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tim305 • 4 years ago

I am looking forward to the sequel, where he learns that he really isn't a psychopath after all. His brother switched the MRI's as a practical joke to get back at him for the African incident.

Bluestocking • 4 years ago

In my lifetime I've known 2-3 people like Fallon - fully functioning, non-violent psychopaths. It didn't surprise me that his friends and family were not surprised. It did surprise me that he did not see these qualities in himself.

kmihindu • 4 years ago

What would be very interesting would be to hear his wife's perspective. What attracted her to him? When did she realize he was a psychopath? Why did she stay with him? What is marriage to a non-violent psychopath like?

Bluestocking • 4 years ago

I just read Sam Smith's comment (above) and I imagine that goes some way towards answering your question. The individuals I knew were psychically attractive and quite charismatic. They functioned very well in group/social situations, but when it came to one-on-one a lot of people (myself included) wanted nothing to do with them because they were manipulative and used other people as a means to an end. 'What is marriage to a non-violent psychopath like?' A great question. One of the people I knew was a room-mate for about a year. It was appalling. You do begin to question your own sanity. It was only after the experience that I was able to see what had really been going on, and I can't imagine how much more intense it would be if you were also in a sexual relationship or a marriage.

kmihindu • 4 years ago

I had a mentor in grad school that I would armchair diagnose as a non-violent psychopath. He was so manipulative, that while working for him, you would begin to question your sanity. He didn't know how to manipulate people in a positive manner (because he made promises and never kept them), so he would resort to threats. He once defended a threat he had made to me (to kick me out of his lab with no degree for failing to discover why 2 proteins of unknown function were interacting fast enough) by saying, "You should have realized that I didn't mean it. I tell my kids all the time that I don't love them when I'm mad at them, but I don't mean it." All I could think was, "Thank God, I'm only his student and not his kid."

Limi • 4 years ago

Yikes, I have known children to claim they don't love their parents when they don't get their way, but not the reverse. That offends me on nearly every level.

Guest • 4 years ago
kmihindu • 4 years ago

Productivity. As long as he was publishing, he was given free reign. When I finally went to talk to the dean, the comment was, "What took so long? Everyone from your lab comes to see us sooner or later." WTH?

knowltok • 4 years ago

Have you told this story before around here, or am I having Deja Vu?


kmihindu • 4 years ago

A year or so ago, in a discussion on PhD training, I think.

knowltok • 4 years ago

Good to know I'm not crazier today than I was yesterday.

kmihindu • 4 years ago

I try not to be repetitious, but this was a life changing event for me. It caused me to completely rethink my philosophy of life and had the additional benefit that it worsened a chronic disease I have, the more aggressive treatment of which made it possible for my daughter to be conceived. It also lead me to declare some behavior as unacceptable and to refuse to accept this type of behavior (rather than taking responsibility for others behavior and finding excuses for them ad naseum).

knowltok • 4 years ago

By all means, repeat the story if it fits. In no way was I being critical. Besides, for internet purposes 'a year or so ago' is as good as, 'in the time before legend.' ;)

diannep • 1 year ago

Your story is important. If ever I have met psychopaths, it has been in the work place twice. One was a hateful, undereducated helpdesk tech who targeted people in the company to spy on and report personal internet use etc. I believe he had the whole workplace computer system duplicated on his various home computers. This was in the days people thought hackers were okay as long as they were working for and not against....
My next tech job was at a place where techs where actually properly trained and could be trusted with company data.

Guest • 3 years ago
Barry_D • 3 years ago

Probably she was charming and manipulative to those higher in the hierarchy, and only a mean person to subordinates.

allannorthbeach • 2 years ago

Your faculty member sounds quite a bit like Dr. Valerie Fabrikant who eventually was imprisoned for a long time in Canada when he went completely off the rails. Whilst Fabrikant was producing papers and his colleagues got to add their names to his papers then everything was rosy but Fabrikant took exception to his colleagues trying to ride for free on his coat-tails.

Monkey_pants • 3 years ago

I worked with someone like that at MIT. One of her grad students came to me right after I started working there to warn me about her. I didn't understand at first, and then the bizarre manipulations started. Her previous assistant left because she had a nervous breakdown, and all of the other division staff refused to even talk directly to her. She was charming and flattering to all of the faculty above her, though.

