Has anyone had experiences with psychopath's children modeling their behavior after their parents?
-- To deal with my father; a diagnosed
textbook socio-path -- a psychopath with good manners, I learned how to shut my emotions off.
After a while of living that way; without emotions, I became aware that I was not quite as human
as everyone else around me. I was too cold, too logical, and definitely missing something; something that kept me disconnected from everyone else around me. I could see danger and lies, but I couldn't connect
to anyone emotionally. I couldn't understand
what they felt.
As it was explained to me by the psychiatrist that worked with me, victims of abusive psychopaths DO tend to take on the traits of the psychopath themselves. Children often do this, but Adults do too.
Out of sheer self-defense, they shut off their emotions. They become
psychopathic -- on the surface anyway.
When dealing with a psychopathic monster, affection
in particular is a huge liability. The clever abuser knows how to ruthlessly use the affection their victim feels towards them to hammer them with targeted guilt-trips and lies. "If you loved me, you wouldn't make me do this to you..."
They do this to keep their target from fighting back -- and it Works.
Until the victim finally shuts off all feelings of affection, but most importantly: Fear
. One can not
show fear to a psychopath. Showing fear is like blood in the water to a shark. The more they see, the more they want and they will go into a frenzy to get as much as they can out of their victims.
Another trait of the victim of a psychopath is that they use cold hard logic the same way as a real psychopath. However the tell-tale difference is that these fake psychopaths don't use lies
the way a true psychopath does. They use facts
because Absolute Truth is the only thing that will stand up against a psychopath's web of constantly shifting lies.
I shut off my emotions deliberately at the age of 13.
I even remember the summer afternoon I chose to do it. I quite literally stood in front of my bedroom mirror and told myself that That Man
downstairs was Not my father. He was a monster that only looked
human. He didn't deserve anything from me; no love, no respect, and no Fear.
It felt liberating
An odd side effect of cutting off those emotions was that my tolerance for pain increased - exponentially. Suddenly all the beatings I was receiving at the time didn't hurt as much.
However, the other side effect was far scarier. I became extremely aggressive to everyone around me; vocally and physically. At 4'9", I'm rather short and I'm also female. That didn't stop me from literally picking verbal fights with people Much larger than me until they retaliated -- physically. No fear, remember? That lack of fear also comes a weird lack of 'survival instincts'. (THAT is what makes psychopaths so scary.) Just so you know, those verbal assaults and the results WERE calculated. It was designed specifically to make people attack me so that they
would get into trouble.
Here's the truly calculating part: It was practice
for dealing with my father. At the time I was doing this, I was 16. Two years before my mother would finally notice that dad was violent and divorce him. My plan was to expose his violence by triggering it deliberately in front of an audience.
In case you're interested, it didn't work. I did succeed in getting him to act out in front of people, however he'd set the groundwork to label me as a liar and trouble-maker a little too well.
Once I shut my emotions off, his emotional attacks stopped working because I no longer cared what he thought of me. It took another year before I mastered using Logic and Truth to beat him at his own verbal games. However, once he realized that the mental and verbal attacks weren't working, the physical attacks started escalating.
When I was 16, the physical attacks finally reached the point where the only thing he hadn't done was broken a bone, or sexual abuse.
He wasn't about to send me to the hospital with a broken bone. The last thing he wanted was visible proof that my mother couldn't ignore. Proof that I hadn't been lying all these years about what went on when she went to work at night.
One night after a particularly vicious argument over cleaning (he was a rabid clean-freak -- an OCD psychopath,) it all came to a head. That night he showed me that he was seriously considering the only avenue of abuse left. He pinned me to the floor.
That's when I finally snapped. I bared my teeth at him, and told the monster holding me down that if he didn't stop right where he was, I would kill him if I had to bite his throat out to do it. I meant every word, and in that moment I was fully prepared to do it too. There was not one drop of fear in me, only a white hot rage that had been boiling for years.
He replied with, "But you'll go to jail."
I responded, "But you'll still be dead."
We went back and forth, saying the same thing over and over, louder and louder, until we were shouting in each other's faces. My three younger brothers heard us screaming at each other all the way upstairs.
"You'll go to jail
"You'll still be dead
Then he 'made a move.'
Mouth open, I lunged for his throat using every ounce of strength I had.
He jerked back, hard.
My teeth clicked together so hard, it sounded like a plate snapping in two. I was so angry, I didn't even feel it.
He froze, and there it was in his face. Fear. He believed
me. He absolutely believed that if he tried to go that one step further, I would rip his throat out with my teeth.
It was over. I had won. He was afraid
of me. I looked him dead in the eye and spoke, icy and emotionless. "Can I get up now? I have to go to school in the morning."
