Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

Fear, narcissism, and neuroscience

Over the last several decades there has been significant growth in the understanding of the neurobiological basis of fear. At the center of the fear circuitry is the amygdala. The amygdala mediates processes such as the detection of emotionally arousing and/or salient stimuli. Additional regions (eg, nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, some prefrontal regions, etc) form a neural network involved in the perception of threat, fear learning, and fear expression. These areas individually mediate symptoms of fear and collectively act to produce an integrated fear response. Our nuanced understanding of this complex neural network results from imaging (eg, during fear conditioning studies), physiological (eg, skin conductance, eye-blink response), and psychopharmacological studies that not only enhance the mechanistic understanding of fear but also highlight the role of fearrelated dysfunction in the generation and maintenance of various forms of psychopathology.

Failure to properly regulate fear responses is central to specific phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, and some Axis II disorders (ie, fear of separation and loss of support in dependent personality disorder (DPD) of abandonment in borderline personality disorder (BPD), and of criticism, disapproval, and rejection in avoidant personality disorder (APD). While some disorders are largely associated with hyperviglance and an over-reactive fear response (eg, anxiety disorders and BPD), others are related to deficient fear reactivity (eg, psychopathy). Studies on the relationship between fear and narcissism have been sparse, both at a phenotypic and mechanism level. One study of individuals with narcissistic traits, as measured by the Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI) reported that they display diminished electrodermal reactivity to aversive stimuli, indicating weak responses to punishment or aversive cues.

Despite the limited research directly examining fear and narcissism, there are studies of other related conditions with relevance to pathological narcissism that highlight the importance of fear in the expression of psychopathology. Specifically, the role of fear in psychopathy-related disinhibition has been the focus of studies for decades. NPD and psychopathy are considered to be overlapping constructs, both expressing symptoms of grandiosity, compromised empathic functioning, and callousness. In fact, Kernberg suggested that narcissism might be the core of psychopathy. Psychopathic individuals generally display an inability to form genuine relationships; limited (ie, grandiose) affective processing, especially with respect to anticipatory anxiety and remorse; an impulsive behavioral style involving a general failure to evaluate anticipated actions and inhibit the inappropriate ones; and a chronic antisocial lifestyle that entails great costs to society as well as for the affected individual. While both affective and behavioral characteristics are important elements of psychopathy, the affective deficits have traditionally been considered to be the root cause of the psychopath’s problems. Continue reading “Fear, narcissism, and neuroscience”

Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

Divorcing the emotional terrorist

Unfortunately the legal situation which many divorce agreements mandate is open-ended. Certainly, when both parties to a divorce are reasonably well-balanced, it is entirely fitting for the settlement to be flexible enough to incorporate changing financial circumstances, child-care capabilities, and visitation rights. When, however, one party to the divorce is an emotional terrorist, then both the confrontational divorce procedure and the resultant open-ended divorce settlement provide infinite opportunity for the courts, lawyers, and the entire battery of psychologists called in for evaluations, to be used as the terrorist’s weapons. In these cases, the court and the divorce procedure provide no boundaries for the terrorist; instead they allow the terrorist to continue to behave boundlessly.

For this reason, when dealing with a terrorist, it is best for the divorce procedure and final decree to be as swift, as final, as absolute, as unequivocal as possible. Every practitioner or attorney handling divorces is familiar with clients described as “litigious.” [ “Tar baby” is a popular term among Colorado lawyers.] Only when “litigiousness” is seen as a manifestation of terrorism can the course to swift and precise legal settlement be steered.

To limit the terrorist’s feelings of omnipotence, there are many effective measures. The guiding principle, as in the handling of political terrorists, must be: “There is no negotiating with terrorists.” Endless telephone calls, conversations, confrontation, trial “get-back-togethers,” correspondence, visitations, gestures of appeasement, and efforts to placate the terrorist’s demands, all serve to reinforce the terrorist’s belief that she is accomplishing something. Only determined resolution in the face of terrorism shows the terrorist that her power is limited.

Furthermore, for anyone dealing directly with the terrorist, reassurances, “ego boosts,” and consolations are lamentably counterproductive. Mrs. Roberts soon found for herself a feminist therapist staunchly supporting the erroneous belief “All feelings (and therefore behaviors) are valid.” Mrs. Roberts is told by this therapist that she has a right to feel and to behave in any manner she chooses, in callous disregard for the devastation inflicted upon the children. Such reassurances serve only to fortify the terrorist’s already pathological, solipsistic, and eternally self-justifying perspective.

