Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Scent of Cedar *, Aug 7, 2015.
It is late and I am tired, but I will start here:
"Chronically traumatized people often exhibit hyper-vigilant, anxious and agitated behavior, symptoms such as tension headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, abdominal pain, back pain, tremors and nausea."
I suffer every one of these symptoms except the tremors. Instead of those I get hives.
I am an empath. Most of my career I worked in a profession that for me is founded upon empathy, but not often is.
I have been directly the target of the Sociopathic sting, by colleagues.
My profession requires significant private contact. I enjoy my work and I connect to the people I see.
Frequently that is perceived to be potentially illicit, at least suspicious.
I understand this. But I do not change the way I work. I defy it. Not flagrantly. But I do what is necessary to do my job. I am unafraid. I know that there are risks to me. I do not take them seriously. I will not compromise the essence of my work.
To a sociopath, the empathy as if gives off a scent. It was described to me as a visceral response. A feeling in the gut. That something suspicious is going on. A crossing of a boundary. Empathy. It is the signal to attack.
The story I will tell you is too complicated to relate right now. There was a triad. An apath, a sociopath and an empath. There was also a set up. And lies.
I stood my ground. Actually, I am proud right now. It was scary. I was interrogated.
I turned the tables. I accused the investigator of prohibiting me from doing my job. I told him that I would report him if he continued to obstruct my ability to work.
Actually, now I am remembering another similar even scarier incident.
And I am wondering if I am a masochist to put myself in situations where I am attacked for being who I am. For working.
I see it as a strengthening process. An opportunity to define myself. To become myself. Not just to see who I am. To create myself. By deciding how to be and who to be. And to decide how to respond when challenged.
In my life I was not always able to choose who to be. It was forced upon me by circumstance.
One does not become themselves watching TV (or in bed). We know ourselves by where we go, what we do and how. Do we take the high or low road? Do we go along or not? Alone or with the crowd? How do we speak to power, and what do we say? Do we take the easy way out or take a stand?
Maybe it is because I was abused repeatedly as a child, I seem to have needed to test myself. To see if I am a coward or a victim, I am not sure.
Perhaps I choose to test others. To see first hand their morality or cruelty or their courage.
Maybe this is not fair. Maybe one should expect and assume the kindness and goodness of others. I do not. I know better.
I'm also an empath. We should do a thread just on empaths and Highly Sensitive People.
So, here is a question. If we have been raised by sociopathic types (by English types, to coin a phrase from Monty and the French king) is that why dealing with sociopathic types doesn't set off in us the warning bells that it should? The lady therapist told us that there are always people out there looking to take advantage but that, for some reason probably having to do with our upbringings, we either don't recognize them or fall into automatic patterns of response to their weird expectations that we will believe them over ourselves.
But I wonder why we are vulnerable.
Empathy...there has to be something other than lack of empathy going on, here. There is will and intention in what the sociopathic types do.
I think what happens happens over time. As the sociopathic type begins encroaching on our reality, begins taking it over...there could not be a way they could exploit vulnerabilities the way they do without finding them, first. That is empathy. To understand the other guy's reality. The sociopath twists us with our own vulnerabilities. The empath (for lack of a better term) wishes us all to rise and believes that we can. So is it a question then of sociopathy being real, being a genetically determined thing, or is this a moral question.
I have been thinking alot about nerfherder's posts for us. The first one dealt with the question of believing ourselves over accepting beliefs found to have been valid over time. (To me, it did.) But then, we have to think about the really crummy belief systems that have been found to work over time. Like stoning people, or like accepting poverty or disease as punishments or parts of a life cycle and so on.
I think sociopathy is a moral depravity question having to do with informed choice, and not a genetic question having to do with empathy. The swirling center of the thing is where have we found justification for our beliefs.
I think that this morning, anyway.
Empathy. To consider the amount of empathy or the lack thereof as a genetically hard wired thing cannot be correct thinking. As this article notes, we are slipping from a moral to an immoral state of expectation, of acceptance of what is right and of what is good for us individually and as a people. I had always believed humans were in their adolescences, now. Without social mores, without strong religious upbringings to instruct in right or wrong as it has been learned over time...how do we determine right from wrong, other than that what is right for us is the compass?
Which are the values held up as heroic, in this or any other time?
I was watching Book TV yesterday. At issue in one of the discussions was government and multi-national corporations and money laundering for drug rings going into the billions of dollars with the collusion of the government. All this, while the person caught with marijuana in their pockets is sent through a legal system also rife with corruption.
And our prisons are burgeoning.
So, is it less a question of empathy than a moral question. Surely, my mother had to know what she was doing was wrong. She did it routinely and she hid it well and she continues, to the degree she is able, to do it, today.
As does my sister. Here is another interesting thing. My sister claims moral superiority through adherence to a form of legitimized hate-in-the-heart spiritual belief which allows her not only to judge who will or will not be going you-know-where (rather than the shining hope of Heaven, here and now and later, too) with impunity, but to claim that, because of this religious affiliation, everything she does, and everything she believes, is correct.
That is where she finds the legitimacy that was always the legitimacy she reflected to herself. That is why this system of belief rings true for her. She already believed it and gravitated toward those of like mind.
