybe H.S.P. groups a meetingpoint with high sensitive persons or maybe survivors who can guide people who trust nearly nobody anymore short after that narcissistic abuse. It is a very complicated thing and you need to be at home in this field.
Yes, they believe whoever is weak deserves to be exploited and this is when they wax worse.
For example, a husband blames his mom for who he is now, to get pity from the wife. His mom used severe beatings with verbal abuse, shame, humiliation, then some more shame for the son not learning at school.
His dad who also beat him, secretly viewed the most vile pornography with his young sons while growing up, thereby teaching the sons to objectify women. These things are hidden secrets from the outside world, an allegedly ideal christian family.
His wife has had several illnesses for years, which he shows absolutely no empathy, he uses her weakened condition and increases gas lighting her, lying. Instilling false guilt on her, transferring what he feels onto the wife by provoking her to get the response he wants out of her, usually angry and confused.
He sets his target up again with feigned niceness, he willfully, with forethought, exploits her and seeks every opportunity he can find. He feels no shame at all and can sleep like a baby. He is very covert in his methods. When he could not get the response he wanted he would go into a childish tantrum of anger.
Once the wife understands her husband that has no empathy, she starts keeping a written record to keep track, realizing that he is counting on her forgetting. She sets up boundaries slowly increasing them, makes decisions in her best interest.
She seeks legal advice to divorce him. To which he goes into revenge and rage for exerting her right to end a dead marriage and save herself while she can.
Re: “turn “on and off” their empathy switches,”
The husband suddenly starts to verbalize empathy for his mom to his wife, which he never did before. The wife knows he is mirroring her usual responses regarding his mom.
Re: “knowing which buttons to push for baiting and hooking purposes.”
The wife knows he is emotionally abusing her in the process, to get even with her for no longer being his only target, she does not respond the way he thinks she would. The wife suspects he is a sadist and has enjoyed every dark thing he did to her.
They have no remorse no feeling and are callous. Only when it serves their purpose and it is like people are objects or things to them. Sometimes they can talk sugarsweet words to seduce people only when it serves their purpose without to take any account of the consequences. They know what they do but without any feeling and no concern and feeling of the needs of others. They want to see them suffer to feel good. Take people on their vulnerabilities and weak spots. They have a superior feeling and knowledge of human nature and from a far distance they can feel their prey.
Simply the thought that they know what they are doing, is chilling indeed. It fills me with a sense of horror.