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I came across this the other day:
Reichian Character Structures – The Psychopathic Structure
The psychopathic structure… what praytell could that be? Let’s find out, and do a debunking alongside it. Their description begins thusly:
When a child feels deeply betrayed in their trust, usually by their primary caregivers or also by a sibling or teacher, they may develop what Wilhelm Reich refers to as the “Psychopathic Structure”, also known as the “aggressive” or “controlling” pattern. This structure usually starts to develop between the ages of 2-4 years old.
Oh my, not off to a great start… are we? I am doubtful that I need repeat that psychopathy is born. It is not made, and has nothing to do with feeling betrayed by anyone. You couldn’t even describe sociopathy this way, as a betrayal of trust isn’t sufficient to create sociopathy. It’s a great deal more involved than that.
Let’s see where they take it though.
During this time small children want to start playing away from their parent – but still in visual range – while also feeling seen and validated. It’s common for children to ask for feedback on their new skills and learnings – ‘Did you see how high I jumped?’ – and attention and acknowledgement of the child’s experience by the parents is crucial. In this stage children are half-way between starting to do new things and still needing help/assistance in having things done for them (tying shoes, getting dressed, getting something to drink, reading a book, etc). They are becoming more aware of the outside world and excited by things around them. Their sense of self and self-esteem arises from following their impulses and taking action.
I mean… no one’s arguing that, but that also has nothing to do with psychopathy. Wait… is the argument going to be that psychopaths didn’t get told that their jump was awesome enough times, and that’s why they’re a psychopath? I hope that there is a better argument than that. Keep in mind, I am writing my response as I read through their description. I have no idea where they are going with this. I thought it would be more fun this way.
What can go wrong is that, instead of the child’s curiosity, play and impulses being supported they can be denied or manipulated. The important adults don’t join in with them, – perhaps they are tired or emotionally preoccupied. Perhaps the child was often pushed or encouraged to be independent before they were actually ready.
Nope. Psychopathic children do not have time for the so-called rules that everyone seems to think apply to us, but do not at all. We are absolutely certain of that. Psychopathic children are problematically independent. There is no such thing as giving a psychopathic child independence too early. Instead, it is far more likely that a parent will consider tying a rope around our midsection so they know where we are at all times. I firmly believe that leashes for children were inspired by a psychopathic child and their poor parents being at their wits’ end.
They may have experienced shaming or belittling if they needed help. This can lead to the unconscious belief that they won’t really get what they ask for, but will be manipulated or betrayed instead.
A psychopath won’t care. We just find a new method to get what we want. There is no such thing as, “no”, only, “not that way”. There is no impact on our self-esteem. It just makes us more willing to find workarounds.
Or there can be a denial of the child’s true feelings or reality – a child expresses feelings and are met with a variation of “You don’t really mean that, dear’; ‘Of course you’re not sad, nothing to be upset about’; ‘There’s mommy’s brave boy”… All these sorts of interactions are actually profoundly out of contact with the child‘s true experience.
All right, let’s be honest. A child does not truly understand “reality”. They understand a teeny tiny portion of reality and only so far as it affects them. Children need to be oriented by parents on a regular basis. Otherwise, they will believe that they are Spiderman because their jammies say so. Orienting a child is not denying their reality. There is one reality, and there are different perspectives regarding that reality, but in none of them is your three-year-old a web-slinger. This also does not create psychopathy.
These kind of reactions hurt the heart.
These people have no idea what a psychopath is.
They also can prevent a child from learning about the authentic emotional needs of others and feeling empathy.
I mean… maybe it does, but that has nothing to do with psychopathy. You can’t teach a psychopath emotional empathy, no matter how many ridiculous fantasies of theirs you indulge in.
Ultimately, the child may give up on any expectation that authentic emotional connection with other people is possible.
Again, maybe, but a psychopath is never going to have that, to begin with. We are devoid this possibility, so it’s a moot point.
From an Attachment Theory perspective this type carries several of the characteristics of the avoidant attachment style.
Psychopathy should have its own designation in the “Attachment Theory” arena, which is, “non-attachment”. We don’t avoid it, we lack it. That’s like saying that human children are flight-avoidant because they lack wings. It’s not something that better parenting will remedy. Trust me, being the best parent in the world is not going to bestow Mary Poppin’s type powers on your kid, so go get them off the roof and take that umbrella away from them. They’re going to die.
