Psychopaths (Adult and Otherwise)

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Bc I couldn't find a better thread* on ILX to post this link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html

He wasn’t fast enough. Seeing the video playing, Michael gave a keening scream, then scanned the room for the guilty party. His gaze settled on Allan. Grabbing a wooden chair, he hoisted it overhead as though to do violence but paused for several seconds, giving Miguel a chance to yank it away. Shrieking, Michael ran to the bathroom and began slamming the toilet seat down repeatedly. Dragged out and ordered to bed, he sobbed pitifully. “Daddy! Daddy! Why are you doing this to me?” he begged, as Miguel carried him to his room. “No, Daddy! I have a greater bond with you than I do with Mommy!” For the next hour, Michael sobbed and screamed, while Miguel tried to calm him. In the hall outside his room, Miguel apologized, adding that it was “an unusually bad night.”

Also cause it's a topic that interests me in general.

*Found this thread: My wife is telling me that I'm a sociopath

I really enjoyed this Ronson book too: http://www.amazon.com/The-Psychopath-Test-Journey-Industry/dp/1594488010

Mordy, Friday, 11 May 2012 23:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

Appropriately enough, everything the kid said reads like Cartman dialogue.

You Don't Throw Oranges On An Escalator (Deric W. Haircare), Friday, 11 May 2012 23:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

I like to think that with sufficient practice and dedication, anyone can be a psychopath.

i love the large auns pictures! (Phil D.), Friday, 11 May 2012 23:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

I believe that it's a psychological disorder with possible (hopefully one day treatable) genetic markers.

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

kid sounds scary. this is what bags, rocks and rivers were made for.

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

kid sounds scary. this is what bags, rocks and rivers were made for.

― 10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer),

Seriously! Terrifying story.

improvised explosive advice (WmC), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

The parents have him seriously monitored and in counseling. I don't know whether it can be treated through behavioral psychology but early intervention is really powerful.

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Magnetic resonance imaging on the brains of adult psychopaths has shown what appear to be significant anatomical differences: a smaller subgenual cortex and a 5 to 10 percent reduction in brain density in portions of the paralimbic system, regions of the brain associated with empathy and social values, and active in moral decision making. According to James Blair, a cognitive neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, two of these areas, the orbitofrontal cortex and the caudate, are critical for reinforcing positive outcomes and discouraging negative ones.

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

no pressure, parents!

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

and these are parents who actually care enough to get doctors and testing and carefully monitor their own behaviour as parents

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol serendipitous thread; i just got drunk and impulse-kindled robert hare's WITHOUT CONSCIENCE

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

i haven't read it. tell me if it's good?

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

the thing that interests me most about psychopaths is the contempt they (apparently, i'm told, i am not an expert, plus one of the books i've read on this totally reeked of pop-psych and i've decided to just disregard the whole thing, like a jury) feel for normals, who are insultingly easy to manipulate and do all kinds of stupid irrational things based on stupid irrational attachments to other people; i imagine (although perhaps i am being romantic) that for some psychopaths this contempt comes not just out of a sense of superiority but of a kind of jealousy? since it must be apparent to them that the nonsensical and counterproductive empathy and love the people around them feel for each other is nevertheless a source of great joy and satisfaction (we need the eggs, etc) -- which psychopaths can only get temporarily, from victory and power (apparently if you're a successful, concealed psychopath your biggest problem is boredom). so to grow up this way -- even though your lack of empathy allows you to do all kinds of stuff that (particularly in the good ol capitalist west) can pay off very well for you -- is on some level to have your nose pressed against the glass of life, forever. PLUS isn't the christian conception of hell to be alone with yourself, disconnected from god, disconnected from the universe, isolated in the outer dark? i feel like at least some psychopaths must realize that there is something, some source of happiness, going on for the whole rest of humanity that they have for some reason been excluded from, and i can't imagine it makes them feel any better-disposed towards us.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp i will!

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

(ignore the TED stuff, his book is terrific)

Vini Reilly Invasion (Elvis Telecom), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

wr2 youngish psychos: i wouldn't be comfortable w/ the idea that i would be training a real-life Dexter Morgan.

Boris Kutyurkokhov (Eisbaer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

dlh, that's a really interesting theory that i've never thought of or heard.

the thing that's always compelled me about them is their skrull-like ability to hide it from ppl (tho ppl have mentioned feeling uncanny feelings around psychopaths that they couldn't otherwise explain). like you could know a psychopath casually and never know it.

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

well put, DLH

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah, knowing the notes but not the music, and all. but people are so eager to be paid attention to and loved i guess it's not too hard to make them feel like they are.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 12 May 2012 00:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah your "romantic" theory is an interesting take, difficult, esp. with the hell analogy.

dell (del), Saturday, 12 May 2012 01:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

that was a great post, dlh. not sure i'm totally sold by the "nose against the glass" metaphor, cuz i don't know how often the recognition of loss via alienation/incapacity really overcomes the contempt, but it's an interesting notion.

