Why Psychopaths are Insatiable

Many of the women who have been romantically involved with psychopaths describe their partners’ appetite for sex, pleasure and power as insatiable. In the beginning of the relationship, the psychopath’s penchant for pleasure may seem exciting, fun and even romantic. You may feel very special to have encountered a man who can’t keep his hands off of you. The problem is that psychopaths usually can’t keep their hands off other women and men too. Once you discover the depth of his deceit and the frequency and quantity of their infidelities, you may ask yourself: Why couldn’t I satisfy him? Why wasn’t I enough?

The answer is that nobody and nothing can satisfy a psychopath. There are emotional reasons for this insatiability which I’ve gone over in previous posts. Because they lack emotional depth and the capacity to bond to others, psychopaths don’t care about the harm they inflict. On the contrary, they relish seeing people in pain and the idea that they’ve duped them. This emotional shallowness also leads psychopaths to attach quickly to their targets and detach just as easily. The lack of love, coupled with the propensity to do harm and low impulse control, propels psychopaths to move quickly from one relationship to the next, in a desperate search for the next dupe, the next pawn, the next conquest, the next rush.

Clinical studies also reveal that just as psychopaths can’t bond emotionally to others, the pleasures they experience are also shallow. Like the mythical character Tantalus, psychopaths are cursed to consume more drink, more drugs, more sex in a desperate search for an unattainable physical satisfaction. To offer an example from pop culture, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie featured cursed pirates whose punishment for stealing forbidden treasure was to become insatiable. Drink poured into them as through a bottomless cup without making them any happier or  more light-hearted. Food passed through them without being able to really savor it. They indulged their sexual appetites with as many partners as they could find, but none gave them enough stimulation or pleasure.

Psychopaths resemble those cursed pirates. The more they indulge their addictions and appetites, the more jaded and dissatisfied they become, the more quantity of sex, partners, positions, drugs or alcohol they need to get their next fix. Every new activity, place and person quickly becomes boring to them. The only constant satisfaction psychopaths experience is the sadistic pleasure to use, hurt and deceive other human beings.

So what do psychopaths feel in lieu of emotional attachment and sensual pleasure? Their desire resembles that of a voracious animal fixated on its prey. It’s focused yet impersonal, targeting whomever they perceive as vulnerable out of the herd. To lure some victims some psychopaths may invest a lot of energy and time in appearing loving, caring, nice, committed and faithful. But that mask usually cracks as soon as they believe they got whatever they needed from that particular victim. This is why so many victims describe the sudden 180 degree change in the psychopath’s attitude and behavior as soon as they got married, or as soon as they committed to their relationship. Before giving in, they were exposed to the psychopath’s mask, which he used to lure them. Afterwards, they saw the real psychopath.

As strange as it may seem, even something as visceral as the psychopath’s sensuality is as much of an illusion as his capacity to love. Psychopaths can be very sensual and affectionate. But this behavior is learned from victims, not natural to them. They see that women are attracted to and beguiled by romantic words and gestures, so they mimic them: but only for as long as they pursue a target or want something from her. Afterwards, the affection and attention suddenly evaporates.

As Skylar, a regular contributor to lovefraud.com eloquently states, a psychopath “is like a ghost, a shadow or a vapor. A complete hallucination created out of DNA. There is nothing real about him, and that is what so hard to take, because you know that there are so many like him: walking shadows. It’s frightening, but we have to lose our innocence at some point.”

Our innocence consists of anthropomorphizing psychopaths by attributing normal human motivations or desires to them. Because their brains are wired differently, psychopaths think, feel and behave differently than the vast majority of human beings. For them, desire is a predatory drive which can never be satisfied by anyone and anything for long. Emotion consists of  dominance. That, too,  is never enough no matter how many victims the psychopath collects or how much he controls and humiliates each one. Communication becomes reduced to a web of manipulation and deceit. As for love, well, that’s the biggest illusion of them all. It’s the fatal trap that slowly sucks the life out of so many victims: often slowly and painfully, until they have no energy left to escape.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

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Dating Jekyll and Hyde Personalities

Almost every expert or victim who writes about psychopaths mentions their Jekyll and Hyde personalities. The Jekyll side usually diminishes over time. The Hyde side reveals itself when you discover what he’s been doing behind your back. Those discoveries are usually just the tip of the iceberg, since psychopaths are excellent at hiding their bad deeds and, when caught, lying about them. The Hyde side also rears its ugly head in disagreements, which sometimes take a violent turn, or in what the psychopath tells others about you and those you care about. Psychopaths are master manipulators and run excellent smear campaigns. Equally commonly, the Hyde side shows up in the implicit or explicit threats: if you don’t do x, y and z to bend to the psychopath’s will, he will replace you with other women or abandon you.

