Do psychopaths know what they are? Do they know that they are different from the rest of us? I believe the answer to both of these questions may be yes. As neuropsychiatry makes progress, science offers various thoughts and opinions on the matter. But while medicine is working hard to unlock the mind’s secrets, we may be able to draw valuable discussion from our own experiences.
Since psychopaths are not a particularly introspective group, I am not suggesting that they possess great insight regarding their pathology. However, I believe they do have some level of awareness. They may realize that they do not experience appropriate emotions and that they live their lives and view their worlds with the emotional mute buttons on.
“I figured it out…I know what you are”
When I realized that I had been touched by psychopathy, it took me quite some time to digest all that revelation brought with it. I knew I was not dealing with “normal,” but what was I dealing with?
Behaviors and solutions that would typically work under normal circumstances set us back when dealing with this population. Adjusting to the concept takes time. While I was still learning, I was still saying too much and also allowing the manipulations to bother me. I was in the process of trying to make sense of the nonsense and working to rectify issues that could never be solved. I tried, but trial and error prevailed and sometimes, I got it wrong. With my understanding too fresh to accurately process what was occurring, I allowed myself to become frustrated and exhausted from the underhanded tactics. On one occasion, when I could no longer take it, I emphatically blurted, “I figured it out…I know what you are.”
I am not sure what I expected might occur when I announced that “I knew,” but I was completely unprepared for what came next. The individual had been walking away from me, but then stopped dead in his tracks. He stood still with his back toward me for a moment. Then, turned and advanced toward me. His eyes met mine and I was on the receiving end of a deliberate, piercing stare. The eyes that could double as daggers were poised to intimidate. Glaring and angry, he replied, “I know you did. I know you know.”
What? The investigator in me wanted to continue the conversation very badly. I wanted to know what he knew about himself. I considered the possibility that he may not have heard me correctly. How did he know what I meant? But he did know. Chills quickly replaced my curiosity. I turned away and left. If he knew what he was, all the wrongs, all the evil were, without question, intentional. Pain, suffering, abuse, unhappiness, and shear destruction had been purposely inflicted with full awareness and for or with some degree pleasure.
Interestingly, I never said the word. Sociopath, psychopath, narcissist never crossed my lips. Shortly after this encounter, this individual ramped up the attacks and staunchly advertised his “normality,” while threatening and belittling me. Suddenly, I was “disturbed” and a “PhD,” in an attempt to discredit me and my assertions.
Previously, he merely blamed me for his actions, claiming that the behaviors were the consequences for my “insanity.” But this was different. I uncovered something he never thought I would. First hand, I witnessed the “I’ll get you before you get me” mentality - the smear campaign. Sticks and stones…for now I was armed with understanding.
Gray or color?
What must it be like not to feel genuine emotions or to feel them so completely differently than non-psychopaths? What must it be like to view the surroundings so differently than others? How must it be to know life in black and white, when we see color?
They may have great disdain for us as a result of the warmth in our souls, something they will never know or feel. They want revenge for our existence and throw temper tantrums mirroring those of toddlers if they do not succeed in their destructive and controlling efforts. But even when they do get their ways, they are often insatiable, looking for more. As a result, they can be dangerous to us.
When they claim to feel hurt, pain or other normal emotions we experience, their words may merely mask ulterior motives. They are able to behave ruthlessly without second thoughts, often hiding their agendas behind righteous causes. But the anger, jealousy, and rage that they direct toward us shows through as raw and primal. Knowing they know makes the behaviors easier to understand, but no more acceptable.
They are envious of our genuine connections and abilities to love, even if they laugh at us in their next breaths for being “weak” enough to feel. How would they be able to hold such contempt for us, if they had no awareness of our differences? It must be horrible living half alive. Wait…we already know. It was how we lived before we understood. The beauty is that we can recover.