Cleckley: The psychopath in history — Alcibiades

This is in response to a comment, https://pathwhisperer.info/2017/05/03/search-are-narcissists-and-psychopaths-more-primitive-less-evolved-humans/#comment-134527, on Alcibiades.

From Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity, via Fried Green Tomatoes:

Let us turn now to a much earlier historical figure, a military leader and statesman who is not likely to be forgotten while civilization as we know it remains on earth.  I first encountered him during a course in ancient history when I was in high school.  I had not at that time heard of a psychopath.  The teacher did not try to classify him medically or explain his paradoxical career in psychological terms.  I felt, however, that this gifted teacher shared my interest and some of my bewilderment as the brilliant, charming, capricious, and irresponsible figure of Alcibiades unfolded in the classroom against the background of Periclean Athens.  None of my immature concepts of classification (good man, bad man, wise man, foolish man) seemed to define Alcibiades adequately, or even to afford a reliable clue to his enigmatic image.

The more I read about him and wondered about him, the more he arrested my attention and challenged my imagination.  All reports agreed that he was one of the chief military and political leaders of Athens in her period of supreme greatness and classic splendor during the fifth century B.G.  This man led me to ponder at a very early age on many questions for which I have not yet found satisfactory answers.  According to my high school history book,26

He belonged to one of the noblest families of Athens, and was a near kinsman of Pericles.  Though still young, he was influential because of his high birth and his fascinating personality.  His talents were brilliant in all directions; but he was lawless and violent, and followed no motive but self-interest and self-indulgence.  Through his influence Athens allied herself with Argos, Elis, and Mantinea against the Lacedaemonians and their allies.  [p.  224]

The result of this alliance led Athens into defeat and disaster, but Alcibiades on many occasions showed outstanding talent and succeeded brilliantly in many important affairs.  Apparently he had great personal charm and easily aroused strong feelings of admiration and affection in others.

Though usually able to accomplish with ease any aim he might choose, he seemed capriciously to court disaster and, perhaps at the behest of some trivial impulse, to go out of his way to bring down defeat upon his own projects.  Plutarch refers to him thus:242

It has been said not untruly that the friendship which Socrates felt for him has much contributed to his fame, and certain it is, that, though we have no account from any writer concerning the mother of Nicias or Demosthenes, of Lamachus or Phormion, of Thrasybulus or Theratnenes, notwithstanding these were all illustrious men of the same period, yet we know even the nurse of Alcibiades, that her country was Lacedaemon, and her name Amycla; and that Zopyrus was his teacher and attendant; the one being recorded by Antistheries, and the othei by Plato.  (p.  149)

In the Symposium,241 one of his most celebrated dialogues, Plato introduces Alcibiades by having him appear with a group of intoxicated revelers and burst in upon those at the banquet who are engaged in philosophical discussion.  Alcibiades, as presented here by Plato, appears at times to advocate as well as symbolize external beauty and ephemeral satisfactions as opposed to the eternal verities.  Nevertheless, Plato gives Alcibiades the role of recognizing and expounding upon the inner virtue and spiritual worth of Socrates and of acclaiming this as far surpassing the readily discerned attainments of more obviously attractive and superficially impressive men.  Plato devotes almost all of the last quarter of the Symposium to Alcibiades and his conversation with Socrates.  His great charm and physical beauty are emphasized repeatedly here.

The personal attractiveness of Alcibiades is also dwelt upon by Plutarch:242

It is not, perhaps, material to say anything of the beauty of Alcibiades, only that it bloomed with him at all stages of his life, in his infancy, in his youth, and in his manhood; and, in the peculiar character belonging to each of these periods, gave him in everyone of them, a grace and charm.  What Euripides says: “of all fair things the autumn, too, is fair” … is by no means universally true.  But it happened so with Alcibiades amongst few others. …[pp149-150]

Early in his career he played a crucial role in gaining important victories for Athens.  Later, after fighting against his native city and contributing substantially to her final disaster, he returned to favor, won important victories again for her and was honored with her highest offices.  In the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1949) I read:

Alcibiades possessed great charm and brilliant abilities but was absolutely unprincipled.  His advice whether to Athens or to Sparta, oligarchs or democrats, was dictated by selfish motives, and the Athenians could never trust him sufficiently to take advantage of his talents.

