by Greg Scorzo –

Post-Socratic Dialogues are moving thought experiments. They portray elaborate, unfolding situations which, at every turn, force the reader to examine his or her philosophical intuitions about a range of topics. These dialogues are called “Post-Socratic” because there is no Socrates figure, telling the reader which arguments (if any) are the best ones. The reader decides that on their own.

Love: Part 1: Self-Interested Love

 Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
Always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4

Joe Pastorious has been in a relationship with Janet Waverley for three years. They fell in love in a place called Leicester, which is a small city in the middle of England. Many things have been said of Leicester, but one thing that is not said enough is it is a great place to fall in love. It was the perfect place for Joe and Janet to fall in love. 

Joe is attracted to Janet because she is beautiful, charming, interesting, intelligent, creative, courageous, funny, and a great flirt. Janet is crazy about Joe for similar reasons. They have great conversations together. 

Joe thinks Janet is an amazing lover and he has had more fun with her than he has had with any other person in his entire life. Janet shares all of Joe’s important religious and political views. She has similar tastes and shares his hobbies.

Joe can spend long periods of time with Janet without either of them getting on each other’s nerves.

Janet helps Joe improve his weaknesses. Joe and Janet like most of the same people for the same reasons. Janet always considers Joe’s advice and very much respects his opinion. She always gives Joe good advice and shares a perspective with him that helps him see things that he is sometimes blind to on his own.

Janet and Joe, throughout their relationship, have always been faithful to one another. Both parties take their commitment to one another very seriously. Both of them will only leave the relationship if they think it isn’t working. Janet and Joe only say things to each other that are true. They do this while combining their honesty with tact so as to not hurt the other’s feelings. Joe always helps Janet when she needs him and vice versa.

Janet has recently started going to therapy to work on problems she has with impulse control. Although her problems haven’t put her or others in any serious danger, she still worries that they could get out of control in the future. After several months of therapy, Janet’s therapist diagnoses her as a psychopath. After listening to him explain his reasons for the diagnosis, Janet agrees that she is indeed a psychopath.

Janet is a thrill seeker with completely self-interested motivations. On the inside, she cares about people she likes only because of what those people can give her (whether it’s good company, loyalty, practical help, fun experiences, stimulating conversation, good sex, advice, or money). She doesn’t care at all about people she dislikes who give her nothing. Janet can cry on cue to get what she wants.

Nevertheless, she believes that she is a benevolent psychopath. She believes she is a benevolent psychopath because she never harms anyone. She also rarely, if ever, treats anyone unfairly. This is because she understands that harming those she dislikes and treating them unfairly would give her less of what she wants in life. It’s not because she cares about the suffering or unfair treatment of people she dislikes.

Janet cares about Joe more than anyone because Joe gives her what she wants from a boyfriend. Most of the time, Joe is good company, fun, sexy, a good conversationalist, and someone who is very supportive of her. Janet also cuts Joe a lot of slack. She allows him days when he is grumpy and isn’t good company because she understands that realistically, you can’t have a committed relationship unless you cut your partner some slack. However, if Joe were to permanently stop giving her the things that make Janet happy in the relationship, she would not hesitate to end it.

Janet knows that behaving selfishly and using people makes people she cares about dislike her. She knows behaving this way would especially make Joe dislike her. Because of this, she mostly behaves in a way where she doesn’t appear selfish or like she is using people. Sometimes she slips up. On a few occasions, she does show Joe some selfish behaviour. However, the amount of selfish behaviour she shows Joe is comparable to the amount of selfish behaviour he shows her. He isn’t a psychopath.

Nonetheless, when Joe finds out about Janet’s diagnosis, he decides to break up with her. Despite the fact that he loves her intensely, he can’t bear the thought of being in a relationship with a psychopath.

Joe: I don’t really know how to say this…you know I love you. You know I think you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever known. But you being amazing isn’t going to solve this problem.

Janet: What problem?

Joe: It’s difficult for me to say this, but I think our relationship is unhealthy. It’s not coming from the right place. It’s twisted.

Janet: I don’t understand. We enjoy each other’s company. We rarely fight. We help each other grow. We like and dislike most of the same people. We have the same values. We have great sex. We make each other laugh. We’re there for each other when we need each other. It’s a great relationship, Joe. It’s the relationship most people wish they had!

Joe: Janet, you’re just listing things that benefit you.

