Psychopaths are well known for their ability to manipulate others, mainly in a negative way (which according to some makes us (psychopaths) the “scariest people on the planet”). Whether something is positive or negative is in my opinion largely a subjective matter, but there can be little doubt that psychopaths do generally have a knack for finding out how to influence others, be it to their own or the other person’s benefit. I often receive emails concerning this very question so I thought it might be a good idea to post my reply to such an email here because it will answer some questions for many people.
A Reader wrote:
“Is that your real name? I may be somewhat simple, as I couldn’t seem to find work actual name on your blog, and it seems odd to address you by a pseudonym.
I very much enjoy your work, although I admit I am unlikely to share it with anyone: I dread what sort of response I would likely encounter. For obvious reasons, I don’t particularly want my friends or acquaintances to think I am a psychopath!
I’m interested in learning more about how to influence others, and I daresay that you have great skill in this department. You are clearly very intelligent, and it seems you are able to set aside your own immediate emotions for the sake of a particular goal or purpose. I would very much like to learn how to do this, as I believe my own emotional responses have often worked against me.
I do find you somewhat intriguing. I love your utterly logical reasoning.”
‘Zhawq’ is not my real name. I ‘inherited’ it from an acquaintance and chose to use it for my public presence on the Internet. I use it at my Website, in my Email Address, on my Twitter, Facebook and Youtube accounts, and on the Instant Messenger programs that I use (Google Talk and Skype). I also use it whenever I join forums or leave comments at other people’s websites, and so on.
Remaining Anonymous, combined with Chaining Proxy setups, is the only way that I can protect myself. Psychopathy is a very hot but also volatile subject. People are very emotional about their views and some will go to great lengths to stop what they consider to be an ‘evil and demonic being’, someone who ‘isn’t human’. The all too common belief that some people aren’t human even makes certain people think it is okay to kill a psychopath, because after all, he ‘isn’t human’.
You are certainly not alone about wanting to learn how to influence other people. Indeed, I receive emails requesting advice or information about this very topic almost every day, but generally there isn’t much I can do to help because being able to learn how to influence others requires certain personality traits, and for someone who is not a psychopath learning to influence others beyond the normal is a tremendous task. If you qualify for being a so called normal – a neurotypical – person, then there is no way that you will learn it. The emotions that have become an ingrained part of you as a person since early childhood are close to impossible to override by yourself. Psychopaths can – and sometimes do – coach a person and ‘help’ (or ‘corrupt’) them so that they can become more efficient at influencing others, but even though in theory it is possible to do this over the Internet, this would require a tremendous patience of both of you because it would take a very long time to all the information that is needed in order to give sound advice of this nature. Personally I’ll say it does require you and the psychopath to have a relationship intimate enough for it to extend beyond the Internet. To do it over the Internet or other forms of long distance contact alone will very rarely work.
Add also to the above that very often those who want to learn how to influence others do have particular people in mind, people who are presumably psychopaths, and it just so happens that it is next to impossible to get the better of a psychopath simply because we are wired differently and don’t react to this ‘getting back at us’ kind of thing the same way that normal people do. At best you will be wasting a lot of time and effort, otherwise you’re more likely to end up getting hurt even more (this article has some good points about the topic).
“You are clearly very intelligent, and it seems you are able to set aside your own immediate emotions for the sake of a particular goal or purpose”
Here you touch on the element that is very central to why psychopaths have the ability to influence other people so easily: Setting aside emotions of my own in connection with things (such as moral issues) that relates to the act of influencing another person is not what enables me do this so efficiently. It is the fact that I simply don’t have any such emotions to set aside. I don’t feel bad about doing something immoral (for as long as I’m certain I won’t get caught) and I don’t have any feelings for or against f.x. killing someone (though I used to find it interesting for experimental reasons when I was younger), so there are no inner conflicts that I have to deal with before I can make my move, I can go straight ahead and do what I need or want without further ado.
Do you see the difference between the two situations, being able to set aside emotions and not having any emotions that I have to be able to set aside? I’m not saying I don’t have any emotions, I’m saying I don’t have conflicting emotions. I guess in that sense some will say I’m a little more simple than normal people, and that’s okay, there are pros and cons about everything that we are and do, but personally I think it takes just a different kind of agile mind to be at ease with your ideas and wishes.
Still it is this very same element that makes it so difficult for non-psychopaths to act unhindered by what we call ‘conscience’ or ‘mores’, and which holds them back from doing something they sincerely want to do but just can’t, because these types of morally triggered emotions are so deeply rooted, they’re such a fundamental part of a person’s perception of themselves. As a non-psychopath you may logically conclude there is no good reason to not go ahead and influence someone, but your subconscious doesn’t take orders very easily and will make you feel something is very wrong about what you’re about to do. Sometimes you know it’s your ‘conscience’, other times you can’t put a finger on it, but it serves its purpose which is to keep your inner sense of self and of who you are intact.