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Sarah
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience:  Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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Hello, I think I may be a psychopath. Very little moves

Customer Question

Hello,

I think I may be a psychopath. Very little moves me and I think overall, I lack a sort of conscience that other have that allow them to act in more compassionate ways in day to day life. When I meet someone, I am able to quickly assess theirs personality/intellectual strengths and weaknesses and flatter them in such a way that makes me come off "nice" or "charming". When people I am close with actually get to know me, they find that I am manipulative, compulsive, under-handed, and untrustworthy. Although these are terrible traits, they don't necessarily bother me and in fact, I often times thrive off this intimidation to achieve my goals. I am most intrigued by the fact that who I am superficially varies so drastically from who I "really am" (as people would say) that I wonder who I really am to begin with.

I have also raised emulating and reflecting other people's emotions to a near art without ever actually feeling anything on my end. I laugh at funerals (though I'm sure that might be a good thing because it probably means I am feeling a strong emotion, of which I cannot express in an appropriate way--hence the laughter). Other people's weaknesses come across me as my advantage and I have done very well for myself both educationally and professionally.

There is, however, a silver lining to all of this. I do feel guilt and remorse from time to time but not very often. I was a raised a Christian and am a Christian now. Though, I am almost positive, that if these Christian morals and values weren't conditioned in my head since birth, I would be far more predatory both in action and thought. Luckily, I'm not. But it still bothers me.

Am I psychopath? Or just apathetic? Or maybe just slightly narcissistic with a dash of emotional handicap...
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 4 years ago.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

Your description of yourself is quite lucid and describes a psychopath quite well. You have described what is called the "Charismatic Psychopath".

What astounds me is the power of your Christian faith that has the strength to hold you somewhat in check. There is no real treatment for you, other than hanging onto your faith.

If you can keep yourself in check then you can avoid what awaits many individuals who are psychopathic: a long prison sentence in a high security penitentiary.

I wish you the best in keeping this "gift" you have received in check.

Best wishes,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Lack of probing questions from the expert; overall generalization of answer leads me to believe I was either incredibly specific and my whole life fit into a few sentences or that perhaps a second answer is worth considering.
Expert:  Sarah replied 4 years ago.
Hi Customer,

I am hoping I may be able to help you further. I do agree with much of what Elliott has a said to you. remember, there are many active psychopaths who not criminal and are never criminal. It isn't necessary to engage in criminal activity in order to be a psychopath, so I do hope you don't feel that you fit this description so well that it is necessary to commit crime. It may not just be your Christian faith that stops you from doing harm, it may not be a part of who you are.

Would you be able to describe to me the best day of your life? What did you like about it? Can you also describe the worst day of your life? What was so bad about it?

Best Wishes, Sarah
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hello Sarah,

I do appreciate your willingness to help and based on your credentials, you seem very well-seasoned in mental aberrations and hope your responses can better enlighten me about my current situation as, I have no doubt, you were able to do for many others. As for the crime aspect, there's no need to coax me off the ledge of criminal rampage as I can assure you whether its the faith or "who I am", it won't be happening.

The best day of my life would probably have to be...hm.. well you got me there. Nothing really comes to mind. I guess I could come up with something that was mildly amusing like a surprise birthday party and rave about how the love of all my peers was evident that night but it would ultimately be...misleading. When I beat out a handful of my peers for a very well sought-out position in the financial industry, I was pretty ecstatic. Not necessarily because I beat them out but because the experience was rewarding as it would be for anyone who goes through the hoops of interviewing and applying etc.

Nothing too specific comes to me for the "worst" day of my life either. I do recall being very unhappy and miserable after my parents ganged up on me about how I was lazy or unmotivated and how I needed to be better in order to be the best of the best (etc etc.. the typical emotional berating that leads someone to become an overachiever). But was years ago. During those days I felt disconnected, hopeless and unworthy. I sort of sprung into action following those years and became the shining, cold emotionally deviant man I am today, graduating with the highest honors (boring) and landing a stellar job (even more boring). The price? My soul, I guess.



Expert:  Sarah replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your information Colaman, this gives me greater insight into where you are coming from. I would like you to know that I have been trained in Hare's PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist) so I am able to talk with you with some authority on this and i have met with individuals who have scored very highly on this scale.

 

I think the answers you have given for the two questions would indicate that although you are exhibiting traits that could be seen as psychopathic, there is probably another explanation for your lack of emotion and high need to achieve, and you have already identified it for yourself - your upbringing. This is not an exercise for placing blame, as parents often bring us up with their best intentions, but nontheless, they impact upon how we become in later years.

 

A psychopath would have the insight that you have regarding the party and the love from your friends, but this would be learned rather than felt - the fact that you have listed it leads me to believe that you are indicating that you know this should be your answer but you just didn't feel it. A psychopath wouldn't probably bother to write it as he wouldn't be bothered that he didn't feel it. This difference is very subtle and I am not sure if I have explained it correctly. A psychopath would not use the words 'ecstatic' 'unhappy' or 'miserable' , nor would they see their high achievements as 'boring' - you give the impression that you know something is missing, and although a psychopath could say this too, they would not be concerned that something is missing, because they genuinely don't care. When I say psychopath here, we need to remember that the measures are on a sliding scale and I am talking about those at the top/high end.

 

So, where does that leave you? If you look back, what words would you use to describe how your parents wanted you to be? Your email suggests that they would include 'high achiever' - would you be expected to be unemotional too - "don't cry, you're a big strong boy" - "only girls cry" - "crying is weak" - perhaps??? Don't take these on board unless you can own them - it's hard not to be leading in an email.

 

My overall conclusion would be that yes, you are displaying traits that could be seen as psychopathic (cold, unemotional, wanting to be the best at any cost to others) but this is not enough (I would obviously need to know much more for a proper assessment). However, you have described emotions that a psychopath would not, and your email suggests that you have been brought up to be cold. I believe (from the small bits of info that we have here) that your emotions actually run deep, but have been pushed down so hard in order to be what your parents wanted you to be - you are now an adult who has achieved such and are feeling hollow and bored. It seems you have latched onto a psychopath as the symptoms are similar and this has become a role model of sorts. To be an emotional man before in your life would have scuppered your goals programmed as a child, but now you are listening to yourself and perhaps don't like what you hear. It is now time to explore the other part of you that exists, as you are a grown man and can do this without your parents permission.

 

My advice would be to seek out a local EMDR therapist, who will help you to 'unlock' the secret parts of you that were squashed as a young boy. I know "it was years ago" but you may be surprised as how powerful these squashed emotions can be. Have a look on www.emdria.com for more information and a therapist local to you - you will see this is a trauma therapy, but do not be put off by this - if you were meant to be an emotional person and you were brought up to be unemotional, this can count as trauma (again, I repeat, this is not an exercise meant to apportion blame to your parents). The results of this therapy can be amazing (no guarantees) - I strongly suggest that you give it a go - you have the whole of your life ahead of you to learn about your 'true' self and that can be exciting?? The great thing about this therapy is that you can be consciously unaware of what is causing the issues (although you already have an inkling) as the work takes place in your subconscious mind, where all of the answers are locked. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. How does that sound?? Hope this is helpful. Sarah



Edited by Sarah on 9/7/2010 at 9:13 AM EST
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience: Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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Sarah
Sarah
Chartered Psychologist / Hypnotherapist
143 Satisfied Customers
Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.