Reader Question: Letting the Mask Slip

This is a very brief post featuring a question I received over on Tumblr.  I should be back to full posts tomorrow.

The question:

Now I know the answer “don’t be stupid” probably applies here, but from your own perspective, how would you keep people from finding out that you’re a psychopath if you’ve allowed yourself to be maskless for a period of time that has caused it to be ill-fitting?

My response:

It’s tricky.  Yes, every time you take the mask off, it becomes harder to put on.  I think the key is to play off people’s naivety.  People assume that they are surrounded by “good” people and – honestly – most do not even think of the term ‘psychopath’ at any point in their lives unless it has been brought up.  They might think you are off, but I highly doubt, unless they are trained in psychology, that they’ll consider ASPD, much less psychopathy.

I suppose that it is better not to let the mask slip in the first place, but as a relatively open psychopath, I’d be hypocritical to suggest that you *must* do so.

How do my readers deal with such a situation?

Selflessness and Discourse … Contradictory?

I’ve been reading a lot lately.  Most of the books have been on psychopathy (and the neuroscience of psychopathy, in particular), but I’ve also been reading books on how to be a better blogger and social media user.  While these latter books are focused on businesses and corporations, their teachings extend to the up and coming blogger and writer as well.  An interesting trend with these books is that they champion the use of altruism as a means for outreach.  The authors of these books – such as The Tao of Twitter – argue that being selfless is the key to the hearts of others.  The implication is clear, however.  Do for others so that others will do for you.  However, does not this violate the core definition of altruism?  That actions are to be made solely for their own sake and without an expectation of personal gain as a result?

As I’ve written before regarding altruism, I believe the concept is inherently flawed.  Short of throwing oneself on a grenade to save one’s comrades at the expense of their own life, I fail to see how the overwhelming majority of actions that are considered “altruistic” are truly such.  Whether altruistic actions are born from hopes of quid pro quo behavior or even as a means of inflating one’s own sense of self, nearly all actions have a benefit to the one performing them – unless one is just self-destructive and performs only actions that harm themselves.  So how can one be purely selfless with discourse?  I don’t believe that it is possible.

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A very respected reader asked me the following question over on Tumblr:

How would you describe your experiences with enmity?

My relationship with spite, anger, and a feeling of being wronged is very straightforward.  I rarely take things personally. (I suppose because my actions themselves tend to be impersonal?)  However, when I do feel wronged and the perception reaches a point where I do take it personally, things tend to escalate quickly, though the magnitude of my “revenge” is usually within the realms of reason.  For instance, I can differentiate between the impersonal slight (such as an acquaintance forgetting to bring me an item that I require at a time we agreed upon) with the very personal offense (a former friend neglecting to invite me to his wedding solely because I am transgender).  Sometimes the distinction becomes fuzzy (as with the missiles launched by both sides when I turned in my resignation with a former employer) and it becomes harder to articulate the line between “playing along” and full-scale retribution.

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Reader Question: Sociopath or Psychopath?

A reader sent me the following question:

In your opinion, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? Do you believe there is one?

I responded with the following:

This is a question with a million different answers it seems.  In the earlier part of the 20th century when psychologists believed that environment played the biggest role in the personalities of others, the term ‘sociopath’ was born.  As genetic-based personality studies took root, academia quickly abandoned the term in favor of the original term used (coined in the late 1800s) – ‘psychopath.’

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Night and Day – The Diversity of Psychopaths

I finished Kent Kiehl’s The Psychopath Whisperer last night and am nearly finished with James Fallon’s The Psychopath Inside as I write this.  Their views on psychopaths and their “complexity” differ greater than night and day.  As I read Kiehl’s book, I felt an existential crisis trying to reconcile my own complexity with the simplicity of the criminal psychopaths that he studied.  His psychopaths did not show comorbidity with any other disorders (so we are led to believe) and were cookie cutter copies of one another.  I, meanwhile, am Bipolar and Borderline in addition to psychopathic.  Did the PCL-R get my diagnosis wrong?  Was I really not psychopathic?  Given his focus on criminal psychopaths and the way that the information was presented, it certainly seemed possible.  Was all of my work this past year for nothing?

I brought my concerns to my therapist last night.  We noted that there is still little research on the 23% of adult psychopaths that are not incarcerated.  Also we noted that the focus of Kiehl’s book was with psychopathy and the studies presented had little interest in comorbid disorders anyway.  There is simply too many unknowns.  The PCL-R had assessed me as psychopathic and ASPD (and Borderline for that matter) did not explain as much complexity as psychopathy certainly did.  There needed to be more research.

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