A Reader asks:
Do psychopaths have supernatural experiences?
In my personal experience it is very common for psychopathic individuals to have had experiences that seem to be supernatural or at least out of the ordinary. I realized this in prison while I was placed in a special wing for psychopaths and especially after I got enrolled with the psychopathy research program and had the opportunity to sometimes talk to the others. About half of us had had childhood experiences of some kind which seemed supernatural. And I believe this to be part of the reason why so many of us grow up to have these peculiar hang ups or even phobias.
For the same obvious reasons that normal people do not talk about these things, most psychopathic individuals do also not talk about them. But I guess it should have a saying here, so I’m going to address it. This will not be an in-depth description, maybe more of a short introduction.
I’d like to state right away that this is not about psychosis, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Psychopaths are as aware about it when we have out of the ordinary experiences as normal people are. It does not affect our ability to function or our ability to think rationally. Psychopaths are not mentally ill, we are not psychotic (being psychotic is a very different condition which has nothing to do with psychopathy) and this fact is part of the definition of psychopathy.
Furthermore, it is not that uncommon in the normal public to have such experiences as well. Indeed, it is far more common in the public at large than most people realize. Everybody believe they are alone with their experiences because nobody talk about it, fearing the stigma that these things carry. And so every individual keeps silent about their own experiences. The only difference in this regard between a normal person and psychopathic individuals is that a normal person will be more likely to be motivated to remain silent based on fear, whereas a psychopath simply chooses to do the same thing because it is convenient, it is easier to get by in society if you don’t share experiences of an unusual or stigmatized nature.
So what do psychopaths experience? Are there any specific types of supernatural experiences that seem to be more prevalent among psychopaths than among other people?
I honestly don’t know if our experiences differ from those of normal people because I haven’t researched this particular subject. But it seems that many psychopaths have had experiences of a nature such as one or more of the following:
- Sensing somebody or something is present, but you know/can see no one is there.
- Autoscopy – also called Out of body experience, you wake up and see yourself from above, as if you float near the ceiling looking down at yourself as you lay in the bed or sit in a chair.
- Having a short glimpse of a scenery, like a picture, which then disappears. It lasts for only one or a few seconds.
- Seeing a person, an animal, or an non-definable being and then realizing it wasn’t “real”. This happens in ‘real time’ and has no ethereal quality to it as the previous example.
- Phobia/s or one or more phobic experiences.
- Feeling ‘Chosen’.
- Having premonitions. These are not usually accompanied by sensory phenomenons, they’re just ‘feelings’.
- Having or creating a “system” that may include f.x. Lucky Numbers or other constellations of phenomena. This is related to Taking Signs.
These phenomena have a direct connection with the also well known phenomena observed in many psychopaths known as Magical Thinking.
I have experiences with all of the above at some time in my life. Most have been in relation to when I was under the influence of drugs, but there are some which have happened independently of any substance or drug abuse.
I have had an Out Of Body Experience once while not under the influence.
When I was a kid and during my teens I frequently felt someone was present when I was clearly alone. During my teens I somehow gained the ability to switch this “ability on and off at will. Whereas I’m not sure how I stopped it (I suspect it has to do with puberty, but that’s another discussion entirely), I now know how to create such an experience.
Deja Vu is something I have experienced only a very few times, and I remember being certain I had experienced the fragment of an incident before when I experienced it the first time as a young teen. I soon realized I was in error, though.
In the same period I felt ‘Chosen’, and it wasn’t until much later when I learned other things about psychology and intelligence (things I should’ve been told but which were kept from me) that I realized the feeling sprung from a set of very much natural advantages I was born with coupled with the alienation I went through during my upbringing (again, something which is very typical for psychopathic individuals, very few avoid alienation).
I have never received treatment for any of these experiences as none have ever interfered with my life or with how I behave toward others. Nor has it played any role in any of the crimes I have committed, violent and otherwise.