And Thucydides Says:280

They feared the extremes to which he carried his lawless self-indulgence, and … though his talents as a military commander were unrivalled, they entrusted the administration of the war to Others; and so they speedily shipwrecked the state.

Plutarch repeatedly emphasizes the positive and impressive qualities of Alcibiades:242

It was manifest that the many wellborn persons who were continually seeking his company, and making their court to him, were attracted and captivated by his brilliant and extraordinary beauty only.  But the affection which Socrates entertained for him is a great evidence of the natural noble qualities and good disposition of the boy, which Socrates, indeed, detected both in and under his personal beauty; and, fearing that his wealth and station, and the great number both of strangers and Athenians who flattered and caressed him, might at last corrupt him, resolved, if possible, to interpose, and preserve so hopeful a plant from perishing in the flower, before its fruit came to perfection.  [p.  151]

The same writer also cites many examples of unattractive behavior, in which Alcibiades is shown responding with unprovoked and arbitrary insolence to those who sought to do him honor.  Let us note one of these incidents:242

As in particular to Anitas, the son of Anthernion, who was very fond of him and invited him to an entertainment which he had prepared for some strangers.  Alcibiades refused the invitation, but having drunk to excess in his own house with some of his companions, went thither with them to play some frolic, and standing at the door of the room where the guests were enjoying themselves and seeing the tables covered with gold and silver cups, he commanded his servants to take away the one-half of them and carry them to his own house.  And, then, disdaining so much as to enter into the room himself, as soon as he had done this, went away.  The company was indignant, and exclaimed at this rude and insulting conduct; Anitas, however, said, on the contrary, that Alcibiades had shown great consideration and tenderness in taking only a part when he might have taken all.  [p.  152]

Despite his talents and many attractive features some incidents appear even in his very early life that suggest instability, a disregard for accepted rules or commitments and a reckless tendency to seize arbitrarily what may appeal to him at the moment.  Plutarch tells us:242

Once being hard pressed in wrestling, and fearing to be thrown, he got the hand of his antagonist to his mouth, and bit it with all his force; when the other loosed his hold presently, and said, “You bite, Alcibiades, like a woman “No,” replied be, “like a lion.” [p.  150]

On another occasion it is reported that Alcibiades with other boys was playing with dice in the street.  A loaded cart which had been approaching drew near just as it was his turn to throw.  To quote again from Plutarch:242

At first he called to the driver to stop, because he was to throw in the way over which the cart was to pass; but the man giving him no attention and driving on, when the rest of the boys divided and gave way, Alcibiades threw himself on his face before the cart and, stretching himself out, bade the carter pass on now if he would; which so startled the man, that he put back his horses, while all that saw it were terrified, and, crying out, ran to assist Alcibiades.  [p.  150]

Alcibiades, one of the most prominent figures in Athens, an extremely influential leader with important successes to his credit, became the chief advocate for the memorable expedition against Sicily.  He entered enthusiastically into this venture urging it upon the Athenians partly from policy, it seems, and partly from his private ambition.  Though this expedition resulted in catastrophe and played a major role in the end of Athenian power and glory, many have felt that if Alcibiades had been left in Sicily in his position of command he might have led the great armada to victory.  If so, this might well have insured for Athens indefinitely the supreme power of the ancient world.  The brilliant ability often demonstrated by Alcibiades lends credence to such an opinion.  On the other hand, his inconsistency and capriciousness make it difficult, indeed, to feel confident that his presence would necessarily have brought success to the Athenian cause.  The magnitude of its failure has recently drawn this comment from Peter Green in Armada From Athens:100

It was more than a defeat; it was a defilement.  There, mindless, brutish, and terrified, dying like animals, without dignity or pride, were Pericles’ countrymen, citizens of the greatest imperial power Greece had ever known.  In that … destruction … Athens lost her imperial pride forever.  The shell of splendid self-confidence was shattered: something more than an army died in Sicily.  [p.  336]  Athens’ imperial pride had been destroyed and her easy self-assertion with it.  Aegospotami merely confirmed the ineluctable sentence imposed on the banks of the Assinarus.  Pindar’s violet-crowned city had been cut down to size and an ugly tarnish now dulled the bright Periclean charisma.  The great experiment in democratic imperialism that strangest of all paradoxes-was finally discredited.  [p.  353]

If Athens had succeeded in the expedition against Syracuse the history of Greece and perhaps even the history of all Europe might have been substantially different.