Janet: Of course they benefit me.

Joe: Yeah, and if they all stopped, you’d fucking leave.

Janet: That’s so not fair. If I had a brain injury and became a horrible person that made you miserable, you’d leave too. You’d have every right to.

Joe: Yeah, but I’d be leaving because you became a different person. You’d leave for far less than that. What if I got prostate cancer and couldn’t get erections anymore?

Janet: You know I’d be devastated if you got cancer!

Joe: You’d be devastated because of what it would mean for YOU. Then you’d be gone.

Janet: I wouldn’t be gone because I love too many other things…your companionship, your sense of humour, your sensitivity, your wisdom. We could work around the sex. That’s not a problem. There will always be ways to get each other off. You don’t need erections for everything. That’s the old fashioned way of thinking about sex.

Joe: But what if I suffered a depressive episode? What if I couldn’t be terribly good company to you for a number of years?

Janet: I’d help you through that the best I could. What else could I do?

Joe: You’d help me through it because you’d be waiting. You’d be waiting for me to come out of the depression and be charming again. If you thought I wouldn’t, you’d throw me away, like so many other things you easily throw away.

Janet: If you were miserable for the rest of your life, what kind of relationship would we have? I’d be your bloody nurse! You’d hardly ever talk to me. That wouldn’t make either of us happy.

Joe: Janet, that’s what a good relationship sometimes is.

Janet: (loudly) No, it isn’t! That’s one person looking after someone else, someone they WERE in a relationship with.

Joe: Janet, that’s what you do for the person you love if they get ill. Love isn’t about being entertained. It’s about commitment. It’s about learning to love the person you’re with, no matter what they do or become.

Janet: Nobody wants to love a person who can’t communicate with them. Nobody wants to love a person whose become so damaged that they can’t be nice to anybody.

Joe: That’s where you’re wrong, Janet. You’re so wrong it’s disturbing.

Janet: Don’t be silly. This is a stupid thing to get upset about. If you had a depressive episode, I couldn’t know for certain you’d never come back to me, so it’s very very unlikely I’d leave you. I’d endure at least a few years of unpleasant behaviour, so you don’t have anything to worry about. If you ever get depressed again, we’ll work through it. I love you and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you’re happy.

Joe: But why is it in your self-interest to spend years of your life with someone so unpleasant? Why not just leave and find someone who isn’t depressed?

Janet: Because you’re so cool and interesting and sexy and sweet and lovely and wonderful and deep and just…amazing to me. You’re everything I’ve ever wanted in another human being. I love being with you, whether you’re depressed or not. Your company is the best thing about my life. There’s nothing in it that’s better.

Joe: But you only love me because of my company! What about loving me for me?

Janet: (loudly) I do love you for you! You make me feel happy. Why is that so terrible?

Joe: You should love me even if I don’t make you happy, Janet.

Janet: Ok, let me understand this…you think people should stay in relationships even if those relationships make them miserable. You think people should suffer for love. If people are happy and no one’s suffering, something’s wrong. Is that what you’re trying to say?

Joe: All good relationships have periods that are rough, periods where partners don’t make each other feel good. That’s life, Janet. You can’t just leave a partner during a tough time because it’s in your self-interest!

Janet: But in a period like that, it wouldn’t be in my self-interest to leave! I’d lose out on the chance to fix things. I’d rather put up with a few unhappy years than blow up everything we’ve created together. Do you think I would risk losing you that easily? You’re my bloody soulmate!

Joe: I can’t be your soulmate, Janet.

Janet: What?

Joe: No one can be your soulmate because you don’t understand love. You only value me because of what you get from me. You don’t love me unconditionally. I don’t even feel like you love me anymore. I feel like someone you’ve hired to be your boyfriend.

Janet: I haven’t hired you. I chose to be your girlfriend because I love you.

Joe: How can you love as a psychopath? How can you really love me if all you love about me is what I give to you?

Janet: I can’t love you unless you give me things I love. You do give me those things. That’s why I love you, Joe. That’s why I’ve always loved you. It’s very simple.

Joe: That’s the problem, Janet.

Janet: I don’t understand why that’s a problem! I really don’t.

Joe: That’s another big problem. You’re digging your own grave here, Janet.

Janet: I don’t know what you want me to say.

