Psycho Paths Lead To Greatness

images-836

 

There is something unnervingly hypnotic about a psychopath. The eyes have it. They stride into ours and rearrange what we think is normality. In some ways it’s akin to having a change of internal scenery with the sofa inhabiting a different area of the room whilst the armchairs are perfectly placed on the ceiling. When that happens, we are left to follow the madhatter down the hole.

Mankind likes a monster. We like the gothics of Dracula, Frankenstein (the real monster being the doctor) and a Mr Hyde (the real monster being the doctor). They tickle our fears whilst taking us into a realm of darkness that we can emerge from at the end of a reading or viewing. Once we leave the covers of a book or the darkness of a cinema, we are free to enjoy the sanity of the everyday. The only problem is that the everyday is more frightening than fiction.

Scientists at Harvard have come to the conclusion that psychopathy is a trait that many of us share. They even go so far to say that the more psychopathy we have the more likely it is that we will succeed in life. A lack of empathy, a conscious effort to make others see us in a false light, and a driving desire to turn everything to our own advantage. Aren’t all the self-help books for success all about this? Ask not what you can do for others but what others can do for you. And the sad thing is that the others find this trait appealing.

Contrary to what the movies might have depicted, they are not the knife-wielding demons of movies like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs or Patrick Batemen in American Psycho.

Many are walking among us, leading completely normal lives, and are even some of the most successful members of society, precisely because of their psychopathy. These are the ruthless business people who do whatever needs to be done, regardless of the human cost.

Newsweek

Research suggests somewhere between 0.2-3.3% of people have psychopathic tendencies.

We may work with one. One of them may be our boss, headteacher, member of parliament, or church leader. We may even be married to one.

HOW TO TELL IF PEOPLE YOU KNOW ARE PSYCHOPATHS

Antisocial, the medical term for psychopathic, personality disorder is defined as having unpredictable, erratic and overtly dramatic behaviours.

According to the NHS, a diagnosis can be made if any three of the following criteria apply to the person’s everyday personality:

  • Repeatedly breaking the law
  • Repeatedly being deceitful
  • Impulsive behaviour or being incapable of planning ahead
  • Being irritable and aggressive
  • Having a reckless disregard for their safety or the safety of others
  • Being consistently irresponsible
  • Lack of remorse  

 

When studying texts from the Second World War, ones that deal with the death camps, I am often at a loss to explain why decent people sat back and let it happen. Other, apparently normal, folks actively participated in those evil events. I look at my students devoid of explanation and some way off understanding. My job is to inform them, make them the type of decent human beings who will heed the lessons of the past, but I too was part of the generations growing up after the war and we have not learnt. Indeed, we now seem closer to psychpathological politics as we have ever been since then.

Could it be that we are beyond being saved?

Or could it be that we are predisposed to act and think in this Fascist fashion?

images-837

Could it be that this is the path to success?

 

 

Another Brick Out Of The Wall.

images-834

It’s a little hazy. The photograph has lost its clarity. The time has lost its surety. We have all become a little vague in the snapshot of history.

Back then history was being created. The iron fist of Soviet imperialism and ideological subjugation had run its course and the real world was breaking through. Western democracy was drawing out the poison from a totalitarian regime and, along the way, freeing its people to participate in its dream of meritocracy. The world was safe.

I heard that the creative arts fell back somewhat after the wall came down. Writers, painters, poets and dancers suddenly lived in a world that was free. The thing that had covered their skies for so long was now no more. There was, for the masses, that thing called freedom. The Soviet was no more. Life could only get better.

So, in came the nineties. Some of the older despots were pushed into retirement. new politicians took the stage and the people were their audience. Things were possible. There was a chance to marry materialism to socialism. Not only could we be well-off, we could be well-intentioned. Old conflicts such a Northern Ireland were negotiated towards a peace-deal and Protestants and Catholics stopped killing each other.

For a short time there appeared to be hope. We could move forward as a world, destroy inequalities, learn from past mistakes. The wall had truly come down and we were free to simply be.

