Norman Bates, call your office.
If you had “normalization of psychopathy” on your What Fresh Hell Is This bingo card, congratulations!
She lives in a way few people know about. Here is Sheila’s life as a psychopath.
Anne Funch, Berlingske.dk, March 19
When I tell strangers that I’m a psychopath, I always add: “And on paper. I have the papers to prove it!”
Then they stop laughing.
We’re living among you, even us women. There are lots of us. But you’d never guess it if I hadn’t told you.
To anyone interested in human beings—and anyone who’s not a psychopath must be, at some level, intrigued by their fellow man—this is actually an interesting article.
Its hook is the publication of a new book, They Say I’m a Psychopath, in which “two women and four men tell of their lives with dyssocial personality structure, their sometimes violent anger, lack of understanding for other people’s feelings, and indifference to society’s laws and rules.” The book is apparently written by one of Denmark’s leading specialists in psychopathy, a woman named Tine Wøbbe, and sounds as interesting as the article.
As western civilization busies itself destigmatizing deviance of every kind, why not psychopathy? Granted, the book’s own promo material acknowledges that psychopaths are “responsible for some of the most macabre murders in Danish history,” but surely not every psychopath—sorry, not every person with dyssocial personality structure—ends up killing people. The article asserts that there are roughly 200,000 psychopaths in Denmark, which would constitute about 3.6% of the population. If all of them were murderers, there’d surely be more than a few dozen murders per year.
The article doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of Sheila the psychopath, however. Here are a few nuggets from the text:
Sheila spends much of her day debating on social media. She loves it. Calls herself a cyber warrior and has probably been quarantined by Facebook “a thousand million times.”
“I am very violent in my comments and can get really, really angry.”
“Sheila is a manipulator with a capital M. Her purposeful pursuit of becoming a boss in particular shows how good she is at pushing other people around,” according to (Tine Wøbbe’s) diagnosis.
According to Tine Wøbbe, Sheila can be impulsive, violent and explosive, and she’s easily inflammable if she’s insulted, but the manipulative is the clearest trait in her.
But don’t take Wøbbe’s word for it:
“I consciously put myself in a victim position, because then there is always someone who feels sorry for me and helps me.”
Manipulative and smart, since she clearly understands that victimhood is the new black.
(The book is) about me, and I like that. Now I also have a narcissistic personality disorder, so I don’t mind “being on.” Many dyssocials actually withdraw, but my inner narcissist insists and says: “Hey, hey! Here I am and I just want some attention!” My father also wanted to be seen and heard. He was a psychopath and a narcissist just like me.
Isn’t that sweet? She’s just like dear old dad.
Indeed: the article relates a childhood anecdote about Sheila’s father slamming her to the ground with such force that her earrings popped out.
Sheila’s own tendency to violence is real, but the article illustrates that she’s mellowing with age. We’re told that “Recently, Sheila was at a party where she still had difficulty controlling herself.”
There was a woman standing there and acting completely insane in front of one of my other friends. I could see from her that she was just as aggressive as me, and I thought: I’m gonna have my hands full with that one.
I could recognize the look. If she had taken one step towards my friend, I would have pushed my friend away and gone straight at her. The last thing you need to do is touch one of my girlfriends or I’ll freak out.
But I’m done fighting. It’s unattractive for a woman over 35. You just become one of those dock worker types.
She didn’t stop fighting because it was counterproductive or stupid, or dangerous, but because it was unattractive. At least, that’s what she says. What credibility are we supposed to grant a woman who’s an avowed narcissistic psychopath, after we’ve been told by a psychologist who knows her that she’s a world-class manipulator?
The “softer side of Sheila” anecdotes presented in the article aren’t entirely reassuring. Apparently she has periods in which her volatility runs especially hot, and she tries to keep to herself at those times. But the people around her don’t always know to keep their distance.
Here she describes a spat with the man she’s in some kind of relationship with:
I was so mad at him because he called me right in the middle of one of my (volatile) periods and he said all the wrong things. And if my mother is listening to music and I say to her, “You know, it annoys me to no end that you have to sit and listen to music,” I better tell her not to see me for the next few days.
Sometimes my mom is nice: “Well, I didn’t notice you were in one of your periods, Sheila.”
“Well,” I say, “haven’t you noticed that I just wanted to rip your head off?”
For me the real money quote comes somewhere in the middle of the article.
Sheila has decided to be open about her diagnosis in the hope, as she says, “to help nuance the stories about psychopaths just a little bit.” Everything about psychopaths is presented too unambiguously, she believes.
Now, it’s true that psychopathy is a spectrum, and that a lot of “dyssocials” (we’re going to be forbidden from using the term “psychopath” soon enough, just wait) probably just come off as cranky, selfish, cruel, and cold. There’s no known cure for psychopathy, nor are its causes understood.
In that respect, it’s a lot like pedophilia: causes a mystery, no known cure.
Not every psychopath is a psycho killer and not every pedophile is a child rapist.
The desire to destigmatize psychopathy (dyssocial personality structure) and pedophilia (minor-attracted persons) surely comes from a good place—at least when it’s not coming from pedos and psychos—but it’s worth remembering that the impulses and behaviors characteristic of these disorders weren’t stigmatized out of bigotry or ignorance. The stigma arose from the fact that they’re bad.
Bad with a capital B, as Tine Wøbbe might say.
Human beings are social creatures. We’re pack animals. Due consideration of the welfare of the pack would seem to demand the stigmatization of psychopathy and pedophilia. Would you hire a pedophile to babysit your children? Do you invite psychopaths into your own life?
The very idea that it would be bigotry or prejudice to keep such people out of your own life is itself deranged.
But that’s very plainly where we’re headed.
Denmark was the first country in the world to remove gender dysphoria (aka gender identity disorder) from its official taxonomy of mental illnesses.
At the dawn of 2017 the Danish parliament struck a blow for transgender rights and became the first country to remove trans people’s classification as “mentally ill.” In this New Year’s Day move the government took official action to destigmatize transgender individuals, separating them from any association with words such as “problem,” “disorder” or “dysphoria.”
That move was itself insane. It’s irrational to think you’re something you’re not. There’s no practical difference in my believing myself to be a woman, George Washington, or the 12:15 to Paddington. I am none of those things. Never can be, never will be. So why would my strutting around in a wig and wooden teeth or running along train tracks shouting “choo choo!” allow you to have me institutionalized, while your refusing to play along with my insistence that I’m a woman could get you in trouble?
These things are not unconnected and they’re probably going to get worse before they get better. But they’re not going to start getting better until we stop going along with it.
I have nothing but compassion for the mentally ill, for the damaged, broken, suffering people of the world. But psychopaths and pedophiles are dangerous, and anyone who insists they’re something they’re not is obviously damaged. That’s tautological stuff.
And anyone who says otherwise is psycho.
Go ahead: change my mind.