My Own Private Dexter: Insights into the Psychopath – by Deborah
This is a guest post by Deborah, one of our readers. Many thanks to her for sharing these first-hand insights into the character and nature of a sociopath/psychopath.
Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
I was 15 when I went on the first date with my abuser. It was a movie. You know, one of those karate ones with no plot but lots and lots of blood and broken bones. It was a shock to my system, because I wasn’t used to movies like that, but he was cute, so oh well, right? If I had only known. If only I had listened to my convictions and made a better choice that day.
Ok, so follow the rabbit hole with me for a moment and let me explain…
Over the years, I would become slowly, yet completely immersed in those kinds of movies, TV shows and video games, with his encouragement and praise chasing me with each choice to watch one of them with him. I was eager to please him. I was so eager that I didn’t even realize the moment I began to lose myself and started ignoring my convictions, with the help of his smooth reassurances and my desire to please him over doing what was right.
Mortal Combat, Halo, karate movies and Family Guy in college led ever so gradually through our relationship to him watching horror movies with demonic themes, Dexter and Adult Swim by the time I was 30. I remember even with the frog-in-the-boiling-water method of desensitization I was under at the time, I had to ask him to take quite a few of them out of the house, because I just couldn’t handle them even being there. I would wake up at night, especially after watching one of those movies with him (which I began doing less and less, as they continued to get increasingly hard core violent and demonic related), feeling very scared, with a heaviness in my spirit and a feeling of evil in the room. He worked hard to convince me it was just a reaction to what I had seen and that it wasn’t real. I think I justified it to myself too.
I felt convicted so many times about having them in the house. When I expressed this to him and told him I wouldn’t watch any more, he said that was fine, but would then continue to watch them loudly, in the main room of the house. I was exposed, whether I wanted to be or not. I remember tensing up my ears, trying not to listen, without success. Worse than that, we had two young kids in the house and even though he always waited for them to go to bed, I worried a lot about what they could hear. I prayed over them a lot.
My abuser didn’t seem affected by them in the same way I was. In fact, he would reference specific shows and movies a lot. He thought the movie Primal Fear was a masterpiece. Edward Norton in that film played Aaron Stampler, a young altar boy with a severe stutter, who is accused of brutally murdering an Archbishop. The attorney who took on his case, spends the movie, trying to prove that Stampler has been sexually abused, as a result, developed multiple personalities, and is therefore not responsible for his actions. In the end, Stampler gets off and in the last two minutes of the movie, he reveals himself to be a sociopath who faked his multiple personalities to get out of the murder charges. My abuser seemed to show just a bit too much respect for Mr. Stampler and I thought that was odd at the time.
Another of my abuser’s favorite shows was Dexter, a psychopath who was adopted by a police officer in Miami. He saw Dexter’s lack of conscience early in his life and raised him to subdue his true self so that he could function in society, while also teaching and allowing Dexter to kill “Those who deserve it”, referring to criminals in society. Dexter grows up to be a blood spatter analyst by day and a serial killer by night, using the police department where he works, to get leads on the criminals that he is later to kill.
Why did my abuser like these shows and others about psychopaths and sociopaths so much? I asked myself that often. It wasn’t until I escaped that relationship and began to pull out of my own fog from the abuse, that I realized he probably liked them because he was actually learning from them. Yeah, I said learning.
I believe my abuser meets the criteria to be considered a covert aggressive personality or maybe even a psychopath. He has told me in the past that he sees people like ants. He has said he sees them like pawns on a chessboard, to be used as he needs them. He has told me that emotions are pointless and that if he wasn’t a Christian, he would be a very bad person. He looked up to and understood Machiavelli and used those tactics often. He has, or at least had a book that teaches him how to control people. Psychopath.
But he also hides who he is, so he can blend into society, more like the covert aggressive does, and he’s good at it. As far as most people can see, he is an upstanding member of society. He acts like it anyway, but I think he got there by studying people’s reactions to things and then copying them. You only see it if you notice that his smile may last just a little too long, or everyone in the room looks shocked about something about 30 seconds before he does. His reactions are just slightly off, but they are slight enough to go just under the radar, if you aren’t watching for it. Every so often he might have a slip and show an inappropriate reaction to the situation, as if he is guessing at how he should act.
I suspect that this is why he watched these shows. Finally, he found someone to relate to, especially in Dexter. Here was another psychopath, trying to live in society and conceal his true identity. When my abuser watched it, he seemed almost relieved and calm. He seemed to relate, and he seemed to learn from it. I think he learned how to hide himself in more clever ways and he learned how to get away with things better. He would often talk about what Dexter did wrong, to almost get caught and how he would have done it differently. He seemed to use it almost as a training manual on how to hide in plain sight.
I don’t think watching these shows made my abuser a psychopath. I think my abuser has a character disturbance formed when he was growing up, that he wants to hide from people. I think he wants to get what he wants, when he wants it, and he uses movies and shows like Dexter as training tools to make himself a better, more convincing wool to wear so that he can better hide when he is amongst the people around him. What power and control that creates for him!
But as George Simon says in In Sheep’s Clothing [*Affiliate link], power itself does not have the ability to corrupt [a person’s] character. It’s the already present flaw in [their] character that leads [them] to unscrupulously pursue power in the first place, and abuse it once [they] have it.