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 01:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

in dealing with psychopaths, i've experienced a lot more contempt than self-awareness of that sort, but i'm hardly an expert

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 01:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

i love to hear psychopath stories hinthint

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 01:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

I find this stuff really interesting too! I like your nose-against-the-glass story, DLH

I read somewhere that a psychopath behaves similarly to a color-blind person who has learned societal techniques to mask their inability to see color. That resonated quite a bit with me personally, being colorblind myself. Not that I'm a psycopath lol but I understand the 'masking' behaviour and stress of trying to fit in and be 'normal' when you have a physical inability that can let you down in very public and humiliating ways that aren't apparent until they're pointed out to you by a very disapproving public. I've thought about it a bit, and have tried to parse it out somewhat, thinking that perhaps at some point that burden of conformity either becomes so soul-destroying, deadening your sense of self over time, and if you encounter a particularly stressful period of your life then maybe it's more than you are physically able to handle to maintain the mask under such stress so it just gives way, and cracks....or alternatively, the resentment of having to maintain the facade just fosters your resentment of the people you're 'performing' for, and the desire to show your true self becomes a private dream/ambition/wish, and left unchecked the resentment and desire to punish slowly replaces the mask

Or something. I dunno, I am a bit like DLH, and very selfconscious of my 'airy fairy' theories that are not really grounded in anything much beyond speculation.

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 May 2012 01:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

mordy, the only person that springs to mind right away for me is a friend from high school. i always used to predict to our mutual friends (only half-jokingly) that he would end up in white collar prison at some point. just googled him and he appears to be an extremely successful financial advisor these days.

i was good friends with him at one time... i dunno, maybe he was just a garden-variety asshole? the last time i saw him was in college... he had joined a frat and told me that he was taking acid on a daily basis. on that occasion he was disconcertingly phony towards me, and then a few months later when i ran into him he was almost disconcertingly upfront, saying something like "well, i would say 'hey let's go hang out and get a drink sometime' but people always say shit like that and let's be real, we both know that'll never happen". when i was close to him i remember him liking the idea of being manipulative towards people and even being a little sadistic. i knew he was not the kind of person it would be good to confide in. but who knows? maybe he has matured into a really sweet guy.

dell (del), Saturday, 12 May 2012 02:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

also is it just me or does the Dad, Miguel, seem particularly interesting in that article.

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 May 2012 02:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

oh yeah, definitely. u have to wonder whether he's embellishing his own childhood to give himself false hope about his kid, or whether someone who might register as a child psychopath really can right themselves at some point. his line about a force coming from outside to modulate your behavior was really fascinating

Mordy, Saturday, 12 May 2012 02:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

and that quote at the end, like "repress-repress-repress, son, it's the only way" was kind of scary and sad and...yeah. I dunno. Either way, he is going to have to be 100% right with himself to be handle what Michael has in store for them.

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 12 May 2012 02:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

re-reading my post up there it sounds like i am really downplaying the possibility of my friend being a p'path. not only do i want to think the best of him but also i just saw a picture of him-- the first time i've seen his face in 20 years, and with that came a flood of memories of doing fun stuff with him

anyhow, the reason why i always predicted him becoming a white collar criminal: my other high school friends, most of whom were far from being saints themselves, upon hearing of his latest enterprise (at different times he was booking shows, selling records, selling drugs...) would always immediately say "oh, well with 'x' you know it's gotta be something shaaaaady", and in fact there usually was an angle to it.

this was a kid who you got the idea was more into booking shows for the wheeling and dealing aspects of it and the money he could potentially pocket for himself as opposed to the sheer fun of being able to see his favorite bands play in town. this was a kid whom i hung out with and talked on the phone with every day but who would charge me just about the highest price he could get away with if i were buying a record from him. he was the kid whose parents were ridic loaded, but who stole money from his employers if he had the opportunity to do so.

another thing that sticks in my mind about him-- in senior yr of hs he had a girlfriend for the first time. that summer he went out of town for a couple of wks on a family vacation. when he came back into town he met up with the girlfriend at a party. apparently when he walked in the door she ran up to him, threw her arms around him, saying "'x'!! I've missed you omg!" etc... and his reaction was to say something like "yeah yeah, let's go upstairs. i've been out of town for two weeks. i haven't had sex for TWO WEEKS!". i just remember hearing this story at the time from his friends, who were all sort of assholes in their own way, but were all shocked by how coldly he had behaved towards her. again this was his first girlfriend of any sort, ever. it wasn't as though she was just another in a long line of drunken hookups or whatever.

over the years whenever i've read about psychopaths he always came into my mind as a candidate. one of the things that always gave me pause about mentally labeling him as one, though, involves a memory of him telling me how the first time he took acid he started crying and couldn't figure out why, until he realized that it was because he happened to be in a part of town which unlocked a buried memory he had of a sad experience from childhood involving his family. i'm not sure that a psychopath would confide in such a way-- i'm guessing that would mean too much vulnerability. i should add that at the time he told the story i didn't have any sense that he was trying to be manipulative or produce some reaction in me-- he was just trying to explain what his experience of the drug was like.

anyway, now i am super-curious as to what he is like these days. i should put on my best millionaire's voice and call his office.

dell (del), Saturday, 12 May 2012 03:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

thanks for posting this, mordy, really quite fascinating. the quotes from the kid made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, i really can't fathom what it must be like to parent a child like that. do anne and miguel lie awake at night wondering if he's going to try and kill them? or his brothers? idk this seems like a horrifically stressful and scary situation to be in.

as to the dad - one thing they didn't address in the article, that i wondered about, is the possible guilt miguel has, like does he feel responsible for the way michael has turned out, bc of the genetic link?

just1n3, Saturday, 12 May 2012 04:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

del, wd love to hear yr millionaire's voice.

