Wounded Bird Syndrome

I once knew a woman who refused to learn to drive. And this was not a town where public transportation was abundant. Uber didn’t exist yet, and taxis were few and far between. But even if they had been available, she wouldn’t have taken advantage of that service. No. She wanted her adult children to chauffeur her everywhere she went. And they did.

It would be one thing if she were physically or mentally incapable of driving. But she was fine. Just fine. She had what I began to call Wounded Bird Syndrome. See? I have a broken wing. You must do all the flying for me.

Her passive aggressive manipulations were honed to a sharp point. Her kids were at her beck and call. They never said, “Mom, we’ll take you to the grocery store once a week, at this time.” No. If she had a hankering for cupcakes, she’d expect them to drop everything.

She reminded me of a client that I had when I did Food Stamp eligibility in Florida. She was diabetic. But she couldn’t stand to give herself insulin shots. So her husband couldn’t hold down a job, because he had to stay by her side to give her the shots.

I mean, come on, now. I’m sure that being a diabetic is a misery, but woman up and learn how to give yourself insulin so your loved ones can function.

Yes, in both these scenarios the people in question were enabled to a shocking degree. But charity begins at home. Solve your own problems.

Yes, it often sucks, being a grown up. But you have to learn how to do your own heavy lifting. It’s okay to ask for help sometimes. It’s definitely okay to ask for help when you are genuinely physically or mentally in need of it. But when your dependence is self-imposed, and it encroaches on the lives of others to the point of being debilitating, what you are doing is cruel.

I admire people who value their own agency. I appreciate those who are capable and independent, and those who do the best they can with the cards they are dealt. False weakness is deplorable.

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Attack of the Lizard People

If you read anything about psychopathy or watch documentaries on the subject, you quickly learn that contrary to popular belief, most of them are not serial killers. In fact, they comprise about 1 percent of the population. They walk among us.

According to the article “Psychopaths: how can you spot one?” by Tom Chivers in The Telegraph, the common traits of a psychopath are:

“Glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions, a tendency to boredom, a parasitic lifestyle, a lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, lack of behavioural control, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, a history of “revocation of conditional release” (ie broken parole), multiple marriages, and promiscuous sexual behaviour.”

In the past I’ve been taken in by people that have many of these traits. Just read any of my blog entries about Andy Johnson or My Friend the Psychopath and you’ll see what I mean. I have to admit that I really do tend to have a hard time accepting the fact that people can take genuine delight in ruining someone’s life, or that they can know right from wrong and yet not care. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best of them until they prove me wrong, and by that point it’s often too late. The damage has been done.

So to help me be a little more self-protective, I now think of psychopaths as human lizards. And they’re not just the cute little lizards you might find in your back yard sunning themselves on the garden wall. They have no emotions. They are predatory and highly focused on getting what they want.

They are the Komodo dragons of lizards. They’ll eat you if given half the chance. And most importantly, they are never going to change. Their brains are just not wired normally. Once you start looking at them through that lens, it’s much easier to avoid their manipulations.

I got to observe one of these people close up many, many, many years ago. I worked with a guy who gave me the creeps. I could never quite figure out why. I just knew I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. Maybe it was the smug look he’d get on his face when he thought no one was watching. Like he was a fox among the chickens. Thank goodness he never focused on me. He was too busy ruining the lives of his family.

His wife had a baby boy and named it after him. Let’s call the kid John Doe Junior for the purposes of this story. Right after he was born, John Senior came home and told his wife that not only was he having an affair, but the woman was pregnant. The next day he brought home a trailer, put it in the back yard, and had the pregnant girlfriend move in. When she had the child, it was a boy. And what did he name the kid? John Doe Junior. Who does all that? A cold, unfeeling lizard who does not care who he hurts.

Psychopaths can be your friends, family members, neighbors or bosses. You could even be married to one. It’s important to be aware of how they operate so you can avoid being the person that they choose to operate on. Beware of the lizard people.

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[Image credit: thedictionaryprojectblog.com]