It could be said that 'sexual psychopaths' is like 'unexpected surprise', '12 noon' or 'advanced warning'. These are known as pleonasms, or redundant expressions, and the first part can be removed without changing the significance. Surprise is by definition unexpected, and noon means 12 o'clock.
Hervey Cleckley in his 1941 book "The Mask of Sanity" says that the psychopath's sex life invariably shows peculiarities. This makes sense when you consider that
Their inability to love means that their sex life is trivial and impersonal. The pleasure of the sex act seems to be limited to local sensations only. While there are physiological changes that may give rise to emotions that are labeled sexual psychopaths have no shared emotional experience with their partners, nor any emotion that would lead to a sense of commitment or loyalty.
Cleckley says that for psychopaths there are none of the "emotional concomitants and the complex potentialities that make adult love relations an experience so thrilling and indescribable".
He also points out that sexual psychopaths
This leads them to try out deviant sexual behaviors, sometimes just for the hell of it! They may be involved in homosexual relationships, they will abuse children, pay prostitutes, seduce friends' spouses, and, of course, rape and sexually abuse others.
More recently in his book "Without Conscience" Robert Hare adds more ideas on the nature of the sexual psychopath.
He points out that rape is a good example of the callous, selfish use of violence by psychopaths.
He thinks that maybe half of serial rapists are psychopaths and that it results from a potent combination of:
This idea of control is very important. When a person is involved in a sexual relationship, you could say they are revealing themselves, they are giving of the most intimate aspect of themselves.
And many psychopaths realize this and make use of it. When a relationship becomes sexual psychopaths understand that have the potential for complete control. In fact, sexual submission is often the final step in the objectification of the victim.
Remember too, that psychopaths use the tools and techniques of mind control to influence others. A sexual relationship in this situation means that there is neither informed consent on the part of the victim, nor a relationship of equals because the power is with the deceiver. This makes it a situation of sexual abuse.
A psychopath will often create an intimate relationship which in turn leads to a sexual relationship. The psychological abuse makes the sexual abuse possible and the sexual abuse amplifies the effects of the psychological abuse.
Clinical psychologist Margaret Singer suggests that this type of abuse is very different from sexual abuse without mind control. The latter, she says is more random, furtive, and associated with guilt, whereas when mind control is involved (either in one-to-one relationships, or in cults) the sexual abuse has been integrated with the belief system of the victim and the interplay of these two things has a huge effect on the recovery process.
Janja Lalich in a paper entitled "Domination and Submission: Psychosexual Exploitations of Women in Cults" published in Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, (click here for a pdf copy) also points out that the cult doctrine is a reflection of the cult leader and his preferences. As we have seen, the sexual preferences of sexual psychopaths can be many and varied.
So in some cults, there is abstinence from sex, and sometimes even castration of males to ensure this. It is often the case that where the members are to abstain from sex, the leader is sexually abusing a lot of them.
In other situations, cults will insist on 'sexual liberty' and there may be group sex, marriages of lots of women to the leader, partner swapping, child abuse and so on. One idea behind proposing sexual liberty is that the members are sexually available for the leader. (Another is to push the members beyond their personal boundaries in order to manipulate them.) Some groups even dictate when and how the members have sex.
Cult leaders, who are often (male) psychopaths, may deceive women into thinking it is a matter of honor to have sex with him, that it's necessary for his spirituality, or for her spirituality, or personal growth or whatever. Or sexual relationships may be expected as a test of loyalty to the leader. In some cults women are drawn in and then simply enslaved.
The victims of sexual abuse talk about how initially the sex may seem to be loving and caring but after a while it changes to something cold, without emotion, very dominating, sometimes aggressive and is usually solely about the physical pleasure of the abuser.
Female cult leaders may actually offer freedom from sex as a way to entice women to join.
Psychopathic therapists also dupe their clients into sexual abuse situations in a variety of ways. One particularly insidious way is for the therapist to massage near the groin and then invite the client to do the same to the therapist, 'to practice'. The client is then deceived into initiating sexual contact. This is particularly destructive as the client believes they have initiated the sexual intimacy.
Sexual psychopaths who have learned how to use sex to control and manipulate are particularly destructive.
A typical occurrence is that initially people don't want to talk about it. Without understanding what happened, the victims may blame themselves, they may consider that they deserved the abuse, or be so full of shame at what happened to them in the hands of the sexual psychopaths, that it often seems easier to try and forget the whole thing. (This is a big mistake!)
They may also have been sworn to secrecy by their manipulator, or believe they will be revealing sacred secrets or will be betraying the leader if they speak out. This may be built into the mind control and can make it tricky to undo.
When they do start talking about it, it can be difficult for people to realize and accept that they have been sexually abused by somebody that they were in love with, or that they adored and respected.
As well as having to undo the mind control they have to deal with the fact that they were in an abusive relationship and may also have to re-establish their own sexuality, undo any confusion they have about sex and sexual relationships and learn to build intimate relationships again.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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