Without a word, he let me up.
Without a word, I went up stairs.
That was the last time he touched me physically.
However, he started going after my 3 younger brothers more than ever. John was 14, but Phil was only 8, and Alan 2. Once I realized that he'd switched targets, I ran interference; deliberately getting in the monster's way to distract him off of them. Deliberately putting myself in his path and picking fights. Deliberately daring him to strike me instead. He would yell at me, but he would back off -- only to wait until I wasn't around to go after them again.
Finally, he did something to my brother John, two years younger than me, that my mother couldn't ignore -- he left bruises around John's throat. The next morning, she demanded a divorce.
I was 18.
In anger, he committed himself to an institution and blamed my mother for it. It was a very foolish move on his part because that's when everyone; my mother, his family, and his employers
, found out exactly what kind of monster he truly was. He was diagnosed
a textbook socio-path; a psychopath that had learned to blend in perfectly with his surroundings -- a perfect
Monster. Everything he'd done; his lying, the child-abuse, every nasty trick and habit was exposed.
My mother was stunned. She'd had no idea because he had taken great pains to hide it from her -- and convince her that all 4 of us kids were liars. (My mother is still amazingly good at not
seeing what she doesn't want to see.)
I was thrilled. Finally, I was vindicated. Finally, I had irrefutable proof that I had been telling the truth all along.
Unfortunately, they let him go a few months later, but he didn't live with us anymore. Even so, my personal war raged on for one more year while he abused his 'visitation rights' to openly stalk my best friend Margaret who was staying with me.
Rather than deal with my father's pursuit of Margaret, (Denial once again,) my mother told Margaret to leave -- for her own safety.
I wasn't having it. The only friend I had ever made was not going anywhere -- not because of him
. When he showed up that afternoon, I chased him out of the house, and at the top of my lungs, told him to stay out
The best part? He DID. He refused to enter the house if I was there -- and I made sure that I was Always there. That
was when my personal war finally ended for good. With that
Then came the side-effects of my war.
-- I had absolutely no social skills at all.
Despite all odds, I had graduated high school, but I had never made any friends there. When one's Survival is at stake, things like friends and homework just don't have any real meaning and since I'd cut off my emotions, I didn't feel lonely or regret for the grades I could have had if my parents had just been Normal.
friend I had was Margaret, and we met and became friends only a week before I graduated; months after
the monster left. That's an interesting story all by itself, but not for now.
My war was finally over, and I was more than ready to rejoin the rest of the world, but I had no clue how because the people around me didn't make sense
. I couldn't understand them.
When one shuts off one's emotions, especially affection, one also shuts off compassion
, and it's compassion that creates empathy; the ability to place ourselves in other people's shoes and experience for ourselves how other people feel in similar situations. This
is what creates connection to the people around us.
For all intents and purposes, I was a psychopath. I was a monster.
What saved me from staying that way for the rest of my life was my best friend.
-- Margaret took it upon herself to socialized me. She taught me about music, boys, alcohol, and how to talk to people without triggering an argument. She taught how to smile, how to laugh, and that it's okay to care
, even if they didn't care back. More importantly, because she had been there during my last showdown with the monster, she understood
why I was having problems being human.
With the help of a psychiatrist, I learned that my emotions were not
gone, merely shut down. They were still there. In fact they'd pop up unexpectedly every now and again, usually around Margaret because I felt safe with her. I just needed to figure out how to get to them to stay on the surface.
I didn't regain the ability to feel empathy and compassion for anyone, not even Margaret, for another two years. It took another four before I could feel compassion for people I didn't personally know. Truthfully, I have no idea when I became fully human again because the process of recovering the emotions I had shut away was so very slow. However, I have them now. All of them, even Regret and Remorse. (I discovered those last two the hard
According to the psychiatrist that worked with me, children adapting to the psychopath in their life by cutting out their own hearts; by shutting off their ability to feel
, is Common -- and it can happen overnight. Recovery from do that to themselves -- from turning themselves in to monsters... That takes, much, much
To help someone like that, child or adult, return to being human, the first thing you need to gain is their Trust.
-- They need to KNOW that you would never hurt them deliberately
. (Accidents do happen.)
-- They need to KNOW that if you make a mistake, you'll own up to it.
-- They need to KNOW that you will not LIE to them.
-- They need to KNOW that if you make a Promise, you will keep it.
-- They need to KNOW that tears will Not make you angry, that it's okay to cry.
-- They need to KNOW that you are Not a monster waiting to catch them unaware and destroy them.
Only then will they believe that you really do want to help them become human again.