Online Resource for Victims of Psychopaths and Narcissists

Psychopaths stand-out via their 'low neuroticism'

A discussion with Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig (author of The Emptied Soul, & James Hillman).

Guggenbuhl-Craig: The Psychopath is much more successful than you and I because he is not hemmed in by all sorts of impediments or worries.

Hillman: But we fail to recognise it…. So it would perhaps be more useful in our lives if we could spot one when we see one?

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Yes and you can maybe spot one if you know what a psychopath is, if you know that all of a sudden the other man or the other woman is marvelously tuned into you. He's just your kind of guy and he's just what you expect…. Then you can become very suspicious.

Hillman: … and is well, so-to-speak 'related'?

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Well related, you know, and he's a great guy and you would like to have lunch with him and he's really it….then you have to become suspicious. However if he is slightly aggravating and complicated and obstreperous then you actually have more security that he might be reliable.

It is the same in these homes for delinquent girls where most of the managers of these homes always fail when a boy or a girl were very nice and fitted into the general home and everyone said (at the end of 6 months or 10 months), "Well ynow they turned out to be excellent, they have kept the rules, they were nice, they were helpful, they were no trouble…", and they really met with the experience that all these girls or boys caused no troubles in the home for delinquent people, but they were socially -as soon as they were released- hopeless! And the ones who were horrible, y'now who broke the windows, tore up the bedclothes, who attacked the staff, often then turned out to be alright in the end. But that's the problem in the whole prison system, the psychopaths are the ones who can adjust the best to any kind of institution because it doesn't worry them to adapt, they don't care, they can sing the song of the warden or sing the song of whoever so they can come out alright at the moment, which is maybe not so important but that's why you have to watch when somebody gets along very well with you.

Hillman: What you are describing here is what you've written about as the 'successful psychopath'.

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Right, that's a successful psychopath which from my point of view is the problem. The criminal psychopath is not really the problem, he is an exception, he makes the headlines, he kills ten people or something else but he is such an exception that in reality you don't have to worry about him too much. You have to worry about the socially well adjusted psychopath.

Another problem with psychopaths is that we envy them. Even if you feel a little bit that someone is a psychopath that brings you even closer to him. Because we are all so tortured by our neurotic compulsions, and doubt's, and guilts, and inhibitions, and we are unable to do this or that, and you are shy, and you feel too guilty… so we would like to be free like a psychopath just to be free of all-that-stuff. When you have a psychopath in front of you it's lovely, it's great, it's relaxing. Nothing is as relaxing as having dinner with a psychopath because then you feel great and those darned horrible things fall away, especially when having a few drinks with a psychopath it's the greatest thing you can do. Then you feel absolutely at peace.

Hillman: That's part of the charm, it's almost as if they are graced with a kind of charisma.

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Many women fall for male psychopaths and many men fall for psychopathic women and why is that so? That's the same problem. The psychopath has no inhibitions therefore he can play up to achieve his sexual aims without any inhibitions. He will talk to a woman who is interested in poetry about poetry. He doesn't care about poetry but he will quote poets!… and even sexually he will be better because his sexual life is absolutely healthy. Normal sexual life is so complicated, so full of strange ideas and obsessions and desires….it's one of the most complicated things in life and in many ways shows some of the most perverse things. The only sexually normal man or woman is a psychopath, sexuality just functions, and a man psychopath and a woman psychopath -they can make love to anybody, anytime, anyplace, doesn't matter, because it's just going, there is no inhibition of any kind. That's why they are so good at making money -they can make love to an 80 yr old woman, doesn't matter, they can do it, no inhibitions.

Hillman: Well this idea of no complications so-to-speak, a healthy, uncomplicated, always available sexuality without inhibition, without guilt, without worry….

Guggenbuhl-Craig: …Without emotion, without any kind of twist, without any strange desires.

Hillman: …..which is in a way one of the aims of sex therapy, and one of the aims of psychotherapy, is to free the sexuality from all those kinds of inhibitions or complications. The person who comes to psychotherapy and wants that as a result is asking to be transformed partly into a psychopath, if you follow my point here?

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Yes, but psychotherapy is more complicated than that. People come to a psychotherapist because they are suffering so horribly, that life is such a misery, so they are longing for a bit of psychopathic freedom. Suffering -that's the obsessive, neurotic, who can't leave the house because he has to go back again and again to check if he closed the window and it's horrible, it's horrible. People who come to us are living in hell and so they long for a little bit of relief.

Hillman: And the psychopath fantasies offer that?

Guggenbuhl-Craig: Yes, though I don't think most people would recognise it in these terms, as such.


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