Reddit: “IAmA Diagnosed Psychopath. I’m Female. AMA.”

Reddit had an I Am A/Ask Me Anything (“AMA”) some time ago where a self-identified  ivy-educated New York 28 year old female psychopath answered questions. (Here). While one could legitimately query the authenticity of this “I AM A” we chose to believe as the comments were quite in line with what we think is the biology behind psychopathy. Here are some choice threads:

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Q: So, what’s your greatest fantasy?

A: Very hard to say and constantly changes. But probably standard, shallow stuff — I’d like to be all-powerful and feared and revered and dazzlingly gorgeous. I’d like to know all the secrets in the world.

Q: And what would you do with all that knowledge and all that power?

A: Not sure — it would come to me, though. As I learned the stuff I would develop applications for it.

Q:  Why bother being feared or gorgeous or whatever, if you don’t give a f__k about what other people think?

A: Because I do give a f__k what other people think. I enjoy being envied/feared and I like having the sort of power this confers.

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Q: The people who [. . . ] who are insecure about those things — are the easiest “targets.”

A: These people feel they’re missing something and are intensely driven to make up that deficit. So if you have a girl who has always fantasized about being “popular,” socially, you act like the aloof and effortlessly popular girl she desperately wants to be and to be accepted by. Then occasionally you throw her a conspirational look or gesture that says I can tell you’re just like me…or at least you could be. You invite her to join you at seemingly trivial junctures (ugh I need to get a dress for this thing, do you want to come watch me try them on and advise?). Basically you make her feel special, so long as she follows and fawns over you and tries to please you. If she falters, you withdraw everything and she goes back to feeling hollow, bereft and unspecial like she felt before. It’s not rocket science. People who fall asleep every night fantasizing about X and will do anything to obtain it are a great resource, if you can convince them you’re offering X. Often that’s not hard.

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Q: Since you’re cognizant of being a psychopath, do you alter your behavior in any way to try and mitigate the negative effects you’re bound to bring into the lives of others?

A: Not really. I mean, in most instances, I guess I don’t care if I negatively affect others? I know that sounds like an a__hole thing to say, but it’s the truth. Since I’ve become cognizant of being a psychopath, the biggest thing I’ve done differently is to read more about psychopathy and in attempt to avoid common pitfalls. I actually wish that I were able to derive pleasure from “deep”/”real”/whatever sh__ — like from a sense of obligation to someone else. I know that when I’m old I will not be attractive (making it difficult, as a woman, for me to extract validation socially) and will eventually need to cut back on drugs. I worry that I will be bored to death. Some days I feel like I already am.

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Q: Do you feel driven to accomplish things in life?

A: In an odd way that I recognize is irrational, I feel entitled to achieve great things and expect to. My shrink said this was narcissism. But also, I’ve had some advantages in life and am in a pretty decent place, financially and socially. I’ve gone to the right schools and know the right people. It’s not absurd to expect that I might “be somebody,” someday.

However, I have huge problems with motivation. Part of the reason I’m so skilled at cheating and lying is that all through school and now in my professional life, I procrastinate and shirk work and do the bare minimum necessary to convey effort, or sometimes just flake out, do nothing at all, and invent some lie to cover it. To the extent I never achieve anything, this will be why.

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Q: Do you strategize and make long-term plans? Or are you saying that you just don’t worry about it once you have determined a course of action? I was wondering how far in advance your plans are — do you see yourself as a short term thinker or a long-term one?

A: I would like to be a long term strategist, but I’m not. Sometimes I think in very sketchy speculative terms about what I’ll be doing next year, but actually laying concrete groundwork and following through on these plans is tedious and I often don’t do it.

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Q: I find the constant need for social validation in the AMA mystifying.

A: You’d probably like to think that the rest of the world is different from HS in this way, but it really isn’t. You crave social validation, too, and a failure to reliably obtain it is probably one reason you try to pretend this need doesn’t exist.

Any animal that lives in groups — humans, lions, dogs, primates — is instinctively as attentive to social status as to physical impulses like hunger and horniness. Social status determines who eats first (and who goes hungry if there’s not enough food), who gets to mate, etc. Maslow says people can’t even begin to engage in higher cognitive functions until they feel loved and accepted by a group.

Clearly, sources of pleasure exist apart from social validation, but social status/validation is compelling for people…and apes and lions and dogs…of all ages. Also, it’s an important ingredient for success. Very rarely do people become rich and powerful and make all their dreams come true based on nerdery alone.