Thanks so much for sharing with such openness your online experience. It has been on my mind for many years and actually I see the Internet as a double edged sword if one doesn't carefully tread their way through life. It takes away our visual and voice clues from who we are truly dealing with and wipes out much of the red flag portion of how to evaluate who we are in contact with, by reading your story, you did have that instinct there which is a great thing. Not everyone gets it in the perspective that you did and can get too far down the road before turning back.
As a society I have concerns over all the social networking, when did it stop being okay to just sit and read a book, or walk your dog without having to be on your cell phone or constantly checking for messages from really a group of strangers via text etc. My concern is the predatory aspect of what the Internet has allowed to blossom. You used to know the guy down the street was a nut case because you saw him in person and your parents told you to stay away.
Now that the visual and audio aspect is away people can be whoever they dream to be in their own private world. No one really knows who they are and now that the "in person" aspect has been pushing people behind their computers we as a society seem to be disconnecting while we think we are "connecting", people wear their followings on twitter as some badge of honor or award. Do we really care to know that someone got their nails done that day? Is it that important that we can't remove that clutter from our minds and go have a cup of coffee and sit and think? Does all this information help our minds or keep it clear so we can spot the predators out there. Is all of it bad, of course not, see the wars around the world and you can see the good side how people in very compromised violent dictator ruled countries can get the message out to the rest of us, that is a very good thing.
The Internet is a powerful tool, the key in how we use it. If I don't want to be in contact with the whacko down the street who everyone knows is a predator, why do people trust and bond online with the very same type of person, simple answer because you don't have a visual idea or knowledge from your neighbors the person is a nutcase or worse a Psychopath. It is indeed the predator highway, imo. I think it is good if you find a discussion forum that interests you that is great, I am interested in a variety of topics and am always searching for answers, but if our lives are so empty that we can only rely on the Internet for friends then we are treading into that area of disconnect and becoming vulnerable to the predators out there. Over the years I have been amazed at the wide variety of members who have crossed though our doors and the types of places they have met Psychopaths. They are predators, they know where to troll, they know how to be skilled at getting people to think they can be trusted in real life and the Internet really can give them a huge lift in the lives they can destroy and never having to see them in person.
You walked away very wisely but the predatory process is the same online, our best and our only defense when all the visuals etc. are taken away and that is our instincts. Without time and space and instead being in a constant state of a disconnected world we many times will brush off our instincts. Our instincts are the one thing I can say is the biggest turn in the road that keeps us on that path with a predator is when that first red flag, our instinct gets brushed to the side. Nice people want to see the best so it is a natural thing to think we really probably didn't understand something or the other person didn't really mean that and if questioned just accept their explanation. Following our instincts and catching those red flags is a tough process.
No one from what I can tell who has ever been a victim did anything wrong, they aren't stupid, they are quite the opposite, the kind people who care a lot and want to help others that is the type of person who predators/Psychopaths target.
By listening to our instincts and tuning out the clutter we can hear our instincts and spend the time reflecting on them and not lead our lives in a constant spin. Psychopaths when they are after a victim want you to be in a spin so that ah-ha moment doesn't get your attention. Go for a drive and turn your cell phone off, find a quiet place to sit and read or just sit and think.
You don't have to take out a calculator but I am much older than you are;) and was around and had a cell phone when they first came out when they cost 3K and a PC the minute they were available at the time because my career was doing consulting in Silicon Valley. I see a very troubling issue with the predatory nature side of the Internet. It can be a bumpy road or a very good tool to find out interesting things, but finding friends etc. can be a bit tricky with all these "social" networking avenues. Instincts and boundaries are the best way we can protect ourselves. We just need to listen to that small voice because it is there telling us something we need to pay attention to.
Thanks for the link, it is very informative and I'll make sure and put it in the Resource Section.
Di, this needs to be an article somewhere! every person around my age and younger (typically the most naive and lacking in life experience) need to read it and fully comprehend it. We aren't taught much internet literacy and safety, because as a tool it is developing faster than our laws and knowledge! words like these can truly be life savers. I worry for my younger sisters who spend much more time online than I ever did, at such a young age. Never before did these people have access into the intimate lives of young people, bypassing parental and social protections (i.e. the creep-dar like you mentioned!). "simple answer because you don't have a visual idea or knowledge from your neighbors the person is a nutcase" - this is an incredibly poignant point- there is not safety in numbers online and secondly, you have no access to who other people know so you can't glean information on that person from them (sometimes crucial in avoiding abusers). Unhealthy people online can constantly burn their bridges without anyone knowing! they can keep up that perfect image and rebuild their reputation effortlessly. The guy I knew was very intelligent- absolutely knew how to be a charmeleon and how to tap into the social conscious.
