Diva Musing-Overcoming Bitterness

Overcoming Bitterness: 5 Steps for Healing the Hurt that Won’t Go Away

November 20, 2013 by Dr. Greg 

No one wants to be bitter.  It sneaks up on us.  Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.    The more we hold onto past hurts the more we become drunk on our pain and the experience can rob us of the joy we can find in anything.

Bitterness occurs when we feel someone has taken something from us that we are powerless to get back.  We hold on to the hurt in an attempt to remind ourselves and others of the injustice we’ve experienced in the hopes that someone will save us and restore what we’ve lost.  Unfortunately, bitterness only makes our sense of the injustice grow.  It does nothing to heal the wound caused by the injustice.  In fact, it causes the wound to become infected with anger.

Bitterness:  Wrath’s Little Sister

Bitterness is wrath’s little sister.  Where anger can be just and moral if it propels us to seek solutions for the wrongs we have experienced or witness, wrath is a deadly sin because it becomes anger that feeds on itself and adds to wreckage caused by the original wound.  Bitterness does this too, but instead of burning down the house with everything we value still inside, bitterness is quieter, slowly poisoning our life until we lose it one joy at a time.

Here are some things you can do to begin to overcome bitterness.

1.  Forgive

Forgiveness does not mean pretending everything is “OK.”  It doesn’t mean forgetting the hurt either.  According to St. Augustine, forgiveness is simply the act of surrendering our desire for revenge; that is, our desire to hurt someone for having hurt us.   Forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves that enables us to stop picking at the scab and start making a plan for healing.

2. Make a plan

Forgiveness allows you to free up the energy you need to begin healing the wound. If the person who hurt you is willing to work with you, begin mapping out exactly what changes or effort you would need to see from that person to let you know that it is safe to reconcile.  If you are on your own, focus your energy on making a plan for how will you strive to regain as much of what was lost/taken from you as possible.  The more you strive to find alternative ways to recoup your losses, the less bitter you will feel even if the hurt persists.   It can be tempting to give into feelings that “there’s nothing I can do”   but resist the temptation.  In fact, if you feel this way and can’t think of solutions, talk to a professional to check your math before deciding that you just need to grieve your loss.  If, after consultation, you find that there really is nothing you can do to reclaim what was lost or taken from you, focus your energy on developing new goals that will help you reconstruct a compelling future.  The book,The Life God Wants You to Have:  Discovering the Divine Plan When Human Plans Fail can be a tremendous help for figuring out what God is calling you to work toward in the next chapter of your life.

 

3.  Stop Dwelling and Retelling

When we are hurt, we have a tendency to turn the painful events over and over in our head or tell anyone who will listen about our pain–even over and over again.  It is fine to talk to people we think can help us heal the hurt, facilitate reconciliation or help us rebuild our lives, but other than that, we should do what we can to stop dwelling on the story of our injury ourselves and stop speaking of it so freely to others.  When we are tempted to “dwell or retell” the best course of action is to refocus on what we can do–TODAY–to take at least some small step toward refining or actualizing the plan we’ve developed in Step 2.  The more you are focused on solutions, the less you will experience the sense of powerlessness that comes from ruminating on the hurt.

4.  Seek Grace

It can be next to impossible to heal some wounds without God’s grace.  Bitterness causes us to shun God’s grace in favor of obsessing over the wound.  If you are holding on to bitterness I encourage you to take it to confession.  Please don’t be insulted by the suggestion.  I know that you are the victim and you have a right to your pain.  Still, holding on to anything except God’s love, mercy and healing grace separates from God and the life he wants us to have. Confession can open your heart to receive the healing that God wants to give you.   It can help you surrender the pain and powerlessness and begin to discover new options.  Stop hoarding your hurt.  Make your desire for healing official by taking your tendency to dwell in the powerlessness to the confessional and seek the grace to leave it there.

5.  Seek Professional Help

If the bitterness won’t let go even after you’ve tried all of the above, it’s time to seek professional help.  Working with a professional can help you see possibilities that your pain has blinded you to and give you new tools to heal the wounds that are holding you back.   If you have a faithful professional in your area that you have worked with before, it may be time to reconnect.  If not, I would invite you to contact me through the Pastoral Solutions Institute to learn more about our telephone counseling practice.  Healing is possible with the right resources.

Hebrews 12:5 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  You don’t have to be bitter or consumed by feelings of powerlessness and sadness.  Take action today to cooperate with the grace God is giving you to break free of the bonds of bitterness.  You can discover that with God’s help, there is so much more to life than pain.

