More on Emotional Bonds

The common wisdom is that psychopaths cannot form emotional bonds.  In the overwhelming majority of cases (be it individuals in general or those interpersonal relationships that the psychopath is exposed to), I believe this is a fair assessment.  A diverse affect combined with empathy seems to drive the emotional bonds of most.  The psychopath, lacking both of these features, certainly has a challenge in forming similar emotional bonds.  It is my understanding that most emotional bonds are forged organically.  That is, that there is no conscious attempt to form an emotional bond, it merely happens on its own.  Factors such as how well one relates to another person, whether there is romantic interest, whether another person has gone out of their way for a person, etc. come into play and the subconscious seems to take all of this and form a unidirectional bond if appropriate.  People can want to form a bond all that they want, but it is not something that can be willed.  In my life, I have had exactly two emotional bonds – a far cry from what the neurotypical would experience in terms of quantity.  I have been distressed more than enthused with such bonds for reasons I will go into shortly.  To reveal the punchline: I believe that the psychopath can experience emotional bonds, but the quantity, quality, and perspective towards such remains vastly different from that of the neurotypical.

I will be 31 years old next month.  To put that in perspective, I’ve had an emotional bond averaging once every fifteen years or so.  I have met (and dismissed) hundreds of people in my life, and only two managed to elicit an emotional response from me.  Now, the shallow affect of the psychopathic condition is not necessarily violated by these bonds.  Recall, that the definition says ‘shallow’ or ‘dulled’ affect and not a ‘flat’ affect.  Psychopaths can and do experience emotions.  Quite possibly due to my comorbidity with Borderline Personality Disorder, I find these emotions to be troublesome.  They are not strong – as compared to that of the neurotypical – but they are atypical and confusing when compared to those times (which are predominant) when I am neither emotionally invested nor reactive to most people, things, or situations.  The analogy that comes to mind is that of a person turning on the bathroom light after sleeping the night away in pitch darkness.  The light may not be objectively bright, but the very presence of it stings the eyes to those orbs that were enjoying a lack of stimulation.  The very fact that I experience emotion at all is distressing for a similar reason.  I am mostly unaccustomed to it and find the presence to be uncomfortable.  I have no doubt that the magnitude of these emotions related to these bonds are duller than those of the neurotypical.  However, they are more adept with their emotions than I am and certainly do not find them to be as problematic as I do.  To summarize: I have fewer emotional bonds that are of lesser quality and that are deemed intrusive.  I suspect that under the right conditions other psychopaths would have similar experiences.

The catalysts for those two emotional bonds that I have had seem to be similar.  They were both after the advent of therapy and both relied heavily on the fact that I did not need to hide my true self with the other individual.  I am unsure of whether I could have formed emotional bonds in the absence of prolonged therapy where the malleability of the brain was tirelessly examined and provoked.  One of the emotional bonds has faded even though I am still on good terms with the individual that I held it with and the other has not even though rationality would dictate that I should dissolve that emotional bond as well.  With this observation, it is difficult to identify the role proximity has on my emotional bonds and whether they live or die.  More data is needed.  Other factors involved in the forming of emotional bonds seem related to either the amount of energy the other individual has given me or the similarity I hold with the other person.  At some point, critical mass is reached and a bond forms.  It was never something that I wanted and is often something I wish to destroy, as it clouds my otherwise rational mind.  I am distressed for the light of the emotional bond burns my eyesight which was previously accustomed to the dark.  Similarly, my eyes are not adjusting, so the continued presence of emotional bonds is highly unwelcome.

I do not believe that any of this invalidates the PCL-R results that were conferred to me.   I have worked hard to challenge the boundaries of my mind, and combined with the factors that normally drive the creation of emotional bonds, these constructs have appeared without any conscious effort of my own.  I do not like the fact that they exist, which is a departure from neurotypical thought.  I have them less frequently, and these bonds are undoubtedly of lesser quality than the rich bonds formed by those with affective empathy and lesser levels of narcissism.  Given how much these bonds have distressed me, I will not issue a challenge to other psychopaths and antisocials to stretch the limits of their own abilities.  I may want the color and vividness of life, but I do not wish to be uncontrollably distressed by such either.