Shortly before the great Athenian fleet and army sailed on the Sicilian expedition an incident occurred that has never been satisfactorily explained.  Now when Athens was staking her future on a monumental and dangerous venture there was imperative need for solidarity of opinion and for confidence in the three leaders to whom so much had been entrusted.  At this tense and exquisitely inopportune time the sacred statues of Hermes throughout the city were mutilated in a wholesale desecration.

This unprovoked act of folly and outrage disturbed the entire populace and aroused superstitious qualms and fears that support of the gods would be withdrawn at a time of crucial need.  Alcibiades was strongly suspected of the senseless sacrilege.  Though proof was not established that he had committed this deed which demoralized the Athenians, the possibility that Alcibiades, their brilliant leader, might be guilty of such an idle and irresponsible outrage shook profoundly the confidence of the expeditionary force and of the government.  Many who knew him apparently felt that such an act might have been carried out by Alcibiades impulsively and without any adequate reason but merely as an idle gesture of bravado, a prank that might demonstrate what he could get away with if it should suit his fancy.  Definite evidence emerged at this time to show that he had been profaning the Eleusinian mysteries by imitating them or caricaturing them for the amusement of his friends.  This no doubt strengthened suspicion against him as having played a part in mutilating the sacred statues.

On a number of other occasions his bad judgment and his self-centered whims played a major role in bringing disasters upon Athens and upon himself.  Though this brilliant leader often appeared as a zealous and incorruptible patriot, numerous incidents strongly indicate that at other times he put self-interest first and that sometimes even the feeble lure of some minor objective or the mere prompting of caprice caused him to ignore the welfare and safety of his native land and to abandon lightly all standards of loyalty and honor.

No substantial evidence has ever emerged to indicate that Alcibiades was guilty of the sacrilegious mutilation of the statues.  He asked for an immediate trial, but it was decided not to delay the sailing of the fleet for this.  After he reached Syracuse, Alcibiades was summoned to return to Athens to face these charges.  On the way back he deserted the Athenian cause, escaped to Sparta, and joined the enemy to fight against his native city.

It has been argued that Alcibiades could not have been guilty of the mutilation since, as a leader of the expedition and its chief advocate, he would have so much to lose by a senseless and impious act that might jeopardize its success.  On the other hand his career shows many incidents of unprovoked and, potentially, self-damaging folly carried out more or less as a whim, perhaps in defiance of authority, or as an arrogant gesture to show his immunity to ordinary rules or restrictions.  It sometimes looked as though the very danger of a useless and uninviting deed might, in itself, tempt him to flaunt a cavalier defiance of rules that bind other men.   If Alcibiades did play a part in this piece of egregious folly it greatly augments his resemblance to the patients described in this book.  Indeed it is difficult to see how anyone but a psychopath might, in his position, participate in such an act.

In Sparta Alcibiades made many changes to identify himself with the ways and styles of the enemy.  In Athens he had been notable for his fine raiment and for worldly  splendor and extravagance.  On these characteristics Plutarch comments thus:242

But with all these words and deeds and with all this sagacity and eloquence, he mingled the exorbitant luxury and wantonness in his eating and drinking and dissolute living; owre long, purple robes like a woman, which dragged after him as he went through the marketplace, caused the planks of his galley to be cut away, that he might lie the softer, his bed not being placed on the boards but hanging upon girths.  His shield, again, which was richly gilded had not the usual ensigns of the Athenians, but a Cupid holding a thunderbolt in his hand, was painted upon it.  The sight of all this made the people of good repute in the city feel disgust and abhorrence and apprehension also, at his free living and his contempt of law as things monstrous in themselves and indicating designs of usurpation.[pp. 161-162]

In contrast to his appearance and his habits in the old environment we find this comment by Plutarch on Alcibiades after he had deserted the Athenian cause and come to live in Sparta and throw all his brilliant talents into the war against his native land: 242