It is like a closed and very complex circle which allows and even encourages the most incredible actions and points of view.
So, are there sociopathic types, or is moral depravity a choice.
We were raised in the same household. Yet, I find no appeal in those systems of belief she has espoused all her life, from the time she was a little girl.
Another consideration: If the sociopathic type is said not to have empathy, how is it they come alive when overpowering something or someone, whether through tricking or stealing time or hurting a child or taking a life?
In both my mom and my sister, it is a sense of personal grandiosity that is being serviced through overpowering whatever the object of attention is ~ even the manner of someone's thinking is a thing to be dominated and changed, which is where the religious authority aspect of things comes in.
Yet my sister left her small church. She knows best on her own, now.
My mother left the Church, too, before I was born.
Yet, as an adult, I found those, and similar values, to resonate with me. Yet again, terrible things have been done in the name of every religious belief system.
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Is that it?
To me, this one is easy. Fear. The sociopath in a second senses fear.
Fear is sensed immediately. Vulnerability is too.
Every parent has absolute power over their children who need them to live: for protection, nurturing, education.
Very few exploit their children. Even though through their absolute power they could.
I will only speak of my parents. My mother's problem as a mother is that she could not spare her own children, the effects of her own personality. I hear of other powerful or cruel parents (like Mafia, for example) who have a work life and a home life. My Mother treated us the same as she treated everybody else (except perhaps her father, but I am not sure. But after all she let him die alone. Even if she did not target him, she did neglect him.)
My Mother had a cookie cutter personality. Maybe all of us do.
One size fits all. She acted the same way to everybody.
When she felt her survival was at stake, she responded rapidly and with cruelty. And she interpreted her survival very, very broadly.
She had little interest in self-reflection or accountability (although she did change somewhat towards her children at the end of her life, because she wanted them in her life. For this I give her great credit.)
She was quite self-indulgent in her feelings of self-pity and martrydom. While she cared not at all for others' hurt at her own hand, she nursed her own hurts and was willing to use her hurt as a justification to hurt others.
I do not think it is absolute power. I think it is the inability or unwillingness of some people to temper their power or use it appropriately. It is a question of personality. Not of power.
There is a discussion this morning about narcissism, related to the ascendancy of Donald Trump in the political arena.
They are talking about Trump's unwillingness to temper his behavior, because it has worked so well for him in the past. There is the presumption by him that it will always work. Because it has always worked before.
They also talk about his lack of pretense. The fact that he does not prepare, or study, or even to give the appearance of somebody who needs to study or know about things of vital interest to a president. This amazes them. It does not surprise me.
After all in his mind, he is already President. All that remains is the formality of an election. To him the other people are pretenders. They do not even exist.
And anybody who challenges or questions him, should not exist. Like Megyn Kelly. In Trump's mind, for questioning him powerfully, she deserves to be killed off.
And he is doing it. No questions asked. Note the blood comments. The blood to which he refers is blood that he is drawing. In his vengeance. There is no question of it.
I am the best President, or businessman--this is all it takes. To be it.
In his mind, he already is. Like the English, the castle and everybody in it is already in their minds their own. And that is all that matters.
In this Cedar, you are correct. There are personalities wherein absolute power is not checked. Wherein guilt or doubt or mercy or love is not allowed into the equation. To temper power.
And in that I would agree. And that is what happened in my family.
I've never known a psychopath that I was aware of, although I have known narcissistic (they are not far from each other). My family is a bunch of narcs and borderlines, I think, or just plain mean-spirited people and I'm going to say my brother is one who is exempt. But otherwise.. I did not take well to strangers who were mean and did not date men who were narcs or borderlines. I don't know why. I was VERY vulnerable, but very hyper-vigilant to anyone who may want to use me in a dangerous way. That saved me.I *did* get drawn and draw some very strange woman frineds...lol. But they never lasted long and I didn't get to the point where they used me. It was mostly family. I lived it enough to recognize what I didn't want around me. About psychopaths though...
I saw a documentary on television (a long one) on the differences between psychopaths/antisocials (I think it's the same thing) and normals. Their brains ARE different, whether they started out different or were changed because of bad abuse or the environment).
In the documentary, pictures were shown to normals and psychopaths and many were disturbing such as people being killed and I'd rather not give more examples...upsetting...so use your imagination.
The normal brains showed a spike in excitement when shown the disturbing pictures indicating a reaction to the horrors before them. The psychopathic brain showed no difference between the picture of a kitten or the pciture of a horror. They simply didn't feel empathy.
They also do not show fear. They aren't really afraid of, say, being arrested or spending time with murderers in jail. And they think of people as similar to how we think of refrigerators. Just objects. That is how they can do what Ted Bundy did and eat a good dinner right afterward. They love to play mind games with people. It is one thing they are good for (people to the psychopath) and can pretend to feel normal feelings by watching others. They move on if they are found out.
Psychopathy does run in families. Whether it's nature, nurture or both, the verdict is not in yet. I of course always think nature trumps nurture. David Pelzer, from a Child CAlled It, was abused much more than Jeffrey Dahmer who didn't live a particularly abusive life and look who turned out to be the psychopath.
We have a long way to go to understand the workings of the human brain, but I love studying behaviors.
Separate names with a comma.