Psychopaths… we usually only know them from Hollywood movies. We never expect them to enter our real life. But, the psychopath is closer than you think. Experts believe their number to be as high as one in a hundred. Most of them function incognito in high-powered professions…all the way to the very top.
But… it takes one to truly know one. In this intriguing documentary, Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed psychopath, goes in search of a diagnosis. In a scientific first, he allows himself to undergo testing to find out if he was born without a conscience. He knows he’s narcissistic and cannot empathize with others. By his own admission, he’s pompous, grandiose, repulsive and contradictory, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable… but he believes, he’s not a bad person. What he is is indifferent…he couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, the topic is himself.
Vaknin and his long-suffering but ever-loyal wife, Lidija, embark on a diagnostic road trip. But, it’s uncharted territory… deep into the mind and life of a psychopath. The 47-year-old convicted corporate criminal has agreed to take part in the pursuit of his own diagnosis… meeting the world’s experts in psychopathy in the hope that science will provide some answers for why he is like he is. These experts put Vaknin (and his wife) through a battery of rigorous psychological tests and neuro-scientific experiments.
You can read more about the movie, I Psychopath, about Vaknin’s testing and watch the movie.
I first came across the name “Dr. Sam Vaknin, who styled himself as “narcissistic” and had multiple sites for “support” for victims of psychopaths and narcissistic people. At the time, I was literally living in hiding from the man I believed my son Patrick, a convicted killer, had sent to kill me. I was an emotional basket case and looking for support on the Internet. I found a site owned by “Dr. Vaknin” which seemed to be more about aggrandizing his expertise and selling his books than “support.” It also wasn’t long before I began to feel persecuted by the moderators of the site if I even mentioned that I was a Christian. I left the site, and sought other online communities. Many of which were helpful in giving me insight into the emotional turmoil I was in from the effects of having a psychopath in my family.
Though I was a mental health professional, and had already read Dr. Robert Hare’s books and other legitimate researchers on psychopathy I was still dumbfounded and wounded, still in denial about what a monster my son was. Slowly I started to heal, to recover from the worst of the stress, and I started to offer support to others via articles on various sites. Eventually I formed this site for the purpose of supporting and helping those who have offenders (criminal and non criminal) within their families. Support for those people who have been physically, financially and/or emotionally abused by psychopaths.
Of course not all psychopaths are killers, or serial killers, or sadists, engaging in torture of their victims, many are simply like angry two year olds who “want what they want and they want it now” and they do not care what you think about it or how it hurts you.
I Psychopath gives a good description of a lower level criminal psychopath who is so narcissistic that he thinks the world revolves around him. His long suffering wife is apparently a typical victim of domestic abuse.
The growing knowledge of the emotional and genetic components to psychopathy are being researched and the knowledge of these people is growing in research circles, but the “general public” still equates “serial killers’ with psychopathy, but many more are like Sam Vaknin, just moderately obnoxious and low level criminals who make the lives of those around them truly miserable.
The “bottom line” and the “take home lessons” though are that there is no cure for this disorder, “it is what it is.” The only thing we can do is to get those people out of our lives completely. Continued interaction with them will only give them more opportunity to hurt and use us.