The renown which he earned by these public services, not to Athens, but to Sparta, was equaled by the admiraton he attracted to his private life.  He captivated and won over everybody by his conformity to Spartan habits.   People who saw him wearing his hair cut close and bathing in cold water, eating coarse meal and dining on black broth, doubted, or rather could not believe that he had ever had a cook in his house or had ever seen a perfumer or had ever worn a mantle of Milesian purple.  For he had, as it was observed, this peculiar talent and artifice of gaining men’s affection, that he could at once comply with and really embrace and enter into the habits and ways of life, and change faster than the chameleon; one color, indeed, they say, the chameleon cannot assume; he cannot himself appear white.  But, Alcibiades, whether with good men or with bad, could adapt himself to his company and equally wear the appearances of virtue or vice.  At Sparta, he was devoted to athletic exercises, was frugal and reserved: in Ionia, luxurious, gay and indolent; in Thrace, always drinking; in Thessaly, ever on horseback; and when he lived with Tisaphernes, the king of Persia’s satrap he exceeded the Persians themselves in magnificence and pomp.  Not that his natural disposition changed so easily, nor that his real character was so variable, but whether he was sensible that by pursuing his own inclinations he might give offense to those with whom he had occasion to converse, he transformed himself into any shape and adopted any fashion that he observed to be agreeable to them.  [pp.  169-170]

At Sparta Alcibiades seemed to strive in every way to help the enemy defeat and destroy Athens.  He induced them to send military aid promptly to the Syracusans and also aroused them to renew the war directly against Athens.  He made them aware of the great importance of fortifying Decelea, a place very near Athens, from which she was extremely vulnerable to attack.  The Spartans followed his counsel in these matters and, by taking the steps he advised, wrought serious damage to the Athenian cause.  The vindictive and persistent efforts of this brilliant traitor may have played a substantial part in the eventual downfall of Athens.  Even before he left Sicily for Sparta Alcibiades had begun to work against his native land in taking steps to prevent Messina from falling into the hands of the Athenians.
Eventually a good many of the Spartans began to distrust Alcibiades.  Among this group was the king, Agis.  According to Plutarch:242

… While Agis was absent and abroad with the army, [Alcibiades] corrupted his wife, Timea, and had a child born by her.  Nor did she even deny it, but when she was brought to bed of a son, called him in public, Leotychides, but amongst her confidants and attendants, would whisper that his name was Alcibiades, to such a degree was she transported by her passion for him.  He, on the other side, would say in his valiant way, he had not done this thing out of mere wantonness of insult, nor to gratify a passion, but that his race might one day be kings over the Lacedaemonians.  [p.  170]

It became increasingly unpleasant for Alcibiades in Sparta despite his great successes and the admiration he still evoked in many.  Plutarch say:242

But Agis was his enemy, hating him for having dishonored his wife, but also impatient of his glory, as almost every success was ascribed to Alcibiades.  Others, also, of the more powerful and ambitious among the Spartans were possessed with jealousy of him and prevailed with the magistrates in the city to send orders …  that he should be killed.  [p.  171]

Alcibiades, however, learned of this, and fled to Asia Minor for security with the satrap of the king of Persia, Tisaphernes.  Here he found security and again displayed his great abilities and his extraordinary charm.  According to Plutarch:242

[He] immediately became the most influential person about him; for this barbarian [Tisaphernes], not being himself sincere, but a lover of guile and wickedness, admired his address and wonderful subtlety.  And, indeed, the charm of daily intercourse with him was more than any character could resist or any disposition escape.  Even those who feared and envied him, could not but take delight and have a sort of kindness for him when they saw him and were in his company, so that Tisaphernes, otherwise a cruel character, and above all other Persians, a hater of the Greeks, was yet so won by the flatteries of Alcibiades that he set himself even to exceed him in responding to them.  The most beautiful of his parks containing salubrious streams and meadows where he had built pavilions and places of retirement, royally and exquisitely adorned, received by his direction the name of Alcibiades and was always so called and so spoken of.

Thus, Alcibiades, quitting the interest of the Spartans, whom he could no longer trust because he stood in fear of Agis, the king, endeavored to do them ill offices and render them odious to Tisaphernes, who, by his means, was hindered from assisting them vigorously and from finally ruining the Athenians.  For his advice was to furnish them but sparingly with money and so wear them out, and consume them insensibly; when they had wasted their strength upon one another, they would both become ready to submit to the king.  [p.  171]

It is not remarkable to learn that Alcibiades left the service of the Persians.  It does seem to me remarkable, however, after his long exile from Athens, his allegiance to her enemies and the grievous damage he had done her, that he was enthusiastically welcomed back to Athens, that he again led Athenian forces to brilliant victories, and that he was, indeed, given supreme command of the Athenian military and naval forces.  His welcome back to Athens was enthusiastic.  According to Plutarch, 242 “The people crowned him with crowns of gold, and created him general, both by land and by sea.”  He is described as “coming home from so long an exile, and such variety of misfortune, in the style of revelers breaking up from a drinking party.”  Despite this, many of the Athenians did not fully trust him, and apparently without due cause, this time, he was dismissed from his high position of command.  He later retired to Asia Minor where he was murdered at 46 years of age, according to some reports for “having debauched a young lady of a noble house.”

