What the people need, is a way to make ’em smile

It ain’t so hard to do if you know how

Gotta get a message, get it on through

Oh, now momma don’t you ask me why

Whoa, oh, listen to the music!

Doobie Brothers – “Listen to the Music”

Some years ago, I was married to a woman who was later diagnosed as a psychopath. My impression of a psychopath back then was Hannibal Lecter, in chains and a face mask. That view was both ignorant and naïve. There are psychopaths all around us, up to 4% of the population. Most are high functioning and do not kill. They look like charming and well adjusted people, but they destroy lives in other ways. They are political leaders, judges, police and military officers, corporate executives, religious leaders and media personalities. A psychopath could even be a stay-at-home mother, as I discovered through much pain and suffering.

I won’t write about her in detail here. That is for another time and another article. This short article is about a quirk I discovered in her, and possibly other psychopaths, with respect to music.

Malignant personality types, such as narcissists and psychopaths, use love bombing and criticism to control their victims. Exclusively love bombing at first to gain their trust and hook them, then slowly segueing to criticism once they have them effectively controlled. My psychopath wife was no exception. Part of her love bombing consisted of trying to bond with me over my love of music. She portrayed herself as an accomplished musician, both keyboards and violin (which she called the fiddle). I only ever saw a rudimentary grasp of the keyboards and no evidence at all of the violin, although she possessed several violins that I never saw her play. She had a 500-pound upright piano that she would have others drag around for her from residence to residence, only plinking on it occasionally. A giant prop to make her appear musical and normal.

The first cracks of criticism appeared after we were married when I would mention certain songs I liked, because of their instrumental qualities. She would, in turn, criticize me for liking a song that had questionable lyrics. For example, when I mention that I liked the song Talk, Talk, she criticized me for liking a song that had lyrics about cheating.  At that time, I didn’t even know the lyrics. I just really liked the keyboards and beat. On another occasion, she remarked that I liked the song Poker Face, because I was an anti-social person who walled himself off from others with a poker face. That thought had never once occurred to me, as I was a fairly social person, albeit a bit reserved. I just wrote off this criticism as misunderstandings, and her increasing attacks about other things soon eclipsed the musical ones altogether. I did not revisit this dynamic until things had calmed down considerably years after she abandoned me and our child.

I spent considerable time after her disappearance trying to deconstruct the freight train that had run over me, discovering through two separate diagnoses what she was – a psychopath. I learned that part of being a psychopath is the inability to experience feelings like normal people. No love, shame, guilt or even fear. That is what makes them, and her, such effective liars, manipulators and deceivers. One day when her past critical words were echoing in my mind yet again, the musical criticism resurfaced. I had a sudden epiphany. Music was another “feeling” she could not experience. She could only understand it as words and noise, so she concentrated on the words to frame her criticisms. That is how she so massively missed the mark in her accusations against me. She was utterly incapable of understanding the musical part of the equation, so she hammered me on the lyrics.

Looking back on every musical discussion or argument we ever had, she associated and judged every song solely by its lyrics. She did not seem to fathom that sometimes I just liked the guitar, or the bass, or the keyboards, or even the drums … and often paid no attention to the words.

Ironically, many of the lyrics for which she criticized and judged me applied perfectly to her. This is another tactic of psychopaths and their narcissist brethren, called projection. Take the following lyrics from Talk, Talk, for example:

When every choice that I make is yours

Keep telling me what’s wrong and what’s right

Don’t you ever stop to think about me?

I’m not that blind to see you’ve been cheating on me

This describes a psychopath or narcissist perfectly. Yes, she was also a prolific serial cheater, which I did not discover until after she left.

This caused me to look back over her supposed musical genius. It was also a façade. She was able to steal and copy bits and pieces, but never create anything on her own. She possessed a level of mechanical competence and rote repetition, but no gift, genius or even love of music. She simply mimicked notes and lyrics without understanding music, the way a parrot mimics human words without understanding speech. The passion that would drive the pursuit, and later excellence, was missing. Just like her passion for anything else except primitive greed and a desire to dominate.

I tried to imagine what it was like. No goose bumps or tears from a moving piece or music. No relived memories from past good times or youth when hearing a song again. Nothing for her, but noise and words. I almost felt sorry for her, but then I remember the pain and destruction she caused. Feeling sorry for her passed very quickly.

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A Chad is a stereotypical alpha male. He is depicted as attractive, successful, muscular, cocky and very popular among women. He has a tendency to play the field and will not commit to any woman.