Joe: It’s not about what you say or how you behave. It’s about your motivations. You’re scared of us ending because you’re scared of having to find companionship from someone else. You’re scared of not having someone to talk to every night. You’re scared of not having someone who makes you happy. That’s not really love, Janet. That’s shallow.

Janet: This is ridiculous.

Joe: What’s ridiculous?

Janet: You’re breaking up with me because of what amounts to… a philosophical difference in the ways each of us interpret love.

Joe: (loudly) It’s not a fucking philosophical difference! I’m telling you how I feel!

Janet: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to..

Joe: (interrupting) I don’t care if you’re sorry…I can’t do this! I do love you but I can’t be in a relationship with a fucking…someone whose not right in the head. I wish my love for you could overcome this but it can’t. You can’t do a healthy relationship! It’s sad and horrible but it’s the truth, Janet. You don’t love. You take.

Janet: Well, I don’t agree with you. The fact that I’m “not right in the head” has nothing to do with you not wanting to be with me. We get along great! This is just about a difference in how we interpret love. It’s a difference that doesn’t matter, Joe. Think about it. Think about all the conversations and the cuddles and the fun and the joy and the help and the trust and admiration and respect and support that happens every day. Think about all the love in those things. Doesn’t all of that mean anything to you?

Joe: It’s not proper love if one of us can’t really love.

Janet: That’s not fair! How am I supposed to prove to you that I can love you? Isn’t the last three years proof enough of that?

Joe: The more I watch you fight me, the more I can see how this relationship really works.

Janet: What are you on about?

Joe: You’re trying to fucking manipulate me! That’s what people like you do!

Janet: (loudly) Why is it wrong for me to fight to keep you? You’re the one thing in my day that makes everything else work. Being with you makes me feel like my life means something! You’re crazy if you think I’ll let you ruin that without a fight!

Joe: It’s hardly a fight that shows you actually care how I feel.

Janet: (shouting) Of course I care about how you feel! If you were miserable, you wouldn’t be with me!

Joe: Exactly. With you, it’s all just a self-interested calculation. Where’s the love in that?

Janet: Joe, from the bottom of my heart, I love you in the only way I know how to love anyone. This is how I love. I know I’m not perfect and the way I love isn’t perfect. But I can only be what I am.

Joe: I know and appreciate that Janet.

Janet: Do you? Do you really?

Joe: Yes, but that’s why it’s not good enough. I need real love from a woman. Not what you give me. What you give me is wonderful but it’s not real. I wish I could be happy with it but I just can’t.

Janet: (looking very sad) All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy with me. I don’t want you to be with me if I don’t make you happy. I’m only with you because I thought we made each other happy.

Joe: We did make each other happy before I found out who you are.

Janet: (distressed) My God, Joe.

Joe: What?

Janet: (beginning to cry) Hearing you say these things to me…it hurts so much. I don’t normally feel things like this. I can’t even describe it. I don’t even know how to handle emotions like this because…

Joe: (interrupting) We are finished, Janet! Don’t waste your time trying to change my mind. We are over and there is nothing you can do about it!

Janet: (tears streaming down her face) What are you doing? Why are you saying these things to me? I thought I could trust you. I trusted you not to hurt me like this!

Joe: (angrily) You don’t fucking know what hurt is! You’re only upset because I’m inconveniencing you. You’ll get someone else tomorrow and act like you never met me! You’re only sad because I’m depriving you of something that amuses you. Something you like to depend on. You’re losing one of your favourite wind up toys. That’s all that I am!

Janet: (crying) It’s not like losing one of my favourite wind up toys! It’s like losing my favourite toy that I’ve ever known; the toy that makes me feel like I’m capable of being a happy person!

Joe: (yelling) I’m not a FUCKING toy, Janet! I’m a person. I’m not here just to keep you happy.

Janet: (crying) But I thought I made you happy!

Joe: You did make me happy but your happiness and your hurt have nothing to do with me.

Janet: (crying) Anybody in my position would be hurt right now!

Joe: Anyone who really has empathy would be hurt if they were in your position. I don’t even know whether you actually have empathy. That’s one of the reasons I can’t be with you.

Janet: (crying) All I have is what I give you.

Joe: (shouting) It’s not good enough!

Janet: (wiping away tears) I still can’t understand why.

Joe: Because you’re just using me! You’re totally selfish. Everything is always about you!

Janet: But I try so hard to never make you feel like that! I work so hard not to come across like I’m acting selfishly or being insensitive or using you or anyone else. I have to try way harder than you to adequately project that. It’s incredibly exhausting but I do it because I love you!