Their wound of feeling betrayed or alone in a moment of need leads them to believe that the world is a hostile place in which only the strongest and fittest survive.
Nah, that’s hardwired into psychopaths. We know the world is a hostile place. We like the challenge.
As a result, they learn early to turn inward towards their own resources, strength and willpower for lack of love and support from the outside world.
What? I mean, I get it, mommy and daddy love is important to most kids, and my parents’ love is why I’m still breathing and not on the side of a milk carton while my parents do their best impression of being aggrieved because I am in the well in the backyard after finally making them snap. Psychopathic children are extremely difficult to raise.
Since they fear vulnerability and have no faith in love, they often become loners and resolve to not needing anyone or anything outside of themselves for fear of losing control to others again. These types often develop a compelling set of survival strategies, making them powerful leaders at best and tyrannical rulers at worst.
Psychopaths don’t fear anything, and there is no concern about being vulnerable when trust me, there are times when it would be good information to have. We might be fearless, but we are still little balls of flesh and bone that will break when we make a stupid decision. We’re kids, so we do this a lot.
When speaking of the “Psychopathic Structure”, as with all other character structures, it is important to remember that the widely used pathology-based terms for these patterns cannot be directly associated with the psychological pathologies, e.g. of psychopathy or schizophrenia. Meaning that if somebody shows signs of a psychopathic pattern it does not automatically make them a psychopath in the clinical sense.
This is precisely the type of thinking that makes psychopathy virtually impossible to understand for even professionals. There is not a clear sense of what anyone is talking about. They muddle and mire terms, descriptions, symptoms, and traits into an amalgam of nonsensical garbage, and then try to speak about that mess like it has any relevance to anything concrete. Nope and wrong.
Within all patterns there is a vast range of healthy and unhealthy expressions and behaviours that a person may adopt and, with time, also learn to grow out of and heal. In turn though, a pathological psychopath, sociopath or narcissist will likely carry the childhood wounding of the psychopathic structure.
*Head on desk* Whhhyyy are there people like this? Don’t they have better things to do than write bad fiction disguised as something valuable? In this paragraph, they even admit that sociopathy is different than psychopathy, but are trying to involve upbringing into the existence of psychopathy, but not addressing sociopathy except in passing. Granted, it wouldn’t apply to sociopathy either, a kid would have to go through much more significant things than simply feeling like their perception of reality isn’t being validated. If that was what created sociopaths, they would be freaking everywhere. How many kids are told that their imaginary friend isn’t real?
The gifts of this pattern come from turning their focus and energy inwards, from where they reference themselves, allowing them to develop a strong sense of self and who they are. Their capacity to gather, channel and use energy at their will towards goals, projects, people and challenges can make them strong manifestors and, at best, Masters of Energy who radiate their aliveness, intensity, engagement and awareness to the world. They can become strong, independent and willful individuals with sound decision-making and survival skills thanks to their self-referencing abilities.
My grammar program hates this article. It’s like a war zone of red. I’m like, hey, Grammarly, I didn’t write this, go yell at whoever did and leave my post alone. I get enough of your winging legitimately.
As for this paragraph, it’s actually rather dismissive of the psychopathic experience. Psychopaths don’t turn their attentions inward, we are inherently self-focused. We have to learn that there is a reason to turn our focus outward and onto others. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, but one we have to learn the value of. Psychopaths do have an easier time achieving things for the self, but this has nothing to do with our childhood. In fact, a childhood where a psychopath is abused will make this process of developing cognitive empathy much more difficult.
When stuck in the psychopathic pattern, a person remains consumed in their attempts to protect their vulnerability, turning their fear of hurt and betrayal into defence and towards controlling others so they cannot be controlled themselves.
Oh good lord… no. Please stop writing about psychopathy. It isn’t something that you should be creating fan fiction about. It also isn’t something that you get to redefine to make the dark horse, please save me from my own pain, emo obnoxious character.
This may show through sophisticated manipulation tactics and, in fact, this type is often highly intelligent and eloquent, or through mental or physical aggression or violence towards others.
