They Can Not Change

I was reading and listening to Dr Robert Hare yesterday and another female expert on domestic violence, and I forget her name now. But she deals with women who have come out of a domestic abuse situation and she quoted Dr Hare and referenced his research.Image
For those of you who don’t know who Robert Hare is, he is a professor at the University of BC and probably the world’s leading expert on psychopaths and narcissists. He developed the list of traits used to diagnose psychopaths and has studied the disorder for 30 years. If there is anyone I would believe it is Dr Hare.
We hear these abusers called psychopaths, narcissists, sociopaths, borderline, and antisocial disordered; it all gets very confusing; what is he? Like the female expert said, ‘Does it really matter what we call them? they were abusive and are dangerous.” But there are subtle differences. Borderline PD can be helped with medication and counselling and is actually the exact opposite of narcissism but exhibits traits that are very similar, the big difference is the narcissist is not into self harm and the borderline is much more likely to commit suicide, engage in cutting, and has an obviously low self esteem. Antisocial is just another name for the other disorders. They say that sociopathy is brought on by early trauma as a child, usually neglect but it is very seldom curable, like the woman said, she has never heard of anyone being cured but there is always a possibility seeing as it was brought on by events.
Whereas with the psychopath/narcissist; they are born disabled. Dr Hare has studied the brain and taken pictures, what are they called MRI’s? where they scan the brain? The psychopath’s brain is different than other people’s brain. They can take a child with narcissistic traits and look at his brain and he is deformed in the same way. I think that is a HUGE break through. They do not have what it takes to feel empathy, compassion, guilt, remorse or love. It is impossible, physically impossible! 
The female expert said that she holds seminars and shows abuse victims the pictures of the differences in the brain of a psychopath compared to that of a “normal” person. She said that once the women realize that there is no way he can change they are able to walk away from the relationship. She had recorded a 70% increase in the amount of women who were able to leave and not go back. Up until now women have been told he “won’t” change; that is totally different than he “can’t” change. As long as the victim thinks there is hope of the abuser changing they will keep going back, and in the case of a psychopath that could cost them their life.
One of the big problems is that the narcissist is not crazy, he does not have a visible or easily detected defect so he can present a perfectly normal image and function quit successfully in society; often it is only those closest to him that suffer abuse. To the rest of the world he is rational and agreeable making it very hard to prove he is a psychopath and very hard for the victim to prove abuse. The victim ends up sounding like the crazy one and questions their own sanity because he only despises her. 
IF the abuser is charged and taken to court they are all treated in the same way, usually they are sentenced to counseling, anger management classes and given a slap on the wrist. With psychopaths and narcissists counseling and anger management does nothing because it has nothing to do with the woman or anger. He creates situations where he can get angry and have an excuse to be abusive but it has nothing to do with him being truly angry, it is all about control and wearing down the victim’s resistance. If it was a law that all abusers had to have an MRI done, they could determine if he is a psychopath and if nothing else the victim would have proof that he will never change. It has the potential to change the whole scope of domestic abuse and could end up saving the government thousands and save lives.
I don’t understand why; if this knowledge is out there they aren’t using it to educate the victims of abuse and manage the psychopaths. Food for thought.
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13 Replies to “They Can Not Change”

  1. The danger in using data like this is that it violates HIPAA regulations AND it also opens the door to people who will claim they CAN heal these types of people. We can’t use humans as guinea pigs even though those human pigs cause extreme harm to those unlucky enough to cross their path. James Fallon, a PhD and recent author on the psychopathic brain, discovered his brain image matched that of a psychopath. He claims his family and nurturing kept him from harming others. I look at it differently. I think he chose a field that isolates him enough that he doesn’t have a chance to harm others. I also don’t think his findings prove much of anything considering there is no scan from his childhood to offer a comparison. Who knows…perhaps his work changed his wiring. There are so many unanswered questions about brain imaging and what it all means. I think multiple scans across decades for many different types of personalities, genders, races…this type of science is very green. As for the courts and DV communities benefiting from the data, they can’t even recognize of victim of trauma unless the trauma results in physical damage. It’s sad and frustrating.

