Sunday, January 1, 2012

Psycho: Labyrinth of the Psychopath 1 - When the Demon Knocks at Your Door

“He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time but you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will scare you with his eyes. And when he is through with you, and he will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what happened and what you did wrong. And if another of his kind comes knocking on your door, will you open it?"
-From an essay signed "A psychopath in prison”
Robert D. Hare, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

"Dr. Hare at the end of the book Without Conscience comes to the conclusion that basically the powers that be in our Western society are mostly psychopaths because we have created a situation where psychopaths in politics and big business rise to the top. They have a vested interest in the rest of us either believing that psychopaths are bug eyed ax murderers or that they do not really exist." - Robert Sheridan

In this post,  JohnQuincy conducts a mock interview with Robert Sheridan, author of this recent book:

The Book: Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath

From the Book Description: As well-researched as a scholarly work, yet with the immediacy and accessibility of a layman, Puzzling People is a first-person account of the cheats, the charlatans, the liars, the neglectful parents, abusive teachers, two-faced politicians and their Psychopathic Control Grid, tyrannical bosses and colleagues from hell we have all encountered, including the lying lovers who use us then lose us in an instant. Puzzling People takes an in-depth look at how the minds of psychopaths work and why, and focuses on what you can do to survive and thrive and ultimately escape forever. Delivered in a voice that makes it clear that the author lives what he writes, Puzzling People is an invaluable field guide to spotting and avoiding entities so completely lacking in empathy or compassion they may as well be counted as a different species entirely to human beings.

The mock interview is based on the first part of a multi-video series by Thomas Sheridan on YouTube:

YouTube Video: Labyrinth of the Psychopath 1 - When the Demon Knocks at Your Door

JohnQuincy Mock Interview with Robert Sheridan

Note: This is a mock not actual interview based on the above video. In a perfect world, Robert's book would receive more attention and he would be interviewed by established media luminaries around the world. This is my attempt to do him justice by giving him the interview that he deserves.

JohnQuincy: Thomas, why did you  write Puzzling People?

Thomas Sheridan: I want to let people know how to recognize a psychopath and how these psychopaths enter their lives.

JohnQuincy: Isn't it fairly easy to recognize a psychopath? Don't they walk around covered in blood carrying axes?

Thomas Sheridan: The first thing that I have to say when dealing with the issue of psychopaths is forget your previous prejudices against psychopaths and sociopaths. They are not all serial killers in fact almost none of them are. It is an image that has been put out there by popular culture. That image has been put out there for a reason. Many of the people who control society and the mass media are themselves psychopaths. They have a vested interested in making the rest of us think that anyone who is a psychopath is automatically Ted Bundy.

JohnQuincy: Are saying that all psychopaths are not serial killers?

Thomas Sheridan: Ted Bundy was a psychopath but he was the extreme exception. The vast majority of psychopaths are completely socialized within normal society. They are not bug eyed serial killers, they are not crazies, they are not social misfits, they are not all criminals.

JohnQuincy: How do these less extreme psychopaths differ from the serial killer variety?

Thomas Sheridan: In fact, very few of them are criminals in the actual legal, judicial sense. Many of the criminal ones will skirt around the margins of the law. Many of them are involved in criminal behavior but the majority of them go through out life without any sense of conscience without any ability to empathize with another person's feelings. They will leave a trail of misery: Psychological, emotional and financial ruin behind them as the move from one person, committee, group or political party to the next.

JohnQuincy: It must be fairly rare to run into even the less extreme psychopath. How prevalent are they?

Thomas Sheridan: According to most mental health professionals, one in twenty two people in Western society is a psychopath. Let that sink in for a second, one in twenty-two people is a psychopath. If you know twenty two people chances are that you have encountered a psycho path.

JohnQuincy: In what types of setting are we most likely to encounter a psychopath?

Thomas Sheridan: Most of us encounter psycho paths through our work and relationships with other people. Often in romantic relationships psycho paths have an incredible an incredible ability to move to relationship to relationship and to keep multiple relationships going at the same time.

JohnQuincy: Multiple relationships? Are psychopaths sex addicts?

Thomas Sheridan: This is not because they are Lotharios or that they are even nympho maniacs. It is because the actual sexuality and relationship thing gives them a tremendous amount of power because they have no conscience so they can basically ravage peoples life’s and move on to the next person or ravage lots of peoples life’s at the some time and it is just business.

JohnQuincy: In order to write your book, you did extensive studies on psychopathology, are there any works that you would recommend?

Thomas Sheridan:  The father of modern psychopathic study is a Canadian doctor name Robert Hare who is a PhD and works for the University of British Columbia. He has written some excellent books on the subject but the one that I would recommend the most is Without Conscience.

JohnQuincy: Why is the study of Psychopaths important?