If wishing to undertake the second sphere of disarming a terrorist — personal intervention with the terrorist herself — the therapist must be prepared to be straight, honest and very direct. In my own dealings with women as terrorists, I have found on occasion that one quite simply can point out to the terrorist, “You are behaving like a terrorist. This is what you are doing. This is how you are being destructive. This is the destruction you are heading towards,” and the terrorist, seeing themselves clearly for the first time, might be encouraged to reconsider their behavior. More commonly, however, extremely deep therapy is required. For the terrorist’s behavior to change, there must first be a solid and fundamental change within the terrorist’s physiological constitution.

Usually it is only by an in-depth excavation and resolution of early childhood pain that the terrorist can begin to gain a real, true, and level-headed perception of her own current situation. Direct intervention with a terrorist — like all forms of therapeutic intervention — can hope to achieve change only if the individual concerned wishes to change and possesses that vital yet ineffable quality: the will to health. When the will to health is lacking, there can be no change. If the terrorist cannot or will not change, one can only help the other family members to be resolute, be strong, and, whenever possible, be distant. Continue reading “Divorcing the emotional terrorist”

Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Malignant Narcissism, Narcissism, Narcopath, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

A “violence prone” individual

I will not describe here in any detail the types of childhood that tend to create the subsequent terrorist. I will say, however, that invariably the terrorist’s childhood, once understood, can be seen as violent (emotionally and/or physically). Also invariably, the terrorist can be regarded as a “violence prone” individual. I define a violence prone woman as a woman who, while complaining that she is the innocent victim of the malice and aggression of all other relationships in her life, is in fact a victim of her own violence and aggression. A violent and painful childhood tends to create in the child an addiction to violence and to pain (an addiction on all levels: the emotional, the physical, the intellectual, the neurochemical), an addiction that then compels the individual to recreate situations and relationships characterized by further violence, further danger, further suffering, further pain. Thus, it is primarily the residual pain from childhood — and only secondarily the pain of the terrorist’s current familial situation — that serves as the terrorist’s motivating impetus. There is something pathological about the terrorist’s motivation, for it is based not so much on reality as on a twisting, a distortion, a reshaping of reality.

Because the emotional terrorist is a violence-prone individual, addicted to violence, the terrorist’s actions must be understood as the actions of an addict. When the family was together, the terrorist found fulfillment for any number of unhealthy appetites and addictions. When that family then dissolves, the terrorist behaves with all the desperation, all the obsession, all the single-minded determination of any addict facing or suffering withdrawal.

The single-mindedness, the one-sidedness of feeling, is perhaps the most important shibboleth of the emotional terrorist. Furthermore, the extent of this one-sidedness is, for the practitioner, perhaps the greatest measure and indicator of how extreme the terrorist’s actions are capable of becoming.

Any person suffering an unhappy family situation, or the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, will feel some pain and desperation. A relatively well-balanced person, however, will be not only aware of their own distress but also sensitive, in some degree, to the suffering of the other family members. For example, reasonably well-balanced parents, when facing divorce, will be most concerned with their children’s emotional well-being, even beyond their own grief. Not so the emotional terrorist.

To the family terrorist, there is only one wronged, one sufferer, only one person in pain, and this person is the terrorist herself. The terrorist has no empathy and feels only her own pain. In this manner, the terrorist’s capacity for feeling is narcissistic, solipsistic, and in fact pathological.

Again, I will not attempt here to detail the factors in childhood that lead to the creation of an emotional terrorist. What is evident, however, in the terrorist’s limited or nonexistent ability to recognize other people’s feelings, is that the terrorist’s emotions and awareness, at crucial stages of childhood development, were stunted from reaching beyond the boundaries of self, due to a multiplicity of reasons. Later, the adult terrorist went on to make a relationship that was, on some level, no true relationship, but a reenactment of childhood pains, scenarios, situations, and “scripts.” Throughout the relationship, the solipsistic terrorist did not behave genuinely in response to the emotions of other family members but self-servingly used them as props for the recreation of the terrorist’s programme. And when that relationship finally faces dissolution, the terrorist is aware only of her own pain and outrage and, feeling no empathy for other family members, will proceed single-mindedly in pursuit of her goal, whether that goal is reunion, ruin, or revenge. The terrorist’s perspective is tempered by little or no objectivity. Instead the terrorist lives in a self-contained world of purely subjective pain and anger.