Despite the widespread admiration that Alcibiades could so easily arouse, skeptical comments were made about him even before his chief failures occurred.  According to Plutarch, “It was not said amiss by Archestratus, that Greece could not support a second Alcidiabes.”  Plutarch also quotes Tinton as saying, “Go on boldly, my son, and increase in credit with the people, for thou wilt one day bring them calamities enough.”  Of the Athenians attitude toward Alcibiades, Aristophanes wrote: “They love and hate and cannot do without him.”242

The character of Alcibiades looms in the early dawn of history as an enigmatic paradox.  He undoubtedly disconcerted and puzzled his contemporaries, and his conduct seems to have brought upon him widely differing judgments.  During the many centuries since his death historians have seemed fascinated by his career but never quite able to interpret his personality.  Brilliant and persuasive, he was able to succeed in anything he wished to accomplish.  After spectacular achievement he often seemed, carelessly or almost deliberately, to throw away all that he had gained, through foolish decisions or unworthy conduct for which adequate motivation cannot be demonstrated and, indeed, can scarcely be imagined.  Senseless pranks or mere nose-thumbing gestures of derision seemed at times to draw him from serious responsibilities and cause him to abandon major goals as well as the commitments of loyalty and honor.  Apparently his brilliance, charm, and promise captivated Socrates, generally held to be the greatest teacher and the wisest man of antiquity.  Though Alcibiades is reported to have been the favorite disciple and most cherished friend of the master it can hardly be said that Socrates succeeded in teaching him to apply even ordinary wisdom consistently in the conduct of his life or to avoid follies that would have been shunned even by the stupid.  According to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1949), “He was an admirer of Socrates, who saved his life at Potidaea (432), a service which Alcibiades repaid at Delium; but he could not practice his master’s virtues, and there is no doubt that the example of Alcidiabes strengthened the charges brought against Socrates of corrupting the youth.”

When we look back upon what has been recorded of Alcibiades we are led to suspect that he had the gift of every talent except that of using them consistently to achieve any sensible aim or in behalf of any discernible cause.  Though it would hardly be convincing to claim that we can establish a medical diagnosis, or a full psychiatric explanation, of this public figure who lived almost two and a half thousand years ago, there are many points in the incomplete records of his life available to us that strongly suggest Alcibiades may have been a spectacular example of what during recent decades we have, in bewilderment and amazement, come to designate as the psychopath.

During this brief period Greece, and Athens especially, produced architecture, sculpture, drama, and poetry that have seldom if ever been surpassed.  Perhaps Greece also produced in Alcibiades the most impressive and brilliant, the most truly classic example of this still inexplicable pattern of human life.

 

From Neglected Books: Mary Astor, Author – The Incredible Charlie Carewe

The following is a quote from the Neglected Books (http://neglectedbooks.com/?p=241) regarding The Incredible Charlie Carewe:

“[. . . . ]  A year later, Doubleday released her first novel, The Incredible Charlie Carewe.

Cover of Dell paperback reissue of 'The Incredible Charlie Carewe'Although it suffers some of the typical construction problems of a first novel, The Incredible Charlie Carewe is a remarkable work that demonstrates “qualities of depth and reality” equal to those Anderson noted in Astor’s acting. Charlie Carewe is the handsome, charming, charismatic son of a wealthy East Coast Establishment family with impeccable bloodlines. On the surface, it seems as if the sky is the limit–no doors are closed to Charlie Carewe.

Unfortunately, something is a bit, well, odd, about Charlie. At first, there is just a sense that his behavior is a bit hard to explain, but given his class and status, his parents, his sister, the help–everyone writes it off to quirks in his character. But then his sister comes across Charlie in the rocks along the shore of their country estate–bashing a playmate’s head into the rocks:

There was absolutely no savagery in the action, no passion or hatred, no viciousness, He looked up briefly as he saw Virginia and Jeff and called out a smiling “Hi!” and then went back to his task. Firmly, purposefully, as though he were occupied in cracking a coconut. In the seconds before movement came back to the paralyzed observers another wave whispered up to the two boys and receded with pink in its foam.

