May 12, 2018
The other day I posted about dealing with a psychopath but some people are just in the beginning stages of identifying that the person who has been a negative influence in their lives is actually a psychopath. To be clear, psychopathy is just a term used to try to understand a cluster of behaviour patterns which result in negative outcomes. Schizophrenics, Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths can best be understood as being located somewhere along a continuum of mental disorders ranging all the way from being confused & disorientated to being aggressive and intentionally violent to others. The main indicator for anyone who shows signs of being categorized in any of these groups would be the issue of delusions. Schizophrenics might not make sense sometimes but they are not necessarily ill-intentioned. People in the ladder three groupings also have delusions but they also show intentional desire to cause harm to others and the history or capacity of doing so. The ladder
There are good questions you can ask your Self to discover indicators that the negative behaviour you are dealing with is coming from a psychopath. Why is it good to know the difference? When you know the nature of the negative then you will know the positive opposite solution.
If the person just has “ego issues” it means with enough positive encouragement and support they will replace the negatives with positives and a trusting relationship can be established & built on. When someone is a psychopath, they will never change, never become more positive, and are incapable of being in any sort of healthy relationship. When you spot the psychopath, it’s time to switch gears and deal with them differently. Detach from the negatives and move forward to achieve your goals.
If you find your Self feeling perpetually disappointed in someone’s negative behaviour and no matter the degree and duration of your positive encouragement, they still do really bad actions, and you find yourself continually re-evaluating the nature of the relationship with this person, it sometimes helps to frame their particular issues within a mental health context.
Lets look more closely at the spectrum and notice key similaries & differences.
Someone with schizophrenic tendencies can be seen as someone whose inner world is full of chaos and they can’t make sense of their inner perceptions. They may not make sense when they speak sometimes, may lose track of time, may have issues with commitment, etc. But generally, they display little to no intention to harm themselves or others.
A narcissist is a lot like a schizophrenic who has just learned how to make sense of their inner world based on a fascination with embarrassing others. They have somehow created a sense of Self built on humiliating others. They are usually high-functioning in society, may be a leader in an organization or church group because they know how to show one face in public & another one behind closed doors. Usually a narcissist will have one target and they “feed off” of the negative energy created with conflict with their target. The other key to their bad behaviour is using an audience to make the target look bad. Usually, if the target were to tell others about the negative behaviour of the narcissist the target will not believed because narcissists are SO GOOD at covering up their private negative behaviours.
A sociopath has qualities of a schizophrenic & narcissist with an added spice to the dish of embarrassment pie. As the mental deterioration of these individuals moves along the spectrum so does their willingness to harm others. Whereas a narcissist will be “happy” just to embarrass their target, a sociopath will not stop until they have not only embarrassed but also “damaged” the target. So this could be by setting out to destroy the target’s livelihood, their health, their community projects, their passions, etc. The other thing about sociopaths is that unlike narcissists, who tend to really thrive off of a lot of company with others, sociopaths really enjoy their “alone time.” It seems they need a lot of time alone in order to process their latest attack on their target and how to move forward next. A sign of a sociopath would be someone who can work in a very extroverted type career but then come home and need to isolate themselves and be really internalized for long periods of time.
In my experience, this isolation is because sociopaths seem to still have a degree of empathy and consciousness about the harmfulness of their actions and the alone time is to process and reflect. A sociopath who receives a lot of positive encouragement could actually learn to direct their skills in a positive way, and they would succeed in professions such as detectives, paramedics, fire fighters, police officers, etc. A high functioning sociopath, in the right environment, could be a healthy contributing member of society.
Moving along the spectrum to psychopaths brings us into the realm of people who have been so traumatized by early experiences and who have learned how to hurt others without remorse. This brings us into the realm of serial-killers and mobster-like criminal-mindedness. These people have a strong vision of their powerful desire for something, whether it’s money, or position of authority, or both and they will harm anyone who gets in their way. The two main things which seem to differentiate psychopaths from others along the spectrum is the persistence with which they go for their vision AND the degree to which they can destroy people along the path to that vision. Psychopaths don’t need recovery time the way sociopaths do because they do not feel remorse, nor do they have a consciousness, or regret any action they take. To a regular individual with a consciousness, the idea of a person without any remorse, can cause a degree of fear to come in. And that is precisely what the psychopath wants. He (a high percentage are male) uses the fear of others as an opportunity to advance and move forward. The greater the fear the better.
While it appears all other groupings of seriously negative behaviours have a degree of hope and potential for change, the only solution that works with a psychopath is to stop engaging in any meaningful interaction, build positive relationships with the others in the location, such as a work or family environment, and stick with it until the psychopath decides to move on. If he is not getting his “fill” of negative energy from the environment he will move on in time, his nature compels him.
There is a way to be very positive even in an environment with a psychopath and I’ll write more about that soon. For now, try to weigh the negative behaviours of the person you are dealing with against these indicators and see if you can figure out where they are along this spectrum because that will give you a clue as to how much effort to put into trying to save the positive goals & relationships in life.