And yet we can’t be without our blanket of economic security, no matter how flimpsy that protection really is. Another Wall Street. Another crash. And all that was good with the world was gone. From hope to despair within three short decades.

images-835

And we all ought to stop and think about how much this is all worth. As people break through borders to find new hope. As countries rebuild borders to keep them out. As America builds borders with its neighbours.

What is it all worth?

Exercise and Exorcise

Sunday morning has come around again; much too quickly. It came with two possibilities: a passive, meaningless stretch of twenty-four hours or a moment seized and gently squeezed of its goodness. We chose the latter.

images-831

After a two year battle with the world, I appear to be content. Contentment is so different from its superficial cousin, happiness. Contentment doesn’t wear a showy smile. Contentment doesn’t belly laugh. Contentment doesn’t leave without warning, leaving a grey vacuum that swallows the pain of having to live without it.

Contentment just is.

So here is me, content. And this morning, to build upon this feeling of being here, we went for a run in the countryside. We being my lovely wife and me.

To start with, as we drove to our route, we chunterred a little about aspects of our lives. Our middle daughter has completed her A Levels and has put off university for a year. She now sits with her smartphone, sits and sits. Her bedroom is the stuff left by hurricanes and her mother is reaching the end of her patience. My wife’s workplace is undergoing change (the type of change that has become the byword and trite idealogy of educational institutions, “We must get better and better!”). She is feeling the stress from that and I, having gone through my own psychological wildfire, am on hand to offer a comforting  perspective.

As soon as we reached the area for our run, the world began to lift.

walk-through-woods-400x600

It’s a difficult run but so rewarding. Up and up and up with calves straining against the effort. A desire to stop to ease the rapid breathing but a continuation in order to reach the top. Once there, the panorama is reward enough.

images-829

We run in a rough circle that takes us along trails in fields and ones in woods. It is the woods that I most like. There is a stillness about so many trees so close together. They stand and watch our passage without comment. On more than one occasion I have been on the receiving end of an arboreal prank with hidden routes reaching up from the ground to catch the toe of my trainers and send me on a slow-motion tumble. Now, I keep an eye on them.

When our run has brought us full circle we are allowed to descend the steep climbs and make our way back to the car that is parked up by one of the most picturesque churches one could wish to see.

images-830

Fully evercised and fully exorcised, we are content.

The Moon and Masturbation

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Luna gives the adjective lunaticus. This appears in the Vulgate (405) of the Dalmatian Christian writer Saint Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus, 348–420) as an epithet for “a moon-struck” person, whence “crazed, insane, lunatic.” It was used of epilepsy, from the notion that the seizures were precipitated by moonlight. The paroxysmal nature of the disease was thought to be dependent upon the phases of the moon.

Lexicon Orthopaedic Etymology

 

I was just wondering if it was the moon-landing that was responsible for my oft’-felt bouts of mental illness. It was probably about his time that things started to happen for me: walls closing in; God-bothering; sleepwalking. In previous times, I could have been successfully charged with being a witch. In a much more benign age, I would have merely been sent to a mental institution, a place I know that at least one on my relatives went to. This is my claim to a luna-lineage.

 

Below is a list of reasons that could have prompted a stay in the local loony-bin.

inasnejgjgjgjjgjhg_465_679_int

I must admit that the first thing that drew my eye was the inclusion of masturbation. It gets five mentions, and this is not counting the implied listings. On second glance, after stopping again and considering the implications of Deranged Masturbation (there is a disturbing picture in my minds’ eye), I read, Novel Reading. Now, I think that I tick a number of these boxes although I have never fallen from a horse in war. I did, however, like Ralph Harris’ hit song, Two Little Boys. Now, however, I find this less palatable that it appeared in 1969, when it was first released. There’s that year again, spooky. There is something to my original hypothesis.

