“We will only talk of peace when we have won the war.” Hitler, 1939

From Newsday

So, like all of you no matter where you are, my eyes are on Ukraine. It’s unimaginable what the Ukrainians are going through…literally unimaginable. Empathy is the ability to understand and be able to share the feelings someone else is experiencing but how can we do that when the people of Ukraine are experiencing something that is so out of the realm of comprehension? It’s impossible to even try to put ourselves in their shoes. A young woman was interviewed the other day after her apartment complex was destroyed and said this: “One day I was taking care of my kids and going to work and spending time with my husband. Today, I’m digging my life out of rubble, my husband is fighting in the streets, my children are terrified and I fear for their lives, and we’re living in a basement of another building which could be hit any minute.” There are no words.

Of course this all centers around Putin and since I teach Psychology and Sociology, my students and I have been discussing not only the war itself but the why’s behind why Putin would do such despicable acts. Examples? Before the invasion of Mariupol, about 600 Ukrainians had been killed but 2500 have been added to that list in the last couple of days. Eighteen hospitals have been bombed including a maternity hospital and right now, a hospital in Mariupol has been taken over by Russian troops and 500 doctors and patients are being held in the basement of the partially bombed building in which the ICU was targeted. Further, at least 85 kids have been killed in this war and over 100 wounded. I know the word evil is greatly overused in our society but Putin is evil. I believe he’s the most evil tyrant since Hitler and the comparison between him and Putin in what’s happening now is horrifying.

The ‘why’s’ that my students ask are impossible to answer…no one knows what’s going on this man’s head. However the ‘what’ of Putin is very easy to grasp: he’s a psychopath. This isn’t based on my own opinion or that of the many pundits that agree, but on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (revised) which is the leading tool we use to determine this in people. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a psychopath and what Putin shows (I combined some of the traits):

  • Glibness/Superficial Charm: Putin being filmed fishing, riding horseback shirtless, driving a Formula 1 race car, and playing hockey show this ‘charm’ and his glibness shines through with every insincere comment he makes.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth – I don’t think this one need illustrated. At all.
  • Proneness to Boredom and Low Frustration Tolerance – once again, the activities already listed plus daily swimming, weightlifting, hand gliding, being an advanced black belt in Judo, using a crossbow to kill an endangered grey whale, and the list goes on. Lots of stimulation there.
  • Pathological Lying – “Yes, there will be a cease fire.” ” “No, we haven’t targeted civilians.” “Kids have not died.” “We’ll open a corridor for evacuees.” and these are just from the last 2 weeks.
  • Conning (Manipulative) and Lack of Sincerity– silencing all news outlets in Russia and bombarding the people with propagation is only 1 example of thousands.
  • Lack of Remorse or Guilt – Wow. Yes.
  • Lack of Affect and Emotional Depth – Putin’s face rarely shows emotion, even when talking about his ‘own people’ being killed.
  • Callous/Lack of Empathy – Killing children? Bombing maternity hospitals? Displacing millions of people from their homes? Attacking apartments where families live? Hmmm.
  • Parasitic Lifestyle – This is one that’s hard to determine since it’s usually meant to be one person (the parasite) using another (the host) for anything they desire. Maybe Putin isn’t this on a personal scale, but he does feed off the people he rules.
  • Lack of Remorse or Guilt – a given
  • Short-Tempered and Poor Behavioral Control – can’t stop killing children? Threatening nuclear war?
  • Frequent Marital Relationships   – Putin was married to his ex-wife for 31 years so this is a no.
  • History of Early Behavioral Problems and Juvenile Delinquency  – Putin was born into poverty and lived with his parents in a single room in an apartment with 2 other families and had no hot water, little if any heat, and scarce food. He was basically left to fend for himself (and was possibly adopted by another family around 9 or 10) while his parents worked, and was bullied severely until he learned to defend himself which he did often and ferociously. Needing to prove himself was learned very early in his life.
  • Lack of Realistic, Long Term Plans – taking over the world, which is what many say his final goal is, is unrealistic. I hope.
  • Impulsivity / Irresponsibility – oh yeah
  • Many Types of Offense – invading countries, killing off political dissidents, committing war crimes again and again, working for the KGB and doing what are undoubtedly horrific things, and the list goes on. And on and on.
  • Revocation of Conditional Release – another one we can say no too.

In terms of determining psychopathy, each of these characteristics is given a score from 0-2 and people with psychopathy score a 30. Criminal offenders average 22 and the general population is 5.  And, a “prototypical” psychopath would receive a maximum score of 40 and there’s no doubt Putin scores this. The top.

A control brain and Dr. Fallon’s brain.