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 12 May 2012 05:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

An hour later, after the boys were finally asleep, Miguel and I sat down at the kitchen table. Growing up, he said, he had also been a difficult child — albeit not so problematic as Michael. “A lot of parents didn’t want me around their kids, because they thought I was crazy,” he said, closing his eyes at the memory. “I didn’t listen to adults. I was always in trouble. My grades were horrible. I would be walking down the street and I would hear them say, in Spanish: ‘Ay! Viene el loco!’ — ‘Here comes the crazy one.’ ”

According to Miguel, this antisocial behavior lasted until his late teens, at which point, he said, he “grew up.” When I asked what caused the change, he looked uncertain. “You learn to pacify the rough waters,” he said at last. “It just happens. You learn to control yourself from the outside in.”

I've never been a psychopath, but this resonated with me because I had behavioral problems as a kid that alienated me from other kids & it seemed to dissipate magically within a few months towards the end of puberty.

crüt, Saturday, 12 May 2012 06:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

was in school with a dude like this from middle school through the end of high school. he killed his parents in college. :-/

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 06:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't feel like I have quite enough sense from that article on just how those kids have been raised. they might be getting enough attention, and are disciplined sometimes, but maybe the parents aren't raising them to have a moral sense... which would perhaps develop naturally, or by example, for some kids, but for kids with Michael's condition, maybe there needs to be a moral framework to explain the actual significance of compassion and reciprocity. a lot of parents seem to just think as long as their kid is happy and equipped for success in the world, then they're doing their job, without really teaching them to actually be nice. and in my experience with sociopaths and emotionally irresponsible people, they were never really given that kind of lesson or example. I kind of get the sense that Miguel is bit aloof about it all... 'oh, he'll figure things out'... while the mom maybe just disciplines without explaining why this kid should bother giving a shit about other people

Chris S, Saturday, 12 May 2012 08:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

afaict, a lot of people raised in fucked environments don't suffer from serious, tragic, organic mental disorders. and a lot of people raised in safe, loving homes with a coherent "moral framwork" do. hesitant to blame the parents psychotic kids, though obviously bad/inept parenting can lead to all sorts of problems, too.

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 08:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

...the parents of psychotic kids...

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Saturday, 12 May 2012 08:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

well, there are exceptions, and I'm not suggesting it's the whole story, but actually I'm trying to think of even one sociopathic type I'd known growing up that didn't have a distant/cold/lazy upbringing. you could always trace it back, in part, to having absolutely no example to build on, or if there was it was more 'life's a game'. I'm not suggesting everyone with inept parents end up that way, but if someone's chemistry is off it's probably worse that they're coming up in this meaningless suburban context getting their sense of others through screens

Chris S, Saturday, 12 May 2012 08:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

I was involved for a few years with a guy who I suspect was borderline psychopathic. He was deeply manipulative and had this calculated, smirking way of doing really horrible things to people - mostly me, at the time. Lying about having ever borrowed money or something and twisting recent events around and accusing you of being forgetful and stupid. Subtle implications and dropped comments to imply all his friends hated me. Werid acting out. Completely forgetting/denying shitty things he'd do, the next day. He was adopted and he was SO HORRIBLE to his parents, who were older, and seemed to really try their best (and you could tell had always struggled), and he hated his sister because she wasnt an adopted child.

Hes dead now, and I dont know what from. Probably alcoholism. Ive never known anyone as intensely, deeply spiteful, malicious and *delightedly* so as that guy could be.

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Saturday, 12 May 2012 08:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, the psychopath in my life also died young, but not before possibly getting away with murder. It was a super complicated act of manipulation, probably nothing any jury could ever convict on, and I cannot and will not get into the details, but a very close relative of his whom he despised got DNRed under very strange circumstances. He did the terribly dutiful family member bit very publicly afterwards, grieved beautifully, but I saw him hissing coldly to his victim "I wish you would hurry up and die already" a month or two before, while other family members were talking loudly and friendlily in the same room and thus not paying attention. He saw that I saw, and didn't care.

Three Word Username, Saturday, 12 May 2012 09:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

was in school with a dude like this from middle school through the end of high school. he killed his parents in college. :-/

― the late great, Saturday, May 12, 2012 2:50 AM (5 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I know someone who killed his parents, too, and although I didn't go to school with him, I was part of the same church youth ministry and later had some college classes with him. I don't know if he was a psychopath, but he was, on reflection, a weird guy.

