“Greetings. I have enjoyed reading your blog. I have only recently come to understand that my oldest brother was a psychopath. Well.. I figured it out a decade ago but my intellectual mind never connected the circuit. Due to my childhood with him I have C-PTSD. This was further aggravated by enlisting in the Army and serving a combat tour as an infantry platoon medic in and around Baghdad during the surge.
One thing about basic training and AIT, especially for Combat Arms folks is that it trains normals to build a sort of psychopathic emulator. A sort of dissociative switch you can flip when you have to be able to take another human life. It is obviously an emulator because its use only contains the normal human response… and that containment field degrades over time. The officer corps does not go through anything as psychologically rigorous as basic training.. they don’t need to because most of the officers don’t have to emulate being a psychopath.
I have a burning hatred inside me for the officer corps. I spent 10 years on active duty and the closer I got to them the more repulsed I became. Here is something you may find surprising though.. Psychopaths do NOT do well in a line infantry platoon of “blood thirsty killers.” I am sure you have often heard of the ‘brotherhood’ of men at arms. You have to be ready to sacrifice for your brother.. even your very life for him. It is ingrained in you that you would share your last drops of water with your brother.. and it is not taught. It is just realized. Those who.. say.. steal extra food, which steals from all, usually end up with severe beatings. I have seen Barracks thieves marched out in front of an entire battalion of 800 men and identified by the sergeant major as a thief for all to see. As you can obviously see, in this form of environment a psychopath cannot hide. It is also well known that there is a natural despisement for the officer corps among the infantry.. a feeling that they are ‘other.’
One thing about ‘the eyes’ and that emulator acquired in basic training… I have on several occasions unnerved psychopaths that came across my path using that emulator.. though now only in hindsight. See.. When my subconscious detects that someone is attempting to manipulate me it uncorks the extreme and unbridled rage that resides within me from my experiences with my brother as a child.
This rage is one thing about myself that terrifies me because it is searing in its heat and inexhaustible in its depth. As I am now nearly 15 years this side of that deployment I have had to learn great emotional intelligence to deal with these experiences. I realize that my rage can be triggered accidentally and isn’t always rational.. what is my default reaction? I activate that emulator to snuff the emotion back into the bottle and calculate.. I look for malice. I tend to err on the side of caution and if i can see away this could have been unintentional, the spring is reset on the bottle’s lid and it remains closed. If I detect malice, I crack the bottle slightly in the fight of fight or flight. This analysis happens in about three heartbeats.
One thing i have noticed that surprised me when this process has occurred in response to some individuals I now suspect to be psychopathic.. when I flip that switch, my gaze probably mirrors theirs.. some would call it the war face.. the thousand yard stare.. in that instant I look through them. I see a flash of terror in their eyes. I suspect that the sudden evaporation of all emotion on my face in contrast is quite jarring.
I will be quite honest.. I love for that flash of terror.. or realization when dealing with bullies.. I am a very nice, laid back guy who enjoys banter, shit talking, and being around close friends where we all let our walls down. I tend to present a reserved, slouched posture (probably due to my childhood) and generally only stand tall in uniform. I suppose it makes me come across as an easy mark. That flash of terror I describe could probably better be describe as the “OH! SHIT! I JUST FUCKED UP!” only too late realizing their easy mark is actually a rather stout man that can do them great physical harm if he chooses. I believe you have commented on your site that bullies tend to be psychopaths.
Where being bullied was a way of life for me as a kid, now i absolutely delight in it because i experience terrific self-actualization in bullying bullies… I have always had an inner imperative that the strong defend the weak. In this, I have a truly irresistible compulsion to take bullies down a few notches. In reading your site I have come to realize that when I come across these people my favorite response is essentially beat them at their own game.
I have subconsciously realize that they are the enemy.. which I now realize allows me to use that emulator when dealing with them.. allowing me to avoid (and hopefully not delay) remorse and guilt from what I do to them. My favorite tactic, especially say.. when dealing with someone of superior rank, is to set them up for them to reveal themselves.. There are several expressions that come to mind.. “Give them enough rope to hang themselves with..” or perhaps “Hoist them on their own petard.”
One of the unofficial (and gulling) duties of a non-commissioned officer is to look after his commissioned Officer-in-charge.. to keep them from screwing up (and perhaps revealing themselves). I simply ignore the mistake i see he made in this report.. not correct his understanding of a training mission aspect.. not chase after him to keep him on track with his paperwork.. all sorts of things while simutaniously working very hard at taking care of my responsibilities and my subordinates. In some cases where the rank disparity is very great.. i begin to document ethical lapses via memorandums for record etc.. Eventually this person’s lack of actual occupational ability(tm) comes to a head.. they invariably blame me.. and I lay all my cards down on the table. I succeeded in taking out a Maj that way once. I managed to get the chain of command of a brigade combat team re-ordered with it once.. I once got a civilian supervisor of mine.. well not fired but not allowed to be in a leadership position anymore.
I consider these great victories because of how much they improved the quality of life for everyone else in the unit to have these folks removed from influence. I had a brigade commander, who was the kind of man we should all aspire to be, and he I guess he recognized this in me. I had changed to public affairs at this point in my career so I was lucky to be on what we call the commander’s personal staff.. it includes folks like the chaplain ect.. we are outside the normal chain of command. He gave me latitude that far exceeded my rank (far…).
One time in particular he sent me to shoot some interviews with one of our organic infantry battalions that had been attached to another brigade. The battalion commander, who had taken over just before we deployed, was a mad man. This guy ended up getting a SPC killed in Mosul over some frigging floor tile.. the SPC (a father of 3) told the battalion commander that the glue wasn’t the right kind and was hazardous and flammable. He said, “I am your fucking battalion commander.” Well.. somehow there was a spark and that Specialist and father burned alive. I had to film his memorial for his family. The Brigade commander of the unit he was attached to also displayed ‘the traits’ and didn’t do anything to him about it.
Anyway.. I had to interact with the guy and knew the instant we locked eyes.. (not intellectually). He was very dismissive of me, didn’t care that I was there to shoot these interviews and videos, he didn’t care that the point of my visit was to boost morale of the families back home as well as his troops. My interviews were to be played on the local news in El Paso where the families are were really great for the army and our division. He informed me i would receive no support or aid from his headquarters in my mission.. then the idiot proceeded to talk shit about the brigade commander.
I ended up succeeding because i already had relationships with the actually fighting companies of his battalion who provided me with housing and network access. When I went back to my brigade i was surprised when my the brigade commander called me into his office, closed the door, and picked my brain for half an hour of what i thought about my experience with this Lt. Colonel.. I laid it out there.. My brigade commander wasn’t a yeller.. or a screamer.. he was actually like talking to a teacher or uncle who liked you. So.. i later found out he torpedoed that LTC’s career via his Officer Evaluation Report and ensured he would never again be promoted or allowed to command so much as a janitor’s closet.
Anyway, I’m not super sure why I felt it important to share this with you but I detect we are both warriors of a kind.. I see now how much influence and sway these predators hold in the world and I’m not sure that it isn’t too late.. perhaps in the end.. we are both fighting against the dying of the light.”