August 20, 2016

The Sadist—the Darkest Personality Disorder.


Editor’s Note: All humans are basically good, but all of us, too, mistake our own happiness for finite things and learn some selfish habits…some of us to an extreme and dangerous extent. 

You can run…but can you hide from a person who is so dangerous and disarming that he (or she) manages to become your best friend?

A sadist is beyond doubt more insidious than a sociopath and his actions go beyond what you can imagine. Many call this person a “monster,” and a subhuman creature. Yet, they live amongst us.

This article is dedicated to those who have been seduced into this spider’s web, to their despondent families and friends. The reader will find vital information and warning signs that may save a life and prevent the tragedies that occur when a sadist walks among us. There are many vulnerable people in our society who open their hearts to strangers. Social media has evolved as a platform well-suited for predators and innocent victims and so this work is timely and relevant.

My work in the Los Angeles Jails as a clinical therapist exposed me to more than corruption and abuse of our seriously mentally ill population. Within this harsh and punitive domain of murderers, pedophiles, gang bangers and mafia bosses many of whom are predatory psychopaths, there lurks an even darker breed of monster. He or she will do more than steal your money, involve you in a scam or get into a heated argument that ends up in fatal injuries. Their goal is not material goods, status or having you do their bidding. The sadist has a deeper, darker motive and his crimes reflect the terrible urges that drive him to do what he does.

This creature lives for the pleasure of hurting others. His reason for existing and his ultimate reward is your pain; the sign, sound and feel of trauma and death that has been inflicted by his own hands and by his own will.

The awful acts that this person inflicts whenever possible represents more than a need for control or power. This is a darker wellspring of motivation, a deep hole of irrepressible urges that are almost impossible to imagine. What drives this monster, in part, is the need to determine life or death, the need to experience, at the deepest level, the pain of a human being dying. It is the desire to join in with another’s pain in order to experience some sensation, because this monster is devoid of many human emotions. As the victim suffers, the monster experiences excitement which, for him, is the primary emotion that he will ever feel. He has no fear and he does not experience love, grief or depression. And when he maims and kills it is never enough to satisfy his need, to fill the empty hole inside of him, so he must continue on until he is caught or until he dies.

Research has singled out traits from several personality disorders that when combined with the desire to inflict harm characterize the sadist. Traits from narcissism and antisocial personalities do not in themselves represent the sadist. Many individuals with these disorders do not have the lust for physically hurting others and causing intense emotional suffering. Individuals with personality disorders—from the antisocial individual, the narcissist, to the avoidant, dependent disorders—work, live and play among us as bosses, neighbors, parents. The harm that they do is not beyond our comprehension and is typically not fatal. They strive for gaining status, material goods, control, and being part of a subculture.

The fact that these troubled people are a minority does not reduce the damage that they can do. Social media has become a platform, a stage for their terrible plays to be performed and this has created a virtual hell for people who pour out their pain and hope for support. This brings up the importance of having boundaries for emotional safety and the importance (aside from awareness that these individuals are present) of reflecting carefully upon what doors you wish to open for strangers to enter. When we are online this awareness is critical; the website managers will not protect us.

Within families there always have been, and still are, sadists who are able to act as if they are emotionally competent partners, sons, uncles, and parents. True to their talents as actors they write a different script for domestic life and are able to hide their pathology for many years. They mimic and pantomime feelings to a degree that is truly remarkable and they are dangerous mirrors that reflect back true emotions, needs and weaknesses and then use this to manipulate family members.

There is no sad sadist.

Viewing the range of human emotions, the feeling of sadness is one that presents an opportunity for the sadist to render his victim helpless and impotent. Sadness, grief and depression are feelings that isolate and cripple the individual and that leave he or she in a terribly vulnerable position. The sadist, using social media as a key tool, is very capable of mirroring these emotions when they are openly and innocently expressed and then watching as the person experiences increasingly powerful negative emotions. The sadist will frequently prey upon the victims fears and derive satisfaction when the victim is paralyzed or paranoid with terror. The audience for the sadist may become suicidal or take up weapons in defense of an unknown, unseen person or situation and the emotional pain involved is a valuable reward for the sadist.

Within the domain of domestic violence and child abuse there are sadists whose lust for causing pain is often a characteristic that is missed in the course of evaluation. Recognizing it does explain some of the behavior that seems to extend beyond the motives for control, for status and for power. It also is a cautionary note when questions of sentencing is involved; sadists are not rehabilitatable.

A gut feeling and more warning signs.

When in the presence, within the airspace, of this singularly dark creature your senses, your skin, and your gut may pick up danger signals. We are socialized to avoid listening to our bodies and are directed to pay attention to the others’ words, clothes, jewelry and so on. But when this creature is present we must turn our attention inwards; attune to the sensory alarms that are erupting within. Individuals have described this as a “something is not right” sensation. It is not specific but it inhibits forward movement for a nanosecond and that may be sufficient to consider the situation.

Aside from gut feelings the sadist will use a tone of voice and words that are hypnotic; many victims have testified to the fact that they felt as if they were being hypnotized by the way that the sadist spoke, the gestures that he used, and other mannerisms. The victim will experience comfort and closeness and that is an initial step, the building of trust, that is needed for the trap to be sprung. The sadist will invite you to tell him your deepest and most painful feelings and he will inspire confidence by telling you that he “understands” and that he has also been through similar experiences. He will find your weak spots and offer his unlimited help. The victim will feel that he or she is in good hands, because the sadist gives you a bio that, while completely false, is tailored to the kind of support that you need. He gives you hope based upon his helping others and never discloses that he in all probability has no close relationships.

The warning signs paint a picture of how the sadist presents himself as he prepares to get his rewards.

The creation of a sadist.

Science has given us some clues about the early development of a sadist. There are genetic components and brain systems that are different from the “normal” range. The interconnected neural systems that regulate emotion, that are activated to produce the fear response and that support emotional attachment have been identified in the evolution of this personality type. Perhaps more important is the evidence that severe early childhood abuse, abandonment and trauma have damaged the individual’s ability to trust, form relationships and have empathy. The sadist’s need to see, hear and feel another’s deadly pain may stem from the complete absence of his or her own internal feelings. He is a bottomless pit of neediness in this domain and must consume the most intense emotions of the other person which fill him up for a short period of time.

Tips for escaping the death grip of the sadist.

As mentioned above, it is vital to consider the information that you disclose in a public forum. Take a moment to reflect and to understand that what you share may be used by someone who does not have your best interests at heart.

When you are vulnerable, depressed, lonely, or angry it may be better to journal your feelings or share with a close friend rather than in a virtual open space.

If you find that a person is quickly trying to gain your confidence and is lulling you into a state of trusting hopefulness, it is time to step back and consider what this person’s motives are. Take the time to distance yourself even though the sadist will begin to pressure you for personal information.

Remember that your safety and well-being depend upon your ability to form a protective shield around yourself until you know a stranger, his or her background, and have solid information about who they are.

You can always say “No!” with emphasis when you want to terminate the relationship. You cannot hurt a sadist’s feelings…he doesn’t suffer as you do!

Helpful sites:

Social Network Safety 

My purpose in writing this article is to increase awareness for those who innocently open their hearts and souls on social media to strangers.It is important to consider that in the vastness of the virtual world there are predators who enjoy reading about other people’s pain and who may respond in ways that increase that suffering. I hope that we can all reflect upon what vital part of ourselves we expose to strangers and maintain a sense of awareness so that we remain somewhat safe and protected.




Author: Margaret Altman

Image:  Wikipedia

Editor: Travis May

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