An interesting article in the current edition of Forbes Magazine, on the ability of psychopaths to read people.
Ironically, both psychopaths and Tibetan monks detect deep emotions that are invisible to others. Psychopaths are much better at recognizing “those telltale signs in the gait of traumatized assault victims” notes The Wisdom of Psychopaths author, Kevin Dutton.
The explanation is the monks' deep meditation and the psychopaths' congenital lack of fear which makes them calm and unstressed.
Tibetan monks, steeped in meditative practice, are also especially adept at reading feelings that are hidden from the rest of us, Paul Ekman discovered. Ekman, is the preeminent expert on lying and on the six universally expressed emotions in the face — anger, sadness, happiness, fear, disgust and surprise. Scarily, psychopaths score especially high on the Hare Self-Report Scale of psychopathy in seeing those core expressions, especially the ones that make us most vulnerable, fear and sadness, according to Sabrina Demetrioff.
Relaxation releases intuition, something I have learnt from experience and was once told by a high-performing psychopath. Another reason to practice meditation.
The purpose of the characteristic, long, penetrating stare of the psychopath has not been completely explained by psychologists but staring them out, while it may make you feel you have defeated them, may be what they want and dangerous. In Nietzsche's words:
When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares into you.
The stare is a means of asserting power but more importantly of reading people and returning the stare may in some way allow them to read you better and even, who knows, enter your mind.
The psychopath inhabits a private melodrama in which he is the evil villain. Anyone who has known psychopaths well knows that, when they take off their masks, they seem completely inhuman. And there is evidence that they are in a true sense reptilian as Thomas Sheridan explains here. There is a persuasive theory that they have an evolutionary need to propagate themselves which is why male and female psychopaths alike typically have many children, starting young, whom they abandon or shamefully neglect. One woman psychopath I knew of delighting in donating her eggs for in vitro fertilisation and I am very sure she was not the only one: another argument against test tube babies.
Psychopaths have very good brains and they also have emotions, but they cannot love, except, in their own way, close members of their family, whom they consider extensions of themselves. Psychopaths therefore have no conscience, for conscience is a function of love, not reason. The psychopath's inability to love is the reason for his insatiable desire for power for this, unlike love, he does understand. As Carl Jung put it:
Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.
Psychopaths are not sadists - as one explained to me, its not about causing pain - its about power. Sadists feel your pain - psychopaths do not. Psychopaths are only concerned about themselves. They are inhuman, sadists are humans.
For more information about how to learn the wisdom of psychopaths, a very useful wisdom indeed, by the way, for honest men as well as for knaves, here are 'Count' Victor Lustig's ten tips.
Lustig was an inter-war conman and is or was famous for selling the Eiffel Tower, as scrap metal. He also once scammed Al Capone of $5,000. Interestingly, he spoke five languages: psychopaths are often very good linguists, in my experience. They often have photographic memories but there are other reasons too why languages are attractive to them - every language is both a vehicle for deception and a mask.
Psychopaths delight in giving advice and especially in mentoring younger psychopaths. Lustig wrote the following list of rules for aspiring con-men.
(Source: Fakes, Frauds & Other Malarkey)
- Never look bored.
- Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
- Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
- Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other fellow shows a strong interest.
- Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
- Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
- Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
- Never be untidy.
- Never get drunk.'
For more by me about psychopaths, please click here and here.