I think it's not unfair to say that a lot of lonely, -neurotic- (easy to manipulate and guilt trip and vulnerable people end up online; and people tend to be open about their troubles too. Psychopaths and N's have prime viewing to pick out the target of their choice.
I wish I could respond to everything you said, but alas it would end up being too long. So awesome job. Good to hear it from your perspective. I've talked to my father about this, who is much older than I am, and he can't understand where younger generations come from, being so trusting online. He sees online and offline as two separate things, whereas a lot of people my age can't seem to separate the two. Everything that happens online is just as painful as offline. He doesn't agree, and that's clearly because he didn't grow up with the internet and wasn't entrenched in it (I really think this is a good thing).
"By listening to our instincts and tuning out the clutter we can hear our instincts and spend the time reflecting on them and not lead our lives in a constant spin. Psychopaths when they are after a victim want you to be in a spin so that ah-ha moment doesn't get your attention."
I agree, but I don't know how one avoids getting spun by a psychopath unless you are aware what a psychopath is prior to meeting one. Most people don't know, until it is too late. I think of that first month with the psychopath, being her new "friend" and "counselor". If any friend had told me the things she did, I probably would've objectively told them that I thought they were kind of messed up. But, with her performance, the forlorn lost child help me look, that intense gaze of predatorial need, I ate up everything she said and spat it back at her, never fully digesting it. In other words, I told her everything she wanted to hear. She told me her professor was mean, I resounded that ten fold. Yet, if I'd been objective and had digested what she had said, I would've agreed with the professor's advice. She acted heartbroken that a high school teacher hadn't liked her back. I felt sorry for her and comforted her. And she is a teacher now!! I should've been saying, "Well, as a teacher, do you think it is ok for teachers to have sex with students?" Then, why would you think your teacher should have had sex with you?! I think most people who fall for psychopaths get caught up in wanting to help save them. In other words, as you said, they are good people. But they aren't objective people. The reason I think they can't be objective is because there is some vulnerability in them that makes them vulnerable to the advances of the psychopath. So, while I think that listening to your instincts is important, instincts alone can't always be trusted. Empathy is an instinct. I did feel a big conflict between fear, that there was something wrong with this person and I needed to run away, and empathy, wanting to help, stop her tears and cries for help. Therefore, I think the real solution is examining and knowing your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities and how those might be used by someone else.
I definitely had some very similar experiences to you! it's eerie. I sucked up to the guy as well, and confirmed all of his troubles, gave him what I knew he needed from me (my affections, my continual support, control). I was very submissive with him. I was also very enabling with him. And i'm not sure if you can relate, but it makes the pain at the end worse. The guy said to me that "he didn't know my boundaries" adding to the guilt I already felt. I gave him what he wanted but it was my fault because I couldn't say no. Most people don't understand that they maneuver you in a way so that you say yes and do things for them. I take responsibility for my choices, but I don't take responsibility for the fact that he used it against me, y'know? that's how i'd console any survivor of abuse.
I definitely think it's true that you have no idea about psychopaths until you come across one and then you have to do a whole lot of research to see where they are coming across (i.e. they oeperate differently to say the least). But I also think that most of us do get those gut feelings, though we can't name them, or sometimes don't trust them (because healthy people, or those who haven't had too many negative experiences with people, tend to give others the benefit of the doubt) even before we know of the 'psychopath' construct. The unconscious mind operates a lot quicker than the rational mind, and it's really been very healing for me to read all about the reliability of "gut feelings" (google "gut feelings", "unconscious mind+neuroscience" "unconscious+what makes them click". Of course, following things blindly is not very effective. Checking intuitions against reality is a good way to have a solid interpretation of reality.
Here's a video too
Yes, I do think it's extremely important to know your strengths and weaknesses. Especially afterwards. I think that there might be some instincts you might have to override (empathy, sympathy... and I know what that's like, and it's extremely hard and caused a lot of shame and hurt in me too). I spent a lot of time questioning whether I was wrong about the guy, and I felt terrible even when he was trying to convince me that he wasn't trying to hurt me, and that he wasn't malicious. I felt bad when he was using guilt against me. I couldn't rely on certain emotions because I was too unsure; I didn't know what to believe. The manipulation was too covert and his tactics worked on me. The only way I could cut through that, was to believe my gut feelings. If I didn't believe them, I wouldn't be on this site right now, and I would have believed his fake apology, and I wouldn't have even confronted him.