Joe: That’s the problem! It’s a projection. It’s not real. You’re acting out all this behaviour just to keep me from leaving you. I understand the effort you put into it but that doesn’t change anything. You’re not a giver. You’re nice to our friends but it’s only because of what they give you. If they ever pissed you off, you’d hate them!

Janet: I love our friends for the same reasons you do! Do you mean to tell me that if they all turned into obnoxious dicks, you’d still meet them for coffee?

Joe: I’m not talking about them turning into dicks! I’m talking about them just doing something that really made you angry. If any of our friends really upset you, you’d hate them. You wouldn’t want them in your life anymore. They wouldn’t get any second chances. That’s the kind of person you are.

Janet: No, I’d be nice to them and have them in my life if I knew it meant a lot to you. I’m not a bitch.

Joe: That doesn’t matter. You still wouldn’t care about them and that’s how we’re different. If they made me angry, I wouldn’t automatically reject them. I could be patient.

Janet: Haven’t I been patient with you?

Joe: That’s different! You’re patient with me because I’m your boyfriend.

Janet: I’ve been very very patient with you, Joe. I’m being patient with you now.

Joe: That’s because when you’re patient with me you get serious fucking rewards. Your friends only get to stick around if they don’t upset you. You don’t have to be patient with them. All you care about is whether or not they’re pleasant company. All you care about is whether you can have interesting conversations with them. You don’t value them because of who they are.

Janet: I value my friends because they’re people I like. I can’t be a good friend to someone if I don’t like them. And it’s hard to like someone if you don’t have much in common or have totally different values. That’s normal.

Joe: (loudly) No, it’s not! You yourself have said you don’t care about what happens to people you really hate.

Janet: (loudly) But I only hate most of the same people you hate!

Joe: But I could feel bad if someone I hated got cancer. You couldn’t.

Janet: Why does that matter?

Joe: It matters because it means you can’t empathise with people who wind you up! You can only feel affection for people when they give you things on your terms. That’s why you can’t understand friendship anymore than you can understand love. You’re a psychopath. You can behave like a nice person but it’s all an act. On the inside, you’re rotten.

Janet: (crying again) …Jesus, you’re being cruel!… How can you say that to me?

Joe: There you go, Janet. Those tears of yours are a good example of what I’m talking about. You could just be acting now. How do I know?

Janet: (crying) You don’t trust me.

Joe: Nope.

Janet: (crying) Even after everything we’ve been through together, you still don’t trust me. Nothing I did was good enough.

Joe: You don’t have a mind anyone can trust.

Janet: So it’s my mind you can’t trust. You love my behaviour but hate the way my mind works. Is that it?

Joe: I can only know your behaviour. I can’t know you. I can’t know whether I’m ever being manipulated or whether I’m in danger. Suppose you suddenly get really upset and can’t help doing something impulsive. I can’t even imagine the crazy shit you’re capable of!

Janet: Joe, what have I been like throughout our time together?

Joe: You ‘behaved’ really well. You ‘behaved’ like my soul mate.

Janet: Are you honestly saying you think I tricked you into believing you love me?

Joe: Yes, I do. I know you’d prefer it if I hid that from you but I can’t.

Janet: Well, I wouldn’t prefer that. I wouldn’t want you to hide anything you were feeling about me that’s important for me to know. You can tell me what I need to hear without being cruel about it, though. You don’t have to hurt me like this.

Joe: I’m not trying to hurt you Janet. I’m just being honest with you.

Janet: It feels like you’re trying to punish me.

Joe: I couldn’t punish you even if I wanted to! You have the thickest skin of anyone I’ve ever met. You have resilience a normal person doesn’t. You won’t be hurt by this experience. You’ll learn from it like you always do. Nothing fazes you.

Janet: What am I supposed to learn?

Joe: (beginning to cry) Learn that normal people, people who aren’t like you…we are incredibly imperfect. I’m not better than you just because you’re a psychopath. I’m horrible on the inside too. It’s not as if I’m a wonderful person and you’re a monster. I’m not a good boyfriend for anyone. When you realise that, you’ll move on and be happy. I’m too damaged.

Janet: (still crying) Then why can’t you try and be better? Why can’t you try to love me? Why can’t you just accept and love my behaviour towards you?

