© 2017 Mary Turner Thomson

August 25, 2019

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Learning from the Psychopath

November 20, 2016

 

The thing about doing this 'Psychopath Night' show is that it has made me think about things in a slightly different way. 


One person asked 'What can we learn from Psychopaths?' And it has been playing on my mind. 
 

What can we learn?
 

A psychopath lives in the moment, they can be hooked up to electrodes and told that they will experience a painful electric shock and their stress levels don't rise. An empathic person would start to get nervous and sweat a little in anticipation of the pain. The shock comes and both the empath and the psychopath's heart rate shoots up with the jolt, the pain and the adrenaline. The psychopath recovers quickly though. Moments later they are both told that they will receive another shock. The empath's heart rate bounces back up to high speed, the psychopath remains calm until the shock actually hits. 


Psychopaths have no emotional response to others pain, but they also have no emotional response to their own pain. They live in the moment to moment world of someone who lacks imagination.


So what can I learn from this. Today I got on an airplane for the first time in years. I had vowed never to fly again because of the stress it caused me. When I was 18-years-old I was taken in a small four-seater plane as a birthday present. I hadn't really wanted to get on the plane but it was my sisters recently ex-boyfriend who had organised the flight and she begged me to go because she wanted the excuse to remain friends. We went up and although nervous I was enjoying the view around Edinburgh from the small plane. However, half an hour into the flight the plane suddenly plunged vertically nose down and hurtled terrifyingly towards the ground. 


I was rigid with fear. I was weightlessly standing on the back of the pilots seat. Every muscle tensed into spasm and a long scream of abject terror escaping my lips. At that moment there was no shadow of a doubt in my mind that it was all over. I knew with certainty that a horrendous crushing death was only seconds away. And the memory of it goes on forever.  It lasts.


It turned out the pilot knew exactly what he was doing and had gone into a plunging dive for 'fun'. His. Not mine. He heard me scream through his helmet and earmuffed headphones. Realising how terrified I was he pulled up and said he had thought I might like to experience 'negative-G'. Needless to say my language was blue and I insisted that he land the plane immediately (which he wasn't happy about because he had paid for an hours flight). 


I have never forgotten those few moments of life. The terror has never left me.
And yet ... today I got on a plane without fear and without hesitation. I am on that plane now. Looking out of the window and feeling calm. Every so often a wave of panic starts to build and each time it does I learn the lesson from the psychopath. I breath in and stay in the moment, not worry or panic about one possible future. 


Moment by moment I can enjoy the view, the excitement of conquering a fear, and the knowledge the I can face anything that comes my way!

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