Mordy, have you read Dave Cullen's "Columbine"? It makes the clearest, most well-argued case I've seen that Eric Harris was a psychopath, and that there were people in his life who should have recognized it.

i love the large auns pictures! (Phil D.), Saturday, 12 May 2012 12:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

My favorite part in The Psychopath Test was his meeting with Toto Constant. I think about it all the time.
1. Toto Constant had a roomful of happy meal toys he'd collected.
2. At one point Constant tells Ronson he's glad Ronson likes him. Why? "If people like me, I can get them to do what I want." (paraphrase) I think about this when I'm irritated someone doesn't like me. Do I really want to be like Toto Constant, though?

Dale, dale, dale (Abbbottt), Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

the eric harris journals are fascinating if you're interested in this kinda stuff: pages of total contempt, sometimes icy and sometimes enraged, for the deluded people around him who think there's a point to life besides power and are so easy to lie to. helped me understand nazism better: that eugenic worship of power and disgust at weakness.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha abbbottt

dell (del), Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

i have two enduring memories of this guy (who was an AP student and went to a competitive engineering college)

1) in junior high school, telling everyone he could get the pr0n if they wanted (videos or magazines) because his dad supplied him with pr0n (i believe this was true) ... afaict everyone was creeped out by this, kids starting teasing him by giving him the nickname MISTER P, and this followed him through the end of high school

2) in high school, senior year, he played frisbee in the lawn on the quad at lunch every day, and sometimes when a throw would go wide, he would go charging after it at a full sprint, yelling "HEADS UP" and "LOOK OUT" and literally running through circles of seated freshmen on the grass to get the frisbee, sometimes almost kicking girls in the head in his rush to catch the damn disc

so basically lack of understanding of social conventions mixed w/ total disregard for others' well-being

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

he murdered his parents because

-- he flunked out of the prestigious engineering school he was at

-- he forged transcripts to transfer into berkeley, which they figured out, leading to revocation of his successful transfer

-- he forged enough paperwork to convince his parents he was transferring to berkeley, and managed to get like $10k off them for it

-- his dad figured it out, confronted him about it one evening at the family business, and he murdered his dad with a handy pipe wrench that was sitting on the table

-- his mom showed up at the office as he was trying to clean up the murder scene, and so he murdered her too

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

they interviewed his next-door neighbor on the TV news, who was also in our high school class, and iirc he said something to the effect of "well, you always hear people say i couldn't believe he'd do such a thing, but honestly if there was anybody in our high school i would think would do this it would be him"

and sadly enough everyone from high school i've ever talked to about this has said something to the same effect

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

i have two enduring memories of this guy (who was an AP student and went to a competitive engineering college)

if you had just mentioned these bits without the murdered-his-parents part, I would have just assumed the kid was autistic/asperger's. :/ which, i think, just shows how hard it is to diagnose someone as a psychopath before they actually do something horrible.

Roz, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

, in which 'Roz' shares their wisdom

nakhchivan, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

?

Roz, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

except all of my autistic / aspergers kids in my classes tend to be very introverted and would be sitting by themselves looking at pr0n or sitting as far away from other kids as possible making lists of types of frisbees

the late great, Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think that test mostly measures what people want to think about themselves, which is also something that impacts their behaviors. i guess i disagree with fallon (the nonviolent psychopathic neuroscientist) because i don't think inherent brain structure is the main determinant of how selfish people allow themselves to be.

tɹi.ʃɪp (Treeship), Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:59 (7 months ago) Permalink

that soldier and your friend are psychopaths fyi

ryan, Wednesday, 22 January 2014 15:04 (7 months ago) Permalink

The soldier is. My friend is just trying to be realistic about people's interest in violence, as evidenced by entertainment etc.

tɹi.ʃɪp (Treeship), Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:14 (7 months ago) Permalink

I don't know if that's true any more than liking a bacon sandwich is an expression of a desire to slaughter pigs but there is something to the idea that enlistment does reveal something about your comfort level with being complicit in killing people.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:03 (7 months ago) Permalink

yeah saying "most people want to kill people" is a mischaracterization of the discussion; the main point that was raised is that there are natural inclinations to violence that are repressed and certain people look for outlets for these inclinations, one of the most dangerous of which being the military. freud said the same thing in civilization and its discontents. there's something to it, probably, even though i personally don't feel like society has repressed any of my inclinations toward aggression. freud felt like i did on this account; certain drives are more present in certain individuals, many of whom do not exhibit antisocial behavior.

tɹi.ʃɪp (Treeship), Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:10 (7 months ago) Permalink

i am listening to deafheaven right now. maybe music like this is how i deal with my aggressive energy, and maybe my self-identification as a pacifistic sort of dude -- which comes from my upbringing -- makes it so i don't like to recognize this aggressive energy. see, this is why i don't trust people when they diagnose themselves with things. it's a cheesy quote but vonnegut said "we are who we pretend to be" and i think this is true.

tɹi.ʃɪp (Treeship), Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:14 (7 months ago) Permalink

or at least, in large part true. self-described psychopaths seem to like the idea that they are different than other people, and to value certain psychopathic traits such as cunning and worldly success over traits like empathy and caring. maybe they have this value system -- and subsequent ego ideal -- because of a malfunctioning amygdala but maybe not. probably the amygdala is just one part of the equation and we have no way of knowing how big a part it plays.

tɹi.ʃɪp (Treeship), Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:18 (7 months ago) Permalink

Not all violence is pathological.

