Because he was a “emotional eunuch” ie: had no capacity for emotion. But he PRETENDED to have that capacity really well, out in society. Because, well, that’s what it takes to fit in, to be accepted. It’s expected by other people. But there wasn’t much behind that act I learned, as I got to know him and suffered through the inexplicable, head-spinning whiplash of verbal and emotional abuse. Dating him was ultimately like having dated an emotional wrecking ball. Here is a clinical description from Robert Hare, in lay terms, of what I believe I was probably dealing with, at least to some extent:
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“Hare points out that some people have described psychopaths as somewhat robotic, two-dimensional, emotionally shallow, and lacking in conscience. They may know intellectually they should not do something, but without the feeling component there could be less motivation to respond to the moral imperative. Their inhibitions for antisocial or violent behavior are muchweaker than in normal individuals, and they readily learn and adopt behavior patterns that involve manipulation, deception, and violence to attain their own ends.
Because they don’t understand the feelings of others and don’t feel remorseful for harming them, psychopaths can easily rationalize their violence or deception as acceptable behavior.
Hare and his colleagues continued this research to learn more about the brain’s involvement in psychopathic behaviors. They used whole brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see if there were neurological manifestations of the way psychopaths process different types of words. When non-psychopaths processed negative emotional words (e.g.,rape, death, cancer), activity in the limbic regions of the brain increased. For psychopaths there was little or no increased activity in these regions. Curiously, however, there was increased activity in other areas. In short, the emotional word does not have the same limbic implication for psychopaths that it does for normal people.
“They seemed to be like Spock or Data on Star Trek,” Hare explains, “What I thought was most interesting was that for the first time ever, as far as I know, we found that there was no activation of the appropriate areas for emotional arousal, but there was over-activation in other parts of the brain, including parts of the brain that are ordinarily devoted to language. Those parts were active, as if they were saying, ‘Hey, isn’t that interesting.’ So they seem to be analyzing emotional material in terms of its linguistic or dictionary meaning.”
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Now, my Ex isn’t a criminal – at least not the type that our formal legal system cares about. He’s an emotional criminal IMO. Most psychopaths aren’t criminals. Some are, but most are not. They function undetected for the most part, in normal society. God help you if you have (or are) something he wants and if you weren’t able to recognize him before you get involved, and are charmed and manipulated by him. Sucked in, so to speak.
Anwyay, I post this because it gives some insight into WHAT might be going on (or NOT) in the minds of these psychopaths (or people with that type of behavior patterns) who seem to exhibit NO remorse, NO empathy, NO conscience about what they do or say to their victims in intimate relationships or other interpersonal or professional settings in order to get their way — in order to WIN what they want for themselves with nary a thought of what it costs anyone else for them to have it. And, often, – what they WANT is POWER and CONTROL over the other. Winning is all. Power and control is all. And they are damn ruthless about getting and keeping it — at all costs, and no matter who or how it hurts. And they can be VERY charming about it too. —Until or unless you get in their WAY.—
Are they “criminals”? Well, that depends how you define “criminal”, I guess. The things they get away with are certainly no less immoral than what criminals do, IMO.
Psychopaths disguise themselves really well in society. They LEARN what they “should” say and when to say it. When to feign “sympathy” or “caring” or empathy. And they fool most people, most of the time, with this. The book “The Mask of Sanity” (I haven’t read it yet), deals with this, I think – how well they blend in with normal people – even to the point of being able to blinker and charm lettered professionals – psychologists and psychiatrists.
HOW then, if they can even fool a trained psychologist, would a lay person like you or me, recognize one of them? There are a lot of “blame the victim” memes floating around out there that insist that VICTIMS of such an abuser “ought to” be able to determine that they are getting into an abusive relationship beforehand and therefore avoid such a trap. HOWEVER, if LETTERED PROFESSIONALS can be blinkered by such a conscience/empathy-lacking manipulative, conning person – how the HELL can a normal “person on the street” be expected to readily recognize one?
They CAN’T. So we need to stop blaming the victims for “not knowing” what they were getting into — and simultaneously sanctioning and enabling the socially unacceptable and terribly damaging, cruel and destructive behavior of abusive people – who may or may not be narcissists, psychopaths, or whatever. Regardless of any diagnosis or absence thereof, the behavior patterns abusive personalities exhibit and the damage they do to others are the same and it behooves any target to be aware of those behaviors.