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    1. You are right Paula, that woman who was discussing the brain scans said that she gave a seminar to a bunch of counselors, psychologist and lawyers etc who are involved in the field of domestic violence and they all told her that they are not even allowed to mention the fact that they think an abuser is a psychopath. So a person can be diagnosed as a psychopath and it can’t be used in court to convict him. Their hands are tied. I understand that it is relatively new information but Dr Hare has studied it for 30 years, but even he says it is so hard to diagnose because the psychopath acts so normal and is so convincing. There is always room for doubt and until people are educated about psychopaths it will stay that way. In the courts efforts to not convict an innocent person and to protect the rights of the accused the innocent are paying a dear price, many of them with their lives.
      Thanks for you input.

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  2. Carrie,

    You probably don’t remember this, but in one or my early posts on the support forum I recanted a conversation that I had with my ExN early on in our association. This was before he even met me. We met online and talked for hours on the phone for many months before we met in person.

    All the red flags were there, but I was uninitiated and “in love”. He told me, “I cannot change. I’m giving you a chance to get away. I know how I am in relationships.” He knew, I believe, what was going to happen, as it happened to all of his previous relationships.

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    1. Can not change. That is interesting. Does that mean he had tried to change and failed or simply did not want to? Or realized that change was needed and was incapable? I also think they know what and how they are. Do you think they say things like that not as a warning but as a challenge? I find it hard to fathom after all I have lived through and read that statements like that would be out of a sense of “warning” because you have to care to warn. Not trying to pick your brain Kathy but there seems to be this “morbid” quest we all have to try and understand how they think, what brain processes go on. I admit I am “hooked” on the fox series ” the Following” which main character is a self proclaimed Narcissist/Sociopath/Psycopath. While being fiction, I believe the writers have aptly captured the essence of the “personality disorder”. People, especially women love him, and it shows how, when he has a use for them, he is so charming. When he has no use any longer , they are simply gone, either forgotten or killed, makes no difference at all to him. He manipulates, controls, and kills w/o remorse. His “followers” seem to lose all sense of themselves and will do anything for him / because of him, to stay in his good graces. Have you seen it?