Aimless, Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:25 (7 months ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

this story is insane, and this guy is def a psychopath:
http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/1993/february/the-professor-and-the-love-slave?single=1

Mordy, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 15:24 (3 months ago) Permalink

Some follow-up on that article.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS

April 25, 1993, Sunday, HOME FINAL EDITION

Fugitive Cathey forged new life;
He lived life of Oklahoma woodsman

BYLINE: Pete Slover, Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 35A

LENGTH: 1234 words

DATELINE: HODGEN, Okla

One thing distinguished the well-spoken 51-year-old psychologist from the dozens of other Texas land buyers Monte Shockley had seen.

"He was probably the single most intelligent person I've ever met,' Mr. Shockley said Saturday, recalling the balding stranger he met in May.

The man had tooled five winding hours of highway to seek his corner of paradise amid the verdant rolling mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Leaning on the bumper of his white Lincoln Continental, he handed Mr. Shockley a card stamped with his oddly alliterative name -- soon to be penned on papers closing a 20-acre sale -- Preston Primm.

But as suddenly as he appeared, Preston Primm -- or at least the fiction of Preston Primm -- disappeared, wiped out Wednesday in a shootout with local lawmen. He is jailed in lieu of $ 2 million bail on charges that he shot at officers.

His real identity, discovered after his arrest: Bill Cathey, former University of North Texas English instructor, a fugitive whose Texas charges include kidnapping and forcing a Dallas woman into sexual slavery in the summer of 1991.

In the same way that Dr. Cathey's Dallas associates reeled at his original kidnapping arrest, his Oklahoma acquaintances have watched in shock as the Preston Primm they knew melted like a carefully built snowman in a warm rain.

Last May, Dr. Cathey, as Preston Primm, answered Mr. Shockley's land ad in a Dallas newspaper. He said he was a widower, mourning his wife's recent death in a car crash, in need of a place to heal his withered psyche.

In truth, he was about to jump bond and flee Texas and faced a July trial on a kidnapping charge. After closing on the Oklahoma property in June, he bought about $ 1,400 in camping equipment and disappeared from Texas.

About that time, Mr. Shockley said, Dr. Cathey arrived to work his claim, a scenic square sandwiched between the clear-running Black Fork River and the Ouachita National Forest. Access to the plot requires a 20-minute, four-wheel-drive creep along a rocky trail, covered in spots by foot-deep streams.

The newcomer sank a well, hauled in wood and began building a cabin, the locals recalled. With a small cash down payment, he bought an adjacent 20 acres, regularly making total mortgage payments of $ 300 to Mr. Shockley for his $ 30,000 debt. Unlike other settlers, he told folks that he wasn't a hunter and couldn't shoot another living being.

"He just seemed real, real nice,' said Danny Baxter, an exterminator from Poteau, Okla.

The woodsman's friendly face and bushy beard became known among the 8,000 residents of Poteau, the LeFlore County seat. He would sip coffee with the regulars at the new car showroom, chatting wittily about any and every subject: religion, politics, history. The man is a genius, the word got around.

"He was real likable, and I liked him,' said Sara Allen, a Poteau lawyer.

Mr. Shockley recalled that he last drank coffee with "Preston' Wednesday morning, the day of the fateful shootout. Preston said he was headed to the courthouse to check on his property taxes and inquire about getting a utility hookup.

Confrontation over car

Authorities say that about 2 p.m. that day, Dr. Cathey approached two deputies who were investigating a stolen car found abandoned near a minimum-security prison a few miles from his encampment.

After saying that he owned the car, stolen from Paris, Texas, Dr. Cathey learned that the deputies planned to tow the vehicle, deputies said.

It was then that he reportedly pulled a 9mm pistol and threatened to shoot one of the deputies. The other officer distracted Dr. Cathey, and the first deputy shot him. Dr. Cathey shot back, missing the deputies but hitting their car, deputies said.

Dr. Cathey was wearing a bulletproof vest. He was nicked on the cheek, and another bullet neatly pierced his left ear, according to a friend who visited him in jail. Another shot hit him in the chest of his protective vest, then careened into the fleshy part of his upper chest.

After two days in a Fort Smith, Ark., hospital, Dr. Cathey was moved to the LaFlore County jail Friday, where he is being held in lieu of $ 2 million bail. He has pleaded not guilty and faces up to life in prison on several felony charges stemming from the shootout.

Police speculate that Dr. Cathey parked the stolen vehicle because it could not make it through the rough road leading to his camp. When they searched his encampment, they reported finding a cache of stolen vehicles, including a pickup truck and a sedan taken from the Dallas area about the time he fled last year.

They also confiscated Dr. Cathey's dwelling, a 2-year-old motor home stolen from a Garland dealership about the same time as the other cars.

All of the vehicles had altered identification numbers, and police say they found equipment for doctoring those vehicle numbers, similar to rigs that Dallas-area police seized during their investigation of Dr. Cathey.

The contents of the cram-packed motor home, now parked at a Poteau bank, include keymaking equipment, gun silencers, a small quantity of amphetamines, evidence of 20 aliases and numerous books, including survivalist manuals and volumes on concealing identity.