It seems to me that the only way to cut through all their trickery, smoke and mirrors, lying, delusions, covert manipulation, and your own confusion is to listen to your feelings. Your feelings -deep down-. Going as far into your feelings as you can. You need to be incredibly in touch with your real emotions. Write a lot, and keep writing and writing until you get all the crap out of your thoughts to get to the real you. Unfortunately if you grew up with the psychopath, breaking through all the BS is going to be much much harder because of that unique situation. And I have admiration for anyone who recovers from such a situation. If you're meeting someone as an adult, for the first time, you have more of an advantage to consult the -real- and deep instincts buried deep down. Those real instincts you use when you're walking around a neighbourhood and something tells you to get out of there. Or those instincts and emotions that tell you that you're body is tired and you need to rest. Or the instincts that tell you the doctor is wrong about the diagnosis of your child and you know they are sicker than the doctor believes.
I knew there was something up with the guy I knew because of how tired, apathetic, and fatigued I felt around him. It took several months to start acknowledging it though.
In regards to writing until you get to your real feelings- how do you know when you've cut through to the real instincts or emotions?
I don't know about other people, but usually it feels different. It feels profound. I -feel- it rather than think it. It's strong enough to compel me to take action. Sometimes I might cry, tear up, or get choked up. Usually a true instinct hits me and I feel it in my body.
You know that feeling you get when somebody takes advantage of you blatantly? how the feeling surges through your body and your face feels hot? that's the little voice of integrity... the voice telling you to say; NO! STOP! my boundaries are being crossed too far!
Loc: United States
Hi anonymousone, thanks for your feedback, I am writing a piece, well actually a couple for the Resource Section. The Internet is a very serious issue, even when people think they are doing all the right things. I saw a very heartbreaking show. The man was a police officer and he thought he was doing everything right, he had the computer for his daughter in the living room etc. Well, a predator got hold of her and was able to worm his way into her and her friends lives by passing as a "cool" surfer their age. As it turns out he was a 40 something deadbeat, who when he got her address he drove cross country and murdered her. I think the end of the story was he killed himself, was he a true Psychopath? We'll never know, he sure can be put in the class as a super Internet predator.
We all that that instinct, most of the members here can recall their first red flag and brushing it off, red flag, instincts they are all the same, it is that little voice in our gut. Cops have it, customs inspectors have that if they are good at their job. Sometimes they use profiling, i.e. many times when I was traveling to China on a airline that carried mostly Chinese passengers, I was pulled aside by customs when I was returning to the US and questioned about every time I was waiting for my luggage, in a crowd of a couple hundred people, it wasn't me being suspicious because I could watch and see they weren't talking to everyone else, one time they even pulled me out of the line getting off the plane and sent me directly to a search. That was probably just profiling, I got questioned often enough that I could tell by their questions that they were eliminating the profile aspect and moving toward their instincts. They would do a pop quiz and be watching for my expressions while asking in a casual manner, like who is your freight shipper etc. Things that a smuggler might not have or know. They used that as a basis I can only assume for their own instinct check to see if I was telling the truth and should be put through further inspection.
We can learn a lot about people by "profiling" them and doing a gut check, the tiny thin line is to remain in the neutral zone during the profiling part. The BIG catch is that when they find a friendly ear on the Internet they are likely to say about anything and miss the red flags because in the beginning it is usually the prey who is doing all the talking while the predator is doing the profiling. Nice, caring people like our members don't think the person may be a problem until it is too late in real life, the Internet just further complicates the issue of profiling and instincts.
I'm new to the community and I'm already finding much validation for my feelings and comfort in what I have read from others, so thank you everyone. Its such a relief to know I am not the only one to suffer in this way.
I identify with many of the red flags you list, and really got an 'aha' moment reading them. I didn't consider my very recent ex to be psychopathic, but rather as one suffering from undiagnosed aspergers, due to his lack of empathy. I am now convinced that he is a Psychopath. since he has shown a complete lack of conscience and any semblance of remorse for the hurt he has caused and he answers a positive to 90% of the red flags.
The red flag I would like to add to this, and one that I overlooked at the time, is a total feeling of oppression and feeling drained of energy, but not knowing why. I then became forgetful and scatter brained, which is not my usual mode of functioning, and then stressed and very slowly depressed. It was the mind games that did it, the switching plans and changing mind at short notice, the blaming me for all the problems in the relationship, the push me pull me tactics, the withdrawing, the sudden mood swings, the moods because I would spend time with friends and family, and the total control which gradually eroded my sense of self. It only took 6 months for him to do this to me! Although in this 6 months he would not let me out of his sight.