This myth about psychopaths being somehow more intelligent than other people seriously needs to die. There are plenty of stupid psychopaths that suck at manipulation. They may very well still succeed in their manipulation, but that doesn’t mean that their methods are sophisticated. Rather, it means, they know how to find people dumber than they are. It’s not difficult, just go outside and give it a moment. They’re everywhere.
They fear loss of power and are unable to let others be in theirs, leading to dominating, controlling behaviours.
This whole quote is ridiculous, but seriously… what is this supposed to mean?
“They fear loss of power and are unable to let others be in theirs”
Their what? Did you forget a word? Did you get lost in your own sentence? Did you think the audience was perfectly in sync with your strange fantasy about what psychopathy is so you didn’t feel the need to describe it further? You just thought that the readers “got you” psychically? No. No, we didn’t. Use all the words.
They lack empathy and an ability to feel others for their strong inward focus whereby they reference only themselves. To those around them they may appear needless and cold-hearted as they cannot allow themselves to be seen as weak or dependent on others. Contrary to the other types, the psychopathic type is connected with their anger and they are comfortable expressing it, usually towards getting what they want or to dominate others.
You know… it’s really difficult to type and read when my head is fusing with my desk. what does “appearing needless” mean? Did you mean to say that psychopaths appear to not need people emotionally? If so, correct, we don’t. We literally don’t. However, it seems that there are at least a dozen clearer ways that could have been written.
I will give the author this, psychopaths do not like being weak or depending on anyone. My guess as to the reason why is because of the role we played in evolution. We are the ones that investigate the sound in the bushes. In other words, we move things forward because we lack the ability to feel fear.
However, psychopaths do not live in anger or give a damn about dominating others. That is a sadistic trait, which, once again, requires emotional empathy. Considering that the rest of this is as straight as a dog’s hind leg in terms of giving factual information this doesn't in any way surprise me, but it’s still wrong.
Physically, this type develops a strong armoring in the upper body, around the chest and shoulders, in an attempt to protect their vulnerable hearts.
Wait… what? Do you mean like this?
Are you saying that bodybuilders are psychopaths to protect their wounded hearts? Seriously? I was kidding about that fan fiction, but now I’m not so sure. This is starting to sound like someone’s creepy fantasy. No. No, thank you. We, as a community, had a meeting and all voted (first time in history that we got together like this by the way) to decline your invitation to your secret touching party. Uh-uh. That’s a hard pass.
In relation to their strong, over-developed upper body, the lower parts of their body remain smaller and less developed, resulting in a V-shape of the body with broad, strong shoulders and narrow hips and thin legs. Energetically, they appear ungrounded due to the disproportion of their upper and lower body parts and inflated at the level of the chest and neck/head area. Their eyes are often compelling, with an intense gaze that exerts power and control which can easily be felt by others. Their bodies tend to be athletic and strong but are prone to injuries due to their tendency for pushing themselves too hard and ignoring their body’s limits and needs. This type tends to be disconnected from feelings, also towards their own feeling states.
Holy lord, it is a secret touchy creepy fantasy. Seriously… no.
The key to healing unhealthy psychopathic patterns lies in rebuilding this type’s trust and connection with others. They have learnt to rely on only themselves for safety so it is important for them to experience emotional, psychological or physical support in difficult situations when they would normally shut others out. Sadly, this type will often not be able to heal or transform their patterns due to their deep fear of showing their vulnerability and losing their power. They tend to be resistant to therapy and will rarely seek support unless their defenses are fundamentally broken. Even in such a case, they would tend to use therapy to re-build their original strength and armor, followed by a quick exit.
This is reading like something that you would find written after Fifty Shades of Rape Fantasies came out. This is essentially describing someone that is a hard body, but is secretly vulnerable and crying out for a mommy to love them. Psychopaths do not have a deep fear of being vulnerable or losing our power. We are also not “fundamentally broken”. I have learned that there is a need for a lot of people to defang psychopathy. They see psychopaths as scary, so they work up this whole idea in their heads about how it’s not that we’re actually so different, but rather we are just trying to hide from the world because we are in so much pain. I am going to write a post about this behavior. It’s wrong, of course, but nonetheless, fascinating.
Breathwork in particular can be a very powerful modality for this type as it gives them an opportunity to safely relax into the care of a space holder while surpassing their usual conscious defences.