Huckle_Cat • 4 years ago

Your mentor's response reminds me of my favorite line from Last King of Scotland (talk about a psychopath): "But you didn't *persuade* me."

Slātlantican • 3 years ago

"But you didn't *persuade* me."

Man, that was quite a movie moment, wasn't it?

KateH • 4 years ago

I'm pretty sure my dad falls into this category - handsome, charming, completely self-centered and manipulative.

It's the ability to manipulate that wins the psychopath sex and friends, at least in the short term. Apparently my dad was only violent while he was young - he did a stint in prison and then 'got religion', but the manipulation was how he got what he wanted the rest of his life.

His third wife seems to have been happy enough with him, but I don't really see how. I wanted nothing to do with him and I'm his child.

Bluestocking • 4 years ago

Sounds like you are better off away from him.

Linda Solecki • 3 years ago

I think what is difficult to remember and to wrap our heads around is that these individuals truly don't care if you care. Your dad's manipulation was part of his character as easy and un-noticed as his other characteristics. Don't we all have characteristics that we don't recognize in ourselves but may be very apparent to others?

emikoala • 3 years ago

The hallmark of a psychopath/sociopath is that they make everyone around them feel crazy, because they show no evidence of doubt in their own rightness...and normal, well-adjusted people will always leave room for doubt, so when faced with someone who repeatedly and adamantly insists that the sky is 100% green by every measure, normal well-adjusted people will begin to think, "Well, maybe it IS green..."

Muhammad Abbass • 3 years ago

Political lies work the same way which is why psychopaths often make good politicians, (if badleaders)

Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

Also known as self-righteous types. So why the clinical nomenclature (I ask this of all people who moralize--articulate normative judgments--in the guise of scientific objectivity)? It doesn't make your evaluation (disapprobation) any more consensus worthy. Self-righteous types are generally disliked and always have been. Especially when they are right. We just prefer self-deprecation and the constant refrain: "that's-just-my-opinion" to obviate "friction" (= envy, resentment, irritation). The sort of arousal activated by the sympathetic autonomic system.

Feeling crazy is our problem. It's not other people but our perceptions of other people that induces 'craziness.' We may feel crazy in response to non-pathological behaviors. What constitutes the feeling of craziness? Contempt? Aggression? Resentment? Envy? The self-righteous is not least of all labeled anti-social because he inspires "anti-social" responses. But this just means that we project our own momentary derangement--a by-product of our 'empathy.'

We are responsible for our reactions. What we find unforgivable (blameworthy) in "sociopaths" (boors) is the sense that they do not have the same scruples we do--they do not feel the same sense of responsibility about their reactions because they are busy ACTING. Then we retaliate for feeling diminished (put in a passive-reactive position) by calling them psychopaths. Clinical psychology lends itself to such exercises in retribution.

lora120 • 3 years ago

Wow, you put a lot of effort into blaming the victims.

Guest • 3 years ago
Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

You seem to have a rather glib view of what "disapproval" entails in the case of a diagnosis of psychopathy. The harm caused, retributively but also by the sheer act of categorizing individuals based on some perceived pattern of behavior, may outweigh the offense.

Given that there is no consensus on the construct of psychopathy and the devastating consequences it has on the lives of those labeled psychopaths, we need to be very careful about diagnosing and medicating 'disorders' whose existence is a matter of conjecture. Diagnosis is a question of interpretation, which basically makes it an art. But unlike a doctor of medicine, who can rely on established etiologies and facts, psychiatrists must rely on hypothetical constructs legitimized by consensus.

We obviously need to treat people who suffer as well as to disapprove of and punish them. But when the stakes are so enormous as in the case of diagnosing so-called psychopaths it is useful to remind ourselves of the theoretical nature of our constructs and to proceed with due caution (skepticism) about what we think we know.

Clearly self-righteousness and psychopathy are "different things." But the same behavior may be labeled as evincing either characteristic. The behavior has to be interpreted. That means an explanatory/decriptive paradigm must be selected. So my question is, what are we doing when we categorize (select) a behavior as psychopathic? How do we avoid not presupposing what we imagine ourselves to be "discovering" (avoid confirmation bias)?

