Conventional wisdom holds that psychopaths / sociopaths / narcissists / pick your favorite label can not change. I have certainly never seen any evidence that change is possible in my dealings with psychopaths. But I’m only one person, a survivor, and not an expert. I read a very interesting article by someone who I assume from the reading self-identifies as a narcissist (please forgive me if I’ve misunderstood). It’s a great article, and I added my own comment to the post (comment slightly edited for some typos and a couple of omissions I intended to include). I’m pasting my comment below. Please read the article and my comment. I’d appreciate any thoughts offered.
Please do not assume your psychopath will change. That is the mistake we all make and it is dangerous. From my lived experience, the more we try to “love them out of their bad behavior and bad choices,” they only get worse no matter how sincere out love is.
My comment, and the link to the original author’s article:
From what I’ve read, your description matches much of what self-avowed sociopaths / narcissists / psychopaths / pick your favorite label say about themselves. At some early juncture, there becomes a “decision point” where they decided to be what the rest of us would consider “bad,” with traits of lacking empathy and having no conscience, and doing what they had to do to preserve the false sense of self. This must have occurred for you when you were sent away and your mother took your brother with her.
As someone who was possibly raised by a psychopath, I experienced a similar crisis point when, after my dad died, my mother watched and allowed me to be molested by a boyfriend, and I was probably about the same age range you were. I made the opposite choice and prayed, “Please God, let me be a good person.” I am not perfect, but I AM a decent person with empathy and conscience. The sacrifice for me was that I had to become somewhat invisible to survive, and to develop no boundaries, because I thought that being “invisible” would prevent me from hurting others and possibly protect me from further harm. I endured a lot of pain for that choice. At one and the same time, I had a very strong personality and sense of self, and yet in some ways, I was very malleable and had no sense of self at all.
It’s interesting to note that while I was involved with my *definitely* psychopathic wife (MY opinion), she DID behave better when I set ground rules and seemed to ask me to do that, yet at the same time, she maintained total control over me, and would not ALLOW me to set ground rules. The harder I tried, the more I got word salad, rage, the silent treatment, and even violence. As an empathic person, I tried my best to convince her that I loved her EXACTLY as she was, and that didn’t work whatsoever. Nothing I did was ever “good enough,” and no sacrifice (and I made many HUGE sacrifices) proved to her that I was there for her and loved her, regardless. It was a Shakespearean tragedy with no solution.
I don’t recall any narcissist / psychopath / sociopath / pick your favorite label writing anything so insightful or attempting to heal or being introspective and honest. I would add to your list of steps for healing — if someone offers you genuine love, accept it, honor it, and don’t assume that they don’t truly mean it. If you don’t feel empathy, you (or at least others on the psychopathic spectrum) know how to mimic it with your charm. Used in the right way, with good intentions and without the intent to deceive and exploit, or just not caring about the harm you cause others, you can accomplish great things because empathy is so needed in this world. And by doing that, and by keeping that promise to yourself, perhaps you can come to understand that you are a valued and valuable person, and heal and change. Conventional wisdom holds that psychopaths cannot change. I would really like to see some evidence that change IS possible for some!! Good luck!!!
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This post is an extremely emotional one for me. I spoke with my mother today.
I spoke to her about my truth and my darkness. We spent two hours, drifting in and out of tears, talking through the nature of my disorder and its impact on my life.
A few reflections on my early childhood are needed in order to explain the point of origin and the root-cause of my ‘break’ (the birth of the FALSE SELF). This is what I believe occurred anyway…
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