Because conscience consists so largely of the awareness of other people’s feelings as well as of one’s own, the emotional terrorist’s behavior often can be described to be virtually without conscience. In this lack of conscience lies the dangerous potential of the true terrorist, and again the degree of conscience in evidence is a useful measure in my work to anticipate the terrorist’s destructiveness.

An additional factor, making the terrorist so dangerous, is the fact that the terrorist, while in positively monomaniacal pursuit of her goal, feels fueled by a sense of omnipotence. Perhaps it is true that one imagines oneself omnipotent when, in truth, one is in a position of impotence (as in the case of losing one’s familial control through dissolution). Whatever the source of the sensation of omnipotence, the terrorist believes herself to be unstoppable, and unbound by the constraints or conscience or empathy, believes that no cost (cost, either to the terrorist or to other family members) is too great to pay toward the achievement of the goal.

The terrorist, and the terrorist’s actions, know no bounds. (The estimation of the extent of the terrorist’s “boundlessness” presents the greatest challenge to my work). Intent only to achieve the goal (perhaps “hell-bent” is the most accurate descriptive phrase) the terrorist will take such measures as: stalking a spouse or ex-spouse, physically assaulting the spouse or the spouse’s new partners, telephoning all mutual friends and business associates of the spouse in an effort to ruin the spouse’s reputation, pressing fabricated criminal charges against the spouse (including alleged battery and child molestation), staging intentionally unsuccessful suicide attempts for the purpose of manipulation, snatching children from the spouse’s care and custody, vandalizing the spouse’s property, murdering the spouse and/or the children as an act of revenge. Continue reading “A “violence prone” individual”

Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Malignant Narcissism, Narcissism, Narcopath, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

The Emotional Terrorist by Erin Pizzey

The potential for family terrorism may rest dormant for many years, emerging in its full might only under certain circumstances. I found that in many cases it is the dissolution, or threatened dissolution, of the family that calls to the fore the terrorist’s destructiveness. It is essential to understand that prior to dissolution, the potential terrorist plays a role in the family that is by no means passive. The terrorist is the family member whose moods reign supreme in the family, whose whims and actions determine the emotional climate of the household. In this setting, the terrorist could be described as the family tyrant, for within the family, this individual maintains the control and power over the other members’ emotions.

The family of the emotional terrorist well may be characterized as violent, incestuous, dysfunctional, and unhappy, but it is the terrorist or tyrant who is primarily responsible for initiating conflict, imposing histrionic outbursts upon otherwise calm situations, or (more subtly and invisibly) quietly manipulating other family members into uproar through guilt, cunning taunts, and barely perceptive provocations. (The quiet manipulative terrorist usually is the most undetected terrorist. Through the subtle creation of perpetual turmoil, this terrorist may virtually drive other family members to alcoholism, to drug-addiction, to explosive behavior, to suicide. The other family members, therefore, are often misperceived as the ‘family problem’ and the hidden terrorist as the saintly woman who “puts up with it all.”)

While the family remains together, however miserable that “togetherness” might be, the terrorist maintains her power. However, it is often the separation of the family that promises to rend the terrorist’s domain and consequently to lessen her power. Family dissolution, therefore, often is the time when the terrorist feels most threatened and most alone, and, because of that, most dangerous.

In this position of fear, the family terrorist sets out to achieve a specific goal. There are many possible goals for the terrorist, including: reuniting the family once again, or ensuring that the children (if there are children in the relationship) remain under the terrorist’s control, or actively destroying the terrorist’s spouse (or ex-spouse) emotionally, physically, and financially.

To take an extreme parable, when it was evident to Adolph Hitler that winning the War was an absolute impossibility, he ordered his remaining troops to destroy Berlin: If he no longer could rule, then he felt it best for his empire to share in his own personal destruction. Similarly, the family terrorist, losing or having lost supremacy, may endeavor to bring about the ruin (and, in some extreme cases, the death) of other family members.

The family terrorist, like the political terrorist, is motivated by the pursuit of a goal. In attempting to “disarm” the family terrorist, it is vital that the practitioner begin intervention by trying to recognize and understand the terrorist’s goal.

