Candle Flames … Psychopaths and Identity

Psychopaths have weak identities in general.  Our only constant is change.  We are chameleons and we wear the personalities of those around us.  I believe that the constant shapeshifting that we engage in leaves us with a very weak sense of identity.  We can state facts about our being but we cannot articulate who the underlying person actually is.  Our identities are like candle flames, dancing in the wind and ever-changing in color and shape.

The other night I spent a long time chatting with a reader of this blog.  They were as perplexed as I when it comes to my difficulty articulating my identity.  No, identity is not merely the recitation of facts.  It is something deeper and it eludes me in full.  They recommended that my identity is simply that of constant change.  My identity is a lack of stable identity.  My identity is ever-changing – and that, in and of itself, is identity.

I like to think of my identity as lying out of sight.  All I can do is – through trial, error, and observation – seek to identify where it lies.  Yes, I can recite many facts – that I am left-handed, pizza is a comfort food, and that I prefer soccer to football – but there is more to identity than that.  What that is, I may never know.  This is what fascinates me regarding the readers’ recommendation.  Rather than homing in – but never finding – on the interval that I believe holds my identity, I can embrace the fact that it is not fixed to begin with.  I can embrace the psychopath’s inherent fluidity as defining something which should essentially be fixed.

Every time I stare into the proverbial mirror, I see no reflection.  I see that which surrounds me but never myself.  Maybe that reader is right and that I merely am looking in the wrong places.  Instead of looking for my reflection in the mirror, I should be looking at the snapshots that surround my life on a daily basis.  One day I am cruel; another I am introspective.  One day I benevolent, and another day I am parasitic.  I should embrace the haze that my identity “is” rather than searching for a clear picture in a hall full of mirrors.  Just as the candle flame, I should embrace the winds that blow me around and celebrate the changes in color and shape that my being takes.  I will never find a fixed identity, but within the chaos inside, there is someone – even if she dances to the tune of her own decree.


What is Psychopathy? - Introduction


  1. Unlikelysociopath says

    Do you think it is easier to consciously change our personality or do you think that external factors such as people and lifestyle do it to a more effortless degree whereby the personality change alters us without thinking about it?

    In my opinion, our identities are as full as anyone’s if not fuller. We reflect those things that made us change. The interesting parts of people we wanted to have for ourselves. We change all the time but most people on the outside looking at us will think we have always been a specific personality. To ourselves we are ever changing and that does not bother us much.

    • Anathema says

      I’m not sure whether the “switch” need always be conscious or not. I find myself pulling personalities out of my “personality rolodex” on an as-needed basis, but I also find that I can sometimes begin to use mannerisms of those that I recently met without realizing it.

      As an aside, the reader that I was chatting with (the chat that gave inspiration for this post) called me out on using some of their own mannerisms in my dialog with them. It wasn’t entirely intentional and was interesting to see how quickly I began to take another personality for my own.

  2. Anonymous says

    That’s interesting about feeling a lack of identity. Have you tried looking into the enneagram and trying to find your personality type, based on your core motivations/fears/needs? Also, I believe strongly in sidereal* astrology, and a persons rising sign or ascendant tells you their core personality.The only thing is you must know the exact birth time and place to find it out. If your curious this can be done at on the right hand corner click Free Horoscopes then Extended Chart Selection, and make sure you specify the zodiac option as “Fagan/Bradley geocentric (sidereal)” . See if this helps find a piece of who you are. I would be very curious to know your results if you do try these.

  3. Black Rose says

    Identity, is a question i have stoped asking a while back. It was the only thing i hadn’t an answer for. When i was a child i used to wonder how people could remain so constant while i was busy going through their, say, hand writings, the way their lips moved… I remember wondering why i could not be myself, why i could not generate my own hand writings, walks, speech type… I got so good a mimicing people i forgot they were not me.
    It was later that i came to basis that i handn’t a specific identity.

    I had just begun reading about psychopathy traits 3 days ago, it was the first time i put my hands on who i am and what i do. On that note i peddled back to my history and i tried to remember every tear i shed, every caring thought i implemented and i realized that they were all directly leading towards non other than to my gain and my pain.

    See, my father has been taking his medication for about 8 years now, he is fine but on rarer occasions, he gets a little dizzy. This one day, he told me all about it, that he was sick and it was getting worse, i was thinking of how to care, i needed to care but i felt like he was bothering me, i was frustrated about having to pretend to care. Infact the only time i cared is when his illness got in the way of my needs.

    Over the years i got to be an excellent mimic, at the point in which i begun cheating myself into believing them. I had shut off this empty part of me and stuffed in its place what shoud be insted. Everything was pretend.

    There was a time when my grandmother lived with my family. She was sick and had occupied a room in the house. The night before she died i went there to say “good bye”; these words were coming out of my mouth however, what i wanted was for her not to die becuase i would cause distress in my house. That night she died. I was a little excited, gossbumbs coverd my body however, i had to play along with their hysterics.

    Everytime something bad happenens to people my family would care so much and i just did not. They are the only people i sort of care about. Even them, i cant help but wonder… Would i still care if they had nothing to offer but love. I highly doubt.

    Everything, everyone i come close to, i have an ulterior motive planned ahead. Sometimes i do it so instinctively, it was as though my brain went ahead with out me.