A visit to Dr. Cathey's camp Saturday showed that he left behind a finished outbuilding, power tools, lumber and empty boxes of blanks for making duplicate keys. Also visible were a sturdy pumphouse, electrical generator, kerosene lanterns and an open-air toilet -- a frame of two-by-fours perched over a hole in the ground.

On the building door was a computer-generated note asking, "In case of emergency, please call Preston Primm,' with a Dallas phone number.

That number apparently was a voice-mail service, still answered by a recording of a voice resembling Dr. Cathey's.

Dr. Cathey has asked for a court-appointed lawyer, saying he cannot afford to pay one. Dallas authorities say they will wait until Oklahoma charges are disposed of to prosecute the kidnapping charge and related drug and driver's license forgery cases.

The Preston persona

It was with a mixture of puzzlement, shock and embarrassment that the LeFlore County citizenry learned the truth behind the man still commonly called by his assumed name.

"Preston' had not operated a lucrative counseling practice, as he had said. He wasn't a Vietnam veteran, a motivational weight-loss lecturer, a published author or a computer programmer. Preston, in short, wasn't Preston.

Heck, even his bald patch turned out to be fake, a shaved disguise that revealed a coating of stubble after several razorless days behind bars.

"I never would have guessed it. Never,' said Jim Kersh, who met Dr. Cathey over coffee at the local car dealership. "Preston was just a real decent guy.'

But Assistant LeFlore County District Attorney Gary Buckles offered a concise summary of Dr. Cathey's adventures in Oklahoma.

"He conned everybody,' Mr. Buckles said.

On the tip of many Poteau tongues was a tough question: Why would a fugitive, comfortably out of sight, risk his future in a confrontation over a stolen car?"Maybe he liked it here. Maybe he wanted to live here the rest of his life,' Mr. Shockley said, taking a slow glance around Dr. Cathey's rustic settlement, the shadowy woods, the bass-laden river nearby.

"Maybe he knew it could all be taken away from him, and he couldn't handle that.'

how's life, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:20 (3 months ago) Permalink

"The Professor & the Love Slave" sounds like an early-90s Flaming Lips track

Stephen King's Threaderstarter (kingfish), Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:21 (3 months ago) Permalink

He got life plus fifty in Oklahoma and was never sent back to Texas to be tried for the kidnapping.

xp: LOOOOOL

how's life, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:21 (3 months ago) Permalink

well, that was totally horrifying!

Nhex, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:37 (3 months ago) Permalink

yeah i couldn't read it, and i have a near-bottomless appetite for horrific things

funch dressing (La Lechera), Tuesday, 20 May 2014 17:07 (3 months ago) Permalink

Some utterly chilling bystander effect documented in there.

how's life, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 17:09 (3 months ago) Permalink

holy crap, that guy sounds like both of my parents. they tried to turn me into a mindless slave growing up and waxed romantic about slavery in general. both came from established, well-respected upper middle class backgrounds. real swell sorts. everyone loved 'em! most perfect people in the world.

there are some truly fucked up people out there, and there's way more of 'em than you might think (cue spine chills).

Spectrum, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 18:53 (3 months ago) Permalink

Good god.

carl agatha, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 18:55 (3 months ago) Permalink

they were more like evil hippies from dragnet than tweedy professor wannabes. last birthday my dad tracked me down and sent me a copy of Steal This Book for my birthday, which pretty much sums up his philosophy on life. anywho.

Spectrum, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 19:14 (3 months ago) Permalink

The fact that he had to track you down suggests that you're not in regular contact with them, I hope? Phew. I'm sorry.

carl agatha, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 19:16 (3 months ago) Permalink

nah, now that i'm finally making sense of things i don't see how i could ever talk to my family again. or why i'd even want to. the whole relationship was built on lies and trickery, with nothing behind it all except their own screwed up, self-serving desires. none of which makes a lick of sense to me.

putting myself into contact with them gives them a chance to tinker around with my head again. so in short, no. might not ever talk to anyone in my family again for the sheer pointlessness of it, and for my own mental well-being. i made it this far in life alone, so it's not like i need a family like that hanging around.

Spectrum, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 19:29 (3 months ago) Permalink

A wise and excellent choice.

carl agatha, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 20:18 (3 months ago) Permalink

3 weeks pass...

My mother and I are pretty sure at this point that my 47-year-old sister is an actual sociopath. Since she was about 10, she's always had a tendency to lie about basically everything, to blatantly deny wrongdoing when caught, to steal, to be superficially charming if it benefits her, to desire attention and approval, etc. Her behavior over the years has varied from the casually amoral to the outright bad, but I found something out this weekend that pretty much clinches it for me.

Three years ago my mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since mom doesn't make a lot of money and doesn't have the greatest insurance, we decided to hold a fundraiser for her. My sister organized it, and she got a local bar/restaurant to host it and provide food and drink, got people to donate literally dozens of raffle prizes, got tons and tons of people to attend, and we ended up raising several thousand dollars. People were amazingly generous, donating raffle items as expensive as new bicycles and a weeklong stay in a Florida condo. There was also a 50/50 raffle with a sizeable pot, and the winner donated it back.

I found out yesterday that my sister stole every single penny of that money.