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      1. Kathy and Ellie,
        I know that JC knew what was coming, because he set things up, at the time I didn’t see he was doing it but later I realized he had it if not planned knew at some point he was going to get abusive. The day we moved into our house the mask dropped with a loud crash and things were never the same. My son came to visit a couple of days later, (I was still reeling from the shock of JC’s unfounded rage and confused but still very much in love and believing he loved me, I was making all kinds of excuses for his behavior) and JC picked a fight with me in front of my son, anyone with half a brain would not pick a fight with a teen age boy’s mother right in front of him and it was a stupid fight but he was like a dog with a bone and would not let it go. It seemed the more I tried to pacify him the more he pushed until Kris had no choice but to defend his mom. He did it politely and respectfully yet JC started screaming in his face, poking him in the chest with his finger egging him on for a fight but Kris walked out instead of taking the challenge. I was incredulous, what the hell was wrong with him. I went after Kris, making excuses, trying to mend the fences and finally had to let Kris leave and cool down. When I got back JC was on the phone in the shop and I picked up the extension in the bedroom just as he was telling the cops my son had made death threats to him and he wanted to lay charges. The cop asked where the boy’s mother was and JC said I was out. I piped up and said, “No, I am right here.” the cop asked JC to speak to me privately and I don’t know if he hung up or not but the cop was as surprised as I was that JC wanted to press charges. I explained the situation honestly and the cop thought as I did, that it was a totally normal reaction on Kris’s part to defend his mother and that if JC pressed charges the relationship between the two of them would suffer irreparable damage.
        As it was Kris let things go for my sake, but JC criticized Kris to me any chance he got and there were more incidents of Kris defending his mother’s honor. There were times JC was Kris’s biggest supporter and supporter of me supporting Kris. When my whole family turned their back on Kris and me, saying I had ruined him and to forget I ever had him, JC was the one who said, “you haven’t failed as a mother unless you turn your back on him now.” To be honest I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without JC’s support but then on the other hand he did everything he could to drive a wedge between him and Kris and prevent me from seeing Kris. It was so confusing. When eventually, almost two years since that first argument, JC lay in waiting for us to come home and attacked Kris, JC’s defense was self-defense and his proof was previous calls to the police made by him saying Kris had threatened him.
        I had not realized that even if you don’t lay charges against someone the fact that the police were called was recorded and could be used as proof of previous abuse and show a pattern. Much later when JC wanted me to have my criminal record sealed because if someone checked my record it would show previous calls about DV; the light went on in a big way. I feel so stupid now that I did not see the light sooner but I was never in trouble with the law, I had never dealt with anyone who would break the law, I was like a fish out of water so totally out of my element; it never entered my mind that JC would be that conniving.
        I am sure they know what is coming, I think letting it slip that they are abusive is a tactic so later they can say, “I warned you and you didn’t listen.” because after all they are never at fault.
        JC said a few things that gave me pause over the years, once when he was terrible withdrawn and distant I went to him and put my arms around his neck and asked what was wrong and he started to cry. He said he was drowning and didn’t want to bring me down with him. I asked what he was talking about and he refused to tell me.
        When we first started dating we were laying in bed and he told me how much he loved me and that some times in the past he would say things that would make me think he didn’t love me but he wanted me to believe what he did and not what he said. I was really confused by that and later I couldn’t remember if he had said to believe what he said, or believe what he did but either way he wasn’t acting loving.
        Also, early in the relationship he had come into the office where I worked very angry about some guy calling him a liar. He told me he had to walk away because if he gave in to his anger he might not be able to control himself and he had almost killed a guy once for cutting him off. I thought he was exaggerating because he was so calm and I had never seen him get angry ever, not even swear when he hit his thumb with a hammer, I thought he was trying to impress me by being “manly” because I actually believed he was a bit of a candyass.
        I think from what I saw in JC, that they get off on the setting up of the whole situation, they like to let some “truth” slip and see if there is a reaction, I am positive now that JC used to leave “evidence” for me to find in order to hook me into his game of cat and mouse and maybe even to throw me off track, or in order to get a jolt of NS from my anger, here I thought God was somehow making me privy to information for my protection. It was quite shattering to realize all those little miracles were mostly orchestrated by JC.
        wow, well that got totally off topic. Sorry.

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      2. Ellie,

        I think in certain relationships where the woman was above his league he tried to change SOMEWHAT, but still wanted to be THE MAN and dictate for the most part how things would be and it was his downfall. He was always selfish with his time. When a woman is beneath him, he treats them pretty badly. I’m not saying this is how they all are… this is how mine was.

        I asked him to stop drinking. He said he did it for 2 years in the past. He said he would do whatever it took. I don’t believe him. I think he can’t.

        He did realize change was needed, but has such an overinflated image of himself, he keeps thinking and hoping he will find a woman that will accept him the way he is. He kept telling me he wasn’t going to settle. This is his last hurrah with a woman and he knows it(his looks are fading), so he is trying for the best(the prettiest, richest, and most giving)woman he can get. The kind of woman he wants, it AIN’T gonna happen!

        I think he is incapable of change and also doesn’t WANT to change. He doesn’t have the strength of character to change for very long(if at all). He was very aware of these things when he wasn’t puffing himself up. Yes, I do believe he knows what and who he is (whenever he took the time to think about it and not himself)! But he keeps going back to his old ways. I think he can’t help himself.

        He took his newest victim to church a week ago. I truly think he hopes GOD will change him. I read they hope this sometimes.

        I think what he said to me( I can not change. I am giving you a chance to get away. I know how I am in relationships.) was a warning, but I’m not sure it was an altruistic gesture.. Sort of like, “Baby this is how I am if you decide to sign up!” I don’t think it was a challenge.