Oh goody, are there going to be crystals and incense too? Can’t wait…
This experience reprograms their original trauma, sending signals to the nervous system that it is safe to be weak and vulnerable in the presence of others. When working with this type it is important to help them sense their buried sadness, grief and abandonment, with a focus on de-armoring the upper body and to encourage the energy flow downwards towards the under-charged belly, pelvis and legs.
Umm… how ‘bout you keep your thoughts very far away from our pelvises, ’kay? If confused, please see above about your secret touching party and our declination of that invitation.
The therapist needs to be prepared to be tested as this power-conscious type will only respect someone based on competency rather than pure authority. Over time, this type has convinced themselves that they are invulnerable and that nothing and no-one can hurt them.
They literally can’t though.
I wonder what this author thinks about the vast majority of psychopaths that had great childhoods, nothing in their history like they are describing (there are actually two authors, I checked), and are still psychopaths? Who am I kidding, I know what they would think. They would simply say that we are lying or we don’t remember. That they are correct about this, and the psychopath is either trying to protect themselves or has repressed the memory.
This has a twofold problem. One, of course, it’s just wrong and it is dismissing all the lovely genetics and neurological research that has demonstrated many times over that psychopathy is something you are born with. However, the second is a bit more tricky. How many people that are going into psychology are going to read this sort of thing and end up believing that it’s a matter of loving a psychopath to get them to come around? There are plenty of dumb bunnies in every career type, and while most psychopaths are totally normal, there are still ‘A-Listers”, or ‘Above the Snowline’ psychopaths.
Not to mention that they don’t differentiate between psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder, which, by the way, while it is still inaccurate for NPD, NPD would certainly be closer than psychopathy with this description of traits.
Either an actual ‘A-Lister’ or someone with MNPD (narcissistic personality disorder with antisocial traits) could be dangerous to a therapist that falls for this “psychopathic character” nonsense. They go out of their way to romanticize this notion of a person when the reality of the situation is very very different. One doesn’t care about you at all but might be inclined to damage you because they’re bored. The other might delight in actually hurting you. There are plenty of people that go into the field of psychology, psychotherapy, or other mental health careers who themselves are very broken people that engage with dangerous people in a very unhealthy way. This narrative is not going to be helpful in curbing that problem.
Having an experience of opening the heart again and allowing them to feel vulnerable in a safe space can be incredibly transformative and healing for this type
What did I just say?
– or, conversely, lead to them having to re-build their armor, throwing them back into their patterns. First and foremost it is important to communicate openly and truthfully with this type as their strong referencing abilities make them very sensitive towards lies and inauthenticity.
You probably… shouldn’t do… well… any of that. A psychopath, a real psychopath, not this weird delusional pretend psychopath, is not interested in changing. We are not only fundamentally wired to be who we are, but we also happen to like being who we are as well. You being open and honest is just a waste of time, but remember those two dangerous examples that I referenced above? You definitely do not want to be open and honest with them. You want to be cooly professional and do not give either one an in to mess your life up.
Being able to trust what they hear automatically allows them to relax and become more open towards the person they are dealing with.
Psychopaths cannot feel trust. It is impossible. There is no ability to trust what we hear from someone else because there is no ability to experience trust in the first place. we can choose to believe a person, but this is only accomplished when that person demonstrates that they are worth the extension of that belief. It is basically giving you the rope to hang yourself. If you don’t, cool for you. If you do, you go away. It’s no different for us either way emotionally.
At the deepest level, this type believes that they are bad humans and completely unlovable.
Are you kidding? I’m awesome and apparently quite loveable because I have a lot of people that love me. I can’t experience chemical love or bonding, but people can toward me. If anything, people want to be too close to me. Especially strangers, and they need to stop that. Immediately.
Showing them that they are lovable and bringing them in touch with their gifts, such as directing their power towards good causes, will also help them transform and move towards healthy expression of their pattern.
These two people are going to end up murdered in an alleyway. This last sentence is akin to giving the advice that the only thing that tiger needs to become a loving housecat is a hug. If you are going into therapy as a career, ignore this article. It is very bad advice. There is no such thing as the character that they are describing as the “psychopathic character” and they are woefully ignorant regarding what psychopathy is.