Your Bleeding Heart
When I got my BA degree at University of Last Resort, I took a course in Psychological Testing. At a part of that course, we focused on the California Psychological Inventory. From Wikipedia:
The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) is a self-report inventory created by Harrison Gough and currently published by Consulting Psychologists Press. The test was first published in 1956, and the most recent revision was published in 1987. It was created in a similar manner to the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)—with which it shares 194 items. But unlike the MMPI, which focuses on maladjustment or clinical diagnosis, the CPI was created to assess the everyday “folk-concepts” that ordinary people use to describe the behavior of the people around them.
One of the personality traits the test scores is Psychological-Mindedness:
Psychological – Mindedness (Py)
The degree to which the individual is interested in, and responsive to, the inner needs, motives, and experiences of others.
To my astonishment, when I took this personality test as a young college student, I scored in the 95th percentile on the Psychological-Minded scale. My score remained stable over subsequent years when I took the test for fun and out of curiosity. Other than the definition of the scale, I could not foretell what this meant for my life, aside from the definition of the scale.
Although psychopaths are opportunistic in their victims of choice, Empaths often become their easiest prey. What is an empath? In my opinion, it’s a concept that is becoming more researched and studied, but up to now, it is more or less popular vernacular for what the California Personality Test measures on its Psychological-Mindedness scale.
We empaths are deeply emotive. We have a “sixth sense” of being able to intuitively feel what others around us are experiencing. A select few comments and resources (and I don’t agree 100% with everything written, but will share anyway for your consideration and perusal)….
I first learned about the concept of an empath from the book The Empathy Trap: Understanding Anti-Social Personalities by McGregor and McGregor. See:
The blog article At a Glance: 30 Traits of an Empath lists, well, 30 traits of an empath. From that list, here are some of the traits that stand out for me:
1. Knowing: Empaths just know stuff, without being told. It’s a knowing that goes way beyond intuition or gut feelings, even though that is how many would describe the knowing. The more attuned they are the stronger this gift becomes.
3. Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own: This is a huge one for Empaths. To some, they will feel emotions off those near by and with others they will feel emotions from those a vast distance away, or both. The more adept Empath will know if someone is having bad thoughts about them, even from a great distance.
5. You know when someone is not being honest: If a friend or a loved one is telling you lies you know it (although many Empaths try not to focus on this because knowing a loved one is lying can be painful). Or if someone is saying one thing but feeling/thinking another, you know. [This one is a biggee!!!]
8. Always looking out for the underdog: Anyone whose suffering, in emotional pain or being bullied draws an Empath’s attention and compassion.
13. Creative: From singing, dancing, acting, drawing or writing an Empath will have a strong creative streak and a vivid imagination.
14. Love of nature and animals: Being outdoors in nature is a must for Empaths and pets are an essential part of their life. [Yes! My beloved Otis, the inspiration behind DogDharma!]
18. Strives for the truth: This becomes more prevalent when an Empath discovers his/her gifts and birthright. Anything untruthful feels plain wrong. [I detest liars!]
19. Always looking for answers and knowledge: To have unanswered questions can be frustrating for an Empath and they will endeavour to find an explanation. If they have a knowing about something they will look for confirmation. The downside to this is an information overload.
26. Intolerance to narcissism: Although kind and often very tolerant of others, Empaths do not like to be around overly egotistical people, who put themselves first and refuse to consider anyone’s feelings or points of view, other than their own.
In How to Love an Empath, Lisa Lammerson writes:
This is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to understand people and see things others don’t. However, when we remove the shield we become vulnerable and in this vulnerability we can be hurt.
Lammerson goes on to say:
If you love an empath, feel blessed because you hit the karmic jackpot. Who better to love and support than someone who lives to love you back, completely.
In The Ability to Love — Recovery from Psychopathic Abuse, the blog author writes:
In an earlier post, I described why the luring and honeymoon stage was the most dangerous of the entire relationship with the psychopath, as it is the MOST deceptive and manipulative.
The key to involvement from the perspective of the psychopath, is our ability to EMPATHIZE. We project what we would do, how we would feel, onto the psychopath. We worry about what they would feel, how they would feel if we were to engage in an action that would be right for us, but might “upset” the psychopath.
Empathy is a gift. This gift needs to be reserved for those who are truly DESERVING of it. While it is a gift, it can also be a trap. It can keep you on the merry-go-round with the psychopath for many years.
Psychopaths are incapable of feeling. If you see anything remotely close to feeling, what you are seeing is an ACT. It is shallow and only for affect to get a response out of YOU. Psychopaths don’t FEEL they THINK. This is what puts them ahead of us each time in every evil tactic, every evil word. We are feeling….they are THINKING.
Once you’ve had a close encounter with a psychopath. you will be utterly and completely traumatized. You will not even begin to comprehend the depth of the hurt until you have established no contact and begun your healing journey. Per trait #18 above, “Strive for the truth,” you will find yourself flooded with all the lies and deceptions, and your will embark on a truth-seeking mission. If you are lucky, you will get validation from past victims, the sad demise of future victims, and others who have already pegged your psychopath for what s/he is. I have found myself more and more fortunate in that regard.
Because psychopaths never accept responsibility for their actions, because they use the pity card to arouse our compassion, and because they project blame, as an empath, you will have absorbed some of that as self-blame. Let it go! Eventually, you will see your empathy as a priceless gift, but you will learn to offer that gift to those who are deserving.
Having had your close encounter with a psychopath, you will already be self-taught on the signs, symptoms, and red flags of psychopathy. But to protect yourself, it can’t do any harm to read what others have experienced, their insights, and their guidance toward healing.
Donna Andersen is one of the better known and most articulate of survivors. See:
I found an interview of Donna Andersen on YouTube that is stellar. The interview was conducted on the Dr. Paul Show. My one and only quibble with the interview is that Dr. Paul vacillates in saying that a psychopath must have all the 10 traits that Donna Andersen has identified as a survivor, versus saying that a person can be a psychopath if s/he exhibits most of the traits. I agree with the latter. “Experts” do not agree on the list of traits, but the traits they itemize always overlap. Psychopaths come in different flavors, and then their is the distinction between psychopaths, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, etc. They are all soulless people cut from the same cloth. I don’t even agree with one of the 10 traits given by Andersen — the one that hints at obvious narcissism. Rather than gloating about her accomplishments, my psychopath preferred to emphasize her pity stories, a sort of inverted narcissism. One can get caught up in the minutae of academic debates, but it is better to look for the big picture, and honor the intuition you are gifted with as an empath.
Over all, Dr. Paul’s interview will give you excellent guidance. Here it is:
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