        Ellie, this man has done this to SO many woman(probably over 100), he HAS to know by now what he is doing. You have to realize this man is now 63. He had on his online dating profile “Hate me if you want to, love me if you can” . That is an old George Strait song and he professed to love that song. Interesting, huh? Sort of the same theme as “I know how I am, I can’t change” that he told me. I sure he knew that many women probably hated him.

        Oh and by the way, the woman he is now dating is a 10! He picked someone who lives in New York and he lives in Louisiana?? I feel sorry for her, she is in for a big fall. Hope it doesn’t take her too long to figure it out.

        No, I have not seen The Following, but I will now. It seems like they have them “pegged” in what you just said. So RIGHT, when they have a use for you they are very charming (with all their disturbing elements thrown in for good measure:) I wasn’t totally discarded until this new woman came along. I know this is selfish, but I hope he stays with her, so he’ll never contact me again. It is just too disturbing for me.

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        1. Kathy, I am sorry. (((( Hugs ))))) I feel a sadness behind your post , I didn’t realize that you had still been talking to him until recently. It is not selfish at all to hope that they stay together, hell, when my xhn’s new wife called me 6 months after the were married complaining about him and asking questions and what to do, I told her in no uncertain terms what she was NOT going to do and that was throw him out , I didn’t want the asshole back on my doorstep, she wanted him , she got him now keep him 🙂 I didn’t feel inclined either to share my suspected diagnosis of him, beyond his alcoholism, he was co morbid, I suspect like yours. Let her find out on her own. And I understand you not wanting him to contact you ever again, but man is is tough when they try contacting you huh? Almost as if there is no will to not talk to them. I think there is a sympathy going on there and my personal opinion is it is the alcohol that masks the true personality. They “use” the drinking as a mask too. To hide the true N ishness if that makes sense. My xnh quit drinking for 7 years, SEVEN! And each one of those days he was dry he was just as much of an asshole , if not worse, as when he was drinking. There was no excuse for the shit he did , he just was a miserable piece of shit. He eventually went back to drinking and the OW, well she was his bar tender so I guess that was pretty appropriate 🙂

          Try as we might I don’t think we will ever make sense out of them, them changing , wanting to not wanting to, being unable to. I simply think w/o the empathy thing they get bored. They have no emotion and can not connect emotionally to anyone or anything. Without the ability to bond, the for better or worse thing, they just get bored with things/ people and move on to the next challenge. Always disappointed that the ” last” one couldn’t make them happy. They are constantly searching for something they can never have and that is to just be content. They want more, bigger, better, richer , prettier, more exciting, etc……….. It will never end for them……….I truly believe most of them die blaming others for what they didn’t have instead of being grateful for what they did. They will never regret anything either as I believe they have limited memories. Once someone, something is gone they wipe it , anything good from their mind. Like it never existed. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that?

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    1. Kathy I have read a lot of what Dr Hare has written but have not bought a book. I have been so tight on money, but if I was going to spend money on a book that would be on the top of my list. I admire his work immensely, he truly has dedicated his whole career to the study of psychopaths and has been ground breaking in his findings.

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  3. The other problem you have that becomes readily identifiable – especially in Family Court – is that many judges, lawyers and psychologists are narcissistic.
    Remember their postion gives them automatic credibility in most peoples eyes and when you catch them out making a big mistake, there is nothing you can do about it. Here in Australia the secrecy laws surrounding the Family Court are horrendous and favour a narcissist – male and female – as the victim is never allowed to clear their name.
    The law suits I could start I would be sitting pretty with all the evidence my ex provided that showed how much she lied. But with the secrecy laws there is nothing I can do about.
    And I’ve heard people praise the different ones i volved and yet all of them – except thankfully the Independant Children’s Lawyer – showed a willingness to not care. And from my studies it ain’t much better in any other western country.
    Imagine how narcissistic legal types would react to that information.
    I’ve had to be happy that I have a fairly large ti.e with my kids and be happy with that and make it as peacable while they are with me. I’ve realised you can’t let these fools control your life by giving them any concern of thought. No country will be thhe 1st to fix it.

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