 

I was seven when a bunch of adventurous Americans set foot on the moon. I was seven years of age and the world was still in black and white. I was seven and sitting crossed-legged on the parquet-flooring of my junior school’s assembly hall. I was seven and the universe had touched us. I was seven and life, for a moment, offered unlimited possibilities. Being seven meant that the men from the moon had almost another fifty years to work on my mind.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not blaming moon-men or masturbation on my mental fragility; I have never met a moon-man. But now, things are starting to make sense. What if, on re-entry, one of the astronauts still had some luna-dust beneath his finger nails? Ha, ha, I hear you say (voices again).

 

And yet there is method in my muddled machinations.

Psychiatrists were once known as alienists because they cared for individuals who were thought of as alienated from both society and themselves.1 In the past 150 years or so, the terms psychiatry and psychiatrists have become more prominent and are used almost exclusively. Despite origins in the mainstream of medicine and the medical training of its practitioners, psychiatry is often not seen as a medical specialty or as scientific.2 Other medical professionals might see psychiatry as touchy feely and lacking intellectual rigour, resulting in poor recruitment and retention.

Dinesh Bhurgra   first published The Lancet   August 12th 2014

 

A big IF, but what IF that moon-dust got into our atmosphere and started to work its magic? People wouldn’t be thinking of me as some undercooked fantasist who spent his time inventing any range of reasons why he’d started to bark at the proverbial moon, would they? Look at the dates. August 12th is just a couple of weeks after July 21st and, considering that alien incubation roughly takes place over thirty-five years, it’s definitely possible that Dinesh, if I may be so familiar, had stumbled on something. Is it not strange that other members of the medical elite failed to take psychiatry seriously? The words, ‘touchy feely’  suggest that it is a practice performed by art or drama teachers. Hey, I’m onto something here. They can’t get people to apply for the jobs that psychiatry has to offer and, when they do, they can’t keep them. Something is rotten in the state of mental illness. 

bee21487263a166a1831157508cd8cec--mental-illness-tattoos-mental-illness-bipolar

You may have gathered that I am writing this as a way of warding off the darkness. The last few days, it has been waking, stalking me, trying to pull me back into its embrace. It’s a real thing, not touchy-feely but Scary-Mary.  In the middle of the night, while everyone else sleeps, it creeps up  and suffocates me with its black pessimism. It sucks the wind from my newly-found sails and leaves me at the mercy of some approaching squall.  And when I wake, finally wake, to the world of my wife and children, there is something tainted about my belief that hope is just beyond the horizon.

 

So I sat down this morning, with my old friend and Apple Mac in order to summon up the words to drive it off into it’s own world. 

I didn’t know where any of this was going before I started to write. I still have only a nebulous idea, but it has brought it out into the open. We have glimpsed each other across the battlefield and now I am able to mask my anxiety. It seems a long, long time ago since this thing turned up in the middle of the night and kicked my arse all over the house. It kicked so hard that it almost kicked my out of my own life. Yet now, I think I know a little bit more about it.

 

2b46b2257ebb5646075083ef5f6740e5

 

Every day, in every way, I getting better and better.

Say it quietly.

 

Love of a Bargain

images-826

Perhaps I was born with the need to fall upon ‘bargains’ like a bird of prey upon its ‘prey’.

I was brought up in the 60s, post war, but not yet post poor. In truth, bargains did not exist back then. There were no reductions for ‘sell-by-date’ as there was no defined date at which something was ‘best before’. The rule of thumb was that if it stunk to high heaven, was mushy to the touch, ticked all the boxes of ‘rank’, it was not good to consume. Sometimes we consumed it anyway and this steadied our constitution.

I heard the rumour that spicy food was invented to hide the taste of food that was well into the dead zone. In northern England, there was no such thing as spices and, during the mini ice-age that descended upon Yorkshire during my childhood, there was little chance of anything ‘going over’.

The early part of my life was spent eating food that was only seasoned by conservative smatterings of salt and pepper. Only when I reached the age of sixteen did I discover the joy of curry.