Charlie’s victim is rushed off to the hospital with permanent brain damage and the Carewe’s social finesse is put to the test as they graciously usher out their guests as if nothing more than an unfortunate accident had taken place. The next morning, as he tucks into his breakfast, he asks chattily, “What’s the news on Roger? Did he die?”

The Carewes can recognize that they have something of a ticking time bomb on their hands, but their upbringing and lack of psychological awareness (the incident above takes place in the early 1920s) leaves them helpless when it comes to dealing with it. They shuttle Charlie through a series of elite prep schools, smoothing over matters when he’s quietly asked to leave due to thefts, attacks on other students, or other indiscretions. For a long time, the only person who seems remotely able to accept that Charlie’s actions are more than a little abnormal is his sister Virginia, and even she is at a loss to explain it:

As usual, she thought, she was making a fuss, putting too much importance on Charlie’s behavior. She should be used to it now. Wearily she thought, at least there was one consistency; in any given situation, Charlie could be counted on to do the wrong thing, the inappropriate thing. Nobody, but nobody, could be more charming when he wanted to be. He had, it seemed, a full command of the social graces, and in any gathering, especially of people who were strangers to him, could attract attention with no effort. People would gravitate toward him, toward the sound of his pleasant voice, his contagious laugh; but always he seemed to want to destroy it….

Schools could expel him, friends were quickly made and quickly lost, his contact with any kind of social life was brief, and none of it seemed to matter to him. Nor did it matter that the cumulative effect was destroying a family.

Astor displays a clinical objectivity in leading us through every step along the way as Charlie spreads havoc into the lives of almost everyone he meets. In each situation, the pattern is the same: glittering, showy success followed by abrupt failure due to some or other act of willful brutality. His forms a company, makes a great splash, achieves fame as a tycoon and philanthropist, and within a couple of years is being escorted out by his nearly bankrupted partners. He makes a show of joining the Navy after Pearl Harbor, then weasels his way out by pretending to be a bed-wetter. He drives his wife to divorce and alcoholism, borrows and loses money from friends, seduces wives and ruins friendships.

Not even the incredibly strong defenses of family fortune and status, though, can withstand the destructive force of Charlie’s will, however, and only an unlucky trip on a staircase keeps Charlie from standing alone in a wasteland of his own fallout. What Charlie is, we can now see in a glance with the benefit of much greater awareness, is, of course, a psychopath. The psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley recognized this, citing Astor’s book in the 1964 edition of his classic work on psychopathology, The Mask of Sanity:

In many respects the most realistic and successful of all portrayals of the psychopath is that presented by Mary Astor in The Incredible Charlie Carewe. The rendition is so effective that even those unfamiliar with the psychopath in actual experience are likely to sense the reality of what is disclosed. The subject is superbly dealt with, and the book constitutes a faithful and arresting study of a puzzling and infinitely complex subject. Charlie Carewe emerges as an exquisite example of the psychopath – the best, I believe, to be found in any work of fiction.

The Incredible Charlie Carewe should be read not only by every psychiatrist but also by every physician. It will hold the attention of all intelligent readers, and I believe it will be of great value in helping the families of psychopaths to gain insight into the nature of the tragic problem with which they are dealing, usually in blindness and confusion.

By this point, anyone reading this review who’s been in a bookstore in the last decade can’t help but think of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. If asked to sum up the book in a single catchphrase, I would have to say, “Imagine American Psycho written by Louis Auchincloss (or Edith Wharton).” Where Ellis writes to shock, Astor writes to show how people of refinement and elaborate rules of conduct respond when faced with pure irrational violence.

The Incredible Charlie Carewe is a remarkable novel not just in the detail and accuracy of its portrayal of a psychopath but in the “depth and reality” of its portrayal of the society in which this particular psychopath operates. Astor is very much in the territory of Wharton and Auchincloss, and she’s clearly deeply familiar with it. This is a novel that has more than a few parallels with the story of the 20th century as a whole, which is one reason it’s a genuine shame that it vanished after a single Dell paperback release in 1963.”