Joe: You are lovely in your behaviour but I don’t want lovely behaviour in a girlfriend. I want a lovely person. You can’t be a lovely person because your brain’s deformed. You were one of nature’s mistakes. You’re like poison candy. You shouldn’t have been born!

Janet: (crying) Oh God, that’s such a nasty thing to say to someone! ..I don’t understand why you have to…..

Joe: (interrupting) I’m sorry but I can’t help…

Janet: (interrupting) Have I ever said anything cruel like that to you?

Joe: No you haven’t…

Janet: (angrily) I don’t say mean things like that to you because I love you! You’re my favourite person and I would never want to hurt you if I could help it!

Joe: You’re not my favourite person anymore, Janet.

Janet: (wiping away tears) I suppose I’m not.

Joe: Yesterday you were my favourite person. You were my favourite person because you acted like my best friend. You behaved in a way that made you seem exciting and amazing, like someone completely and totally unlike anyone else on this planet. It was a great performance. That performance is the reason we lasted this long. But I can’t keep giving you what you want from me. I can’t tolerate your fakeness. I won’t put up with you being nice to me so you can get me to do things for you.

Janet: (wiping away tears) I’m not nice to you just so that I can get you to do things for me! Being nice to you gives me pleasure. I get pleasure from being with you. I enjoy watching you be happy. I always have.

Joe: Yes, you either manipulate me or give yourself pleasure. Do you think I want to waste my life in a relationship with someone like that?

Janet: I can’t do anything other than that! I can’t do anything other than be me!

Joe: That’s why you need to stay the fuck away from me. I can’t expose myself to a TOTALLY self-centered person who behaves otherwise to get favours. I make myself too vulnerable when I’m with you.

Janet: But I don’t do things for people just because I want favours from them! I also do things for people because I care about them. You know that!

Joe: You care about them only because of what caring for them does for you!

Janet: Well, I’m sorry you think that’s fake. I’m sorry you think I’m a bad person.

Joe: I’m sorry too. I never dreamed you were a manipulative psychopath that could literally turn on the tears. I can’t believe I let myself be fooled by you.

Janet: Ok, I know I’ve cried before when maybe my tears weren’t totally genuine. I could tell you they’re genuine now but there’d be no point because you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Joe: (loudly) Of course you’re gonna cry now! You’re trying to make me feel FUCKING guilty! You can stop those tears any time you want!

Janet: (loudly) I’m not stopping my tears because I want you to see how hurt I am!

Joe: I can’t see hurt, Janet. I can only see behaviour that looks like you’re hurt.

Janet: How am I different to anyone else? All you see from the world is behaviour. You can’t know what goes on inside someone’s head. No one’s that transparent.

Joe: But Dr Harris knows what goes on inside your head and that’s why he diagnosed you the way he did. You don’t dispute that diagnosis, Janet. You know you aren’t a normal person.

Janet: I may not be normal but I’m not cruel.

Joe: I know you don’t have totally evil intentions but listen to me: You just don’t have the kind of mind that can do the relationship that I need. That mind of yours can’t really love. It can only mimic love. You’re an actress. That’s all you’ll ever be.

Janet: (shouting) But that’s how I show my love!

Joe: It’s not love. It’s pretending. You’re just a psycho who pretends.

Janet: (angrily) That’s not fucking fair! I’m not a horrible person! I act so that I can be nice to people! I work hard to be nice! You can’t write off all my good behaviour because of my diagnosis!

Joe: (flustered) Ok, let me put it this way. I’m frightened, Janet. I’m frightened of you. I don’t even know if half of what I’m telling you is how I feel or whether I’m just trying to justify the fact that I can’t do this. I can’t be with someone who frightens me. I love you but you scare the shit out of me.

Janet: (loudly) But I don’t want that!

Joe: I know you don’t.

Janet: (tearing up) You’re the love of my life, Joe.

Joe: Then let me go. I’m not brave enough to be with you. I’m not good enough.

Janet: Isn’t there a way you can overcome your fear? Isn’t there a way you can still love me even though I love so differently to you?

Joe: No, Janet. You’ll eventually destroy our lives. That’s what psychopaths do.

Janet: Have you ever seen me be destructive to our life together or anyone in it?

Joe: I’ve seen little hints of that destructiveness. It’s subtle but it’s there.

Janet: Isn’t that what you would see in anyone? I’m not perfect but I’m no different to anyone else who isn’t perfect.