After the fundraiser, an interest-bearing account was set up with four signatories: My mother, her boyfriend, my aunt and my sister. (She was handling a lot of the insurance interaction for my mom at the time.) Little by little, over the course of the next several months, my sister took out $250 at a time. When my mother called the bank to ask them something about the account, she was told there was only $750 in it. My mother's boyfriend called my sister, and she resorted to a tactic she's been using since she was 12 years old and has never worked: "I don't know what you're talking about." By the time he hung up the phone and went to the bank, she had taken the rest of the money.

A person who would stand there and collect praise for raising money for her sick mother, who would go sit at chemotherapy sessions with her, who would handle talking to her insurance company, who would take donations from friends (many of whom were needy themselves, esp. the 50/50 raffle winner), and then turn around and betray all their trust like that . . . how can they not be an actual sociopath? My mother decided to just let it go. She's resigned herself to never seeing or speaking to her daughter again, and said, "If I had pursued it, I'd have given her power over me again, and I'm never letting that happen again."

(I also found out that she put her soon-to-be-ex husband, on whom she walked out two years ago, abandoning her two minor children, in danger of losing their house. She apparently did not make a single payment on it for two years, and managed to intercept every bank statement and notification so that he would not know.)

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 12:14 (3 months ago) Permalink

What the fuuuuck
this is awful (obv). Has your mum not needed the money yet or was she able to use any of it? Such a betrayal at the worst time.

Has she any more history of weird money-related behaviour?

kinder, Monday, 16 June 2014 12:45 (3 months ago) Permalink

Tons. About 20 years ago there was an episode where she was stealing checks from my mother's boyfriend's checkbook, faking his signature and cashing them. She also stole some of my mother's jewelry and pawned it. Then she took a car from them, went to Florida, stayed several months and left the car behind.

Five years ago, she was (ostensibly) thinking of buying her husband an acoustic bass guitar, and asked if he could borrow mine to see if he likes it. (Mine was a Breedlove Acoustics and cost quite a bit, and was an anniversary gift from my wife.) I loaned it to her and never saw it again. I asked for it over and over, and after she left her husband I asked him if it was in the house, and he claimed to have no knowledge of it. I'm pretty sure now it went from my hands to hers to the pawn shop.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 13:18 (3 months ago) Permalink

But no, my mother never got any use from the money. And she had knee replacement surgery last year, missing three weeks of work unpaid, and could have really used whatever was left.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 13:18 (3 months ago) Permalink

That's ghastly. So sorry to hear about this Phil.

now I'm the grandfather (dog latin), Monday, 16 June 2014 13:28 (3 months ago) Permalink

yeah Phil that's awful

dn/ac (darraghmac), Monday, 16 June 2014 13:31 (3 months ago) Permalink

fuck dude

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 16 June 2014 13:52 (3 months ago) Permalink

My mother told me Saturday that as far as she is concerned I'm an only child. I mean . . . as a parent, how do you even?

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 14:18 (3 months ago) Permalink

What are your feelings on all this? Would you be willing to speak with your sister, or is that it?

now I'm the grandfather (dog latin), Monday, 16 June 2014 14:33 (3 months ago) Permalink

At this point, no. I have tried with her over the years, but everyone in the family knows that any dealing with her, and especially any criticism, is met with any or all of three reactions. She will either deny (in the face of all evidence), lie, and/or turn on you like a rabid dog. There is literally nobody she won't attack with all guns blazing if she feels threatened, including her own kids.

I talked to my dad yesterday for Father's Day, and while his reactions aren't as severe as my mother's, he makes it a policy to keep her at arm's length. He told me they've spoken twice in the last year, and both times she asked for money. (And he told her no. Four years ago, he loaned her $300 ostensibly to have her furnace repaired. She promised to pay him back when she got her tax refund, and of course never did.)

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 14:39 (3 months ago) Permalink

What do your parents say about her before she was 10? or when they first started to notice

I'm having some family issues currently - that are nowhere near on this level but I can see some commonalities. I believe something happened to my father around the age of 10 and he changed into something.- it was also something that i think was seemingly innocuous (but patently not). I never met my grandparents so its only going on what he has said, that has led me to think this

anvil, Monday, 16 June 2014 15:00 (3 months ago) Permalink

My dad actually thinks her bad behavior started when she was about 7 years old. That's when he remembers her developing a consistent pattern of lying and manipulation, as well as associating with people she could easily dominate.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 15:22 (3 months ago) Permalink

God, the stories I could tell. There was also the time that she took her two younger kids (I believe they were 3 and 5 at the time) with her and a bunch of people unknown to my family to Niagara Falls, NY, where she was arrested for possession of marijuana and had to spend the night in jail there until my mother came and bailed her out. Which she might not have done if not for the fact that the kids were being held at the jail as well.

A few years back she was fired from her job at a doctor's office because prescription pads with her signature were being used to fill fake Oxycontin prescriptions. She claims that a co-worker duped her into signing fakes, but I seriously doubt that was the case.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 15:25 (3 months ago) Permalink

holy fuck Phil. i feel so lucky that i have never had to deal w/anything like this.

