Dancing at the Psychopaths Ball

Dancers

For anyone who truly cares about America, this is a moment of agony.  Never have Americans been more vulnerable.  Programmed as we are by Hollywood amorality (and I speak as a Hollywood professional) to believe whatever the pop culture machine wants to teach us, programmed as we are by the entertainment business called “news” to follow party lines and be filled with hate, rage and desperation, programmed as we are to sneering selfishness and preening narcissism, never have we been more ready to dance at the Psychopaths Ball.  And the dance has only begun.  The song that was America is over.  All that we remember of it now is a haunting melody and the new cacophony that we are learning is the devil’s dance indeed.

For me, most tragically of all, the Christian church in America is in the forefront of the dance.  I am not speaking only about politics.  The juddering and gnashing over presidential candidates is only a symptom of a much deeper spiritual disease that has been growing for decades. After many months of trying, I have come to the conclusion that it is futile to try to reach the raging partisans of either the left or the right.  For me, the point now is to try and help those of us who find no home on either side and who refuse to rage.

Little wonder that the entire country is going to wolves, when the Christian church, which is supposed to speak truth in the world, has been following them for decades and continues to do so.  Over the past half century many spiritual wolves have risen to power in the church and foolish sheep by the millions have flocked to them.  I believe that the great wolf pack is coming together and with it comes vast Darkness for America.

Here is a warning:  Prepare for things to grow much worse as human wolves rise to positions of power in many places. And party affiliation does not matter. Wolves are their own party. These leaders will demand that you dance to their music or suffer the consequences. As time goes on it will take courage and real faith to stand against them.

Because of the work I have done, I have had a lot of experience in dealing with human wolves. Out of that experience I wrote a book entitled Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church (published in 2014 and available on Amazon, but, no, I don’t care whether you buy it or not).  The book was directed at the church, but the principles used in determining a wolf apply everywhere because human wolves appear everywhere.

During my research, I categorized these evil individuals into two varieties.  I called the first, Process Wolves.  These are people who didn’t start out to be wolves, but, because of their arrogance and selfish choices, became wolves over time. The second group I called Born Wolves.  These are people who have been evil from birth.  Psychologists call them psychopaths.  There is a lot of misunderstanding about psychopaths.  I believe that we are entering a time when many of them will rise to power.  While I do not believe that we should place the label “psychopath” on any specific individual unless that determination has been made by a specialist, certain patterns of behavior should give us a serious warning that psychopathy is possible.

In Day of the Wolf, I wrote two chapters about psychopaths.  Here they are:

 Serpent Wolves

Decades ago, the late psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, discovered a disturbing group of people among his clients.  Even with all of his training, he found no way to categorize them.  The things they did were utterly cruel.  Worst of all they had no conscience, not a shred of remorse about any horrible act that they perpetrated.  For example, a mother and father had a son who committed suicide.  The following Christmas, as a gift, they gave their other son the gun that his brother had used to kill himself.  And they thought nothing of it. It was how they had always dealt with their children.

As Peck discovered more and more such people, he had to create a new category for them because they didn’t fit into anything in his training.  The category he created was “Evil”.  Dr. Peck documented his experiences in an important book entitled, The People of the Lie.

The late Roman Catholic priest, Father Malachi Martin, who served at high levels in the Vatican, discovered the same kind of people.  But he called them demon possessed and created a new category of possession for them.   Some of his experiences are documented in his book, Hostage to the Devil.

When we think of demonic possession, automatically into our minds come images from The Exorcist, and other books and movies.  They present a set of symptoms that many Christians equate with evil spirit possession.  These symptoms appear because, to varying degrees, the victims are fighting against the demon that is overwhelming them.  However, Father Martin discovered people who were not fighting at all. The demon was an integral part of them. They were comfortable with its presence and didn’t want to change. He called these the Perfectly Possessed.  While their actions and attitudes were extremely disturbing and destructive, they didn’t manifest the traditionally understood symptoms of possession.

Let’s try to imagine a man who is in this state of willing enslavement. (It could be a woman.) Either knowingly or unknowingly, this individual is a servant of Darkness walking through the world with the specific assignment to harm as many people as possible.  With him he brings chaos. Does he know that he is possessed by an evil spirit? Whether he does or not, isn’t important. He is totally comfortable with who he is and sees no need for change. This makes him the ultimate spiritual wolf.

According to the Bible, Satan can appear as an angel of light and so can his servants, so let’s imagine a man who could wreak the most havoc. Wouldn’t he present himself to the world in the best possible way?  If he were good-looking it would make him that much more dangerous.  Certainly, he would be very charming. People would be attracted to him. There would be something exciting about him.  He would be creative and forceful, unafraid to take risks.  His view of things would be different than the average person. Average people are filled with insecurity, but this man wouldn’t be insecure at all.  He would always be certain of what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it.  Consequently, many would view him as a natural-born leader.

Gifted as he was by Satan who has known humans for eons, this perfectly possessed man would know exactly what to say and how to say it in order to build friendship, trust and even romantic love. He would be very bright and could talk on many subjects with what appeared to be authority. Understanding the need for humor in building relationships, he would be funny. This would include self-deprecating humor.

He would be a great storyteller. Though his stories might be a little disjointed and a bit odd, the way he told them would be compelling. Probably, they would be stories about the wild things he had done and his many accomplishments. They would be fanciful and would always present him in the best light, but this would be mitigated by how fascinating they were and so filled with humor. It would be refreshing to see such a gifted person who had done so many things, yet was humble and didn’t take himself too seriously.

This unique individual would be a student of culture and human psychology.  He would understand the nuances necessary to establish good relationships.  With what appeared to be amazing speed and sensitivity, he would learn your likes and dislikes and would do thoughtful things for you. If you were part of a tight-knit group, he would join in with an intuitive understanding of what was expected of members. In short, to those around him, he would appear to be an ideal friend…for a while.

But the more some people got to know him, the more disturbed they would become, especially if they were mature Christians. Something was not quite right. If you were the specific target of his attentions, it’s likely that you wouldn’t notice it. If you had very little contact with him, you wouldn’t notice it either.   Only those who were around him, but not one of his targets, might see it.

But let’s imagine that you are the focus of his attention. For you, his special friendship would be mesmerizing. He would appear to understand and appreciate you on a level that few ever had.  You might even believe that you had found your “soul-mate” or at least the closest, most understanding friend that had ever entered your life. Just the way he looked at you with such amazing intensity and concentration would take your mind off his words.  If friends didn’t like him and expressed concern, you wouldn’t understand what they were talking about.  You would brush off their warnings, thinking they were jealous.

Not that there wouldn’t be frustrations in your relationship with this charming, perfectly possessed individual. There would be. In all human relations, whether love affairs or friendships, there is a desire to get to know the other person on a deeper level.  But in the case of your special friend, in spite of all his talk (and he would talk a lot), in spite of his knowledge, humor and apparent interest in you, in spite of the fact that you spent significant time with him, slowly there might come the realization that you didn’t know him at all. Whenever you attempted to learn something about his family and background, almost anything really personal, the inquiries might be deflected.  He might tell you some piece of information, but the next day it would change. You could never pin him down.

Or he could take the exact opposite approach, building an entire detailed picture of his past, including much very personal information that would gain your sympathy and trust.  You would relate to it emotionally because it was so similar to your own past.  Only later would you learn that none of it was true.

Some of your friends would say that all of his wonderful talk was glib and superficial. They might tell you that everything he did and said, everything he desired, was self-centered. When he appeared to be doing something for others it was really for himself and under his charming façade was a gigantic ego.

You would become defensive. You would tell them that everybody has flaws. You are a Christian and you are certain that he is as well. He has shared with you his deep struggles and profound faith.   Perhaps he has shared that he had serious problems when he was growing up.  You have compassion for him. You know what he needs. You have decided that you will be very open, honest and vulnerable so that he can heal and learn how to trust others through your loving example.

But over time, something would become clear even to you the target.  No matter what you did to help him, your close friend doesn’t ever change. He may talk about positive change and how much he wants it, but it never happens. He is totally self-centered. Most frustrating of all, he never takes responsibility for anything he does wrong.  In his mind, he is never wrong. When he does something that is clearly wrong or hurtful, either it isn’t important to him and he glosses it over or he blames someone else.  Often, he blames you.  When confronted, it’s amazing how quickly he can change the subject without any attempt at a logical connection. Or he may get really angry.

If you become intimate with him, you would grow increasingly disturbed because he has no interest in rules or laws of any kind, whether the unwritten rules of personal relationships or an established legal code. He knows the Bible and can quote verses, but it seems to be all in his head, not in his heart or actions.  While he has many rules that he wants you to follow, he considers any kind of moral code a minor impediment, rules for others and not him. He claims to be a free, creative spirit who is sharing God’s love. His electrical impulsiveness, which had been charming at the start, would begin to bother you.  When he sees something that he wants, he takes it, no matter what it is, and thinks nothing of hurting people in the process.

If what he does to get what he wants is very destructive and hurtful, there is not the slightest sense of guilt, certainly no remorse or sorrow.  At first, you wouldn’t understand this because he apologizes even in tears, promising that it will never happen again, telling you that the Lord has forgiven him so you should too.  But shortly thereafter he would do exactly the same thing and grow angry when you called him on it.

Soon you would realize that he didn’t understand the very idea of guilt, remorse and sorrow. It was like a foreign language that he didn’t know. Even if what he had done was something truly awful and cruel, he would feel no guilt whatsoever. When he seemed to show remorse, sorrow and repentance, it was just play acting. The only reason he did it would be to get out of the current predicament by doing what was expected of a Christian. And he would be a very good actor. Most disturbing of all would be the creeping realization that he had no sense of moral proportion.  He would view the most heinous, even vicious, acts as no more important than minor traffic violations. It would take time to accept the reality of all this because it is so unlike how you view the world. As a Christian, you struggle to believe the best about other people.  But the longer you were with him, the more your life would turn to chaos.

If you could enter the mind of this perfectly possessed individual who is so charming and has become such an intimate friend, if you could see the world and other people the way he does, you would be shocked and terrified.  Within his consciousness, there would not be the slightest drop of love, compassion, empathy or sympathy for any living creature. His only concern would be for himself, what he wanted and how to get it.  He would do anything, use anyone in any way necessary to satisfy any desire or urge that came upon him.  Whatever apparent good he did would only be to achieve his dark goals. The alien coldness of his mind would freeze your heart.

Like his father Satan, he would be a masterful liar, willing to use deceit and total manipulation whenever it served him.  His only hunger would be for status, pleasure, money and power. His goal in any relationship would be absolute control. Within his mind there would be no fear or insecurity. The only emotions that would mean anything to him would be rage, frustration and lust. In fact, even these would be experienced only on a minimal level. Controlled as he was by an evil spirit, his entire emotional life and personality would be extremely shallow.

Eventually, after you had been used and abused, drained of any value that he had seen in you, you would be abandoned. Without any apology or goodbye, he would be gone.  Too late, you would realize that there was no way to humanly reach him, no appeal to human sympathy or empathy that would have meant anything.  You might as well appeal to a computer voice on the telephone.  Here is the strangest part. Even though you are aware and ashamed that you have been duped, when he was gone you would miss the tremendous “connection” and “intimacy” that you had experienced, which would break your heart even more.

Normal people couldn’t begin to understand a perfectly possessed man or woman.  Normal people would consider it impossible that anyone could live as a cold, calculating predator one hundred percent of the time.  This would make normal people very susceptible to such a person’s charm, lies and manipulations. His victims wouldn’t understand how completely they were being “gamed” until he had vanished from their lives, leaving emotional, financial and even physical devastation. This could include children that he had fathered, but didn’t care about. His victims would be shocked to see that, from the moment he had met them, he had targeted them because he considered them vulnerable. With great care he had assessed what he could take from them, then overwhelmed their resistance with his charm and false friendship.

As an astute observer of people, he would have carefully probed to determine specific areas that were vulnerable to assault.  He would have learned a target’s secret hopes and fears, then created a strategy designed to appeal to their specific needs and weaknesses.  He would have created a façade of history and personality designed to mirror his target’s history and personality.  To like and love him would be like liking and loving yourself.  Finally, when the moment was right, the wolf would strike, exploiting the target, leaving them devastated, lonely and ashamed at their gullibility.

Now let’s expand our imaginary scenario.  Imagine that instead of targeting just one person, such a perfectly possessed serpent wolf spent his life targeting churches, Christian schools and ministries. Being a fabulous actor and having done his research, he would say all the right words with the right emotion, he would fabricate suitable credentials and background, so that he would be accepted easily by any Christian group.   Because of his skill and extreme likability, which would include his knowledge of the Bible and Christian culture, in a short time he could worm his way into positions of trust.  Then, whether his goal was money, sexual pleasure or pure control over others, the flock would be open to his depredations.  With subtle charm, lies and backstabbing, he would destroy anyone who stood in his way.  Those above him he would charm into being his loyal patrons.  Those below who could be of use, he would turn into willing pawns.

Could someone like this actually exist? What I have called perfectly possessed people, psychologists call psychopaths.

 Ice in Their Moral Veins

Because of popular media, most of us believe that psychopaths are serial killers like Ted Bundy or Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker.  But such monsters are only the tiniest portion of the psychopath population.  One expert, Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D., estimates that one in every 150 people in the United States is a psychopath. This would mean that, at any given time, there are several million such people literally hunting for prey in America. The vast majority are men, but there are women psychopaths as well.

Could psychopaths have been in the human community since the very beginning? Recall the story of Cain and Abel. As revealed in Genesis 4, the personality of Cain is disturbing. Something was wrong with him. When he and Abel brought offerings of worship to the Lord, his was not accepted. It wasn’t the offering itself that was the problem, God does not condemn that.  It was the heart of Cain that made the offering unacceptable.  When confronted, his response was not contrition and repentance, but jealousy and anger that finally erupted in out-of-control rage and violence to the point of murder.

And after the crime, what do we see?  Utter coldness and amorality. First, Cain lies to cover up his murder.  Even though it is the first murder that has ever been committed and he should be shocked, he doesn’t care at all. Clearly, it has no more importance for him than the death of an animal. He doesn’t care about his parents and their horror and sorrow.  When God makes him face what he has done, Cain admits no wrong and displays not the slightest guilt or remorse.  When he is condemned, his only concern is for himself.  All of this is classical psychopath behavior.  So, based on the evidence of Genesis, we have to say that it seems very likely the first child born to the human race after the Fall was a psychopath.  How fitting a result of sin and how predictive of the future!

Psychopaths have been in the human community ever since, bringing enslavement, misery, death and hell with them.  Some have risen to become vicious, bloodthirsty leaders. The personal histories of many despots reveal that they were psychopaths. But recently, something new has been happening.  Their numbers are increasing. Psychologist, Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., who is considered by everyone in the field to be the modern-day father of psychopath research, believes that we began to see a significant increase starting in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Within American society, where do you find these charming, ruthless, unfeeling, dangerous people? Psychopaths who are less sophisticated and not “well-bred” commit every sort of crime and wind up spending multiple terms in prison.  Their offenses run the gamut from cons called affinity scams (the targeting of groups with members who trust each other, such as churches) to child molestation and murder. But many more psychopaths have learned to walk on the edge of the law, never quite breaking it enough to run afoul of the authorities.

While they don’t break the law, these serpent wolves wreak devastation on everyone close to them, including multiple marriages with brokenhearted wives and husbands, fatherless and motherless children, emptied bank accounts, angry, abused fellow workers and a host of people who feel ashamed at having been duped and promise themselves that they will never trust anyone again.

Many less sophisticated psychopaths lead marginal lives on the edge of society, but many others excel. Because of family connections, their gifts and skills, or simply their ability as imposters and con artists, they have learned how to thrive.  The most skillful rise to top levels in business, the arts, law (including law enforcement), the military and politics. Their energetic drive, which conceals shallow creativity, coupled with ruthless, domineering amorality, is rewarded as leadership by those above them, while their co-workers and those beneath, including their families, suffer immeasurably.

I’m convinced that there are many psychopaths at high levels in Hollywood. I know of a writer/producer/director who has been extremely successful in both film and television who fits the pattern.  For decades, he has consciously chosen to make life hell for the people under him. While I have never worked for him, close friends of mine have.

For many years, child actors have made allegations about the existence of an organized community of child molester psychopaths who are extremely powerful within the entertainment business. Those making the allegations have been afraid to name names.  Their fear isn’t just for their careers.  These wolves are so powerful and ruthless that their victims fear for their lives. Hollywood isn’t the only place where powerful psychopaths wreak every kind of havoc.

Because they are wolf predators, psychopaths gravitate toward any area where vulnerable people may be found in significant numbers.  Consequently they choose to be doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, teachers, professors and counselors, etc.  Could there be a greater opportunity than a vulnerable person in long-term psychotherapy?  Psychopaths who are sexual predators, have set up group homes for abused teenagers. It should be no surprise that they are drawn to the church in large numbers.

If ever there was a vulnerable group waiting to be exploited and abused it is the Christian community.  We believe in and teach the need for vulnerability in the Body of Christ.  Many of us think that being nice and charming and saying the right words indicate spiritual trustworthiness.  We want to be friends with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. When someone has a broken past, we want to help them rebuild after they accept Jesus as their Savior.  If someone tells us something about their past, we believe them.  We are unprepared for charming, ruthless, amoral liars.

Within the Body of Christ, rarely are the details of a life resume ever checked.  Though the Internet offers great opportunity to examine a person’s history, few Christians use it. Many states require background checks on all those who work with children. But more than a few psychopath child molesters have been clever enough to evade the system. Some move frequently, creating multiple identities with sophisticated supporting materials and letters of recommendation.

Making matters much worse, Christians want strong, good-looking, charming, creative leaders. If such people know the right words and speak to our emotions that’s all that is needed for them to be accepted.  We make our decisions about trustworthiness and spiritual maturity based almost entirely on emotion.  Also making matters much worse, psychopaths recognize each other and work together to accomplish their goals of predation. If one is in a church or ministry, there may be several more.  The wolf pack.

Some serpent wolves’ goals are short-term, such as stealing money.  The psychopath enters, assesses, targets and mauls within a few months or at the most a couple of years. Then he vanishes.  As bad as it is, in some ways a financial affinity scam is the least damaging of a wolf’s potential destruction.  But his involvement with a group doesn’t have to be short-lived.

Such an individual might have targeted Christians and Christian ministry long ago as a vulnerable category, then gone to all the right schools and churches establishing legitimate credentials, which would allow him to enter and potentially become a top leader of a Christian church, denomination or ministry and remain as a spiritual wolf feasting on the flock for a lifetime.  Is it almost impossible for you to imagine someone who could be so consciously malevolent and appear to be a great Christian?  The serpent wolf depends on your inability to imagine it.  He depends on our blindness, gullibility and fantasy thinking.

But let’s understand something:  We do not need to be victimized by these predators. 

Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.  What does it mean to be wise as a serpent?  At the very least, we should be able to recognize a serpent when it starts crawling through our house.  By the fruit of a person’s life we can know who that individual really is. But because we don’t understand what the New Testament means by fruit, we misread evidence or don’t look for it at all.

Why do I call psychopath predators “born wolves”?  This is the most troubling part of the entire discussion.  Where do psychopaths come from?  In dealing with all psychological aberrations we search for causes so we can fix them. Psychopaths defy our efforts. On a legal level, they are not insane.  While they don’t care about right and wrong, they know the difference and are culpable for their actions.  Every study indicates that true psychopaths have been this way since early childhood.

While some may come from neglectful or abusive homes, many do not.  Many of their families are normal and loving. Yet, from their early years, psychopaths wreak chaos in those families.  From the time they can make decisions, their selfish impulsiveness, viciousness and amorality, their total lack concern for others, guide their choices. In many cases, as they grow older they bankrupt their parents and siblings who are locked in a pattern of bailing them out of their self-inflicted crises. In adulthood the pattern continues with husbands and wives who love them no matter what they do and want to “save” them from themselves.  The pattern continues with people in their community who like and trust them. It continues in the church.

What causes psychopathy?  Medical researchers in the field do not know. It is clear from fMRI tests that patterns in certain areas of the brain are different with psychopaths than with the general population.   What causes those differences is not known.  Damage to certain parts of the brain can trigger psychopathic tendencies and activities in people who have not experienced them before.

Is the deep evil that psychopaths perpetrate nothing more than the result of brain abnormalities?  If so, why should this be so? Why shouldn’t such a brain abnormality cause a person to be overwhelmingly righteous, empathetic, loving and good to everyone far beyond the norm?  Why should brain abnormalities take people into every sort of destruction and perversion? Can the psychopathic abnormality be corrected? Studies and trial programs are continuing, however, professionals who deal with psychopaths state that, to date, no therapy has proven to have any positive, life-changing, long-term effects.  Some psychopaths have actually used therapy to help them become more efficient predators. Psychopaths convicted of crimes have by far the highest rate of recidivism.

So, is it all just physical?  If you are a materialist, that would be your position.  But a materialist viewpoint doesn’t account for a psychopath’s consistent and conscious choices that can only be described as unrestrained evil.  Could there be another answer?  Could the physical deformity of the brain be caused by an unrestrained deformity of the spirit?

The spiritual deformity of absolute evil is in all of us.  Only by the Grace of God are we not all psychopaths without the slightest concern for anyone but ourselves.  Is it possible that psychopathy is the “normal” moral state of fallen humanity under the power of Satan and only the work of the Holy Spirit restraining evil in the world keeps the human race from becoming entirely psychopathic?

Are psychopaths the living image of what the whole human race will become in the Final Days when the restraining of the Holy Spirit will be removed?  Certainly, the morality of psychopaths is the same morality as that of demons and fallen angels and for a period of time in the Days of the End Satan and his hosts will control the world – very likely, a world where the vast majority have no conscience or sense of guilt or remorse. According to Revelation, even when terrible judgments are inflicted on them, the people of that day refuse to repent.

But right now, is it possible that certain people are chosen by the Powers of Darkness to have that unrestrained evil released in and through them? As troubling and as controversial as the idea is, could it be possible that there are people who are chosen from birth and even physically molded by Satan to be special servants designed to embody who he is and what he desires for the human race? Could such people offer the opportunity for a unique kind of perfect possession?

From the earliest years of childhood, true psychopaths display no conscience, remorse, love or empathy and bring chaos and destruction to those around them. Parents see it very early and become distraught because no form of discipline has any effect.  And it grows much worse as the years pass.

Satan is territorial and views certain families as belonging to him down through their generations. The late evangelical scholar and occult expert, Dr. Kurt Koch, wrote about this in a number of books including Christian Counseling and Occultism: A Complete Guidebook to Occult Oppression and Deliverance and Occult Bondage and Deliverance: Counseling the Occultly Oppressed. Also in dealing with occult influences, I recommend, Demon Possession and the Christian: A New Perspective, by my old friend and former professor at the Moody Bible Institute, Dr. C. Fred Dickason.

I believe in the Power of Jesus to save and sanctify the vilest sinner. I believe that there is no sin beyond His ability to redeem or His Blood to cleanse.  But as we consider psychopaths, we face a cold reality. Salvation requires belief that Jesus can save and a desire to be saved.  It requires true repentance for sin.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

To repent means that you understand that you have sinned, you have a sense of guilt for that sin and you desire to turn away from it and be forgiven. In a true psychopath, there is no agreement that sin has been committed. There is no sense of guilt, no remorse and no sorrow. No matter how heinous the crime and how awful the suffering he caused, the true psychopath simply does not care.  Over and over, by their direct statements during psychological interviews and by their subsequent actions, any apparent remorse, sorrow or desire for forgiveness has proven to be a sham act.  The Apostle Paul writes about consciences that have been seared as with a hot iron.  That doesn’t seem to be the situation for psychopaths. From all indications, they have never had a conscience that could be seared.

It is a miracle when any sinner is saved, but it would take a spiritual and psychological miracle of healing, deliverance and transformation for a true psychopath to repent. To be permanently delivered from the Powers of Darkness, an individual must put their trust in Christ so that He can come and live within them. If they are delivered from an evil spirit and the Holy Spirit does not enter in, it is like the house that Jesus warned might be cleansed, but then re-infested by far worse spirits than the ones that had been ejected.

Psychopaths present a unique challenge to the church. The most gifted of them are extremely difficult to recognize. Even trained professionals who are fully aware that they are dealing with known psychopaths have been duped by their charming lies and manipulations. Especially this is true if you are the target of their “charm initiatives”.  Those who are not the targets may have an easier time discerning the truth about an individual. If an entire church or organization is the target, it may take outside observers to have the necessary objectivity.

Adding to the complexity of the problem, there are people who may display several psychopathic traits, but are not psychopaths. Even in churches and Christian organizations certain psychopathic traits are rewarded as creative, energetic leadership.

Because of their gifts and charm, when a psychopath becomes a pastor, elder, Sunday School teacher, financial administrator, camp director, youth worker or other Christian leader, many in the church or organization will support that individual, making excuses for his or her destructive actions until great harm has been done.  In fact, the only person a psychopath can never fool is Jesus Christ.  Therefore, it is extremely important that the Holy Spirit give great wisdom and strength in identifying and confronting these serpent wolves.

There is much more to be learned about psychopaths. I recommend three books: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. and Snakes In Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work by Paul Babiak, Ph.D. and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., also The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience, by Kurt A. Kiehl, Ph.D.

Dr. Hare has created a checklist of key symptoms of psychopathy that is used by professionals.  I will give you those symptoms with the same warning that he gives.  You can’t run down the list applying the symptoms to an individual in order to make any final determination that he or she is a psychopath.  The checklist is to guide professionals trained to use an extensive scale that goes with it.  It takes hours of professional interviews to reach a final assessment.  There are many people who show a number of the symptoms, but who are not psychopaths.  I give the list here as a general guide.  If a particular individual shows many of the symptoms, it may indicate a serious problem.

 Key Symptoms of Psychopathy

 Emotional/Interpersonal:

  1. Glib and superficial (often witty and articulate, but consistently shallow in interpersonal communication)
  2. Egocentric and grandiose as though the world revolves around him or her.
  3. Lack of remorse or guilt. Absolutely no concern about the effects his or her actions have on others. No conscience and no sorrow.
  4. Lack of empathy. Emotionless, almost like androids in their inability to feel real compassion for someone else no matter what they do to that individual. If they appear to show empathy it is an act. They are only displaying what they believe is expected. Some of them carefully study to know what is expected.
  5. Shallow emotions. A kind of emotional poverty that limits the range and depth of their feelings.  Typically, when asked what he understands about love, a psychopath will describe sexual experiences that brought pleasure.

Social Deviance:

  1. They do what feels good without thinking.  Psychopaths are poor planners, which is one reason why the less sophisticated of them are often caught.
  2. Poor behavior controls. Aggressive over-reaction to any perceived insult or slight, including explosive and often vicious rage.
  3. Need for excitement. A hunger to “live on the edge”. Most often this means breaking rules and laws.
  4. Lack of responsibility. Commitments and obligations don’t mean anything. Promises of all kinds are made and broken with ease.
  5. Early behavior problems. In childhood extensive, serious and persistent destructive behavior that can include lying, theft, substance abuse, vandalism, violence, animal abuse, running away, early and promiscuous sexual activity, etc.
  6. Adult anti-social behavior. Breaking laws and being convicted of crimes doesn’t bother them.  Often they are proud of criminal behavior.

In particular, total lack of remorse or sense of guilt and total lack of empathy are key indicators of a psychopath personality. For more extensive descriptions, please read the three books that I have recommended.

Both Process Wolves and Born Wolves in sheep’s clothing look so good in large part because they are empowered by the greatest illusionist in all of history, Satan himself. The beautiful illusion that makes a sheepskin suit fit with perfection is charm.  In the next chapter we examine The Charm Initiative.

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