(http://neglectedbooks.com/?p=241)

Other mentions of Astor’s Charlie Carewehttps://pathwhisperer.info/?s=carewe&submit=Search

From the ‘[S]nake-hearted’ era . . . post:

Sadly this was written in the 1950sI’m sure the authors, William March (the novel) and Maxwell Anderson (the play), thought knowledge of psychopathy would spread quickly in the modern age.  As did Hervey Cleckley, Mask of Sanity, and Mary Astor, The Incredible Charlie Carewe, (https://kat.cr/the-incredible-charlie-carewe-mary-astor-mobi-t7972573.html, https://openlibrary.org/books/OL5798604M/The_incredible_Charlie_Carewe), no doubt.  I don’t know what went wrong.  (https://pathwhisperer.info/2014/11/08/this-snake-hearted-era-reginald-taskers-monologue-from-the-bad-seed/)

Why knowledge of psychopathy has not spread throughout society is worthy of an extended discussion.

Post Redux: A more nuanced description of the nonhuman human

From below, on psychopaths:

Herve Cleckley:  “we are dealing … not with a complete man at all but with … a subtly constructed reflex machine which can mimic the human personality perfectly”

Otto Kernberg:  “an enraged empty self—the hungry wolf out to kill, eat and survive.”

An earlier post:

Per Herve Cleckley, per Joe Mcginniss:

Recall here the words of Herve Cleckley, which I encountered for the first time in the fall of 1980: “Only very slowly and by a complex estimation or judgment based on multitudinous small impressions does the conviction come upon us [in regard to the psychopath] that, despite these intact rational processes, these normal emotional affirmations and their consistent application in all directions, we are dealing … not with a complete man at all but with something that suggests a subtly constructed reflex machine which can mimic the human personality perfectly.” [Mask of Sanity, p. 369]

It took me a long time to accept that MacDonald could be the charming and apparently caring man I’d come to know (or thought I did) during the summer of 1979, and, at the same time be what the psychiatrist Otto Kernberg has described as “an enraged empty self—the hungry wolf out to kill, eat and survive.”

http://www.joemcginniss.net/the-1989-epilogue

Further:  https://pathwhisperer.info/2011/06/01/this-nonsense-has-got-to-stop-you-cannot-betray-a-nonhuman-human-who-is-trying-to-play-the-interviewer-mcginniss-malcolm-bazelon/, https://pathwhisperer.info/2015/07/19/search-jeffrey-macdonald-many-surgeons-are-psychopaths/

“Man guilty of pushing wife off Colorado cliff to her death” — Harold Henthorn

“Henthorn told investigators that his wife paused to take a photo of the view and fell face-first over the ledge. His attorney, Craig Truman, said prosecutors failed to prove he killed her.

Prosecutors argued during a two-week trial that Henthorn carefully staged Toni Henthorn’s death to look like an accident because he stood to benefit from her $4.7 million in life insurance policies, which she didn’t know existed. They seized on Henthorn’s inconsistent accounts of the fatal fall and said the evidence did not match his shifting stories.”  http://news.yahoo.com/man-guilty-pushing-wife-off-colorado-cliff-her-210941943.html

The same articles also states his first wife had died when their car fell off the jack while changing a flat.  Toni Henthorn, who died here, earlier had a 20 foot beam fall on her head while they were working on their mountain cabin.

henthorn.harold.henthorn.toni.henthorn.48.hours


henthorn court2 henthorn court1 henthornyoung

Note the identical expression he wears in the top photos — his chosen ‘mask of sanity’ (from Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity).

My greatest psychopathy teacher

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She gave me psychopathy’s family jewels.  That psychopaths had self knowledge and a group identity.  Even more importantly, that they backed each other up versus the empath world.  And finally, that their self control is actually very difficult, appearing normal is an effort.

I was called into Lehman HR by this SVP and a manager (this manager was a male lover I believe of the blackmailing psychopathic Don Juan/Dress Grey rapist whom they were seeking to protect).  They stated that my assignment at the firm was being canceled due to my handing out to friends 8-10 cut and paste sheets from Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity and Hare’s Without Conscience.  She kept saying they were sexually inappropriate. ‘But I deleted all sexual behaviors and crimes, that’s why they are cut and pastes, not straight copies,’ I said.  She just repeated the same thing again.  Her superiors wouldn’t look over her shoulder, that’s the corporate chain of command. The truth didn’t matter and there is no appeal or promise of fair play or due process in corporations.  Then when I said, against her protestations that she didn’t need to know, that I was giving them out due to the presence of a psychopathic co-worker (mentioned above), she started screaming, “WE HAVE 150,000 EMPLOYEES, OF COURSE LEHMAN HAS PSYCHOPATHIC EMPLOYEES!!”  Then she immediately and visibly calmed herself down and regained her self composure.