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Monday, 16 June 2014 15:55 (3 months ago) Permalink

i have known a couple people like this and they are genuinely scary
i'm sorry phil, sounds like major rough times

sorry to be crass, but is there a treatment for this type of personality disorder? is there something that can be done other than excommunication/harm reduction? honest question, no disrespect meant whatsoever.

La Lechera, Monday, 16 June 2014 16:36 (3 months ago) Permalink

have read that talking therapy tends to just be deception training for these people and idk if we understand anything enough to make a drug (which would be :/ anyway cuz ludovico). i'm sorry phil this kind of thing must be insanely emotionally destructive.

difficult listening hour, Monday, 16 June 2014 16:42 (3 months ago) Permalink

i've heard it's basically incurable, unless the individual genuinely wants to change. "psychopath" is just a label anyway, so everything is on an individual basis.

my parents, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and brothers are like this, unfortunately, and they've had 0 personal growth since i've known them. only thing that changes is they get better at manipulating, or change their tactics based on new circumstances. favorite new one is that since my dad can't beat the shit out of me anymore, and no longer has legal authority over me, he tells me I'm the "most important person in the world to him." which is funny considering he's never once acted like i wasn't completely worthless to him. but he knows he fucked my head up by tormenting and neglecting me growing up, so he'll throw shit out like that to twist my head so I give him money or whatever, and if I confront him on it he'll go totally ballistic, which works since he almost killed me a bunch of times when I was a kid. fortunately I was able to pull it together enough to jump off that train.

anyway, some people like this never change, because maybe the "default" we assume people should be is just our own default, and maybe a default shared by a large number of people. compassion, empathy, desiring relationships, fairness, an aversion to hurting people, not everyone thinks like that or aspires to be like that, and there's no outside, objective reason anyone "should" think like that other than the fact that we'd prefer it that way. there are lots of different types of people out there, and some of them are pretty damn wretched.

Spectrum, Monday, 16 June 2014 16:50 (3 months ago) Permalink

talking therapy tends to just be deception training for these people
this was the lesson at the very end of The Sopranos

Nhex, Monday, 16 June 2014 16:55 (3 months ago) Permalink

Ohhhhh man, Phil - can I ever sympathise with your plight. My sister is a wrong'un in many of the same ways and the only way to make it stop is for my mother to press charges. Guess what: my mother is too embarrassed to press charges.

show me new tweets (suzy), Monday, 16 June 2014 16:57 (3 months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I can't imagine talking therapy or anything being remotely useful for her. I don't even think it's something she thinks about - it's instinctive for her to lie every time she opens her mouth, and has been for as long as I can remember.

The sad thing is that, except for her oldest son (who just turned 25), the kids know she can be a handful but don't anything about any of this other stuff. (They're 18 and 16.) They're probably going to find out the hard way one day.

xxp Thanks, suzy. My mom just basically wants her out of her life. If that means letting the money go, that's what it means.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 16:59 (3 months ago) Permalink

I just remembered that four years ago she told everyone she had MS. (This was at a time when my wife and I were doing charity fundraising and bike riding for the National MS Society.) We have never heard another word about this diagnosis, which is almost certainly a lie.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 17:01 (3 months ago) Permalink

I hope karma gives her fast-onset motor-neuron disease for lying about MS. Bonus: she wouldn't be able to move or speak, which would cut down on the interactive lying.

My mom flip-flops on wanting to take action on my sister but ultimately sees herself as the failure if anything goes public, rather than the wronged party. I just want my mom to have the happy retirement she planned and worked for, and for my sister to take her equally shiftless and over-entitled husband and get the fuck out of my mother's house. She's caused enough interfamily bullshit.

show me new tweets (suzy), Monday, 16 June 2014 17:11 (3 months ago) Permalink

obv all this is horrible but your guitar, jeez, so infuriating

kinder, Monday, 16 June 2014 17:31 (3 months ago) Permalink

your sister sounds just awful, phil, and the worst part is she has kids - how incredibly hard it must be having someone like that as a parent. i hope their father is a good man.

just1n3, Monday, 16 June 2014 18:36 (3 months ago) Permalink

Fathers, plural. Three different fathers, one of whom we don't even know who it is. As to how good they are . . . it varies. The oldest is trying to have a relationship with his dad, but pretty much knows his mom is poison and wants nothing to do with her.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 18:49 (3 months ago) Permalink

Damn man

Nhex, Monday, 16 June 2014 18:54 (3 months ago) Permalink

oh maaaan :/

are you close with the kids? i hope they can cut her off permanently. ppl like bring nothing but bad things and harm into the lives of those around them.

just1n3, Monday, 16 June 2014 19:01 (3 months ago) Permalink

otm

dn/ac (darraghmac), Monday, 16 June 2014 20:25 (3 months ago) Permalink

Unfortunately I'm not as close as I should be, because I spent a number of years when they were younger living away, but I do try to be in their lives and communicate with them. They all have a good relationship with their various grandparents, the oldest is very close to his two sisters (one of them my sister's daughter, the other his father's daughter by his second wife), and my sister's most recent ex is actually who my niece lives with.

Disagree. And im not into firey solos chief. (Phil D.), Monday, 16 June 2014 23:40 (3 months ago) Permalink


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