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Diva Tasting-Bat Wings and Spider Webs

Happy Halloween;  the pasta is our bat-wings and the melted cheese our cobwebs.  A treat kids and adults are sure to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 Ounce) Pkg Farfalle (bow Tie) Pasta
  • 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Small Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Lg Cloves of Garlic Minced
  • 1 (28 Ounce) Jar Pasta Sauce
  • 16 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese, Cut Into 1/2 Inch Cubes
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water, bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the bow tie pasta and return to a boil. Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Cook and stir ground beef and onion in a large skillet until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, add garlic and mix. Drain fat. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Stir cooked pasta and half of the Parmesan cheese, and all of the mozzarella into the sauce; toss to combine. Transfer to a 9 X 13 baking dish. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

Diva Musing-Don’t make the Universe Throw a Brick

This goes around all the time. However, I can never resist sharing it everytime. What a great reminder today…..

A young and successful executive was traveling down the neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in a new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick ad been thrown. The angry driver jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against the parked car, shouting. “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you there is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?”

The young boy was apologetic. “Please, mister…please, ism sorry but I didn’t know what else to do?, He pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop…” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around the parked car. It’s my brother ,” he said, “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.”

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and He’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheel chair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look at him told him everything would be OK. “Thank you and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for works, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept it to remind him of this message: “Don’t go through life so fast that God has to throw a brick! God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we font have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY…..

If God had a refrigerator your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers each spring.

He sends you sunrise each day-He is crazy about you child of God.

Diva Tasting-Portobello Penne Pasta Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 Ounce) Package Uncooked Penne Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Pound Portobello Mushrooms, Thinly Sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Large Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 2 Cups Half N Half
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1cup Asiago
  • 1 (10 Oz) Pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, cook 1 minute, and set aside. Melt butter in the saucepan. Mix in flour, garlic, and basil. Gradually mix in milk until thickened. Stir in 1 cup each of the cheeses until melted. Remove saucepan from heat, and mix in cooked pasta, mushrooms, spinach, and soy sauce. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly brown.

 

 

Diva Musing-Happy Thoughts!!

You become what you think about all day long…..here are some joyful thoughts to keep you on track….oldies but goodies!

The written word is truly an amazing thing.

With the help of it we can record out innermost thoughts and spread them if we like.

With the help of the written word we can look far, far back into time, through the decades, the centuries and, yes, even the millennias.

Today I would like to look back into the past and see what the wise people who have walked on this earth can tell us about happiness and how to uncover it. No matter if you live today or lived two thousand years ago.

This is 101 of the most inspiring, touching and helpful thoughts from the past on happiness.

  1. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
    Buddha
  2. “Happiness is the art of never holding in your mind the memory of any unpleasant thing that has passed.”
    Unknown
  3. “To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”
    Albert Camus
  4. “If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
    If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
    If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
    If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
    Chinese Proverb
  5. “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”
    Ashley Montagu
  6. “Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”
    Stacey Charter
  7. “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
    Dale Carnegie
  8. “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”
    Lucille Ball
  9. “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
    Winnie the Pooh
  10. “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
    Epictetus
  11. “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
    Frederick Keonig
  12. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
    Thich Nhat Hanh
  13. “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”
    Eskimo Proverb
  14. “To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”
    Mary Stuart
  15. “There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.”
    Seneca
  16. “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
    Robert A. Heinlein
  17. “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”
    Dennis Waitley
  18. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
    Mahatma Gandhi
  19. “The only joy in the world is to begin.”
    Cesare Pavese
  20. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”
    Oscar Wilde

Namaste,

The Queen Cronista

Excerpted from http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2013/08/20/happiness-quotes/ 

Diva Tasting-Chinese Pork Tenderloin with Sides and Dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 (1 1/2 Pound) Pork Tenderloins, Trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Bean Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Cilantro Chopped
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Minced Fresh Ginger Root
  • 2 Teaspoons Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Clove Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Pinch Chinese Five-Spice Powder

Directions

  1. Place tenderloins in a shallow glass dish. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Balsamic Vinegar, cilantro, black bean sauce, ginger, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and five-spice powder. Pour marinade over pork, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove tenderloins from refrigerator while the oven preheats.
  3. Bake pork in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or to desired doneness. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then slice diagonally into thin slices.

Glazed Carrots

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Directions

Place carrots into a large saucepan, pour in enough water to reach depth of 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer carrots until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl.

Melt butter in the same saucepan; stir brown sugar, salt, and white pepper into butter until brown sugar and salt have dissolved. Transfer carrots into brown sugar sauce; cook and stir until carrots are glazed with sauce, about 5 more minutes.

