Friday, May 1, 2009

DSM IV Axis II - The Church's Dirty Little Secret Part III

I contemplated how to approach this topic. Certainly on a blog like this you can not do these topics justice. It would take a book . . . or two, and from someone who knows a heck more about it than me. I simply want to raise the issue about these kinds of mental disorders and how, I think, the Church has been naive about them.

I do think that the Church should be a place of grace, were all of us . . . broken failures, hurt and confused . . . can come and rest under the mercy of God, though his finished work of Christ. However, sometimes it can be place that attracts people with the Axis II disorders . . . where they can come and play out their manipulative ways among the most naive group they can find. In between the honest seekers and the deranged manipulative people are those with a sincere desire to know God and to be covered by the lamb’s blood . . . but do have significant Axis II issues. The question is what do they do with their mental health problems? Under intense pressure from the Evangelical church to be "mature Christians," they often dress their mental illness up as spiritual gifts and run with them . . . hurting a lot of people along the way. I’ve been both the perpetrator and the victim in these schemes.

I’ve decided to start with the most extreme cases and the move toward the more mundane, those that we see in our on families, our churches and possibly ourselves. So, I’ve picked the sociopathic and psychopathic disorders. I will end this posting with a good article that compares the two.

I picked this article below for two reasons. First, it deals with both disorders and contrasts them, one against the other, and Jeanne Kerns seems to know what she is talking about. Secondly it segues into my first case, David Berkowiwitz. He is the new darling of the Evangelical’s “On the Road to Damascus” conversions . . . the greatest since Mike Warneke, oh no, I mean . . . Larry Flynn, oh no . . . I mean Paul . . . yes St. Paul (his seemed to take). I will spend the next posting about David's story and I have some personal connection to it. But I think that Ms Kerns gets it right here. In my research about David, at the time of his arrest, he was described as a “paranoid schizophrenic.” I’ve known a lot of paranoid schizophrenics over the years, and none of them could have done what David did. I know a couple who have committed acts of violence. I have one patient who suffered a brain injury when a paranoid schizophrenic, homeless man, put a brick in his sock and swung it through the air, hitting my patient in the top of his head and fracturing his skull. But those are usually impulsive random acts of violence. I am not a psychologists or psychiatrist and I could be wrong. If one reads this and wants to correct me, they are welcome to. But I’ve never known of a p.s. who plotted complicated strategies for killing multiple people, one at a time. They might go bizerk and kill someone on an impulse.

But David Berkowiwitz was very methodical, planning, stalking and killing in cold blood . . . six innocent victims. In preparation for my next posting, I’ve watched about two hours of interviews with David. He does NOT strike me as a paranoid schizophrenic. But he does strike me, both by his history, and his persona as a psychopath.

Sociopath Vs. Psychopath: There is a Difference

By Jeanne Marie Kerns

When someone hears the words psychopath or sociopath they automatically start thinking of some awful, derange, serial killer. That might have been true years ago, however the difference in the two have finally been revealed. Before understanding the two personality disorders, you first must understand what exactly each disorder consists of.

A sociopath is one who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior. A psychopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse. The two might sound the same to some, however the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths are very real.

David Lykken a behavioral geneticist for the University of Minnesota has come to an interesting conclusion regarding the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. Lykken studies revealed that psychopaths are born with temperamental differences that lead them to being risk seekers, impulsive, fearless as well as not being able to socialize normally. Sociopaths have normal temperaments, and their personality disorder tends to effect their lives regarding parenting, peers, and their intelligence.

Sociopaths can be anyone from your mother, father, best friend, neighbor or even your co-worker, and you would not even realize that they are dealing with this disorder that affects everything in their daily life. Sociopaths go above and beyond themselves to make sure that other people around them have no idea that their life is something other than what it is. More than likely you have met one or two sociopaths in your life and not even realize it.