Willful Devastation - Hiding One's Lack of Empathy in Relationships
Manipulation and Stagnation


  1. MA32 says

    Having some kind of emotional bond is quite unusual in psychopaths I think. But no, it doesn’t alter your score. However having experienced empathy may alter the score. I’m not sure.

    • Andrew says

      I remember that M.E. Thomas talked of emotional bonds in her book and so did James Fallon. At least he hitchhiked through a blizzard to get to his now wife when they were still in college. I think though he said that this wore off to a great degree as he got older. You have said that you would like to be able to experience the interconnectedness of which neurotypicals are capable. Yet it seems stressful for you. I still think you should read Alexander Lowen’s book “Narcissism: Denial of the True Self” to get a better understanding of how much your psychopathy is genetic and how much it is a result of childhood abuse.

      • MA32 says

        James Fallon wasn’t assessed psychopathic. Perhaps he would score something like 20 to 24 in the pcl-r, but he was never assessed. M.E. Thomas was also not assessed using the pcl-r (I did some background check). She has some factor 1 traits and is surely narcissistic. She has also been in treatment for years. And as you’re replying to me I must put a disclaimer on this: I’m not a psychopath. That’s Jessica.

        • Andrew says

          Okay thank you MA32. I guess Fallon just went by his brain scan. He also said that he had almost all of the psychopathic genes. He calls himself “100%” although he also calls himself a “prosocial psychopath.” It would be interesting if he did get tested with the pcl-r. I thought M.E. Thomas got tested. I remember her saying in her book that she went to someone who said she was “highly psychopathic” and thinking it was the result of a test and why test anyone for psychopathy using anything other than the pcl-r? I’ll have to check the book. Then, too, maybe what she said wasn’t true. I didn’t think you were a psychopath.

          • MA32 says

            she was assessed with the screening version. It merely serves to know whether to apply the other test or not, I think. It was never done, however. And fallon described himself as not fitting the profile of a psychopath even in some emotional aspects if I’m recalling it accurately.

          • Jessica Kelly says

            Protip: the PCL-SV being used as the sole indicator of psychopathy is horseshit.

  2. Andrew says

    Okay thanks. I know that they sometimes think it best not to get tested and labeled. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fallon didn’t fit the profile of a psychopath in some emotional aspects as he has been with the same wife his entire life. Then, too, he has said that he treats his family the same way he would treat people he meets at a bar and just kind of dumps people, even a son or daughter or close friend, without even thinking about it. I remember him saying that he finally got honest with himself and said, about people in general I think, “I do not care. I do not care.”

  3. Andrew says

    Jessica – I don’t know much about the PCL- R and have never even heard of the PCL- SV. I’m not saying that any test should be the sole indicator. I know that they also want to talk to people in the person’s life as well, for instance.

  4. Andrew says

    P.S. (Jessica) I just said that about why test anyone for psychopathy using anything other than the PLC-R because, as far as I know, it’s supposed to be what everyone uses these days but I’m not a psychologist and don’t know much about it except that it’s supposed to be hard to lie on.

  5. Andrew says

    (Jessica) Are you saying you don’t think M.E. is psychopathic? Or are you just feeling competitive? Left out? This blog is about YOU, after all, of course. 🙂

    • Jessica Kelly says

      Everything she writes and says is distorted by anonymity and she has admitted to fabricating most accounts out of paranoia. Combine that with the fact that she claims to be sociopathic (I hate that word) based on only the PCL-SV, and I am skeptical. She has the opportunity to do a lot of something with her ubiquitous presence, but plays it too safe. All of this combined irritates me. 🙂

      • Andrew says

        Okay Jessica. You know I was kidding before, right? I don’t know anything about M.E. Thomas other than what I read of her book. I told you in an email that I couldn’t get through it. She really did rub me the wrong way.

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