Wrapped Green Beans Bundles

Ingredients

1 (12 ounce) package bacon, strips cut in half

1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut green beans

2 tablespoons brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a casserole dish.

Set out the bacon, green beans and casserole dish in a little assembly line. Lay out a half strip of bacon. place a small bunch of green beans (6 or 7) onto the strip of bacon and roll up into a bundle. Place the bundle into the casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bacon strips and green beans. You can pack these pretty tight in the pan, just know that if the bacon is touching another bundle they take some prying to get apart. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt and pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread

2 Cans (16.3 Oz) Flaky Layers Refrigerated Honey Butter Biscuits (8 Biscuits) 
¾ Cup Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix (not Plain Pumpkin) 
1 Stick Butter, Melted
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
¼ Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

 

Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers, to make total of 16 thin biscuits. Spread pumpkin pie mix on top of each. Top each with melted butter. In small bowl, mix granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice; sprinkle over each.

 

Stack biscuits in 4 piles of 4 biscuits each. Place stacks on their sides in a row in loaf pan, making sure sides without filling are on both ends touching pan. It should look like a 16-layer sandwich with no filling on the outside ends.

 

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaf is deep golden brown and center is baked through.

 

Cool loaf slightly. If necessary, run knife around edges to loosen loaf from pan. Carefully turn pan upside down on serving platter to release loaf. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Drizzle over loaf. Serve warm.

 

Diva Rambling-On the Malignant Nature of Narcissism

Everyone Knows one of these…..some ramblings excerpted for your review. Form follows thought, so stay away from these folks, to keep your Aura glowing at full positive force……Excerpted from Psychology Today Magazine…

On the Malignant Nature of Narcissism

In this summer’s already heavily overheated presidential contest in this country, talk among pundits, surrogates, political commentators, and the contestants themselves has recently taken an appropriate yet troubling turn toward questioning the mental health of the candidates. I refer to this development as troubling not because the matter of mental health is irrelevant to presidential politics–it clearly is relevant and must be considered–but because the vast majority of those currently doing the “analyzing” and “diagnosing” of these public figures are not trained mental health professionals, but rather partisan laypersons. Nonetheless, now everyone, from news anchors to political analysts, seems to feel they are qualified to intelligently discuss subjects such as “psychosis,” “sociopathy,” “psychopathy,” and, most notably, “narcissism.” Suddenly, they are all armchair psychologists when it comes to analyzing various candidates and their confusing or questionable behavior. (Much the same can be said regarding the public discussion of our runaway epidemic of mass violence.) (See my prior post.)

I find this phenomenon awfully ironic, given the fact that the publicly perceived expertise and professional valuation of, and confidence in clinical psychologists especially, has been severely eroded in recent years, at a time when we obviously need psychology more than ever–not only here in America but around the world. One irony is that clinical psychologists (or psychiatrists) are ethically restrained from formally diagnosing and analyzing public figures, whereas non-professionals are free to speculate wildly about such issues as they wish, despite their total incompetence to do so. But if we are going to be discussing the psychology of our current presidential nominees, it is essential that we do so in a clinically well-informed, sophisticated, and compassionate way. Toward that end, let me contribute to this seemingly inevitable and absolutely necessary national conversation some of my perspective and experience as a seasoned clinical and forensicpsychologist on the thorny subject of narcissism specifically.

Narcissism is a pervasive, endemic aspect of contemporary life, and exists to varying degrees in each and every one of us. We all need some measure of healthy narcissism to get on in the world, which is related to self-esteem, confidence, sense of significance, etc. And most of us suffer to some extent from some pathological or neurotic narcissism as well. For example, a great deal of the destructive anger, rage and violence, the animosity between the sexes, and the hypersensitivity to any and all perceived political incorrectness besetting the collective American psyche, springs from pathological narcissism. We live increasingly, as sociologist Christopher Lasch said four decades ago, in a “culture of narcissism,” one in which narcissism is idealized, worshiped, emulated and rewarded, whether in the world of business, the entertainment industry, or the political arena.

Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, who modified and expanded Freud‘s original ideas on narcissism, suggests that pathological narcissism is an arrest or distortion of normal, pre-Oedipal development, during which the infant’s natural, healthy, primitive or “primary narcissism” is deficiently dealt with or unempathically “mirrored” by the primary caretakers–in most cases, the parents, but particularly, the mother. This so-called “narcissistic wounding” or frustration results in the neurotic perseveration of unresolved infantile narcissism into childhoodadolescence and adulthood. Thus, narcissism in adults may represent a form of “healthy” narcissism either never allowed adequate expression or gratification during childhood or overindulged and insufficiently moderated and socialized, and hence, never outgrown. It is in this sense that the pathologically narcissistic person’s often petulant behavior is akin to that of a spoiled or rejected little boy or girl who insists upon having everything their own way, even if that means lying and cheating to get it. Or to the profound dread of being hurt, rejected or abandoned again. Indeed, the fatal self-absorption of the mythic young man Narcissus, from whom the clinical term narcissismwas derived, is designed to fend off potential rejection via the hostile or aggressive rejection of others. Such neurotic narcissism may manifest somewhat differently in men and women. For instance, a similar depiction of a more passive, subtle yet equally defensive neurotic narcissism can be found in the Grimm’s fairy tale Little Briar Rose, better known to most Americans as the female adolescent, Sleeping Beauty.

Face-saving is another central aspect of pathological narcissism: the concerted, sometimes frantic effort to preserve one’s public persona at all costs. As C.G. Jung observed, we all need a persona, a sort of mask or costume or role we play, in order to participate in society. But problems occur when we become overidentified with our persona, when it becomes too one-sided, imbalanced and rigid. In pathological narcissism, this is precisely what has happened: the persona–which has to do not only with what we try to project outwardly to the world but, even more fundamentally, with how we wish to see ourselves–has become a shallow “false self,” one which conceals and compensates for what Jung called the shadow. (See my prior post.) We all have a shadow, a dark side consisting of those “negative” (or sometimes even repressed positive) parts of our personality we reject, disown, and deem socially or morally unacceptable, reprehensible, evil or dangerous: sexuality, aggression, inferiority feelings, vulnerability, love, healthy narcissism, and the desire for power, for example. In pathological narcissism, this grandiose persona compensates for repressed feelings of inferiority, vulnerability, weakness, smallness, neediness, and must be maintained, preserved and vigorously defended against all challenges. Such compulsive face-saving takes the form of exaggeration, manipulation, or careful parsing of the truth, fibbing, fabrication, or outright lying when the narcissistic persona is somehow threatened from without or within. In some cases, such elaborate fabrication, lying, and self-deception can attain delusional, and, therefore, psychotic proportions, with the person being utterly convinced of the veracity and reality of his or her falsification. (See my prior post.)  In individuals whose severe pathological narcissism eventually leads to engaging in criminalbehavior, the lying becomes at least as much about avoiding assuming responsibility and evading the legal consequences for their evil deeds, believing themselves to be “above the law.”

Let us briefly look to forensic psychology for clarification. Consider, for example, the high-profile criminal cases involving Casey Anthony, Joran van der Sloot, and Jodi Arias. (See my prior posts.) It was difficult not to note certain similarities in the demeanor (if not alleged crimes) of these three attractive young murder defendants. How can we make sense of their seeming lack of profoundly human, universal feelings like empathy, guilt, remorse or shame? Though, as with public figures such as politicians, I (nor any other mental health professional) cannot provide a detailed and accurate psychological evaluation of defendants (or since convicted former defendants) without having first formally examined them myself, there is clearly much to learn from observing these tragic cases. So let us sum up what little we do know and consider what these murder cases might have in common and what they can tell us about the malignant nature of narcissism and its vicissitudes.

Most importantly, for the sake of this present discussion, is the strong correlation between the problems of narcissism, sociopathy, and evil. Perhaps most frightening to face is the fact that such evil deeds could potentially be committed by anyone, given the right or wrong set of circumstances. (Recall, for example, the classic psychology experiments by both Milgram and Zimbardo demonstrating this sobering fact, as well as the atrocities ignored and committed by ordinary German citizens during the Holocaust, a phenomenon Hannah Arendt has called the “banality of evil.” ) Each of us harbors the innate capacity for evil. This includes, of course, our current presidential candidates. Yet we prefer for obvious reasons to deny that disturbing reality, choosing instead to unconsciously project that potentiality for evil behavior, the so-called shadow, onto others–the Devil, political opponents, parties, movements, groups, foreign governments, terrorists, immigrants, minorities, religions–rather than consciously acknowledging it in ourselves. For some politicians, a consciously chosen moral, religious or spiritual persona can serve to mask an unconscious and dangerous dark side, capable of expressing itself destructively in various forms, such as sexual indiscretions or political dirty tricks which must be covered up and denied when discovered.