So what causes psychopathy? James Fallon, neuroscientist extraordinaire, is a man who thought nature was everything in this development and to prove this, he studied the brains of psychopaths and found astonishing differences in brain physiology as compared with non-psychopaths. However, he came to realize the importance of nurture in terms of how these inborn traits are played out when he scanned his own brain and found it to be that of a psychopath. He talks about how this reveals itself in his life in terms of lack of empathy (he has ‘cognitive’ empathy), how difficult it is for him to be close to people, how he wants people in his world for the attention/adulation, and how he’s always on the ‘make’. However, he has no criminal tendencies which he states are because his early environment was loving, stable, nurturing etc. So psychopathology begins in the brain but how it’s expressed is definitely based on environmental influences. Seeing the early years of Putin show the trigger that enhanced these traits, including the criminality, to their fullest. In other words, nature gives the psychopathy and nurture determines how and what is expressed with it.

How can those of us without psychopathy understand Putin? We can’t. We simply can’t get in the head of someone whose brain is dark and evil with absolutely no conscience at all. And that’s what makes him frightening.

I’ve heard so many people say “He’ll back down. He’s all talk.” Really? A psychopath will just ‘back down?’ Capitulate to what’s asked of him? Stop what he started and take blame for it? Make amends? Promise to never do it again. Right now there is info that peace talks show promise. I don’t believe anything this man says…pathological lying is such a trademark of psychopathy (and narcissism which Putin has in spades) that nothing can be taken at face value. Nothing.

From The New York Times

I don’t think he will stop this war unless he’s under attack himself. After all, he’s the most important man on the planet…in his mind (and right now, maybe it’s true). It’s simple machiavellianism: the ends justify the means no matter what the means are. Gaining back the lands that were once a part of the Soviet Union is what Putin’s end-game apparently is…and the means to accomplish this can be anything and everything just for the win. So, he’s understandable in terms of ‘what’ he has. But his behavior is so beyond what we can even imagine in terms of the essence of humanity that we’ll never truly understand.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I do know that we’re all in danger. Everyone. He’s purposely targeting civilians and kids to force NATO to go against him. It’s a bully saying “Cross this line…I dare you.” And eventually we have learned that the only way to take down a bully is to be stronger than they are. This was a lesson learned in terms of Hitler, albeit a horrible lesson that killed so many across the world.

From hindustannewshub.com – Volodymyr Zelensky is a hero.

In fact, a video meeting with congress and Vladimir Zelensky just ended and he asked for US and NATO support. He reminded Congress that after Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, France and Great Britain declared war and the US followed suit in 1941. He stated that the severity of the Ukraine invasion is parallel to the invasion of Poland.

I pray another World War doesn’t happen again. I pray that Ukrainians be free of these atrocities. I pray that all those in Russia who are against this war are heard. I pray that our young men and women won’t face a war that could potentially destroy countries with the push of a button…which I have no doubts Putin would do. I pray for peace. And lastly, I pray for us all.

Take care, peeps.

Kristi xoxo

                                                                     

                                                 

                                                             

                                                                                       

“…they did the monster mash…”

So, we just celebrated Halloween and for some reason I started thinking about the creepy people that I’ve had experiences with. 😲

Bill and I were driving back from Indiana and we stopped at a Taco Smell (we’re living large, folks 🙄). After eating our tacos and “power-bowls”, which include black beans which Edward snatched from me and then farted out for 70 miles, we walked Ed around the area so he could pee. There was a guy by the take-out entrance and Bill was walking a bit behind me. The guy yelled: “Hey…your dog is cute!” So, like an idiot I totter over to him and he’s wearing a ‘security uniform’ that fit him horribly: the pants were inches too long, the shirt was too large, etc. Anyhoot, I wanted to give this ‘dog lover’ a chance to pet my Ed but when we got to him, he didn’t reach down to pet him or anything. He just stood there and smiled at me in the creepiest way possible. Then, Bill sauntered into sight and I said I had to go.

The really weird thing was how the guy was parked. His car was not pulled into an actual parking spot, and now that I think about it, he didn’t have any take-out either. He parked so his car was facing the street. I got a vibe from him that made me get goosebumps and Bill felt the same. Eddie didn’t jump on him and just kind of looked at me which is definitely out of his character (he jumps and loves on everyone 🥰). SO…as we were driving away, Bill said this: “That man was going to kidnap you!” Yes. I know what you’re thinking…”why in the name of all that’s holy in this world would someone want to kidnap me?” Answer: because I was there! Listen peeps…it gave me chills.

My poor dad always had to sit by me on our family vacations!

Once, when I was flying home from Texas after visiting O in Fort Worth, a guy was seated next to me and he was wearing a trench coat (seriously!), clompy shoes, and he had an old style iPod (it was a real antique 😐). The flight was getting bumpy and as my family can attest too, I get motion sick very easily 🤢 . I literally (I hate it when people use that word but why the hell not?) can’t ride in a backseat of a car because I’ll barf, and even watching the ticker tape words under newscasts makes me get the dry heaves. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, I told the guy this: “I’m probably going to puke and I’m really sorry if I do and I’ll aim the puke bag and my head away from you.” He said: “That’s OK and I’m glad you are talking to me because you remind me of my counselor.” Oh. Ok. I said: “Hmmm. So, were you on vacation in Texas?” (All the while I have that bitter, icky taste in my mouth…I’m sure I smelled yummy… 🙄). He said: “No…I was just released from the hospital.” Me: “Oh no! I hope you’re OK! What hospital?” And he said (get ready for it…): “The North Texas State Hospital.”

