How many times have you read that, or even written it, while participating in discussions on a popular abuse recovery forum? The most compelling evidence in one’s eyes (that the person they suspect to be disordered actually is that way) is the plethora of similar experiences posted by others.

As a first disclaimer, I am referring to those who are in doubt, usually when no deliberate, serious acts of cruelty have taken place. Many stumble upon unprofessional information which is very articulate and convincing, yet deep down, intuition tells them they are wrong or that they need to reevaluate matters. 

Also, I’m not trying to minimise anyone’s feelings or experience; however, I have serious doubts every case on these large recovery forums involves a genuine psychopath or narcissist. In a vulnerable state, with clever persuasion, mistakes are easily made.

As a second disclaimer, this is only my opinion.

The following issues to consider can be liberating for someone still pondering whether that label is accurate.

1.The fact that members were mistreated in similar ways is not proof they were all mistreated by psychopaths. This is especially valid when it comes to what is deemed emotional abuse.

Not all people who engage in aggressive or abusive behavior are disordered; there are dozens of variables in analysing why a person might have behaved in a certain way. Even though you find yourself repeatedly thinking “mine did that all the time”, keep in mind similarities can occur with normal people as well. Lying, making unflattering comments, using sarcasm, making excuses, being selfish, being arrogant are things most of us are guilty of at some point in life.

2. The way one feels about another person is not necessarily provoked by the latter.

I believe few people have strong telepathic abilities; most need straightforward communication to understand how one is feeling; even then they can remain disconnected, especially if they are emotionally unavailable for some reason. Reciprocity is an illusion in many cases, unless there is proper communication. The lack of it (two people relating to each other through endless assumptions and signal interpretation) weakens bonds; it pulls people apart. Those who are shy, oversensitive, have anxiety issues etc. find it hard to express their feelings; they can experience great frustration with others. Also, one can feel anxious around a person without that person causing their anxiety or even being aware of it.

3. Aggressive or abusive behaviour often has more to do with the person engaging in it than the person they target. As opposed to the message people get on PF for instance, that a psycho is bent on destroying them. 

I dare assume at some point in life we’ve all been shouted at by angry people just because we were there. Also, some feel too safe at times and take others for granted, as a teenager does when acting up, knowing they won’t lose their family over it. I am in no way justifying abuse – I am merely saying not every case is the same and not every person is the same; hence there are many possible explanations for aggressiveness (blatant or passive) . “This individual is bent on destroying you” is the exception, not the rule.

4. Psychopaths lack empathy and remorse. Calling them offensive or big-headed is the understatement of the century.

For a sample of excellent candidates for that “title”, read the comments under any Daily Mail article dealing with poverty or immigration. You’ll find chilling fantasies of opening fire on refugee boats or rounding up the poor to sterilise them. You’ll find acrimonious anti-immigration rhetoric under pictures of dead children, which fail to move any of these types. People often wonder how in the world mass killings such as the Holocaust, the extermination of a large part of Cambodia’s population or the massacre in Rwanda happened. Some people simply don’t see others as human. That murderous instinct hasn’t gone away and never will, I suppose, though we lie to ourselves we have evolved as a species.

There are also public figures with a considerable platform, such as university professors, who advocate monstrosities; what jumps to mind is referred to as  “after birth abortion”, or the possibility for parents to change their mind about wanting an already born child. Peter Singer argues that in case of disability, they should have up to thirty days to decide if they want to keep it, as people refer to children nowadays. If not, the it would be mercifully put to sleep, I suppose. Then there is Eric Pianka, who has another type of utopia in mind – the ideal world population, he says, would be a tenth of the actual one; it is therefore necessary to get rid of the other 90%. Not to mention an individual I won’t even name, who proposed during a widely followed TV debate that abortion should be mandatory for thirty years. And he wasn’t just saying that for shock value.

Then you have the SJW bloodhounds who ruin – not an overstatement – people for disagreeing with them on issues of faith or family values. Under the guise of promoting marriage equality, they target, trick and break those who won’t give up their traditionalist views, making examples out of them to frighten others. They put hard-working families out of business; they gladly take old people’s savings as compensation for having been offended. The greater the misery and suffering they cause, including to children or helpless elderly people, the greater their satisfaction.

You contemplate such individuals and suddenly, the guy who keeps forgetting your birthdays, changes his plans too much, avoids house chores or annoys you with his quirks seems less of a psychopath by the second.

 5. And then there is the world. An unstable, often depressing world where the future is shaky if not bleak; where values regarding human interaction have long been turned upside-down, to let confusion reign free. Here is a short list of contradictions between what we grow up to expect from people and the factors moulding us all nowadays:

We expect sensitivity in a desensitised world, where human suffering has become entertainment;

We expect not to be sexually objectified in a world where porn and objectification can be seen around every corner, hence kids grow up thinking it’s a normal part of life;

We expect stability, perseverance, work ethics in an economically unstable climate, where one’s efforts can be fruitless, causing a lack of motivation;

We expect commitment, faithfulness, when all around us marriages are breaking, people publicly debate the validity of monogamy and the family as a unit seems to be falling apart;

We want constant respect in an angry world, where people lose their temper with innocent strangers, where they lash out at each other for the smallest trifles; men and women want respect from each other while under peer pressure they ridicule the opposite sex for a few cheap laughs;

We expect others to know us and know what we are feeling when so many of us barely know ourselves; life is often so depressing  we turn to therapy and medication to be able to function;

We expect maturity when all around us adults behave like children or teenagers in older bodies, in a hedonistic culture of endless fun and games;

We expect love in romantic relationships, when fewer people have a clear idea of what that is anymore and where it’s supposed to lead, courtesy of our blessed culture of infinite possibilities, leaving many so confused they no longer know what they want.

These are only a few of the reasons why people should think twice about equating selfishness, occasional nastiness and frustrating behavioural patterns with psychopathy. People are complicated.