By Sandra L. Brown, M.A.
In my last article, I began talking about the natural ability that pathologicals have in reading human behavior. We talked about how the child's emotional developmental deficits actually spur them towards compensation in these areas by trying to hide their lack of a full emotional spectrum, lack of insight, and lack of ability to sustain emotional and behavioral changes. They learn to compensate by studying human behavior and 'mimicking and parroting' when they want to fit in. But what about when they DON'T want to fit in, or when they become adults?
Erik Erikson studied human development and his theory says that there are 'emotional tasks' that must occur before the next leap of growth can occur. These are building blocks of emotional structure of development.
The first task as a baby is to bond. After that come the tasks in this order that must occur to be a healthy and normal person:
· Trust builds on bonding
· Autonomy (or independence) builds on trust
· Initiative (or leadership) builds on autonomy
· Industry (or pride in ones accomplishments) builds on initiative
· Identity builds on industry, etc.
There are more developmental aspects all the way through old age. But these give us something to look at--all the aspects of emotional development that must occur (and did not occur somewhere in the list) for the pathological-- Bonding, Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, Identity. When these building blocks of character were being laid (and mislaid), holes in the soul develop around those building blocks that were not laid.
Instead of learning trust, they learn to con other people's trust and yet mistrust everyone. Instead of learning independence they are either horribly dependent and parasitic or aloof and not the least bit interdependent within relationships. Instead of initiative (or leadership) they either feel inadequate or superior or con others and the only place they lead others is 'astray.' Instead of industry and finding meaning and pride in their accomplishments, they see their accomplishments highly connected to the ability to superbly manipulate and con others. Their pride about their abilities is more related to the ability to manipulate than to any other abilities they may have. Instead of a healthy self identity, their identity is now highly connected to their choices. Since many of them are delinquent and deviant, their identity is connected not with something positive but with their darkest character flaws.
All of these developmental tasks that should be completed: bonding, trust, independence, initiative, industry, and identity are the building blocks established by teen years. We can easily see how and why their adult years are filled with problems and anguishing relationships. If you don't bond, trust, have interdependent relationships, your idea of accomplishment is conning, and your identity is linked to your bad character--THERE ISN'T MUCH TO WORK WITH!
Pathologicals have difficult adulthoods AND they make everyone else's adulthoods difficult too. The child prodigy studying what works with humans is largely squeezed down to 'WIIFM' (What's In It for Me). Studying others to 'fit in' gets replaced by the adult skills of conning, manipulation, lying, embezzlement, and other honed arts. By the time the emotional development of the teen years have hit, the bonding, trust, interdependence, accomplishments and lastly identity---are long tweaked into pathological dynamics. Oddly, the personality 'age' stops growing and you rarely see pathologicals emotionally older than 14 but the behaviors get tweaked up a notch to adult skills of adept conning.
What was once a science project of 'Why am I different?' as a child becomes 'Cool, I'll use it against them' as an adult. The child prodigy who studied human behavior so well is the relationship idiot savant. It just takes women awhile to figure out that what he espouses in the beginning isn't really what he's all about. What didn't happen in his emotional development will ruin their relationship and her, personally.