When does pathological narcissism become sociopathic? To begin with, it is important to note that, by definition, sociopathy or Antisocial Personality Disorder is a pervasive, pronounced pattern of disregard for and deliberate violation of the rights of others occurring regularly since at least the age of fifteen (DSM-5). Moreover, current diagnostic criteria includes “failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest,” “deceitfulness,” “reckless disregard for safety of self or others,” and, maybe most tellingly, “lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.” A sense of conscience is missing. Moreover, the sociopath or psychopath can be disarmingly charming, “excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky.” There is often a marked history of irritability, anger, and verbal or physical aggressiveness. Whenever we see some chronic pattern of illegal or destructive behaviors combined with the absence of remorse and appropriate affect, we are likely witnessing, at the very least, what we psychologists refer to as “antisocial traits.”

So, there can be a fine line dividing narcissism and sociopathy, a line which can be crossed over at any time. The sociopath lives on the far side of this line, having bitterly turned against society, repeatedly and often impulsively engaging in illegal activity, lying, manipulating, conning, deceiving, and aggressive, vindictive behavior aimed at undoing or repaying a hurt and avoiding being “pushed around” by others, particularly by legitimate authority figures. The narcissist, on the other hand, is better adapted to the culture, functions at a higher level, successfully chooses to work within the system, accepting rather than rejecting society, yet still plays by his or her own self-serving and rebellious rules, and may be no less vindictive and persistent, albeit sometimes more subtle, in getting even for the smallest of perceived slights. Criminal defendants like Casey Anthony (now acquitted), Joran van der Sloot (now convicted), and Jodi Arias (now convicted) typically tend to be so detached and dissociated from their own humanity that they are clueless as to what they really feel and how their inappropriate and selfish behavior is perceived by others. They appear to be heartless, depraved monsters devoid of all human caring and decency. Bad seeds. But behind their extremely effective facade, mask or persona, hides a hurt and angry little girl or boy running destructively amok in the world. Sociopaths, like narcissists, are, as I have elsewhere argued, primarily made, not born. 

Another striking similarity between Jodi, Joran and Casey is their extraordinary cunning and native intelligence. We saw this clearly demonstrated, for example, in Casey’s creatively elaborate lying behavior to police, her parents and others. (According to veteran prosecutor Jeff Ashton, “she was the best liar I`ve ever seen.”)  We also saw this in her possible conning of a forensic psychologist (see my prior post). And in Joran’s impressive talent for telling conflicting tales designed to confuse, control and manipulate others. According to the prosecution, and a jury of her peers, much the same may be said about Jodi Arias, who told police at least three different versions of her boyfriend’s death, initially totally denying any involvement, then claiming that they were attacked by two ski-masked men who killed Travis, and, finally, admitting to the grotesque crime but claiming self-defense. In the case of Joran van der Sloot, it is precisely his cunning, coupled with a barely controlled rage, that makes him such a dangerous person. The ability to deceive and manipulate others toward one’s own self-serving ends is one of the hallmarks of sociopathy, and an expression of the profound pathological narcissism underlying it.

As Joran van der Sloot’s now public psychological evaluation from prison suggests, the person suffering from, and cruelly causing others to suffer from what I call psychopathic narcissism, is fundamentally an immature, selfish, self-centered, resentful and raging child inside a powerful adult body. (See my prior post.) They are angry with their parents, angry with authority, angry with God, angry with life. They have been hurt, abused, emotionally wounded, deprived, overindulged, spoiled, abandoned or neglected in various ways–some grossly and some much more subtly–and are still bitterly lashing out against life and others. Against society. Against authority. When you have a pissed-off five or ten-year-old with poor impulse control living in an adult body, with the freedom and power and resources to do just as he or she pleases, you have an extraordinarily dangerous person capable of the most heinous, and, in the case of world leaders, catastrophic evil deeds. Such angry, vindictive, embittered, opportunistic, impulsive and sometimes predatory people see the world as their personal playground, and for some, everyone in it as their next potential victim or conquest. To quote convicted mass murderer Charles Manson, the poster boy for such evil or antisocial tendencies : “I’m still a little five-year-old kid.”

Finally, a sense of “narcissistic entitlement” is characteristic of both narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder. A feeling of guilt and conscience is typically lacking, especially in sociopathy. And both share in common a distinct lack of empathy with their fellow man, being unwilling or unable to feel compassion toward, nor identify with, the emotions and needs of others. Such grossly inhumane attitudes and behaviors stem mainly from a combination of compensatory grandiosity and a schizoid-like detachment from their own feelings.The immense narcissism of criminal defendants like Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, Joran van der Sloot, O.J. Simpson, Drew Peterson, and so many others, convinces them that they can ultimately outsmart the system. This narcissistic grandiosity can be seen in Jodi’s seemingly arrogant and haughty pre-trial proclamation that “no jury will ever convict me.” In the same way that van der Sloot’s reportedcompulsive gambling reflected a grandiose, narcissistic overconfidence that he could beat the casino system.