Editor’s note: The following was written by the Lovefraud reader who posts as “Quest.”
As most of us know what its like to be a psychopath victim, I am not going to go into all the details of my relationship with a full-blown psychopathic woman that turned my life into a living hell in just 18 months. What I really want to talk about is the mental effects that this woman was able to inflict upon me without my conscious realisation, gaslighting it’s called.
Just so there is a little background, I am a 55-year-old male and split from my ex psychopath female mate three years ago. We were in a relationship for 18 months. At the time we split up, I knew the relationship was beyond repair, but had very little understanding of what had really happened to make the relationship such a disaster.
Two weeks before I left, I had been on the Internet researching mental disorders and had by chance run into the classification “psychopath.” At the time my real knowledge of the intimate details of the psychopathic condition were pretty limited. Anyway I Googled psychopath and found Lovefraud.com, and as they say, the rest is history.
What had she done?
Two weeks after leaving I realised that I was now damaged goods. Many times I found myself asking myself, what had this woman done to me and how did she do it??? I read every book I could find on the subject, about 20 in all, but still did not seem to have a satisfactory answer to my question, and certainly no real way of fixing what had been done. Most of the books that seem to have been written about the psychopathic condition tend to deal more with describing the psychopath themselves, which is great, rather than figuring out what exactly has happened to the minds of the victims of these monsters.
So what were my symptoms? Initially it was hard to get a grip of even this concept. On weekends I slept ‘til noon; on weekdays I had to force myself out of bed to go to work. I was in a state of awareness that I can only describe as being hypervigilant for other psychopaths, or the possibility of them. Basically everyone I met was a potential psychopath until proven otherwise. Paranoia was rampant. I actually feared psychopaths, as I did not understand what this one woman had done to my mental state, or even how she had done it. This left me open and vulnerable to the possibility of running into another psychopath and not knowing how to defend myself. I had no clue as to what I was defending myself against.
As time passed. I learned how to see psychopaths. It was as if a sixth sense had been awakened and I was wired to the symptoms of psychopathy. Any symptom set the alarm bells ringing in my mind. Well, all this knowledge and awareness was great, but I still could not fix the damage. Some days there would be realisations, some days were great, others not so great. Sometimes while in a crowded room I would suddenly be overcome with paranoia and have to leave. What was going on? It was as if my own awareness of myself had somehow been turned off and I did not know where the ON button was.
In the last three years I have talked to many people about psychopathy. Some found it fascinating, some were victims themselves and could recognise what I was talking about. Most did not seem to have a clue as to what I was talking about and basically thought I was nuts.
So … “O like Umbrella” … where does that fit in you may ask? Well, one day while at work, I was on the phone talking to an East Indian guy. He was going to buy some products from the company I work for, and we were going to be shipping what he bought to him. Well, the guy’s name was one of those ones that you can’t pronounce or spell. He proceeds to spell his name … B like Bob, A like Apple, O like Umbrella ……… ????????????
He continued to spell but I heard nothing because my mind was stuck on, “O like Umbrella.” What had happened?
Well, while this was happening another part of my awareness had the sudden realisation that I had just been shut down. There was no “O” in “umbrella” and because he had said something that made no sense, my mind had basically shut down. At this point there was a kind of eureka moment, as I realised that that was how psychopaths get into the minds of their victims.
Anyone who has spent any time in an intimate relationship with a psychopath knows that things get very confusing at times. What appears to happen to the victim is a kind of mental shut down that seems to happen at a subconscious level, beyond the normal conscious awareness of the victim. The victim, not realising what is happening, slowly gets lulled into an almost vegetative state where they can hardly recognise themselves. It feels like their very essence or soul has been sucked right out of them, leaving a confused, rudderless entity, almost a zombie.
So what is happening here? Did I just have the ultimate realisation about psychopath victims because I had been able to watch my own mind get shut down by a spelling mistake? The East Indian thought “umbrella” was spelt “ombrella.”
As the days went by, I often thought about and talked about my revelation. How relevant was it? Would it make a difference? What I began to realize was that I now knew what my psychopathic ex had done to me, SHUT ME DOWN, and also I knew how she did it.
Having a conversation with a psychopath is not like having a normal conversation, especially if you are in a relationship with them. Initially in the early days of the relationship, everything seems normal. As time goes on, however, things tend to slowly become confused. Every conversation turns into a never-ending argument that seems to go round in circles, until the victim just gives up. Nothing is resolved and the arguments become more and more frequent, and more and more confusing.
The victim tries to make sense of what is going on around them. What they don’t realise is, nothing is supposed to make sense. The psychopath is in full attack mode on the victim’s sanity. The psychopath is basically talking nonsense, but the victim is not aware that it is nonsense, or that they are under premeditated attack. As the victim’s mind tries to make sense of the babble, not realising that its not supposed to make sense, because it almost does make sense, some part of the persons thinking processes shuts down. How this really works I am not sure, but I feel as if I am getting close to the realisation of it.
Shut down mechanism
One thing about the “O like Umbrella” incident was that I now had knowledge of how the shut down process works. Now, suddenly, I knew what had been done, shut down, and how it had been done. Suddenly the fear was gone, I now knew what I was defending myself against.
If it doesn’t make sense it’s probably nonsense and you are probably dealing with a psychopath. Because a psychopath is so good at hiding nonsense in amongst sense, most people miss the nonsense. Being aware of this puts the power in the hands of the victim or potential victim. If the victim is aware of the nonsense, it can’t shut them down, I hope. At this point, I at least feel more relaxed than I have in a long time.
So gaslighting shuts the victim down mentally. I feel it is important to realise this, because once a victim is shut down, it will take a long time to wake them up again. I guess the revelation here is realising the relationship between gaslighting and the shut down mechanism. It’s all in the nonsense.
If one can listen to the nonsense and realise that it is indeed nonsense, then theoretically, it will not shut the victim down, hopefully. I have yet to prove this concept. I’ll need to find another psychopath to test the theory.