So, to make a long story even longer and more boring, we yacked all the way home and I didn’t barf at all (I was kind of proud of this 🤨). When we exited the plane, I noticed that the man sitting across the aisle from us led him out and there were cops by the baggage claim. After I got home, I looked up the hospital and it’s for the criminally insane. No joke. The hospital has 400 of the WORST criminal offenders in Texas who are…well…insane. Lord knows why he was in there but he seemed nice. However, I was glad I didn’t puke on a potential serial killer, upset him, and then have him come after me like Michael Myers in Halloween. Just sayin’. 🎃

I was also freaked out in an Uber while in Texas too. I used them all the time to go places and on this day, I was going to my son’s Verizon store to see him (actually, to bug him 😛). When the Uber pulled up, I got in the front because the back was full of stuff and there wasn’t room. To be honest, I didn’t even think about this. After about a minute, the guy turned to me and said I was beautiful. Well, right away I knew he had a screw loose. He kept talking about how lucky my hubby was (apparently not…🙄) and how he wasn’t married. Anyhoot, I knew the way to O’s store like the back of my hand (which I actually don’t study much since it now has age spots and looks like my grandma’s hands did 😕) and before we got to his exit, the driver took another one and we started driving in the country! I am hear to tell you that the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up (the only other time this has ever happened was when O was bullied in the 2nd grade and believe me, I wanted to bully the little brat back badly 😬). My phone was in my backpack purse which I was holding and I started to text when the man said: “I want to show you Texas.” I told him I had seen it with my son who was waiting for me and that I just received a text from him (I hadn’t…O wouldn’t realize I was missing until 2023 🙄) saying he was tracking me and wanted to make sure I was OK. Then he said this: “Will you get drinks with me tonight?” I said I sure would (not), just to appease him.

When we got to the store 20 minutes late, he gave me his card and come to find out, he was a State Farm Insurance agent (I use Geico and love love love them 🦎). I told him I’d call him in a bit to make plans, grabbed my pack, and boogied out of the car. When I got into the store, I was crying and shaking and the Verizon sweeties ran to me. I told them what happened and we called the police and Uber. And here’s the thing…the entire time this was happening, I was thinking about what the Dateline special about me would be like: “Kristi, a professor from IL, vanished while on her way to eat hamburgers with her son in Texas. Police are assuming she’s dead!” SERIOUSLY! That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking and I truly believe, if I hadn’t played along a bit and said O tracks me (he doesn’t 😐), I would have been fertilizer for the fields. Yikes.

And creepy things actually started happening as early as 5th grade. There was a guy in the other 5th grade class and he was a HORRIBLE bully who loved to pick on me. Glasses, skinny, zits, braces, mousy hair, etc. gave him a lot of ammo. One day, the recess bell rang and I was running down the hill towards the playground and he grabbed me and pulled me behind a tree (you can’t make this shit up…trust me… 😲) and put his hands around my neck and squeezed until my eyes were watering and I was red. He finally let go when he heard the teacher yelling for us and I was petrified. I never told because I was so so scared he’d hurt me worse but I steered clear of him the best I could.

Now, the follow-up: While living in Houston where he stayed for a couple of years before moving back ‘home, he actually stabbed to death a 66 year old woman (when he was 18) who was owner of the apartment complex he lived in. The case became cold until 2011 when DNA technology could pinpoint him. In the meantime, he was a registered sex offender who raped a 17 year old girl. When all of this came to light, I got chills…his bullying was just the tip of the iceberg!

So, because of all of this along with me being fascinated with the study of psychopaths, I study serial killers and teach all about them in some of my classes. Did you know that the FBI says there are over 2,000 ACTIVE serial killers in the U.S.? Isn’t that scary? And I know from studying so many of them that they look like ‘regular’ people (for the most part). Take Dennis Radar…president of his Lutheran congregation in Wichita, KS and he was the BTK killer his entire adult life. Who would have thought this husband, dad, church going ‘Christian’ would be a killer? Hmmm.

When you think about it, it makes you wonder how many psychopaths you’ve been close too. There are approximately 1,150,000 male psychopaths in the U.S. and about 16% of all male prisoners are psychopaths. Eeeks! And yes, women can be psychopaths too, but are a bit more rare. Also, female psychopaths tend to be more covert…verbally aggressive, sexually manipulative, etc. They are a ‘different breed’ so to speak.

So, I guess the moral of this post is that Halloween isn’t the only time monsters are out and about…these people (about 1-3% of the population) are around us everyday. And, like I tell my students all the time, listen to your instinct. If someone is making you feel uneasy or goosebumpy or the hair on your neck is at attention…go. When we are talking about ‘bad’ things in some of our classes, I make my sweeties repeat this to me ad nauseum after I ask this question: “What does Professor K say?” TRUST YOUR GUT! 🤨

Kristi xoxo

P.S. Ma, are you glad I didn’t say fuck today? 😁

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