Thomas Sheridan:  What really struck me most about the book was at the very end he comes to the conclusion that of all the mental health problems that ravage society almost no public money or research is put into studying sociopaths. When you consider that we spend vast amounts of money treating people with depression because they have been victimized by sociopaths. There are also other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia that get vast amounts of attention both by the mental help profession and by public services and yet a schizophrenic and schizophrenia in general does not leave the world of devastation behind that psychopaths do.

JohnQuincy: Why doesn't psychopathy get the attention that it deserves?

Thomas Sheridan: Dr. Hare at the end of the book Without Conscience comes to the conclusion that basically the powers that be in our Western society are mostly psychopaths because we have created a situation where psychopaths in politics and big business rise to the top. They have a vested interest in the rest of us either believing that are bug eyed ax murderers or that they do not really exist. This is a really important issue for them because they do not want us to find out what a psychopath because we may start to look at our leaders and saying “uh oh” and putting one and two together.

JohnQuincy: What causes psychopathy? Is it genetic?

Rogert Sheridan: Dr. Hare was the first person to quantify psychopathic behavior in the modern sense. He created this checklist which is actually very good. He was basically working in the criminal psychology. Using things like Cat Scans to monitor psychopaths brains while watching harrowing images and comparing them to normal persons he was able to determine neurological traits specific to psychopathic behavior but still not get at the root of what actually causes this behaviour. Is it genetic? We are still out there on that one. There seems to be a genetic element in some psychopathic behavior but it is not always the case. I have known psychopathic parents that have had non psychopathic children and vice versa so there are still many questions out there as to what causes this.

JohnQuincy: What should the average person take away from this interview concerning psychopaths?

Robert Sheridan: The bottom line is that they are here and do exist. This series of videos that I am putting together is to help to recognize them, deal with the experience of having a psychopath go through your life and to try and gain something from the experience. If you are in the early stages of becoming victimized, it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is an actual grand plan and that this did happen for a reason and that in the long run it will probably improve you as a person and that is probably why psychopaths exist and there are probably other aspects as will but that is just my personal take.

JohnQuincy: Even the less extreme psychopaths sound like extremely dangerous people to let roam in society. What should be done about them?

Robert Sheridan: I am now going to add something her that people will find controversial and it might be very upsetting to people who have been victims of psychopaths. One of the things that you have to understand is that although I have made these videos to help make people aware of psychopaths and avoid them. 

JohnQuincy: Aren't you putting a lot of the burden for this problem on the victim not the psychopath?

Robert Sheridan:  Psychopaths did not ask to be born this way so it would be wrong unless they have broken the law to start a witch hunt against people who did not ask to be psychopaths that is not to say that we should feel sorry for them. A lot of them wake up to the fact that they are psychopaths at age thirteen or fourteen. They look around and see that other people have empathy, feelings and emotions and they generally do not have them and they cannot figure out why other people do not like them. If you put yourself in their position, would you then bottle yourself up or commit suicide or would you say that there is obviously something wrong with me and I will try to make the best of it and try and make a life of it. That is really where the whole process begins.

JohnQuincy: Are you saying that we should not make an effort to identify psychopaths and isolate them from the rest of society?

Robert Sheridan: With these videos, I am not advocating oppressing psychopaths unless they have broken the law then they should face judicial process. I am not saying that we should witch hunt them. I am saying we should learn about them and avoid them if we can.

JohnQuincy: What about the victims of psychopaths? Don't they deserve some sort of retribution?

Robert Sheridan: If we have found them and the demon has knocked at our door, we have to generate a positive from it because you are never going to get even with a psychopath, never. It does not work that like that. They are not out to get you in any malicious way. It is strictly business with them. It is very difficult for a normal person to understand that a psychopath can ravage your life, destroy you then move on to the next person and when the look back to you think “he was a good person,” “I really liked him” or “she was really nice,” “I really dug the time a had with her” but they still will destroy that person. It is not personal. You have to remember that the psychopath is not specifically targeting you out to be malicious. They are doing it to a lot of people. It is just business.

JohnQuincy: Are saying that the victim of a psychopath can never find justice in the normal sense?

Robert Sheridan: You must not as victim a process your experience with a psychopath through a normal prism. I have done this mainly by treating psychopaths a laboratory specimens. They are not really human to me in fact the psychopath is not human really. To me a human is love, conscience, remorse. Empathy is what makes a human being and they do not have it. They may look and act like a human but they are not really. They are some kind of other sub species and that seems to be a topic that is coming up more and more and one that I will talk about on another video.

JohnQuincy: If there is no justice in the normal sense, how do we deal with this issue?

Robert Sheridan: I am not launching a crusade against psychopaths, I know that they can never be cured. I just want to educate people that these things are out there, they exist and that they be way to deal with them is to shun them. And eventually if more and more of us become educated about psychopaths it wont be a problem in the world because the pickings will not be as easy for them so stay alert. If you have been a victim hold on to your sanity because you will eventually get through this. There is a bigger picture in all this that will ultimately serve you.


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