After leaving friends told me of rumors following my exit.  It was practically a novella. Made up out of whole cloth, not even based/exaggerated on/from something real. The only truthful elements were getting my name and a few other co-workers’ names right.  These were co-workers whom I had never interacted with off-premises.  But the novella had all kinds of goings on and involvement of outside players.

She denied any knowledge of the source of these rumors.  But I imagine the source was the Lehman HR department, from my experience with psychopathic HR departments in various Wall St. firms.  Destroying exited co-workers’ reputations is something they all do all the time, this was just more extreme.  At HR conventions, they must sit around bragging about their lies, comparing notes and refining strategies, just as psychopaths and con artists do.

I couldn’t find a lawyer who thought we could trace down the vaguely sourced campaign of lies or win an appreciable amount of money.  I should have filed a John Doe case pro se, at least as a record if I couldn’t build a case.  I settled for sending a truthful accounting to my personal friends and all the co-workers listed in the company address book.

The novella was incredibly detailed.  Perhaps that’s a standard psychopathic character assassination campaign strategy. Normal people probably just can’t imagine that such a detailed account could be a lie.  Of course, this is because they couldn’t imagine doing it themselves.  That’s part of the naive prey response syndrome, people still try to understand psychopaths from their own viewpoint, not understanding that they need to step out of their own world to understand psychopaths’ motives and to recognize them.  Finally, most of us are not only naive prey to psychopaths, but naive prey to evil.

This ‘snake-hearted’ era — Reginald Tasker’s monologue from The Bad Seed

. . . yet sometimes I wonder whether these malignant brutes may not be the mutation that survives on this planet in this age.  This age of technology and murder-for-empire.  Maybe the softies will have to go, and the snake-hearted will inherit the Earth.  Now, I’m betting on the democracies.  But we’re living in an age of murder.  In all history, there have never been so many people murdered as in our century.  Add up all the murders from the beginning of history to 1900, and then add the murders after 1900, and our century wins.  All alone . . . http://www.theatreink.net/shows/2013/bad%20seed/bspacket.pdf

Sadly this was written in the 1950sI’m sure the authors, William March (the novel) and Maxwell Anderson (the play), thought knowledge of psychopathy would spread quickly in the modern age.  As did Hervey Cleckley, Mask of Sanity, and Mary Astor, The Incredible Charlie Carewe, Mary Astor’s “The Incredible Charlie Carewe” (https://kat.cr/the-incredible-charlie-carewe-mary-astor-mobi-t7972573.html, https://openlibrary.org/books/OL5798604M/The_incredible_Charlie_Carewe), no doubt.  I don’t know what went wrong.

A review of The Bad Seed.

A more nuanced description of the nonhuman human

Per Herve Cleckley, per Joe Mcginniss:

Recall here the words of Herve Cleckley, which I encountered for the first time in the fall of 1980: “Only very slowly and by a complex estimation or judgment based on multitudinous small impressions does the conviction come upon us [in regard to the psychopath] that, despite these intact rational processes, these normal emotional affirmations and their consistent application in all directions, we are dealing … not with a complete man at all but with something that suggests a subtly constructed reflex machine which can mimic the human personality perfectly.” [Mask of Sanity, p. 369]

It took me a long time to accept that MacDonald could be the charming and apparently caring man I’d come to know (or thought I did) during the summer of 1979, and, at the same time be what the psychiatrist Otto Kernberg has described as “an enraged empty self—the hungry wolf out to kill, eat and survive.”

http://www.joemcginniss.net/the-1989-epilogue

Further:  https://pathwhisperer.info/2011/06/01/this-nonsense-has-got-to-stop-you-cannot-betray-a-nonhuman-human-who-is-trying-to-play-the-interviewer-mcginniss-malcolm-bazelon/, https://pathwhisperer.info/2015/07/19/search-jeffrey-macdonald-many-surgeons-are-psychopaths/