Life, Mental health, psychopaths

30 Pieces of Silver, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The Easter season is upon us and it brings to mind many things…spring, sacrifice, rebirth, resurrection and yes, even betrayal. For in the grand scheme of things, in the course of human history, the biggest betrayal of all occurred during this time of the year…this time known as the Jewish Passover and a time known as the Christian Easter season. Whether you are a believer or not, the story is compelling. Dr. D. James Kennedy recently produced an excellent documentary on the subject I would highly recommend. It’s entitled “Cross Purposes”. The story is as follows.

As a Jew, Jesus had entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. But, this would be his last…His Last Supper. In His heart, Christ knew this. Luke 22:14-38 beautifully portrays what happened at that supper. Knowing that His time was drawing near an end, Christ desired one last meal with His disciples…His friends. He told them as much…He said, “I will not eat or drink again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And then, He said something really startling! “But, behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it is determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.” Luke 22: 21- 22 NASB You can imagine the reaction! I know what mine would have been. There was immediate and intense conversation among the men as to whom the betrayer would be. Not only that, but Simon Peter was told that he would deny Christ three times before the rooster crowed the next morning. And then, from there, Christ went to the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane. While in the Garden, Christ prayed to the Father…He knew what was coming…He prayed, “Father, Your will be done.” He sweat drops of blood. That’s agony.

So, who was the traitor, the betrayer? Judas…for a bribe of 30 pieces of silver. While in the Garden Judas brought a crowd and the ones who would arrest Christ and take him captive. Judas betrayed Christ with a kiss. Judas gets my vote as the “Granddaddy” of all betrayers. In today’s vernacular he was a “player” a “pimp daddy” as the kids say.

Let’s follow Judas’ logic for a minute. As one of Christ’s disciples, Judas was saying that he believed in Christ…what Christ said and taught, that He was truly the Son of God. But, now at the Last Supper, Judas didn’t like what he heard Christ saying…that He was going to die on the Cross…he wanted Christ to go in and kick butt, conquer Roman and set up a giant, impressive Empire. So, Judas decided to force Christ’s hand…manipulate Him a little by turning Him in to the authorities. Did the boy have “Stupid” stamped on his forehead? (By the way, to me that shows the fallacy of the vending machine gospel so popular today. See what happens when man tries to manipulate God?) So, what did Judas’ betrayal win him? Absolutely nothing…but death. When he realized what he had done, there was no gratification. He tried to return his blood money to the priests, but they wouldn’t accept it back. In the end, Judas hung himself from a tree, where his body stayed until it dropped from the rope and it “burst asunder and the dogs ate his insides”. An auspicious ending to a fine life…I’m sure his mother was proud… (sarcasm strongly implied).

What made me start thinking about this? Many things actually. One was something I heard on the news. A rather startling statistic…of the people around us, something like 1 out of 9 is a psychopath! There’s even been a book written on the topic, entitled Snakes in Suites: When Psychopaths Go to Work, by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare (Harper Collins). Dr. Hare is a leading expert on the subject of psychopathic personality. (http://www.snakesinsuites.net/) I happened to catch the tail end of an interview with one of the authors on the news and it was very interesting…and alarming, but I’m afraid to say, not anything I found shocking or surprising. There have always been people who would do anything, even walk on their own mothers if it meant getting them what they wanted. What I found alarming was how pervasive it has become in our society. Only a small percentage of psychopaths are in jail or prison. The rest live among us in our places of work, in our schools…in our homes. According to the authors, the psychopaths around us, that we encounter on a daily basis are not the serial killer type…the Hannibal Lecter or Jeffrey Dahmer type, but the type that make us miserable and wreck havoc and misery in our lives none the less. They seem charming, smooth caring people up front…but beware. (Remember Judas? He was a disciple.) But, your everyday “garden variety” type of psychopaths are toxic people, they push the envelope, and break the rules to succeed at any cost. They may tell you that you are the center of their world…and they may act that way at first…but things change…believe me.