The source of the terrorist’s goal as in the case of the political terrorist, usually can be understood to spring from some “legitimate” grievance. The grievance’s legitimacy may be regarded in terms of justified feeling of outrage in response to an actual injustice or injury, or the legitimacy may exist solely in the mind of the terrorist. Whether this legitimacy be real or imagined, the grievance starts as the impetus for the terrorist’s motivation. One hallmark of an emotional terrorist is that this motivation tends to be obsessional by nature.

Whence this obsession? Why this overwhelmingly powerful drive? In many cases, that which the terrorist believes to be the grievance against the spouse actually has very little to do with the spouse. Although the terrorist may be consciously aware only of the spouse’s alleged offense, the pain of this offense (real or imagined) is invariably an echo of the past, a mirrored recreation of some painful situation in the terrorist’s childhood. Continue reading “The Emotional Terrorist by Erin Pizzey”

Posted in Alienation, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dark Triad, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Histrionic Personality, Machiavellianism, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), PERSONALITY DISORDERS, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

The Malevolent Side of Human Nature : A Meta-Analysis and Critical Review of the Literature on the Dark Triad ( Narcissism , Machiavellianism , and Psychopathy )

The term dark triad refers to the constellation of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Over the past few years, the concept has gained momentum, with many researchers assuming that the dark triad is a prominent antecedent of transgressive and norm-violating behavior. Our purpose in this meta-analytic review was to evaluate
(a) interrelations among narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy;
(b) gender differences in these traits;
(c) how these traits are linked to normal personality factors; and
(d) the psychosocial correlates of the dark triad.
Our findings show that dark triad traits are substantially intercorrelated, somewhat more prevalent among men than women, predominantly related to the Big Five personality factor of agreeableness and the HEXACO factor of honesty-humility, and generally associated with various types of negative psychosocial outcomes. We question whether dark triad traits are sufficiently distinct and argue that the way they are currently measured is too simple to capture the malevolent sides of personality. Because most research in this domain is cross-sectional and based on self-reports, we recommend using a cross-informant approach and prospective, longitudinal research designs for studying the predictive value of dark triad features.

Continue reading “The Malevolent Side of Human Nature : A Meta-Analysis and Critical Review of the Literature on the Dark Triad ( Narcissism , Machiavellianism , and Psychopathy )”

Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

An item response theory analysis of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised.

Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL–R; R. D. Hare, 1991) is the measure of choice for measuring psychopathic personality disorder. An item response theory (IRT) approach was adopted to analyze both test and item functioning. Data from 2,067 North American participants were analyzed. The analysis confirmed that the test was appropriate for both the diagnosis of psychopathic personality disorder and for making measures of trait strength. Two correlated but distinct factors underpin scores on the PCL–R: Factor 1, Selfish, Callous, and Remorseless Use of Others; and Factor 2, Chronically Unstable and Antisocial Lifestyle. Items related to Factor 1 are generally more discriminating and provide more information about the trait than items relating to Factor 2. Future uses of IRT procedures in the analysis of PCL–R data are discussed Continue reading “An item response theory analysis of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised.”

Posted in Alienation, DESTRUCTIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER, Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS

The Reliability and Validity of the Psychopathy Checklist

The reliability and validity of the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL–R) was examined in a sample of 528 non psychotic female offenders participating in a study assessing the generalizability of the instrument to females using personality, attitudinal, and laboratory behavioral measures. Results showed good interrater reliability and adequate internal consistency. Correlations with a number of self-report validity measures and previous criminal behavior provide support for the convergent validity of the instrument. A lack of association with general psychopathology provides support for the discriminant validity of the instrument. However, significant correlations with anxiety, negative affectivity, and intelligence run counter to expectations and to findings with male offenders. Furthermore, the low base rate of psychopathy in this sample, relative to base rates among male prisoners, raises the concern that either psychopathy is less prevalent in females than in males or the PCL–R is not adequately assessing the construct in female offenders. Continue reading “The Reliability and Validity of the Psychopathy Checklist”

Posted in Alienation, Narcissism, Narcopath, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), Psychological manipulation, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS, Richard Grannon

The 3 Main Mind Games Played By Narcissists (Psychological Torture Tactics)

Posted in PERSONALITY DISORDERS, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS, Recommended Reading

