A Psychopath in the Family: My Personal Experience
When most people think of the word psychopath they have an image in their head of a serial killer or a monster of some other sort. It’s true, most serial killers are psychopaths, but more interestingly most psychopaths are not serial killers. In fact many psychopaths have no criminal record at all. In the US as much as 1-2 in every 100 people might be a psychopath and many of them make it high into the business world. A recent study actually claims as many as one in twenty-five business leaders might be a psychopath.
By the above description psychopaths don’t sound all that bad or at least not worse than other humans. So what is it that makes them psychopaths in the first place? For one they have a great sense of charm about them. They’re endearing, they’re enticing, they say the things you wish you could say or want to hear. In this regard they are supreme politicians. They like nothing better than to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone around them so they can manipulate them and use them for their own purposes. Indeed their complete lack of empathy leads them to believe that other people are just something to be used. They are often obsessed with power and money.
So where did I meet a psychopath? Within the ranks of my own family. She was my aunt and from the get-go there were problems. She was the third born child to one set of parents which soon after divorced before her mother went on to have two more children. One of these babies was my mom, the other my uncle, and because they bore the last name of a lower-class family my aunt instantly took a disliking to them, as if they were dragging her down somehow. From the time they were born she’d be maliciously cruel to them, try to take credit for whatever they did that was good, and made sure they knew they were somehow lower than herself. At one point she dared my mother to ride a horse she knew was completely wild. My mother mounted the feral creature which then broke into a dead run. It ran and ran and ran without taking any instructions from its rider. Finally when it exhausted itself my mother was able to safely get off it. My aunt was pissed. Not only did this not kill my mother it started a long and semi-successful training process in the horse which eventually only took orders from my mother, much to the chagrin of my aunt, who professed to be the family horse expert.
Things did not get better in adulthood. My aunt would invite her youngest brother to her big Christmas gatherings and lavish everyone with expensive gifts making sure he got absolutely nothing not only from her but from any of the other guests as well. She delighted in making him feel like shit. All the meanwhile she noticed that her elder sister was getting along fabulously well with my mother. They were close and she couldn’t handle that so for many years she’d make up lies and try to pit them against each other. It worked a few times but never shattered the relationship completely. Only death was able to accomplish that.
Her elder sister and my mom moved to another state and left her behind. By this time she’d already gotten knocked up twice – in her teens, and was raising a little boy and a little girl. The girl she doted on and gave the world to – the boy, her first, she all but ignored. He was a bastard you see while her precious baby girl was born into a proper marriage. Even though this was her doing she still felt it was appropriate to punish the innocent child. After he became an adult he all but disappeared. Rumors would be heard from now and then of a very emotionally shattered individual making bad life decisions and spiraling farther into a dark abyss. Even though I never met him I felt intensely empathetic and sorry for him.
My experiences with my aunt came early. She had horses. I liked to ride them, what little girl doesn’t? For hours I’d ride her horse Sheba around and around and around the little paddock. Sheba was a fantastic horse, an even tempered appaloosa that could put up with my aunt’s shit like no human could. Sheba was bred at some point and a little black baby horse entered the scene. This was the first glimpse I got of my aunt’s true nature because unlike Sheba the foal grew up to be testy, skittish, and mean. She bit, kicked, threw tantrums and was just generally an untrustable creature. As it turns out my aunt routinely lost patience with this animal whenever it did not do something she wanted it to do so instead of the gentle coaxing that is supposed to be used in training a young horse she’d smack it, kick it, or physically intimidate it – the guaranteed method of making a prey animal completely nuts! Sheba was the only horse my aunt ever owned that she didn’t emotionally destroy. All the other horses were traded for better trained ones which she’d make untrustable beasts before getting another one. I was very sad when Sheba eventually died of natural causes.
I was probably ten or so when I realized most of the people in my aunt’s life were under the age of twelve… unfortunate children from despairing backgrounds she’d “help” by allowing them to ride the horse or go on little field trips with. If she were a man we’d probably think she was a pedophile but it wasn’t this. The children were just the only people who could be so easily conned into believing she was the goddess of the world. She needed that adoration. However at the age of twelve or so I realized her bullshit, as did many of the other children, and we all left. By now all her praise of herself was falling on deaf ears.