For those unfortunate enough to end up in any type of intimate involvement with one of these “emotional eunuchs” – they eventually discover – shockingly and unbelievably so after initially being so charmed by them – that there is simply “nobody back there” emotionally.
For me, this was due to the way the man processed and behaved about things within the relationship (words, discussions, situations, events) that would be emotionally significant for any normal person –but they have very different meanings for Spock or Data on Star Trek — or for a psychopath. The mark of a psychopathic abuser isn’t necessarily physical violence, though the abuse can include that. Psychopaths are marked by a total lack of a seventh sense – that is CONSCIENCE, along with an inability to empathize with, or form emotional attachments to other human beings.
The things my Ex would SAY (abusive), the things he’d DO (abusive) and his REASONS he gave for justifying what he said or did – showed that to HIM – (my, or anyone’s) feelings were just an abstract term – no more than a mere definition – something he learned to observe from a distance but did NOT experience himself – so he was unable to process or deal with them in the same terms a normal person would in a relationship. And he certainly could not empathize with that which he does not experience himself: FEELINGS or EMOTIONS – other than ANGER, of course, which was purely a product of his need to wield control.
He was shockingly abnormal in this regard. This is why he’d NEVER UNDERSTAND how the things he said and did to me HURT so much. His ability to process and understand emotion simply WASN’T THERE. He was remarkably good with grammar, words, and data though. A computer person/geek, he’d written several technical articles in his field and was in Mensa. He wasn’t lacking in intelligence at all! But then neither was Data or Spock! He was certainly lacking though, and seemed to be a rather incomplete human being. A sort of “shell” of a person with a marked inability to form emotional attachments to other people ie: to LOVE.
At first, I found that puzzling and chose to ignore it. Later, I figured it was part of his lifestyle (“polyamory” – in which he HIDES his disorder well because such “emotionally detached” behavior is more accepted if not sanctioned there than in monogamous lifestyles). Ultimately, it became too abusive, painful, and impossible to live with this human machine – without my self being totally destroyed and the rest of my life and health being affected by his continual hurtful and cruel treatment of me. It was as if I was just another piece of “data” in his life at BEST — and an inferior nemesis and albatross of a human being to him, to be constantly and abusively reminded of that, at worst.
A day never went by without some sort of cruel remark, insult, criticism, put-down, name-calling, my being made the butt of a derogatory joke, or my being publicly humiliated (usually loudly) by him. And he could not fathom how or why 4 years of this began to tear me down, as a person, and to affect my health and my life. It just didn’t register with him at all. He tried to convince me that his was “normal” behavior and that I should accept it. He further asserted that I DESERVED his abuse that I was to blame for it and that if I did not accept it and his premise for it, that I was “oversensitive”. Any normal human being would be considered “oversensitive” to a person with no conscience.
It’s a BIG RED FLAG if anyone ever tells you you’re “oversensitive”. Don’t fall for it.
So this man was an emotional eunuch. Was he diagnosable? Who knows? He was certainly verbally and emotionally cruel and very controlling – and more and more so as time went on. He just wasn’t right in the head – maybe literally, if Robert Hare’s fMRI research applies. Or, maybe he’d shut down at a very shallow emotional level, if Martha Stout’s research applies. Or, both. Regardless, there seemed to certainly be a marked imbalance there and some very similar behaviors.
For all his ability and intelligence and even social prowess, he lacked as much in conscience and ability to empathize with, love and truely RESPECT another human being.
And THIS – is the mark of at least a narcissist, if not a full-blown psychopath.
I’m sure HE THINKS that HE is the “more mentally stable” person because he has “recovered” more quickly from our 4-year debacle than I have.
However, consider this example: When someone is stabbed in a back alley, it is usual that the person who got stabbed takes longer to recover than the person who did the stabbing. VICTIMS always take longer to recover than the perpetrator of the abuse – whatever it is or was. We have to get the stitches, do the rehab, get the reconstructive surgery to rebuild the slashed away pieces of muscle and skin, and try to regain a somewhat normal life. Meanwhile, the perpetrator of the crime has long since moved on, if not caught and they usually aren’t.
And in such situations, WHO is the mentally unstable person? Why, the person who did the stabbing, of course – the perpetrator – the one who has “moved on” to his next victim while the first one is still healing their wounds from the damage done by him – physical – or otherwise.
Without Conscience by Robert Hare