Psychopaths on the other hand are very flamboyant with how they deal with their disorder. Some famous psychopaths that you might know about are Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Theodore Bundy and David Berkowitz. These four men are famous for being some of the most notorious and manipulative serial killers in history. Not all psychopaths are as out there as these four men, however their rage is almost always as intense, it just depends on how they channel it.

Characteristics of a sociopath are as followed :

1. Sociopaths are very charming.
2. Sociopaths can be extremely manipulative and will try to con you whenever possible.
3. Sociopaths feel that they are entitled to everything.
4. Sociopaths will lie continuously to get what they want. They can even sometimes manipulate a lie detector.
5. Sociopaths have no remorse, shame or guilt.
6. Sociopaths will show love and happiness only when it serves their purpose. None of the feelings are genuine.
7. Sociopaths have no room for love in their life.
8. Sociopaths need to have excitement in their lives or live on the edge.
9. Sociopaths have lack of empathy hen their victims suffer pain that they have caused.
10. Sociopaths believe that they are all mightier than tho, there is no concern on how their behavior impacts others.
11. Sociopaths usually have a long history of juvenile delinquency as well as behavior problems.
12. Sociopaths will never take blame for anything they have done to anyone no matter if it is family or friend.
13. Sociopaths have many sexual partners and tend to act out many sexual acts.
14. Sociopaths rarely stay in one place for a long time (home/work).
15. Sociopaths will change themselves if they know it will keep them from being found out.

Characteristics of a psychopath are as followed:

1. Psychopaths use superficial charm to lure their victims.
2. Psychopaths are extremely self-centered.
3. Psychopaths must always do something to keep themselves from boredom.
4. Psychopaths are very deceptive and tend to lie continuously.
5. Psychopaths show no remorse of guilt towards their victims.
6. Psychopaths are very predatory and usually will live off other people.
7. Psychopaths have many sexual partners in their lifetime.
8. Psychopaths are very impulsive with their lifestyle.
9. Psychopaths are always blaming other people for their actions.
10. Psychopaths never have a realistic view of their lives. (king of the world or from another planet)
11. Psychopaths always want psychological gratification in sexual and criminal activities.
12. Psychopaths tend to try suicide, rarely succeeding.

If you are interested in learning more about the difference of psychopaths and sociopaths I would definitely recommend you reading two specific books. The first book is Violent Attachments by J. Reid Meloy. The second book I recommend reading is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout.

Both books will bring you into the minds of both personality disorders which will allow you to understand even greater the difference in the two.

Source : What is a Psychopath -
Source : Pschyopath -
Source : Sociopath -


Anonymous said...

Aw, man. You're not allowed.


Anonymous said...

My rule-of-thumb of the difference between Psychopath and Sociopath has been:

A Psychopath is unable to comprehend the difference between right and wrong.

A Sociopath knows the difference but doesn't care.

Headless Unicorn Guy

P.S. Re Son of Sam Berkowitz: "Paranoid Schizophrenic" is also used as a generic term for "Crazy", sort of checking the "Other" box under "Crazy -check type".

pennyyak said...

I had no idea people were now making some real distinction between psychopaths and sociopaths. There's a long way to go in understanding and even classifying human behavior, very glad to see you disseminating this info. Stopped practicing in Jan. of 1999, so I'm sure lots of water under the bridge since then. Churches are such an easy target for psychopaths or people with other severe personality disorders. Haven't we seen that time and again?

As far as I remember, Mr. Berkowitz has a Christian ministry of some kind (in jail). One might dissect that in several ways. But anyway, prisons are awful places, but sometimes certain people can function there far better with its rigid structure than they can in the free world. He certainly never needs to wander the street outside ever again (horrors!), but believes someday he can hack it. Common sort of delusion you read about jail-house conversions.

Not to denigrate the mercy and power of our Lord. However, He also gave us minds with which to consider these matters from several angles.

Yes, send me the manuscript. I may have to brush up on my English quite a bit, which would be good for me. I am not much of a writer. It's a lot easier to be a critic. So do take my suggestions with that proverbial grain of salt.