Help! There is a psychopath in my life.

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There is a reasonable chance you have landed here because you were searching personal solutions.  The first thing is don’t panic.  Seriously, that can make things worse.  If they really are a psychopath calling them on it will not cause some sort of guilt trip.  Even if they could change they will not feel bad enough (or feel bad at all) to change their behaviour for your benefit.

The first thing you need to do is see a psychologist.  No this does not mean it’s your fault or that you did anything wrong or failed in any way.  They can really help.  Psychologists help you map out your emotional reactions.  Everybody is different and it can be tricky for an untrained person to suspend their own emotional reactions when discussing unconscionable acts.  Psychologists ARE trained in this hence their advantage in helping you know yourself.

Please know that you are not doomed if you are isolated if you can’t afford or reach one.  Your path may just be more difficult.  After a good college try you can skip to the next step.

Read Without Conscience, and Puzzling People.  Seriously it’s important that you read them for the next step.  Both of these books detail extensively what psychopaths are and how they work.  Both go so far as to provide tests to determine if a particular person is a psychopath.  I would use Sheridan’s (Puzzling People) 1-5 scale with both Sheridan’s and Hare’s (Without Conscience)  psychopath tests.  Do not just rate the psychopath.  Apply the scale to the closest people to you in you life, including at least a couple of people you are sure are not psychopaths and yourself.  This is important as a reality check.

Be warned you may be surprised at who turns out to be a psychopath.  All people can project their own flaws on others.  Psychopaths use this technique heavily to stay hidden.  Share the results with your psychologist.  They will likely NOT confirm your assessment of the psychopath (no matter how obvious or accurate the test result is) but that does not mean it is not valid.  They have a moral obligation not to assess anyone that they don’t directly spend time with.    What they can do is help you figure out answers to particular questions.   They can help answer a question like ‘does aunt Petunia’s persona change when she becomes intensely angry at a third party and switches back again.’

Once you have completed the tests you will all the pieces in place you need to take action.  You will know who the psychopaths in your life are, and you will have  the moral support you need.   At this point you don’t need to get fancy.  Come up with a plan to quickly shut them out, both of power over your material world, and influence over your personal feelings.    If you can just walk away, do.  In the more likely event that you can’t you can’t because of a marriage or children or family, begin a regimen of shunning.

Shunning is simple and effective.  It essentially is turning your back on someone socially.   Just don’t talk to them anymore.   If you must you can practice basic manners (hello, goodbye, bless you), but keep it to a minimum.  Yes of no answers and a quick exit are called for if they (themselves or through someone they influence) try to force you into a conversation.  That’s it.  Sooner or later, they will just fall off and move on.  Keep track of the things they say to try to force you back into a destructive relationship with them.  These may be emotional triggers (weaknesses) of yours.

Good luck, but if you truly follow these steps you won’t need it.  🙂

2 thoughts on “Help! There is a psychopath in my life.

  1. Pingback: Jon Ronson TED talk | The Civilization Gene

  2. Pingback: How to personally deal with psychopaths. | The Civilization Gene

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