It was true – my aunt was an EMT, she may have saved lives but she wasn’t doing it from the goodness of her heart, she was an EMT for bragging rights wearing her EMT jacket EVERYWHERE and telling everyone within earshot what a wonderful job it was and how good it felt to be saving people and serving the community. The whole spiel was bullshit. She only wanted people to think well of her image and adore her and be envious of her. She stayed in college for twenty years, taking every course, telling everyone her next job was going to be the big breakthrough that’d make it all worthwhile. Of course she thought the perpetual student spiel also made her look smart, it didn’t. Who stays in college for twenty years?! That’s a waste of money and time and money was her one love in life. She’d do anything for money, no matter how underhanded it was. She’d take money from her own mother claiming to help fix up the house or buy new appliances. Although she did do these things she did in the cheapest crappiest way possible so that she could pocket most of the dough. She never told anyone this but it was pretty fucking obvious.
She found her true calling in the church where she ruled over everyone like she was the second coming of Jesus himself. I’m sure she felt she was this important. I’m sure she felt she had a right to judge everyone around her while hoisting up her own reputation to look like she was the most perfect human being on earth. The church held something even more seductive than money – power. There’s nothing a sociopath likes more than power – power over wealth, power over people, power for power’s sake. She was a tyrant. She goaded and manipulated people, made them feel like shit for not living up to her adopted Biblical standards and even instated a public humiliation routine in the church where she would first talk defectors into coming back before forcing them to stand up to the whole congregation and tell them in lurid detail their every sin that caused them to flea in the first place – including but not limited to who they got pregnant by out of wedlock and why. She persecuted them for the same mistakes she had made earlier in her life and she didn’t even feel the slightest pang of empathy for any of them. She was the exalted one – the most charitable church-goer, the successful businesswomen, the most educated woman in town but she lacked a heart and nothing of this meant anything outside the image she was trying to portray of herself.
The death of my grandmother was the last straw for me. My aunt went around telling everyone how great she’d taken care of the woman and how my mother just abandoned her to move out of state. In reality even though we lived out of state we visited often and did everything we could while we were there – everything from cleaning house, moving furniture, doing repairs, to really anything that needed to be done and we did it not for bragging rights but to make my grandmother more comfortable in her golden years. My aunt did live in town but did very little, only the minimalistic things that’d make her look good. In ten years she hadn’t moved the rooms over as she said she would, she didn’t even fix the light fixture in the living room or the leaky bathroom sink and I know she was asked to do these things. If this wasn’t bad enough she staged a coup between cousins that permanently fractured the family – all over some photos, some of which (the really old tin ones) she had already outright stolen from the estate. I was up for three days scanning the photos frantically into a computer knowing she was about to seize them. I needed more time. I gave the albums to my brother who was staying at a local hotel. My aunt told everyone that my bitch of a mother was trying to steal them and they should get them back so many of my cousins showed up at the hotel to boost the albums. When I had finally scanned everything my poor grandmother hadn’t even had her funeral yet. Still my aunt took the albums and proceeded to pass out all the photos to the family she considered worthy of it – completely excluding her two youngest siblings and their progeny even though they were far closer relatives than the distant cousins she was handing most of them out to.
She had my mother so stressed out during this time that she nearly caused her to skip her own mother’s funeral just to avoid her. Instead I brought her to the funeral home before services, told the attendants there what was going on, and they allowed us to say our goodbyes without this horrendous distraction. We never went to the actual services. I was so out of it I didn’t even cry and I feel sort of bad about that as I was close to my gram. I feel she deserved some tears.