No, that’s not fully true. My elder sister went to work at a store called Marks and Spencer. This was a posh store frequented by those people who had the money to indulge their indulgences. The food was so expensive that it was light years away from any diet that we could ever expect to participate in. That was when I first heard the term, ‘waste’.

Waste was the stuff that hadn’t been sold. It was the foodstuff that was likely to go off if it were to be saved over the weekend. And good old M&S thought it a good idea to give it to their employees for a very reasonable price. So followed lasagnes, chilli con carne, curries, pheasant pies and a whole range of sweet dishes most men had never previously dreamt of. Our family table became a cornucopia of all things tasty and exotic. My cup runneth over.

My love of good food continued alongside my love of a ‘bargain’. So when some bright spark in Europe decided that it was a good idea to label foods with ‘best before’ a whole frontier of bargains was suddenly declared officially open. Could life get any better?

As an older shopper I no longer have the desire for a bargain (he lies). No, I have. I just don’t tell any body. Actually, again that is an untruth. I love bargains especially when they come from relatively expensive stores. And it is that completion of the circle that brings around Marks and Spencer once more.

My town is moderately wealthy with lots of silver surfers who are often really quite wealthy. Some time ago, I started to adjust my shopping times in order to slide into the ‘best before’ reduction slots. This allowed me to grab a bargain whilst also playing the role of a modern hunter-gatherer. Things were going well until the ‘silver surfers’ began to turn up.

Before long the aisles of M&S were crowded with the trolleys of these affluent pre-dead. They had a certain way of pushing their trolleys by bending over them and using the potential energy of a promised fall to propel the shopping vehicle forward. They would wait in aisles waiting for the moment to pounce, and boy could they pounce. Once infront of the food reductions, a number of them would block off the entrance to ‘bargainsville’ and pick away at their leisure before leaving with a ridiculously and amoral amount of ‘best before’ at ridiculously and unethically low prices.

The world had turned.  

Farewell all that is good with waste.  

The Long, Lost Summer.

images-11

 

In my prime, in my youth, salad days…they all go.

It’s a clear blue sky with just a hint of cold. The long-awaited summer did come and is now going. Its last hours are being played out before the curtain of autumn is pulled across the stage.

And here is me, this ingrate wishing for it to never end (summer).

It’s been a good, a very good summer. In all respects it has made up for the terribly dark winter that never wished to end. May arrived and brought some sunshine. June was better. July was a blast. August, well August was just seriously warm, seriously ‘cool’, seriously summer. September knocked on the door just over a week ago and we had to let it in. The next stop, as my wife said yesterday, is Christmas.

For now, it is a run in the early autumn. It is a moment for moments, for the NOW.

 

Blessed are the Piss-makers.

images-303

Subject A woke up in the middle of darkness and felt for the glass of water at the side of his bed. He found it just as his fingers decided to add some urgency to their search. The resulting action was a slow, slow-motion tipping of the glass and its contents off the bedside table and onto the floor.

His wife stirred beside him, but did not wake.

“Shit, shit, ducky shit,” he muttered to himself. But the spilt milk, or water on this occasion, was the least of his worries.

Subject A felt the dryness of his mouth and tongue. He struggled under the pounding in his head. And he felt the sure and powerful flood of his vital blood coarse through his veins.

It was Fryday and the wolf was returning.

Keeping himself together, he eased out of bed. He left behind a fresh layer of hair on the sheets which he would have to blame on the cat later. The cat was sleeping in another room. She would know that he was moving about, but she would also know that it was wise not to investigate.

Subject A descended the stairs and walked to the door.

With all the stealth he could muster, he undid the locks and eased it open before stepping outside. He always found this last procedure to be better and quieter than merely stepping through the door.

Outside, he breathed deeply beneath the cold, full-moon that gazed lovingly down at him.

 

images-433

In moments, he was off and running towards the open common-ground where he hoped to find some rabbits, a piece of virgin ground to crap upon, and a tree to rub his scent over before he anointed it with his bursting bladder.