Untruthfulness and insincerity

The psychopath shows a remarkable disregard for truth and is to be trusted no
more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of
present intentions. He gives the impression that he is incapable of ever attaining
realistic comprehension of an attitude in other people which causes them to value truth and cherish truthfulness in themselves.
Typically he is at ease and unpretentious in making a serious promise or in
(falsely) exculpating himself from accusations, whether grave or trivial. His simplest
statement in such matters carries special powers of conviction. Overemphasis, obvious
glibness, and other traditional signs of the clever liar do not usually show in his words or in his manner. Whether there is reasonable chance for him to get away with the fraud or whether certain and easily foreseen detection is at hand, he is apparently unperturbed and does the same impressive job. Candor and trustworthiness seem implicit in him at such times. During the most solemn perjuries he has no difficulty at all in looking anyone tranquilly in the eyes. Although he will lie about any matter, under any circumstances, and often for no good reason, he may, on the contrary, sometimes own up to his errors (usually when detection is certain) and appear to be facing the consequences with singular honesty, fortitude, and manliness.
It is indeed difficult to express how thoroughly straightforward some typical
psychopaths can appear. They are disarming not only to those unfamiliar with such
patients but often to people who know well from experience their convincing outer
aspect of honesty. A saying current among psychiatric residents, secretaries, medical
associates, and others familiar with what goes on in my office may illustrate this point.
The saying is in substance that excellent evidence for the diagnosis of psychopathic
personality can be found in my own response to newcomers who seek to borrow money or cash checks. It is rather generally believed that only psychopaths are successful and that in typical scams success is inevitable. Although I argue that some exaggeration has perhaps colored this story and overemphasized the infallibility of my reaction as a test, I must admit there is much truth in the matter. Even after so many years of special interest in the subject, I am forced to confess that fairly often observers have had the opportunity to make a snap diagnosis from my response to this sort of appeal and see it gain full confirmation in subsequent events. I might add that no such loan has ever been repaid and that all such checks have bounced.

After being caught in shameful and gross falsehoods, after repeatedly violating his
most earnest pledges, he finds it easy, when another occasion arises, to speak of his
word of honor, his honor as a gentleman, and he shows surprise and vexation when
commitments on such a basis do not immediately settle the issue.

The conception of living up to his word seems, in fact, to be regarded as little
more than a phrase sometimes useful to avoid unpleasantness or to gain other ends.
How inadequate such ends may be to account for the psychopath’s neglect of truth can be shown in a brief example:

In a letter to his wife, at last seeking divorce and in another city, one patient set
down dignified, fair appraisals of the situation and referred to sensible plans he had
outlined for her security. He then added that specified insurance policies and annuities providing for the three children (including their tuition at college) had been mailed under separate cover and would, if she had not already received them, soon be in her hands. He had not taken even the first step to obtain insurance or to make any other provision, and, once he had made these statements in his letter, he apparently gave the matter no further thought. Continue reading “Untruthfulness and insincerity”

Posted in PERSONALITY DISORDERS, Psychopath, Psychopathic style, PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS, Recommended Reading

THE MASK OF SANITY

Anyone concerned at all with psychiatry is likely to find in Jenny Hagar Poster
Evered of The Strange Woman (Ben Ames Williams) 295 detail and concreteness familiar in the direct study of patients but hard to put into medical histories. In that she does not respect the rights of others and particularly in that she reacts in anything but a normal way in the deepest personal relations, Jenny might be proclaimed a psychopath whose deviation is extraordinarily complete. Sharply distinguishing points emerge when we consider the persistent purposiveness, the strong and sustained malice with which this woman works to destroy all happiness for children, husbands, and paramours. A conscious brutality prevails. Destructive impulses are directed consistently by open hate.

Jenny shows a rather accurate awareness of how it is going to hurt as she skillfully, and in response to consistent impulse, pursues her plans. All this is very typical of severe paranoid reactions seen clinically.

We shall list the characteristic points that have emerged and then discuss them in
order:
1. Superficial charm and good “intelligence”
2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
3. Absence of “nervousness” or psychoneurotic manifestations
4. Unreliability
5. Untruthfulness and insincerity
6. Lack of remorse or shame
7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
8. Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
9. Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
10. General poverty in major affective reactions
11. Specific loss of insight

  1. Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  2. Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without
  3. Suicide rarely carried out
  4. Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  5. Failure to follow any life plan Continue reading “THE MASK OF SANITY”