Shallow Affect – Psychopathic Emotion

Most psychopaths have a very shallow affect.  That is, our emotions tend to be shallow in general.  They are also short-lived.  Now, that said, the presence of other personality disorders, most notably Borderline Personality Disorder, can cause this criterion of psychopathy to become somewhat muddy.  It can also be difficult to tease the shallow affect of psychopathy from our inability to feel affective empathy or guilt and remorse.

When my mother was in critical condition a few days ago, I did not feel sadness, despair, or any other emotions that most neurotypicals would have when presented with the real possibility of losing a loved one.  I was completely stoic except for the adrenaline rush caused by the intellectual realization that a high-stakes game was unfolding before me.  My therapist is often stunned by the lack of emotion that I present in session.  We talk of my many accomplishments, both saintly and sinful, and there is nothing but stoicism as the words recounting such pour from my mouth.  In my writing, I try to avoid any portrayal of emotion as it would be false.  There is simply nothing – usually – there.

Or is it more accurate to say that the emotions – as events unfold – are simply not permanent and thus cannot be recounted?  It is a mixture of both.  I have felt environmental depression when my schemes go awry.  I feel intense anger over the most trivial of events.  When my former supervisor (at a former employer) tried to strong-arm me, my hate burned brighter than any star.  However, shortly after switching jobs, my hatred dissipated.  My consternation toward my mother when I had to visit a dying relative on a regular basis would fade as soon as I drove my mother home.  The intense satisfaction of an oral presentation or well-written academic paper would disappear within minutes of finishing such an endeavor.  Even with my manuscript, I no longer feel the positive emotions that I had briefly after I wrote the final page.  Nothing is permanent.

For those times that I am merely “robotic” as I engage with others or recount past events, it is not that I am oblivious to my surroundings.  I see plenty of stimuli that would provoke a strong emotional response in NTs but none that cause anything but faux emotions in myself.  I will mask in order to seem in place, but under the hood the lights are turned off.   I know this because I could see the tears in my brother and grandmother’s eyes as my mother was in critical condition in the hospital.  They simply possess something that I do not.

It is easy to see why there are parallels between the psychopath and the autistic, for example.  Our emotional distance from the neurotypical is vast and deeply disconcerting to the NT.  We appear to be soulless monsters with our actions and the humanity that we “lack.”   Our emotions are short-lived, if present at all, and our stoicism can be off-setting.  I wonder what I am missing, but I have come to the conclusion that I will never yearn.  I can act when others cannot, in part due to my near-invincibility when it comes to emotional unsettling of the mind.

The Poverty of Experience ... Psychopaths and Perception
Ultrapowers ... Faux Invincibility


  1. Claire burns says

    Do you fear your own death or welcome it? If you were told you had terminal desiese would you be scared, relieved or curious?

    • Black Rose says

      I think i would reveal what’s really underneath these 50 shades of pretend. I am dying anyways, so the hell with my plans. I will let this growing beast within, let loss.

      I might be cirious and a bit excited even so, i know it wont last, so ill end up feeling like i always do – nothing.

      At least i will have stoped this endless plotting and finally turn the lights off and ask them to please enter.

  2. Black Rose says

    I remember having the same incounter with my grandmother’s, they both died within a period of 2 weeks. I could recall how i felt goosbumps when everybody huddled around the house panicing, and i felt like smiling, it was pleasantly stumilating even so, it went away after a few hours. On the other hand the hysteria that manifested in my family, i felt as though i was in a different universe. Every “emotion” and “care” i had ever displayed, was simply mirrored, a reflection of what i saw in their eyes.

    I did not need interegation about my cold heart, therefore i lived each day in pretend. I see it as a game, a game they will never need to know about, not untill i can financially support myself and other plans i have are conceived, after that i see no need for this itchy mask.

    If i were to stop pretending, i would be locked away in some mental ward, counting my years. There are days when the mask gets slippery, its as though im malfanctioning; my words get confused and loss their sense my emotions over dose or under play… I am honestly tired of playing the perfect human.

  3. says

    When a psychopath returns claiming to love you how do I remove him without provocation. It has no logic as he is in a faux relationship with somebody else, I pointed this out & recieved a callous response. I am frightened and must handle the situation with great caution.

    • Jessica Kelly says

      Have you tried ‘not interested’ or ‘go away?’ Without more details, I see no reason why a polite approach can’t be taken.

  4. Carrie says

    Absolutely fascinating and exactly like myself. Never in my life have I heard a story precisely like my own. I stood in the morgue over my sister’s body. My mom beside me collapsing in hysteria. I stood over my sister, staring in piqued interest. Arm cold, skin thicker, blood vessels are at the surface of the neck reaching up into the face. I stand in curiosity. This monster inside me, a friend of mine, calm and collected. I am the master of my own, no emotions exist. I took care of the details of the funeral, while everyone else was a bloody emotional mess. I’m not a monster in my own mind, but in control, while everyone else is weak.

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