Ultimately what the clinician and layperson are both doing is judging a behavior, and the guidelines for such evaluation are ultimately moral and political rather than strictly scientific. The fact that it is consenus that establishes whether a disorder obtains is further clue that clinical psychology functions as a form of applied ethics (the social enforcement of morality).

P.S. Your room-mate was right. You should have more control over your feelings. On the other hand, having too much control (or not having any feelings) may obviate suffering at the cost of putting you at risk of…cold-heartedness. Your room-mate seems to have enjoyed manipulating you because you were gullible.

Being vulnerable, trusting and compassionate is good—within reason. It’s a judgment call. His point was that you should be in a position to make it, to decide how to respond, and not be led around by your reactive-self. It may be less warm and fuzzy, but it’s pro-active and reality-syntonic.

Guest • 3 years ago
Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

Whether things (one's reactions) are "justifiably reasonable"is precisely what is in need of determination. Reacting emotionally has "value" if and when it is accompanied by a judgment (evaluation) and a course of action. Being upset per se has little value except as spur to taking action. In and of itself it is passive-reactive. My point was that gullible types set themselves up for manipulation by those without scruples, on the assumption that your 'friend' was in fact jerking your chain. You did not mention that you had argued about his threat in your original post. Since you confronted him, your upset reaction was instrumental, therefore valid. I'm the last person who would question the cognitive significance of affect.

My larger point is that sensitivity as well as objectivity vis-a-vis feelings, which inform the empathic process, are both valid up to a point. They exist, as does the human personality generally, on a continuum. But too much reactive affectivity is as problematical as the objectivity of the "cold-blooded." And not being able to turn off empathy is not the hallmark of optimal mental health some doctors of the soul would have us believe it to be. We are all potentially "psychopathic" under the 'right' circumstances. There are any number of social roles whose discharge would be unduly complicated by the kind of empathy we value in a friend, family member, or co-worker.

Brain scans are indeed used, but there is no consensus on what they mean in relation to personality disorders. They yield correlations subject to interpretation by fallible specialists. That would be problematical enough, but add to that mix the controversial nature of the clinical entity some call "psychopathy" (among other disorders) and what you wind up with is very much a process of conjecture. Granted, some conjecturing is more informed than others, but that doesn't change the basic nature of the process.

Read up on the controversy surrounding DSM-5 revisions for a sample of just how divided the field of psychiatry is.

If you found relief from your suffering through medication and therapy more power to you. That's your bottom line, and I respect it. But bear in mind some people find relief taking placebos. The human mind is profoundly suggestible. Perception creates reality. And that's very much a double-edged sword.

wiseaftertheevent • 3 years ago

Yeah, yeah, yeah. A standard narcissistic psychopath technique is to interject themselves into this kind of debate and make it so confusing to figure out who is a psychopath they can skate under the radar. Those of us that are vampire hunters are on to you.

Dunraven • 3 years ago

It's pretty clear who is the narcissistic psychopath is. I am a little confused that Sonke seems to care that others view him or her as a psychopath. Maybe it makes manipulation more difficult?

You Ain't No Sanjaya • 2 years ago

Lol, you are all narcisist sociopaths! Now go to your room!

Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

The standard no-nothing technique of someone who cannot engage in argument is to resort to pitiful ad hominems (character assassination). Have you ever met a confirmation bias you could resist? Get ye to the Salem witch trials.

Goaty McCheese • 3 years ago

You are not communicating the message you think you are communicating.

Taylor • 2 years ago

Yo this is one of the best things I've ever read, cheers bro

allannorthbeach • 2 years ago

Not forgetting that there are many psychopathic psychiatrists about who deliberately misdiagnose psychopathy just for the 'hell' of it, and Dr. David Rosehan proved just how incompetent psychiatrists and nursing staff can be when it suits their hid_den'igrating agendas.

allannorthbeach • 2 years ago

correction...Dr. David Rosenhan.

