Psychopaths and Friendship Revisited

I’m trying out the idea of friendship again.  I’ve long said that I have acquaintances, not friends, but that leads to a rather unsatisfying life.  I maintain that there is a “bubble” between the psychopath and those she interacts with.  She can be seen and may speak, but she may not touch those around her in the same manner that neurotypicals are accustomed to doing.  That is, a certain level of emotional intimacy is simply off limits to the psychopath.  Given that the world thinks of friendships as being rooted in emotional bonds, this leaves the psychopath without the vocabulary to describe her own interpersonal relationships.  The words and music of those friendships that NTs form are simply lost.

I had to ask my therapist what it means to have a friend and to be a friend.  What separates it from the acquaintances that are easily discarded at the end of the day.  As with many questions that I pose to her, she had to answer beginning with first principles.  Friendship is a closeness that, while usually rooted in emotional bonds, is different than the disinterested nature of acquaintanceships.  Friends do things for each other – regardless of their own desires – that they would not do for others.  Friendships can be measured in the minutes set aside to listen and appreciate one another.  And, all of this can be done without an emotional bond – it just isn’t the “traditional” way of doing so.

It is very possible – probable, if I had to guess – that the psychopath will eventually leave the friend in the night, so to speak, at some point.  But I don’t think that friendships between psychopaths and those around him need be that different than those of neurotypicals; they just may not be rooted in emotional bonds.  If anything, the benefits may be greater due to the psychopath’s ability to do anything for one they care about as they are not hindered by conscience and are driven by self-preservation and satisfaction.

I will learn to control my fire.  I will extinguish that which I set ablaze rather than leaving it to burn my interpersonal relationships to the ground.  I can’t guarantee that I will always be the best friend possible, but I can certainly be more than a mindless caricature that so many believe I must be.  I may still play with matches, but I’ll have the rug nearby.

I look forward to trying this friendship thing out again.  I have written it off for far too long.   I may not be able to touch, but I can still speak and see and move my bubble to where it is needed.  Time will tell if this works out, but I believe that the satisfaction in the moment may very well be more satisfying than going solo.  Even a wolf needs company at times.

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