Do you remember the scene in The Green Mile when death row inmate John Coffee is touched by murderer “Wild Bill”? After feeling some powerful negative energy, he says, “You a bad man.”
Are you like John Coffee? Would you know it if you brushed up against a cold-blooded killer? You might if you’re what Dr. Judith Orloff calls an “intuitive empath“.
I began to sense energy emanating from people when I was around 20 or 21 years old. An interesting thing happens when a person turns 21: The prefrontal cortex of the brain matures. I think that I had always sensed energy around me unconsciously, but at this time I became conscious of it and began to investigate these experiences analytically. When I learned about Chi or Qi energy in practices like reiki and qi gong, it was not simply an idea I accepted intellectually or on faith: It simply put a name to what I had already experienced.
People have energy emanating from them and this energy circulates around. Most people are somewhat suspicious of strangers, and in a strange environment their auras contract. When they become more comfortable and familiar with the people around them they open up.In addition to contracting ones aura as a self protection mechanism, others adopt a different strategy when in a strange place: They project hostile energy.
Some people may start out hostile at first but then warm up. It’s natural to be somewhat suspicious of strangers. Historically people lived in tribes, and the men of the tribes would be protectors and outsiders would be the enemy. This has kind of broken down a bit now that people are organized more and more into mass societies, but often in isolated areas or among other other insular groups, this is the stance people adopt to outsiders. With people like this, some relatively simple cue might cause them to open up, like for example if they learn you are a friend of a friend or a know one of their relatives. Often I can feel people’s energy change in these situations.
A conversation is an exchange of energy. It circulates between the people. Ideally its an equal exchange. There is a basic reciprocity.
This exchange of energy between two normal people having a friendly conversation is for the most part unconscious. This exchange of energy is a mysterious thing. For example, imagine heading to go home for work,after a stressful day. You feel tired and worn out. Now, imagine that at the last minute your boss tells you “Hey, good job today! We really appreciate all the hard work you are putting in here.”
Suddenly you feel energized. Your feet are no longer dragging. You have a spring in your step. Somehow you have been recharged. It’s almost like you ate a candy bar or something. You have received a boost. Where did this energy come from? Medically, it would be easier to trace energy received from a candy bar than a compliment, but it is energy all the same. It was given to you by your boss, but not in such a way that his or her energy was depleted. The compliment probably led to positive energy on their part also. It was an even exchange. Its a very subtle thing but it is very real.
Psychopaths are a tribe of one. They are not open and friendly, but rather see themselves as being utterly alone in an extremely hostile universe. Their energetic stance is one of hostility, but they have a strategy of appearing friendly. They often mimic friendly behavior, but it’s a ruse, and no free exchange of energy is really possible with such people because they lack a basic trust toward the whole of humanity. They trick people into opening up their auras with charm, humor and conversational skills.We are conditioned to be friendly to friendly people, so the ruse tends to work. Were everyone a psychopath it wouldn’t work; there would be no society. It would be every man for himself.
The unease that most people feel when talking with a psychopath is mostly unconscious, but one thing some people often pick up is that their smile does not match their eyes. The eye is the window to the soul.
Most people don’t continuously make strong eye contact because it can be deemed threatening. In the course of a conversation they look away and check back once in a while to connect. I recall once having a conversation with a person I later determined to be a psychopath: It was a friendly conversation about some topic I enjoy – travel, or the outdoors or something – and when I made eye contact I noticed that his eyes were hostile. His voice was totally friendly, slightly musical, even; he told jokes and little quirky anecdotes. It was jolting to see these cold eyes. They were eyes you would expect to see if we were squaring off to fight.
To him it was a fight.: He was measuring me up, because he had no trust toward me at all. Ours was a hostile exchange based on power, and was probably like every other exchange he has had with every other human being on the face of the Earth.
Our exchange felt like vampirism: I was drained of my energy. While there has been much written about “psychic vampirism”, I find most of it to be fairly inadequate because the authors usually fail to point out that people are exchanging energy all the time. It’s a subtle thing this energy, and it doesn’t exactly belong to you. We aren’t really even completely discreet entities: It is as if there is energy all around us and we are simply patterns within this energy.
You give energy to people and they usually give energy back. There is a yin and yang to it – something like resonance. You pass energy back and forth and come to resonate with each other more and more. That is what romantic intimacy is, and it can culminate in sexual intercourse. Most relationships don’t rise to that level of intimacy, of course, but we all participate in some form of intercourse in the general meaning of an “exchange” between two people.
Normal people experience this intercourse – this exchange – during daily interactions. There’s a reciprocity here. However, a psychopath always want to get the better of the other person in these exchanges: It is never a two-way thing. Everything about them is a lie.
Psychopaths lie to everybody because they are predators.When you interact with them you come to really feel like prey, or a deer caught in the headlights of an incoming car. Their gaze can feel physically hot; You can feel them probing you for weaknesses, to see if you can be put to some self-serving use or if you are a threat to be neutralized. Once again, everyone to them is the enemy. They have no friends.
I believe they have a different type of consciousness than other people, and they’re are actually feeding on other people’s consciousness. Consciousness is attention and attention is energy. They gravitate to positions of power because they is where people direct their attention. People “look to” leaders, and in an ideal sense of this social contract between the leader and the led it becomes mutually beneficial.
Unfortunately, psychopaths don’t go in for that.
It’s hard to understand their motivations: Do they become corrupt? Why can’t they be more honest? Those questions are meaningless. If psychopathic leaders were honest and used their position of power to help others they wouldn’t be psychopaths. This is not just a weird personality quirk, it is central to who they are. I am saying this as a tautology: They “have to” be dishonest and lie and take advantage of others, just like the sun has to shine. The sun isn’t motivated to shine. The sun has no choice.
Researchers will continue to come up with materialist rationalizations for psychopathy. there are plenty of theories about genetics and environment, and brain scans offer some clues into the biology of psychopaths, but I look at it simply like this: Everyone is a Star and the Star Psychopaths are black holes. It’s more or less just the way things are. In this world there are bunny rabbits as well as rattle snakes.
There are ramifications when a person does not give a wink about anyone else in the world but themselves.When psychopaths get into positions of power they wreak a lot of mayhem, but even if it was possible to round up all the psychopaths in the world and put them in padded cells, I suspect that the world would be poorer for it. I wouldn’t want to live in a world with no dangers. Like rattle snakes, lions and tigers, psychopaths have some mysterious role to play. Also, I think its perfectly fine in terms if the balance of the universe that many of them end up in jail.
So how do I deal with psychopaths? First, as Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, pointed out, it does no good to see psychopaths all over the place, on every corner and under every rock. However,if you find your self in a situation of being fed upon and drained of energy – continually gazed at like a pork sirloin – then you obviously need some type of self-defense. Politely ignore them. don’t give them your attention. Don’t engage them any more than you absolutely have to do. Don’t sit near them if you have any choice at all, don’t strike up conversations with them. Stop being so goddamned friendly to them like you probably are with everyone else! Friendliness and the normal positive regard for others’ well-being is the currency you use in your normal intercourse with the rest of humanity, but it’s lost on them: Withdraw it. It will all just be drained away and then you will have less for those who can appreciate it.
Note from the editor: If you’re interested in hearing more about Jon Ronson and his exploration of psychopathy, then you might want to check out his appearance on the DisinfoCast. Click here.