The other thing that made me think of this subject is the person and character of Judas, the betrayer. Like Christ, I have known “…the hand of the one betraying me is at my table…” It is a painful, shattering experience, and those of us with caring hearts and nurturing natures tend to continue to extend our hearts over and over. So, what do we do? Is every betrayer/Judas a psychopath? Is every psychopath a betrayer? How do we protect ourselves from such toxic people?

Here are some characteristics of a psychopath we can use to guard ourselves:

Superficial charm and glibness

Egocentricity

Deceptive behavior & lying

Manipulativiness

Low frustration tolerance

Short term relationships

Parasitic lifestyle or living off others-intentional,

manipulative, self, and exploitive financial dependence on others

Blaming others for their actions

Persistent violation of social norms

Lack of remorse or empathy– Dr. Hare says their lack of remorse

leads them to be coldhearted, dispassionate and ruthless

Need for stimulation – here Dr. Hare says they don’t stay at any

one job long and don’t finish tasks they find dull and boring

Poor self–control; behavior controls–expressions of

irritability;

annoyance; impatience; threats; verbal abuse; acting hastily

Impulsive – foolhardiness; reckless

Lack of realistic long term goals – lack of direction in life

Shallow emotional response

Unreliable – fails to honor obligations

Poor judgment and failure to learn from the past

Ingratitude

Early behavior problems–lying, cheating, alcohol use,

vandalism, sexual activity, theft, running away from home

Promiscuous behavior – brief superficial relationships, affairs,

maintaining several relationships at the same time, coercing sexual

partners for sexual activity; bragging about one’s exploits

Criminal versatility – pride is getting away with their crimes

To a psychopath, you are only valuable to them for what they can get out of you for the moment…for their season with you. They see people in terms of material value. It’s like Dr. Michael Conner puts it…you are valuable to them for entertainment, money, excitement…to build their self esteem through your property, money, looks, etc. When that fades, goes away or gets boring…so will they. Pretty chilling…sad and pathetic, but true. I have experienced this first hand one time too many.

(http://www.crisiscounseling.com/Articles/Psychopath.htm)

Was Judas a psychopath? Well, who am I to say, but looking at some of the warning signs above I can say this. (1)He lied and practiced deceptive behavior at the Last Supper. He certainly didn’t bust up and say, “Well, yes, Lord, I’m the betrayer.” My experience has been that most betrayers lie through their teeth, even after caught. (2) He tried to manipulate Christ into doing what he, Judas, wanted…which was establish an earthly kingdom that would rival Rome and give them a “run for their money”. He wanted to be a part of that larger plan. (3) Betraying Christ with a kiss, to me shows a certain lack of ingratitude, remorse and empathy. How could he have walked, eaten and sat under the teachings of a Man who taught love and peace, and then betray Him with a symbol of affection? (4) If Judas was truly a believer, betraying the Son of God, certainly showed a lack of a long term plan. I think Judas forgot about a little thing called eternity at this point. (5) Was Judas showing remorse for betraying the Son of God when he hung himself, or like most psychopath, was it just pity for himself for being caught and anger at his plans gone awry?

What do we do to protect ourselves? Well…we recognize the signs first and foremost. But, there is a greater help. On the Cross, Christ cried out something rather startling. He had been abused severely. He had gone through a mock, kangaroo trial…jurisprudence gone wild…His own people had turned their backs on Him, and yes even His beloved Peter had denied Him three times as predicted. He was stripped, mocked, lashed and beaten almost until He was unrecognizable as a human and a crown of thorns rammed onto His head in mockery, He was them made to bare the burden of a heavy wooden cross on His back to His place execution and there He was brutally nailed to the Cross where He hung in agony for hours in the brutal sun. Later, His side was pierced with a sword. When He was thirsty He was given soured wine to drink. What did Christ cry out? Did He curse them? No. He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Sweet Jesus! That we could be like that!

So, in dealing with the Judas/betrayer and psychopath in your life I would say this…and I would paraphrase this…”Father, forgive them, for they do know what they do and need all the help from You they can get.” Lastly, I would tell you, the reader, to look to the great I AM, for greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. That will help you, guard you and strengthen against the Judases’ this ol’ world throws at you.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch

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