The rationalizations of the psychopath are cunning and deceptive. A man who was raised in a family of crime recalled one of his father’s codes of honor. “Never screw a friend. But if you’re going to screw someone, make him your friend first.” The perspective of the psychopath is clearly seen in the last half of the code. The psychopath is a user and deceiver, so the fact that he pursues the trust of someone he intends to take advantage of is Psychopathy 101.
But what are we to make of the first half of the code, “Never screw a friend”? It’s akin to the mafia’s commandment to never cheat or betray a Family member. Prison inmates, the mafia, and other criminals often pride themselves on their adherence to their own moral codes. Those who keep the code view themselves as men of honor. They would believe that they are moral men who simply uphold a different brand of morality.
I asked this man if his father ever broke his own code. He said, “Just once, and he paid for it with a busted jaw.” Of course, the psychopath’s morality is a sleight-of-hands morality. It is self-serving and deceptive. It is a “morality” based in the ego and adhered to only so long as it serves his ego. The criminal doesn’t harm his friends, and the Mafioso doesn’t harm his Family, for it is not usually in their egocentric interests to do so. As the old saying goes, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” (or the hand that might someday be of use to you). Furthermore, when the wages of harming another criminal are broken bones or death, the temptation to do so is considerably less.
The criminal’s moral code is not based in a higher authority or value system. It is nothing more than a self-serving façade, a pseudo morality espoused and followed only insofar as it serves his power-oriented interests. True morality and genuine integrity are rooted in the soul, not the ego. They are not founded on coercion, manipulation, violence or power, but in obedience to God. The moral code of the psychopath, however, is created for the protection of his ego. “Don’t be a snitch” is not based in integrity or concern for one’s fellow inmate, but self-preservation, and it is a rule that is quickly forgotten when the psychopath feels the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks. The morality of a person with integrity, on the other hand, looks to the soul for guidance rather than the weighing of worldly costs over worldly benefits. The true colors of your morality–whether a puppet morality of the ego or a genuine morality of the soul–is revealed for all in time.
Andy Drymalski, EdD, is a licensed psychologist and Jungian psychologist in Reno and Carson City. For more information call (775) 786-3818, or visit www.renocarsonpsychologist.com.