Erica_JS • 3 years ago

Psychopathy is not at all the same as self-righteousness. Psychopaths lack empathy and a sense of right and wrong - completely different thing.

allannorthbeach • 2 years ago

Don't ever fool yourself that just because psychopaths lack empathy that they must also lack the capacity to know right from wrong because they 'feel' that they have the God-given 'right' to do many things that they know are 'wrong'.

wiseaftertheevent • 3 years ago

You're probably a psychopath, pal. Psychopaths do lots of things, but one of the key things is mess with people's sense of time, which makes folks feel nuts. The other thing you keep repeating is the individuality of response -- and psychopaths are big on the idea of an isolated sense of self.

marstv@ymail.com • 3 years ago

I had come to the same conclusion, indeed we might have to do with one. It seems obvious that he is desperately trying to manipulate himself out of his own disposition, not only to try to, unsuccessfully, mask his PP behaviour towards us, but primarily to trick himself into thinking he is not a PP.

Isonomist • 3 years ago

Ever thought of having an FMRI?

RichardMahony • 3 years ago

Psychopaths are not also known as self-righteous types. Nor are psychopaths 'crazy' in the way that, say, schizophrenics are 'crazy'. I suggest you do a little reading before opinionating on something about which evidently you know very little.

Start with 'The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-called Psychopathic Personality'; Hervey Cleckley, MD; Fifth Edition: private printing for non-profit educational use; Emily S Cleckley; Augusta, Georgia (1988) http://www.cassiopaea.com/c...

Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

My comment mainly addressed OUR reactions ("crazy" was emikoala's term) to so-called psychopathic
behaviors. Try reading comments in context. My point was that any trait ascribed to a so-called psychopath, taken by itself or in combination, can be variably interpreted. The only people helped by the patholigization of behaviors are prosecutors, the criminal justice system, pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

The problem of "opinionating" is not my problem, it's the problem of clinical psychology as a whole, as witness the controversy surrounding the process of devising DSM criteria. There is no consensus about what constitutes psychopathy, as a cursory glance at the Wikipedia page would inform you:
("…no psychiatric or psychological organization has sanctioned a diagnosis titled "psychopathy.”) It is an interpretation, a construct, regarding which the only fitting scientific attitude to assume is one of skepticism. There is no place in science for true believers.

Jillita Hunter • 3 years ago

Maybe not ALL traits...but what about a person who has a desire to kill people, strangers or known, just because they think it would be fun? One who feels joy from lighting animals on fire? A person who literally feels no regret, remorse, or guilt about anything in life (even things that cause fatal harm to others and ruined lives)? One who simply doesn't understand when others are upset, for whatever the reason, because they themselves have no such feelings. I know I am just a regular person but to me, those are pretty psychopathic traits no matter how interpreted.

Sönke Zürner • 3 years ago

They are "psychopathic" because you use that concept to summarize the traits you enumerated. But there is no necessity in doing so. You could simply describe such individuals as lacking compassion and being cruel. Either way you express moral disapprobation and signal a threat. Which is the whole point of this exercise in applied ethics (clinical psychology).

For me the interesting question is: how often does one have to lapse in one's sympathizing and abstention from violent aggression before one becomes "a psychopath?" What day of the week are we talking about? which hour of the day? We are all capable of selfish, aggressive behavior and of not giving a damn.

Jillita Hunter • 3 years ago

I would think if someone were a psychopath they wouldn't be lapsing into such thoughts and behavior.. that is their norm. More like they would lapse and have moments of what we define as normalcy.

Larry Templeton • 1 year ago

What's with your use of the word "we" when tying to make (ridiculous and demented) generalizations about people as a whole?

"We are all capable of selfish, aggressive behavior and of not giving a damn."

Or, "We are all potentially "psychopathic" under the 'right' circumstances."

You are absolutely not correct with those two off-the-cuff statements. Donald Trump would agree with you, undoubtedly, but taken in the spirit and context that you made them, I know of few people that "could" be what you seem to view a totally plausible.

And your quote below sounds precisely how atrocities and war crimes are both sold and defended by the perpetrators and crippled minds behind them.

"There are any number of social roles whose discharge would be unduly complicated by the kind of empathy we value in a friend, family member, or co-worker."

Life, *should* be "unduly complicated" by empathy. This "burden" *should* be part of the standard price of admission. Civilization would not be possible were it not for the majority of people constantly scrutinizing their perspective (this is usually done subconsciously, I believe) using empathy.

Our species would simply cease to exist if humans didn't possess the ability to work together in this highest, most evolved order of teamwork, called empathy.