Cainists are: (1) Obsessively self-absorbed, (2) Jealous and envious, (3) Grandiose, (4) Rigid, (5) Superficial and shallow, (6) Insensitive, (7) Think they’re special, (8) Crave endless attention and admiration, even worship, (9) Demand loyalty regardless of merit and (10) Refuse to offer an honest apology in which they admit their fault. They might say they are “sorry” something worked out a certain way, but they will never admit that their conduct and choices caused you pain or harm. Their pride and arrogance will always override your feelings. They are the type who, to use an old cliché, can’t see past the end of their nose.
However, their biggest deficient, which sets them apart from a normal relationship, is lack of empathy and the inability to recognize emotions in others. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door (2006) points out that cainists “are able to feel most emotions as strongly as anyone else does.” The problem is, the empathy and emotions are for themselves, not others.
Therapist Sandra Brown, who writes a column for Psychology Today and author of the book Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopath & Narcissists (2008), explains that there is a spectrum of empathy. At one end is the sociopath who has no conscience or empathy and at the other end is the cainist who has extremely low levels of both. Cain knows the difference between right and wrong–socially, legally and ethically–but mostly he doesn’t care if he violates the rights and needs of others if it interferes with what he wants, needs and desires.
TV personality Bill O’Reilly, host of the Fox cable show “The O’Reilly Factor“, is a major example of someone who is lost in thought about his own power and brilliance, and lacks empathy or concern for others. It’s common for him to yell “shut up!” to his guests several times throughout his show. Some of that might be for the ratings, but as Sandra Brown suggests, if you have doubts about someone’s conduct and behavior, stop and ask yourself the question: “Who does that?” If it doesn’t fit into a reasonably normal paradigm, one with a conscience and compassion for others, you’re probably looking at a cainist…or worse.
One of O’Reilly’s callous comments stands heads about the rest. It related to the Shawn Hornbeck kidnapping in 2002. The eleven-year-old boy, Shawn, was kidnapped while riding his bike in Richwoods, Missouri. It took almost five years for him and another boy to be found and rescued from the kidnapper. News reports revealed that Shawn had had occasions to escape, but didn’t. The explanation turned quickly to the idea of the Stockholm syndrome—a state of mind that sometimes develops in hostages where the hostage or a victim becomes attached to his captor in a desperate act to survive.
Lacking normal, human compassion, O’Reilly dismissed the Stockholm Theory, accusing the child of liking his new situation because he didn’t have to obey his parents, go to school and could do whatever he wanted to do. In reality, during the first month of captivity, Shawn was tied to a futon all day, sexually abused, and his abductor terrorized him with threats that he would be killed if he didn’t do exactly as he was told. Although O’Reilly was condemned for his cruel insensitivity, he never apologized or admitted he was wrong.
Who does that?
In closing, perhaps, the quote from big shot character, Buddy Ackerman, in the 1994 film Swimming With Sharks sums cainism up best:
“What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me. You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs. So while it may look like a little thing to you, when I ask for a packet of Sweet-N-Low, that’s what I want. And it’s your responsibility to get what I want.”
That, my friends, sounds exactly like words that would come from an arrogant cainist’s mouth.