An enabler of a highly narcissistic person or someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A flying monkey is an agent who acts on their behalf.

Projection involves taking an unacceptable part of oneself, disowning it, and placing it onto someone else. The manipulator describes the victim and paints them in a light that more accurately portrays the attacker himself.

Toxic amnesia is a tactic where the perpetrator pretends to not remember abuse, betrayals, lies, and other hurtful and dysfunctional behaviors they've engaged in. Its a form of gaslighting. Its purpose is to make you doubt your perceptions and memories.

Narcissistic rage can be triggered by various situations, such as criticism, perceived rejection, or being ignored. The reaction is often extreme and disproportionate to the event or comment, as the narcissist's fragile ego struggles to cope with the perceived attack on their self-image.

Triangulation is when a toxic or manipulative person, often a person with strong narcissistic traits, brings a third person into their relationship in order to remain in control. There will be limited or no communication between the two triangulated individuals except through the manipulator. It may appear in different forms, but all are about divide and conquer, or playing people against each other.

The action or practice of lavishing someone with attention or affection, especially in order to influence or manipulate them.

Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. This produces a feeling of mental discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance.

To gaslight someone means to manipulate another person into doubting their own perceptions, experiences or understanding of events. ~ American Psychological Association

Because their sense of self is determined by what others think of them, narcissists use relationships for self-enhancement. Everyone must feed them. In addition, they seek validation and attention in their public and professional life. Other people are used as objects in order to provide their supply. For example, they may need constant compliments or applause, more status and money, or may check their appearance in the mirror several times a day. ~ Psychology Today

Fraud that targets people belonging to a particular community or group, typically that in which someone pretends to be a member of the group in order to gain the trust of others.

Second Attack
Second Attack
First Attack
First Attack
Initial Dispositions
Initial Dispositions
ZSU 23-4
ZSU 23-4 Anti-Aircraft Gun
TOW Missile
TOW Anti-Tank Missile
T55 Tank
T55 Tank
SA7 Surface to Air Missile
M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)
M48 Tank
M48 Tank
Hawker Hunter
Hawker Hunter Jet
BTR-50 Armored Personnel Carrier
BM21 Stalin Organ
BM21 Stalin Organ
AT7 Anti-Tank Missile
AT7 Anti-Tank Missile
AT3 Sagger Anti-Tank Missile
AT3 Sagger Anti-Tank Missile
120mm Mortar
120mm Mortar
AT4 Anti-Tank Missile
AT4 Anti-Tank Missile

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

A religious leader uses valid verses or concepts from the Bible about following and obeying God to generate enthusiasm in people, then misdirects that obedience to himself as a representative of God. The group believes they are following and obeying God, but in reality are obeying the leader.

A fictional, exaggerated version of an opposing viewpoint, especially one that is intentionally created to be easy to dismiss or argue against and to make one's own argument seem stronger. Straw man arguments can be made unintentionally, but most are made on purpose to make the other side seem evil, incompetent, or extremist.

The religious leader distracts members from mentally registering what he is doing.  Screaming praise to God when something he proclaimed does not come to pass.  Acting like a bad thing is really a good thing.  Just keep talking and talking and talking, while ignoring that nothing is happening. It is the same thing politicians have done successfully for years.

The leader calls members flattering adjectives or nouns, like righteous, holy, or saint.  These are often vague and difficult to define, so the member feels the leader’s superior knowledge has recognized something good in them.  Conversely, if the leader later withdraws this praise, the member is eager to toe the line to recover it.

Manipulation of a person or group's emotions in order to make them believe something is factual (or false) in the absence of any evidence. The manipulator tries to draw on the recipient's inward feelings such as fear, pity, or joy with the goal of convincing them that the statements being presented are true or false.

Essentially a black-and-white worldview with the leader as the ultimate moral arbiter. This creates an atmosphere of guilt and shame, where punishment and humiliation are expected. It also sets up an environment wherein members spy and report on one another. Through submission to the guilt-inducing and impossible demand for purity, members lose their moral bearing.

The use of jargon internal to (and only understandable by) the group. Constricting language constricts the person. Capacities for thinking and feeling are significantly reduced. Imagination is no longer a part of life experiences, and the mind atrophies from disuse.

The process whereby the group becomes the ultimate arbiter and all nonbelievers become so-called evil or non-people. If these non-people cannot be recruited, then they can be punished or even killed. This process creates an us-versus-them mentality that breeds fear in followers who learn that life depends on a willingness to obey. This is when individuals merge with the group’s belief.