    I currently live with my sister. All i want to do is leave, run away to New York and become a go go girl if necessary, till i finish college and start my own buisness and live alone. But i can’t, i am 17 and i do not have any source of money except her.

    She is a smart woman and so she wonders “there is something off about you” she cannot trust me. So i begun doing these small juschers of kindness, making her food and asking how her day went and so forth, of course i do not feel them but i have to do them. She has grown suspicious, everytime i say things that do not make sense and do things she cannot bring herself to understand. I am growing impetient, it is as though i have held this monister down, and it has out grown me inside. She often out of the blue askes me, why i can’t be greatful and why i don’t care, and each time i have to go through these emotions i just do not CARE about. I try to find something with depth but i just can’t. This mask is getting itchy and it is going to ruin my plan. She even brough up how i used my father and tossed him aside. I feel as though she knows something, she remarks “there is something creepy and cold about you”.

    I have to ware around this mask, i though everybody owned. I cannot say the things i think Becuase everytime i do, people get shoked. How do you be yourself. I am not a monster, i am just a human being, i just don’t know how to care for your feelings.

    I have made a choice of isolation, i can’t play the perfect girl anymore, i just want to be left alone.

    Over all i know now that i am not crazy, that there is indeed a name for what i am: Phycopath. The fact that there isnt any current medication for it thrills me. Sometimes i even wish i could be more of a phycopath. I often wonder, if i was not raised in such a stable and loving enviroment, i could have been the next Ted Bunndy; out there avenging my mistreatment. However, i dont think i am the killer type, it is not my cup of tea.

    • Jessica Kelly says

      Thank you for your comment. I would suggest keeping an open mind and to keep looking through resources to make sure that things fit. I caution you, knowing that most adolescents are still developing empathy, but of course we all started somewhere, so I do not necessarily dismiss your analysis either. Be careful, be open minded, and figure out what exactly you seek by researching this corner of the human experience.

    • FNP says

      Tbh, it looks like you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not. A lack of emotions does not a psychopath make, and neither does apathy.

      Besides that, you’re still a kid. The vast majority of teens lack empathy, don’t give a shit about anything, and are generally lacking in emotional variety. Yet only 1-4% of those teens become psychopaths.

      As a side note, I’d like to point out that Bundy never felt like he was avenging any mistreatment. If you want to know what he felt, read his interviews.

      • Black Rose says

        I will take what you said into consideration. Maybe i will grow out or maybe i will grow into it. Thank you for the honest reply.

  4. beneficii says

    I’ve always seen myself as a blank canvas. I am obsessed with the idea of making sure all potentialities stay open and things stay that way. In addition, I wear masks, too, though I don’t know why I imitate certain people.

    I would be in a conversation with someone and as I talk certain ways of speaking and gesturing pop into my head, which upon reflection are associated with specific people I’ve known (or sometimes even fictional characters), and I simply do them. Apparently, I can comport myself quite well to the point where people have a hard time believing I’m on the spectrum; I am a good talker with a large vocabulary and others generally find me pleasant.

    The problem comes when people try to get me into closer relationships. My feeling is that I want to be able to do my own thing and not be dragged into a long conversation with somebody that could go along who knows how long and to be expected to go out of my way to meet with the person. Often, I have difficulty having any interest in what the other person talks about and I start thinking of other things I want to do. I’m also afraid of exposure, that people would see my inadequacies (which are many) if they get too close, causing me to suffer the social consequences for it.

    • FNP says

      That’s one of the big differences between autism and psychopathy. Those of us on the psychopathic side of things will pretend to be interested in whatever the other person is, and we’ll generally pay some minimal amount of attention to what they’re saying, but it’s largely to gather information on them for later use/manipulation.

      Also, we generally don’t see any inadequacies in ourselves (unless it’s paired with some other disorder that does cause those things to be felt). It’s more about not getting found out that drives our need to move on from one relationship to the next, than about the worries or whatever of losing social status.

      Personally, my vocabulary and mannerisms change based on who I’m interacting with, which seems to be a fairly common thing among psychopaths of higher intelligence. The dumber ones don’t typically bother with talking, from what I’ve seen.

      • beneficii says

        I do that thing of pretending to be interested, too, but that’s largely because that’s what I was taught, it makes you look more acceptable to other people, so you can establish valuable relationships with others–otherwise, you could be outcast without support, or have to deal with unpleasant conflict. And sometimes, you can get valuable information. (For me, though, these relationships largely revolve around fulfilling my needs.) And by relationship, I mean any connection to a person, romantic, business, acquaintanceship, etc.

        It took me a long time to see them, too, stuff like the lack of empathy and the other problems. It took others pointing them out. I took it under advisement, however, so that I could get along better in the world. Nevertheless, I know that I cannot provide what the other person needs, especially emotionally, as well as other people can; I like to keep interactions shallow so that doesn’t get found out.

        High-functioning autistics do similarly. For me, I will often imagine myself in relationship roles that I’ve seen before that seem to kinda match the interaction between me and the other person, like 2 close friends talking. But the “friendship” is hollow, there is no true connection there, only playacting. The style of interaction is divorced from its context.

        Largely, I’ve decided it’s just best to follow what I’m interested in.

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