It was only two days later we found ourselves in the sleaziest of lawyers offices. My aunt had either forged a fraudulent will or coerced my gram to sign something she had no idea of what it was. It was a poorly written up will and testament giving almost everything over to my aunt who was by this time not in the best graces of my grandmother. Should my aunt die it gave control to her almost equally aggravating daughter, not to one of my grandmother’s other surviving children but to a grandchild she hardly ever saw and didn’t appear to have much of a relationship with. If this wasn’t enough of a glaring inconsistency the fact my grandmother’s will listed her as “single” was. She was widowed, not single, and would have never written it out in that way, ever. My aunt went around telling people it was my mother pushing us to deal with the estate only two days after the funeral which was out and out bullshitting.
As usual she ended up with anything she believed was of any monetary or emotional value. Some months later we were staying at my grandmother’s house (which was owned by all three living siblings until my mother could buy the other two out.) We were holding a bachelorette party for a friend and had all the usual accoutrements. She burst into the house to see what we were doing, accusing us of thievery. Our pet cockapoo who has never growled in his life snarled and lunged at her before she bolted into the living room where I was making a wedding gift. She tried talking to me. I just sat there looking down at my project knowing that if I looked into her eyes even for the scantest second I would leap up and start beating the shit out of her. She wouldn’t know what had hit her! All this from me, an extreme pacifist who has never wished to hurt anyone, and yet I knew I would if I looked up. I could feel it within myself, a silent intense homicidal rage. I was capable of murder that day. She stormed into one of the bedrooms still trying to figure out what was going on. It was there she found a box with all the decorations, props, and party gags… an assortment of hundreds of tiny plastic and paper penises. This apparently shocked and horrified her enough to get the hell out of there and fast. I was relieved.
As soon as the house thing was settled my aunt ditched her husband of over 20 years and left the state to live with another man with her new horses. It was if she was just waiting for her mother to die so she could flee into the life she wanted. She had tormented this man and after she left a funny thing happened. All my life I had known him as the town drunk but as soon as she left he sobered up overnight. He was a changed man! Still his new found freedom wasn’t to last. My aunt got cancer, refused treatment, and was now dying. Now she felt it’d be worth it to torment the man once more, guilting him to her deathbed so he could watch her die. This wasn’t all she did. Inflicting pain and misery on an old victim was great but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to cause more strife so she incited her daughter to start a FaceBook war with my mother. What was it over? Apparently she wanted to ban my mother from her own funeral! Even in death she could not release her hold over power. My mother never attended the funeral but it wasn’t because she was banned, it was because she felt no desire to say a meaningful goodbye to someone who had tormented her her entire life. My aunt remains the only person today that I feel deserved every long painful moment of suffering she felt before she died a wasting death. Since her I have come to pick up on sociopathic behaviors right quick and whenever I see any of them I run for the hills. I have an immense empathy for humanity in all its variations but I struggle to see sociopaths as even being human. I like to believe that my aunt was switched at birth in the hospital because to admit a genetic relation to that thing is most egregious.
In our world today psychopaths can climb the corporate latter like no one’s business, not because they are necessarily good at what they are doing job-wise, but because they have that superficial charm and manipulation that can make themselves look like great job prospects. Why allow your own weaknesses to bring you down when you can coyly blame it on others? Why compete with two other employees over a job opening when you can just pit the other two people against each other to make yourself look like gold? It’s pretty obvious the damage they can do… especially since they are often attracted to jobs of money and power. Wallstreet and banking threw us into a depression, was it because of sociopaths making their own interests and wealth of more concern than the economic health of the rest of the country? I think so. Also politicians can say whatever you want to hear but they too might only be operating for their own self-interests, especially if they’re already self-serving sociopaths and many voters are none the wiser, voting for them based on their glibness and charm and the way in which they can spin anything. All accusations of them just boomerang back to the accuser and hit them on the head, after all if they’ve done anything wrong it’s your fault, not theirs. Always. No exceptions. And if money isn’t their thing perhaps control is. I can think of no better place for this than to become a priest. With that job comes automatic authority and adoration of the people. A whole flock to manipulate for your own desires. Perfect. They are everywhere.
I, Psychopath (A documentary following a self-proclaimed psychopath)
If you found this article interesting you may want to tr reading others by Theophanes.
A Teenage Hypocrite's Speech on Teen Life (written years ago by a very young Theophanes. AWE.)