While in the beginning of romantic relationships psychopaths tend to be mostly polished, charming Dr. Jekylls, after about six months to a year they disclose more and more their inner Hyde. In fact, the vast difference between the honeymoon phase and the harsh reality is one the most unsettling aspects of being romantically involved with a psychopath. It’s also what tends to scar victims most, because eventually they realize that the entire relationship, from start to finish, was a fraud. It’s like coming crashing down from great (but artificial) heights to unbelievable (and very real) lows. That really hurts!

This is why vast inconsistencies in your partner’s behavior should be taken seriously, early on. They’re an obvious red flag in any romantic relationship. Somebody who treats you nicely but speaks badly of other women or, worse yet, mistreats other women will eventually mistreat and disrespect you as well. That’s not just because past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior, as they say. It’s also because bad behavior towards previous partners reflects bad character.

Generally speaking, psychopaths tend to be great at putting up a front, or a mask, of normal behavior: often of  better than normal behavior, in fact! We’ve seen that they’re charming, sociable, friendly, funny, loads of fun: particularly in superficial contact. But because deep inside they have malicious natures and bad intentions, they usually can’t maintain that kind of charismatic front in long-term relationships, consistently, over time. This is why their true nature tends to show up most in their intimate relationships with their wives, families or long-term lovers.

To be clear: a psychopath is not, in fact, a Jekyll and Hyde personality. He does not have a good side and a bad side. For a psychopath, Dr. Jekyll is only a mask of sanity; Mr. Hyde is who he really is, inside. This is why over time you begin to see inconsistencies in behavior, or oscillations between the real Hyde nature and the Dr. Jekyll front. As Sandra Brown and Liane Leedom explain:

“What really occurs is that the women fall in love with a life-size cardboard cut out which is a ‘look-a-like’ of a real man. These are the cardboard cutouts of life-size people you see in Blockbuster Video. The psychopath and the stage of luring are as shallow and phony as the cut out. With a complete straight face, he can say one thing and do another, do something and say the opposite, or say and do the opposite of what he did last week. These dichotomies produce serious distress in the women because of the chronic instability in the relationship. As they try to align themselves with his belief system, he shifts. As they try to align with his behavior or promises, these shift.” (Women Who Love Psychopaths, 119)

Dr. Jekyll usually comes out to play with buddies, co-workers, employees, students, etc: people with whom the psychopath maintains relatively superficial relationships. Dr. Jekyll  also becomes Don Juan–an incredibly seductive lover–in the beginning of some romantic relationships, when a psychopath wants to put on the best possible image in order to conquer a woman, heart, body and soul. But since his positive image is only an illusion, he can’t maintain it over time, in intimate relationships. The real psychopath–a person who is domineering, deceptive, manipulative and cold–reveals itself more and more over time. This transformation from the phony Dr. Jekyll to the real Mr. Hyde occurs in the psychopathic bond for four main reasons:

a) the positive traits are not real parts of a psychopath’s true character

b) as the romantic relationship deepens it also loses its novelty and excitement, so the psychopath invests less and less energy in putting up a front of romance and charm and keeping straight the tangled web of lies

c) psychopaths enter romantic relationships to dominate others, which in turn leads them to engage in increasingly abusive and controlling behavior with their partners

d) to control you, psychopaths engage in Pavlovian conditioning: the carrot and the stick. At first, to lure you and gain your trust you see a lot of carrot. The more control they gain over you, the more they no longer feel the need to reward your “good” behavior (i.e., complying to their will) and resort to giving you the stick (all sorts of punishments, ranging from threats, to cheating, to criticism, to periods of abandonment or emotional withdrawal followed by reconciliations, to physical violence). In other words, they will dish out whatever you will put up with.

The realization that Dr. Jekyll was, in reality, always Mr. Hyde is very difficult to accept. It means coming to terms with the fact that the past was an illusion. It means accepting that even the good memories are lies. It means understanding that some human beings have no real qualities: that they are  irredeemably bad. But only once you face this harsh reality–rather than focusing on the positive memories of the Dr. Jekyll facade and struggling to get the psychopath to be nice to you again–can you become strong enough to move on with your life.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction