Thursday, June 30, 2016


I actually really like the Velveteen Rabbit story, also the Little Prince, which both touch on this idea of there being a "realness" that is particularly "real".

From a reader:

I found your book incredibly thought provoking. As someone who considers himself the functional opposite of a sociopath, I read it out of a curiosity and desire to understand the mental processes of someone so different from myself. Though I study psychology and consider myself fairly open-minded about different mental states, I did have some stigma surrounding sociopathy simply because of the sensationalized media portrayal that I have grown up with. My perspective was certainly challenged.

            I have never read a book that felt like such an interactive experience. You were up front about your manipulation, but I still found myself constantly challenging and questioning your intentions, determined not to let you get the best of me. Just when I would start to feel superiority for your callousness, you would express vulnerability. Just when I started to sense weakness, you reminded me of my own. In the end I accepted defeat in largely seeing your point of view, but I did so in a way that felt satisfying. I realized that, though it was all very calculated, that didn’t mean your intentions couldn’t be genuine.

What struck me most were not the differences, but the similarities between your cognition and my own. This makes me think that, in some ways (but certainly not all), emotional sensitivity acts as a buffer to disguise the empath’s selfish actions, allowing personal justification. It simply provides an extra step that allows me to feel as if my actions are not entirely performed out of self-interest. For example, when I sense weakness in a person, I make it my goal to try and help them in this regard. I speak with them directly and admit my own vulnerabilities, I emphasize their strengths and I compliment them in front of others. I pride myself on being the type of person that will continue paying attention to the original speaker if they are interrupted in a group conversation, or open my body to allow someone into a circle. Though this may make me feel like a ‘good person’, it is all about manipulating how others see me, in turn bolstering my self-perception.

I know that I am an empath because when someone else is in visible pain, it bothers me deeply. As a child I would get deeply upset when a character would be injured or die in a movie. But none of this is selfless. I feel inclined to help somebody in pain because I have the ability to see their pain as my own. In helping them feel better, I help myself feel better. I have no delusions about this, it just seems that, for better or worse, my self-interest better lines up with conventional conceptions of ‘moral goodness’.

These similarities that I felt to your cognition make me wonder how much of it is actually a result of your sociopathy (I know that you were consciously making a generalized distinction in order to highlight your point).  I feel that much of the likeness can be explained by other traits, such as situational awareness and introspection. All people act selfishly, but amazingly some people have very little awareness of it at all. I think I was finding familiarity in your knack for logically articulating your thought process. So it seems like, as a generous over simplification, sociopathy is ‘normal’ cognition without the added step of emotional processing. This emotional processing certainly has downfalls (you were very clear about this), but the upsides are what I find myself curious about.

What I really want to ask is whether you experience moments of heightened or superior consciousness—moments that feel entirely genuine. I am not quite sure how to articulate these moments, other than to call them more ‘real’ than the rest of life. Many of them come in the form of human connection, which it seems you probably don’t experience in the same way (though you hinted a bit at something like this in regards to your niece). This can take the form of a communal experience, an absorbing conversation, or even simply eye contact that evokes a powerful sense of mutual understanding, if only for a second. It can happen in other ways too. For me it might be coming over the top of a hill and seeing the sun through the trees, laying in bed and being utterly absorbed into the beauty of a song, or looking out in wonder over a city at night. You spoke of ‘epiphanies’ in your book, but these are not quite the same. I can only describe it as a powerful welling up of nondescript positive emotion, often taking me by surprise. I am very curious if you ever feel anything that can relate to that. Or, if you say that you can ‘tune in’ to certain emotions, maybe you can create it intentionally? For me, these moments make the downfalls of empathic life completely worth it.

I know you must be a very busy woman, but I would be very curious as to whether you could relate to these moments of ‘realness’ for lack of a better term.


I have moments when I feel, what I call "raw", as if more of me is exposed -- like a wire stripped of its insulation. I'm not sure if that is similar. I also have moments of ecstasy that give me shivers, like beautiful music or art. There are also moments of intense connection that I feel with people, e.g. if I have seduced them. Do these sound like what you're describing?


Yes, that actually doesn't sound too far off. It sounds like maybe your experiences are no less intense, but maybe a bit less specific in terms of a clearly defined emotion? Maybe your brain still produces these emotions in response to your experiences, but the deficit is in the connection between your emotional centers and your frontal cortex. Anyways, thanks so much for responding, and feel free to use whatever you like on your blog! I would be honored.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The nature of who you are

From a reader:

I felt it appropriate to pass some praise your way about your book. I must admit I haven't finished the book, but have found the sections I've read so far explain more about the way I think than any discussion with another human I've ever had.

I'm a student at University and don't have many years of history to draw on but upon reading your book I found myself internally matching my experiences to yours and looking for any obvious connections, and I have to say I don't think any other person has quite achieved being able to explain what it's like in my mind. The egocentric writing style exactly how I would approach a book explaining my experiences that could be considered dark or disconnected from normal human emotion.

Your mention of the gaze of a sociopath was an interesting point to me. I've had numerous individuals inform me about the creepy, cold and intriguing nature of my stare during conversation. And then when you mentioned boredom I totally understood what was meant. I find myself avoiding boredom because boredom is my idea of hell. I make it my life goal to do things that allow me to avoid boredom. I find being bored only leads me to want to be more deceitful and underhanded in nature, which risks my social standing with people. A thing that has benefits for me!

The discussion of games, and the use of manipulation because it is merely a tool are things I've said and used many a time to aid my success in different endeavours. I was recently called callous and cold for informing my friends that a friendship is defined by how useful someone is to me and how useful I am to them, a lack of use on either part indicates the termination of a friendship. Throughout relationships I've found it hard to relate to the other person's feelings, and have turned to infidelity numerous times and haven't experienced guilt from the act. I always felt my desire is my priority, and that if one person isn't interested then I must solve the problem myself.

Violence has been a part of my history that I hideaway the most, for it's the section I feel that normal people will be the most disgusted and terrified of. Not all because of things I've done, but also because of the ideas of things I wanted to do to someone in anger. But stopped myself because it would hinder me more than benefit me. I don't recall ever stopping myself because of a thought about the other person. For the life and existence of the other person is of little interest to me. And your early discussion of morality where you highlight the line 'survival of the fittest'. This is a line I use commonly to describe the nature of how humans should live their lives. I'm of the firm idea in my mind that survival of the fittest is how we got here, and if it manages to allow for the evolution of humans it can damn well allow for the further evolution into greater successes. And there within your book, I could see someone understanding my argument.

These few things are what cause me to have to mask my inner self around everyone. But it is your book that made me realise specifically the nature of the person I am. I spend my days passing off lies about my personal life and experiences to remain grounded with in a group, constantly keeping a watchful eye on the others around me to see if their term of use has expired. But within this email to you I feel I've been more unshielded than I've been to close friends. It is because you have opened my eyes that I must thank you. I wish there was more of a community where discussion of these experiences could be held, my curiosity is now piqued. There is so much more I could say but I feel it matters not to the message of this email.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quote: no stupid bad men

"A good man can be stupid and still be good. But a bad man must have brains."

--Maxim Gorky
Russian Writer

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rodents have empathy?

Researchers did a follow up experiment to some earlier rat empathy studies and found that rats were willing to help other rats even to their own detriment, but only if they had some prior familiarity with the particular strain of rats, e.g. an albino rat being bunk mates with a black and white rat. If they didn't have any previous experience with that strain of rat, they would not help. Or according to the Washington Post: "The creatures aren’t born with an innate motivation to help rats of their own kind, but instead those with whom they are socially familiar."

The rat empathy thing is interesting because it suggests an evolutionary advantage to empathy, not necessarily a "humans are special snowflakes of the animal world" reason for empathy. The articles discussing the findings use an interesting choice of words that accords -- they call the rats actions "noble" and other such language. This helps explain to me a little more why the fetishism for empathy, that people are biologically pre-programmed not only to engage in empathetic acts, but that they are also pre-programmed to find those acts appealing in the same sort of way that they crave sugar or find others attractive or not based on their pheromones.

Another interesting idea is that with all of these studies with animals and empathy (see also prairie moles), the animals will not act with empathy unless they are familiar with either the particular animal in need (spoiler alert, but see for example Ser Jaime's actions in recent Game of Thrones episodes) or at least someone of the same breed. It's like what they say about gay people or mormon people or any other people that a lot of people often have a hard time understanding or being ok with -- you just have to know one or two of them personally in order to humanize them to your own self.

What implications does this have for sociopaths, if everyday sociopaths stay hidden forever? Will people never learn to show empathy to them?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sociopath for a day

I thought this was an interesting experience, from a comment from a recent post regarding a temporary experience of not feeling (or not feeling connected to) a sense of empathy:

One day I experienced something that I'm convinced was close to clinical psychopathy. It was at the same time as lots of physical and nervous system symptoms as well, so I know it wasn't 'just psychological' or 'emotional' also felt very physical. 

It's hard to describe, but I'll try because I've never written about it before and it may ring a bell with someone somewhere, who knows. It was similar, I suppose, to my 'emotions cutting out' experiences, but much, much more extreme (so it didn't really feel similar at all). It felt REALLY weird - I suppose as weird as taking a mind-altering drug of some kind or being severely intoxicated - but it wasn't like any of those. (just as weird/abnormal as them). 

It was one day, on which I woke up feeling like this:

I had no 'me' sense whatsoever - I wasn't 'me'. I was a person, but there was no 'me' feeling about it. And I had 'lost my bond' with everyone - that's distinctly how it felt. I was aware of all this but couldn't 'care' or be worried or afraid because I was incapable of all those feelings - any of the feelings that normally belonged to my personality, that made me 'me'. I was TOTALLY cerebral. 

It was the most interesting experience I've ever had, in terms of an education in what was possible, how different 'experience' could be - I was experiencing something I couldn't have conceived of with my usual imagination. It actually felt very 'clean', simple, 'pure' in a way - immensely calm and clear... totally - but not like a calm version of 'me', just calmness itself - totally empty, void of any feeling (emotional, not physical). I hadn't even been aware of 'having bonds' with anyone until this experience, when one of the most obvious things, that struck me first, was that they had gone / that was gone. 

It didn't horrify or sadden me, because I was incapable of all that, but it 'concerned' me cerebrally because I saw that if someone very 'close' to me were to phone, I would have to act. I knew that could act whatever I needed to, that it was all absolutely easy (also very alien for my personality, because of my normal compulsion and liking for being open and genuine and 'natural'). At some point the thought occurred to me 'I wonder if this could be what psychopathy is like' - in those days I knew next to nothing about it and had no interest in it, but was aware that it was about 'something being missing' and that thought brought it to mind. 

I automatically thought to 'test' it by mentally envisaging the sort of thing associated with psychopathy - the worst sort of crime associated with it - was I capable of it? (something I simply couldn't do now, which is why I'm not elaborating or describing it - I literally can't contemplate or let myself mentally envisage it, and couldn't have done before this experience, or at any time in my life except for this day). As a mental experiment, having no emotional qualms, or capacity for any, I asked myself, could I commit X - and realised I could, because EVERYTHING WAS THE SAME, without any emotional 'value' attached to it - with that part of me missing, that function not operating, NOTHING effected me, there was no 'meaning'- everything was the same, it was a landscape without difference, without emotional difference, without meaning difference. I was as equally capable of one thing as another, they were all equal - just actions, that I was disconnected from, because 'I' wasn't there, there was no 'me'. 

But what I also observed - what was part of the same observation - was that neither did I have any desire to commit anything - everything was equal in that sense too, no 'value' attached. I had absolutely no impulse to do anything like the example I thought of - it was neutral, everything was neutral - and knew I wouldn't, that I was in no danger of doing anything unwanted, I simply wasn't interested. This is why, when I read sociopaths here explaining that the absence of empathy does not in itself produce - or even have anything to do with - sadism, etc - that the two have essentially no connection with one another, I know exactly what they mean and have no difficulty believing them, I know they are telling the truth. But they are trying to explain something which is simply outside the experience of normally 'emotional' people, so I also see why others can't comprehend it, can't compute it. I'd never have been able to do so without that experience that gave me a glimpse into such a different possibility of experience.

I then tested it again by picking something else which would be one of the last things I'd ever contemplate (or be capable of) doing ; Could I run up and down the street naked? Ye - it would mean literally nothing to me. No fear, no excitement, no anything - nothing was producing any kind of emotional response or 'meaning' in me internally. 

It was a fascinating and very eye-opening experience. I realised that all these things are emotional functions, and that if emotional function becomes impaired or drops out, this is what is left. Cerebral function alone is a very very different experience. It is not IN ITSELF bad, good, or anything. Bad and good are emotional entities, they belong to that side. It doesn't 'exist' in the cerebral side, which is all I was experiencing that day. The only trace of 'personality' I could detect at all - and it was tiny, and not really anything like my normal 'composite' personality in any way - was the very slight feeling now and again of what I'd imagine a playfully mischievous seven year old boy feels like - that's the best way I could describe it. But even that wasn't strong enough to influence or impel me in any way. I simply got on with doing my income tax return, as it was the day before the deadline and I had no choice. 

To my amazement, I was better at maths (calculations) than I'd ever been in my life - the absence of emotional 'reluctance' (huffing and puffing and grumbling) that normally goes along with it for me (which, again, I only became aware of by its unusual absence this day) made it ultra-easy, straightforward, and made me remarkably efficient. I was getting this right first time, for the time ever! 

The only real difficulty I experienced was towards the end of the day when I came to fill out the tax return online and discovered that I couldn't process the meaning of written language - I could read the words fluently, but after reading a paragraph I had taken in no meaning from it - I couldn't tell you what it had actually said, or meant.

It was the weirdest thing. But it showed me what is possible when parts of the brain are being effected or prevented from functioning normally, and the fact that it could reproduce what I am sure was something very close to clinical psychopathy, I found extremely eye-opening and interesting. (I woke up the next day normal, by the way. The 'me' feeling was back and I've had it ever since).

Monday, June 13, 2016

How Wolves Change Rivers

I'm always surprised at how certain some people are that most of the evil in the world is due to sociopaths and that if we could just eradicate sociopaths, we'd have a much better world.

Obviously, messing with anything has unintended consequences that are often unforeseeable and unpredictable. I thought this video (thanks Ryan Gosling tweet!) was a good example of what this looks like.

And in what sorts of ways might sociopaths be stabilizing the human population? What sorts of ways might we be making things more efficient? Making them more antifragile?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Quote: Conscience

"More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly."

—Justice Antonin Scalia

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Acceptance and healing

From a reader:

Confessions of a Sociopath has changed the way I look at my profession and indeed, the way I look at my life – and I am in the retirement zone! For me, the book is seminal and is an extraordinarily well written piece of work. How can I thank you?

I am an integrative person centred counsellor and absolutely love my work- because people come in miserable and go out smiling. In that role I am a grateful catalyst of health. In some of the exploits of your life, you seem to have been a catalyst of sickness – but I do not blame you. We do not make ourselves. Neither nature nor nurture is in our power.

As a counsellor, I help those whom the psychiatrists have given up on. Everyone can get happier. That is my job. Together, client and I just have to tap into goodness at a deep and spiritual level. Unfortunately, you appear to have been tapping into evil- but it’s not really your fault. You seem to say you love your parents and that they were good to you. They may have intended well. And we all want figures to love. But the way we are treated creates the persons we are, and I can see a lot of damage done in your childhood. From that learning, you went on to hurt others in like manner. And you may find that the reason for this is your parents were also mismanaged. Yes, your DNA will have directed your responses, but children need consistent love and security to become healthy adults and your story tells me otherwise. As such, you may never have seen emotion in the colour I see it. We all have to navigate our emotional selves through lives which include others’ emotions, and if we don’t read them well, we will do a lot of harm. Then we try and get out of the consequences, with more issues. 

I don’t believe that your intelligence, creativity and even gender ambiguity are necessary facets of my view of sociopathy. I see myself as a thought rebel, but I sense and care for others’ feelings well. I have to for my job!  I maintain no-one is a sociopath per se, implying a single shape for which change is impossible. But I do say many people have sociopathic tendencies in varying degrees. And whilst sociopathic people are part of our current society, I don’t believe sociopathy is essential to it- not in my world anyway! Sorry!

My mother is sociopathic and does not know it. She had 4 children and wrecked 5 lives, one terminally. I have spent all my life rebuilding unstable foundations to the point where I believe that my brain is rewired. Now, life just gets better and better.

Your religion showed you how to become accepted in society, but I do not see any real ‘born again’ people on your book, except possibly Ann, whether she was religious or not.  Her love seemed as unconditional as humanly possible, and I think she sparked the light of goodness which is in you and is in all of us. Others who have then loved you too, have enabled you to produce your invaluable book.

Truth and love are fundamental to my work. Religion is a rather flawed vehicle which I use to develop those values. I practice an extraordinary powerful but simple Buddhist type breathing meditation, but I am not a Buddhist. I find love in Christianity, but I don’t believe in the humanoid god presented therein. I am intuitive rather than impulsive. I am able to refer to a deep and good level before acting, but can sometimes be both fast and powerful. I can be ruthless with those who harm me or those I love.

I believe sociopathy, like any other incapacity, can be improved upon by a relentless search for truth and love through an acceptance that good and evil powers drive our lives from a deep spiritual level. We need to get used to spotting which is which and going for the good one every time. That always yields healing and always leads to happiness for us and those we influence. If we keep doing these good things, they grow in us and it gets easier. Peace, happiness and identity just roll in.

I would love to take you as a client, but England is a big commute.


I probably agree more with you now than the book would suggest, particularly this:

"I believe sociopathy, like any other incapacity, can be improved upon by a relentless search for truth and love through an acceptance that good and evil powers drive our lives from a deep spiritual level. We need to get used to spotting which is which and going for the good one every time. That always yields healing and always leads to happiness for us and those we influence. If we keep doing these good things, they grow in us and it gets easier. Peace, happiness and identity just roll in."

I do think that people have an identity that is not rooted in any sort of evil, like a computer has a backup that is not corrupted by a virus. If you can just get back to that version and restore the hardrive to that, no more virus, no more sociopathy, no more any personality disorder.


I got it that the place you are at now is substantially on from some of the episodes you have related in your book. Indeed, you would not have written it otherwise. I absolutely admire you for the courage in giving us the bad stuff. If we gloss over that, we get nowhere, and none of us is squeaky clean. We all need to look at what goes wrong and attend to it. And we all benefit from that in ourselves. We don’t need to say it’s just for others. 
I like your resetting the hard drive. It is my absolute faith that there is a common and good centre to which we all naturally gravitate given the opportunity. Indeed, this was Rogers’ philosophy when he developed his person centred counselling  

I have spent most of my life trying to work out a formula for living which could make sense of the programming I received from parents in the context of the world I have found myself in. I found religion, Christianity in particular, to be helpful on the one hand but misleading on the other. Its bases, love and truth, are unquestionable for me, but the delivery by its practitioners is seriously in question.
My secular counselling practice has forced me to push my thinking to a conclusion so that I could reach deeper spiritual levels with clients who had no religious beliefs, and even those who had been alienated by them. That led me to develop Circle Diagram. It works a treat, and other counsellors find it useful too. It is intended to help a client understand himself. I enclose the article I wrote on it. It attributes a nature to the centre of the circle, our being. The inference in the conclusions is that we gravitate to a centre which supports truth and love. And that reflects your proposal that we all have an identity rooted in good and not in evil. I see evil as negative blobs coming in from outside my circle and my job is to help my clients resolve these blobs which mess up their lives and that of others around them. One of the concepts of the circle centre is that it is the person you were always meant to be before the blobs appeared. And that is part of the aim of the counselling process – get to that perfect being. Again, this correlates with your concept of resetting with the original back up. So far so good. The next bit is the challenge. It is that the reset only comes as a process of resolving the blobs. Clients need to get that the initial change is one of direction and not position. In other words, when you have got the formula, then the hard work of healing then starts. And it proceeds at its own pace, regardless of conscious intent, just as the injured body will heal at it’s own pace. Then persistence is required. But the rewards are amazing.
I also enclose my published article ‘The Sound of Silence’ which proposes a particular type of meditation which I offer and which is available across the planet as far as I know in Buddhist centres. If Rogers’ methods are good, this stuff is amazing. It has to be taught absolutely correctly but then it works wonders.   

Monday, June 6, 2016

Just cause you feel it doesn't mean it's there

Not sure what that lyric means, particularly in this context. But it's an interesting sort of cultural/political divide between the empathetic and the non. On the one hand are the people who think that there emotions basically signal objective reality -- Truth, capital T about the world. On the other side of the perspective, people who think that there is no truth or non-subjective value to emotions.

Martha Nussbaum writes about the potential reasoning value of emotions:

If emotions are suffused with intelligence and discernment, and if they contain in themselves an awareness of value or importance, they cannot, for example, easily be sidelined in accounts of ethical judgment, as so often they have been in the history of philosophy. Instead of viewing morality as a system of principles to be grasped by the detached intellect, and emotions as motivations that either support or subvert our choice to act according to principle, we will have to consider emotions as part and parcel of the system of ethical reasoning. We cannot plausibly omit them, once we acknowledge that emotions include in their content judgments that can be true or false, and good or bad guides to ethical choice. We will have to grapple with the messy material of grief and love, anger and fear, and the role these tumultuous experiences play in thought about the good and the just.


Emotions are not just the fuel that powers the psychological mechanism of a reasoning creature, they are parts, highly complex and messy parts, of this creature’s reasoning itself.

Yes, that sounds right, highly complex and messy parts.

And also, even if they are aspects of our reasoning, that doesn't mean they're not problematic. E.g.:

In the very nature of our early object relations … there lurks a morally subversive combination of love and resentment, which springs directly from the thought that we need others to survive and flourish, but do not at all control their movements. If love is in this way always, or even commonly, mixed up with hatred, then, once again, this might offer us some reasons not to trust to the emotions at all in the moral life, but rather to the more impersonal guidance of rules of duty.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Asks a reader:

Good morning, or afternoon, evening depending where in the world you find yourself, I'm in the UK.
The amount of these emails you've probably had I've no doubt must be overwhelming and somewhat tedious, but I am compelled to send you another for your perusal, and, hopefully, an insightful opinion.

It's that age old question you are surely plagued I a sociopath?

I'm a 37 year old male and several times, by several different people, most notably my mother, I have been asked, or, had suggested to me that I am a sociopath, I have based myself on self diagnosis and don't believe I am, but, I'd like your opinion if I may.
There are many factors in me that would suggest I am, but in my mind, there are also many which tell me I'm not.
I have recently met a girl who is a self diagnosed sociopath, and I developed an almost instant infatuation with her.
Like nothing I've known before, I can't say for definite if it's love I feel, but if it is, love is good. It is her diagnosis of me which leads me to question myself to you.
I am different, I know that, I know I think.differently to my friends and family and they know it too, but a sociopath? I'm not sure.
Ok, I'll get down to it.
I'll try and keep it factual as I have, as you may already have noticed, a tendency for verbosity.
I have a remarkable memory, I'm pretty sure I could remember being born if I tried, and I can recall minor events throughout my years in perfect clarity, so, if I may, I'd like to share some with you.

As a young boy my mother feared to reprimand me for wrong doings, not because I was violent or angry with her, but because, as she stated, I would stare emptily at her like I wanted to kill her and it frightened her to the point she couldn't make eye contact with me. I quickly learned that I could use this to my advantage and would push the situation beyond what was acceptable to gauge the reaction I could get from her.
I still do, in all walks of life.
I am a practising and passionate Sadist in the bdsm scene, I use the look to frighten the living shit out of potential partners, and it works infallibly.

You know what? I'm going to stop.
I could go on about every moment through my life, but I'm pretty sure you've heard it all before.

I ruin people for pure pleasure, I let people come to me online and in person and find every flaw in them, physically and mentally, as they talk and move I watch and listen.
I was obsessed, well, am, obsessed with Stockholm syndrome, but now I think it may be more than that. I get into people's minds, make them dependant on me to the point when they begin to panic if I don't reply or agree to see them. I become, effortlessly exactly who they need me to be, I build them up, make them exactly who I know they want to be.
Then watch them burn.
And I love it, I quote lyrics from songs at them as they break without them realising I'm doing it. But I don't let them go, I keep them dangling with promises they're the one, only them, that I can change...for them...then I do it again. And again.
I could make them kill themselves, I know I'm perfectly capable of it, but I'm too aware that our conversations via text will likely be on their phone, and I don't want to go to prison.

I do tend to go on.
Apologies for wasting your time, I'll self diagnose online at somepoint.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughts on seduction

I think I seduced someone on the plane recently. Usually I don't talk to anyone on planes, but this person was in distress initially, due to some nausea. I initially chatted them up to get their mind off the flight and the reality of their circumstances, but this person seemed genuinely interested in things about me that I think of as mundane, like where I'm from or my profession. And maybe it's an old habit, but I thought, here is someone that could be seduced. And what else am I doing on this plane? (Work, but it can wait, because plane seduction target).

The whole thing gave me a little deja vu because I seduced (my special definition of the word, see all other former posts on seduction) someone else in a similar manner and I'm still very good friends with that person (after a very spotty romance). It's happened in less identical but still similar ways maybe a half dozen other times. I'm charmed that the person is so charmed by me. The feeling intoxicates me, so I keep charming them.

Sometimes it gets a little intense for the person, I can see it in their eyes. Like when a child is begging to be tickled, but at a certain point it can get a little overwhelming -- almost painful. They know that the sensations they are feeling are spiraling out of control, but it's the sort of heady, vertiginous experience of thrill rides. That is, it's a sensation that most people seek out, not avoid.

And I'm quite good at it. That's what surprised me about this episode, because it's actually been a while since I've even thought about it. (It's like riding a bike?) But the whole time during the plane seduction, now with my more self-aware (every other week therapy) self I was wondering -- what is the point to any of this? At this place in my life I can make a pretty good guess that this person will either (1) get chewed up in the forces of my sociopathic traits, the strictures of my religion, and my generally not being (almost not at all) what they think I am, among other things, or (2) they will find enough to appreciate about actual me (despite me not being what they thought) and keep me as a sort of exotic friend pet, to amuse and flatter them from time to time when they know that I'll sense they need it and/or I'll otherwise be a regular supplier of small thrills.

And as I see this all with a little more clarity than the last go around, I wonder -- which will this person be? Be strong enough to appreciate some things about me without getting torn apart by others? And should I have some sense of paternalism to rescue this one? I think it would have to be paternalism. I don't think this particular person would stay away otherwise, because when I got off the plane and we separated, they looked like the nausea had come back, sick at something. The thought of being separated? Separated from this person that seemed so easily to read one's very soul? (I could tell this particular person was suffering from the vertigo that young adults often feel as they become older and their world seems to be shrinking by the second with limitless life possibilities zeroing in on the one they chose, hundreds of friendships narrowing down to just a few acquaintances, etc. It's an odd sensation for the sufferer, but one that I've seen often enough to easily recognize.).

These thoughts of the promise of renewal or destruction (a coin flip's chance of each) used to only be delicious to me. Now there's an odd sense of poignancy. The pleasant dissonance of an altered 7th chord. I can tell this time I feel more attached to my own role as "part of humanity". I'm actually more curious to see how I keep behaving than to see how the other person does.
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