Joe: Yes, but I wouldn’t worry about someone who isn’t a psychopath the way I have to worry about you. It’s too stressful. I hate saying all of this because it feels like I’m hurting you. Your pain always hurts me. I can feel it right now, Janet. I don’t know whether it’s real but I’m shaking. Look at my hands.

Janet: I wish I could stop that pain, Joe. I really do. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve just hurt me. I still love you, whatever you think that means. That’s the only way I can describe how I feel.

Joe: How you feel doesn’t matter. I can’t be kind to you if I don’t feel safe. I can’t be a good boyfriend for you if I don’t feel safe being around you and your behaviour.

Janet: (suddenly annoyed) My God, this is such nonsense! The only real difference between us is I can’t feel empathy for people we both hate! In every other respect, my behaviours make you feel great! Be honest Joe. They make me sexy and exciting to you. How many times have you told me you love my bravery, my non-conformism, my creativity, my ability to get what I want?

Joe: Yes, and I meant all of that. Everything about you makes me really really hard.

Janet: Don’t you value the pleasure I give you?

Joe: Sex isn’t that important to me.

Janet: How can you say that? Every time we have sex you go on and on about how it was the best sex you’ve ever had!

Joe: I’m not denying that, Janet. I’m denying it’s what’s truly important. Whether we have great sex or loads in common or lots of fun isn’t what makes a relationship healthy. What matters is how committed we are when times are tough. What matters is our ability to be selfless and giving when we don’t enjoy each other.

Janet: (loudly) But we always enjoy each other!

Joe: Enjoying a person isn’t the same as loving them! You can only know someone really loves you when they’re there for you, especially when you really piss them off. That’s why you’ll never be able to convince me that you love me. You can’t love in a way that isn’t self-interested. I’m only the love of your life if I make you feel good. You won’t stay in this relationship if you feel like it’s painful for you.

Janet: Do you know what I think? I think you are callously destroying a relationship with remarkly little pain in it. And you’re not destroying it because of an important difference between us. You’re destroying it because my mind scares you! That fear is more important to you than all the love I give you or how I’ve made you happy every goddamn day for the last three years! You’re making me feel like all of that means nothing! You’re making me feel like I don’t deserve to be loved!

Joe: True love isn’t about what you deserve.

Janet: (crying again) I’m the woman you said you wanted to spend the rest of your life with yesterday!

Joe: I didn’t really know who you were yesterday. I thought you were a good person.

Janet: (sobbing uncontrollably) …Why do you keep saying that to me? …It’s like you’re getting off on hurting me! …How can you do that to someone who loves you?

Janet sobs loud and hard for a good minute, her head in her hands. Joe watches with tears in his own eyes. He wants to hug her but he feels he shouldn’t. Not hugging her in this moment is one of the hardest things he has ever made himself do.

Joe: (crying) I need you to let me go, Janet. …I know I’m lashing out at you right now and being horrible…. I have to do this because we’re not good for each other… I have to end this relationship…. I don’t have a choice.

Janet: (crying) You do have a choice!

Joe: (crying) I don’t… I really don’t. ..I can’t do this, I just can’t. ..I’m not good enough.

Janet: (crying) You are good enough for me and you know it!

Joe: (crying): I’m not… I’d rather hurt you than keep our relationship going… I’ll hurt you as much as I have to if it means I can get you to leave me… I’ll hurt you until you can’t stand it!

Janet: (crying) I’ve never seen you like this before… I feel like I don’t know you.

Joe: (crying) I can’t be with you and you have to get over me and move on… Trust me about that…just trust me… Please… I’m begging you.

Janet: (crying) How can I trust you about anything?

Joe breaks up with Janet.

Find out what Happens Next

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  1. bradrid

    A really interesting captivating piece. It explores prejudice subtly, I liked this very much indeed. I like the exploration of psychopathy between the two characters from their different perspectives. It brings self interest and vulnerability to the fore as motivating forces in dialogic exchange. It would make a great play if it was expanded upon sufficiently exploring the depths of prejudice and self interest in juxtaposition to altruism. It’s also a good illustration of the impact ‘experts’ can have on our lives. Why should the diagnosis so throw Joe that he feels unable to continue in his relationship with Janet? And what of the ethics of the therapist who pronounced his judgement upon Janet. He would be in breach of person centred ethical conduct and almost certainly in breach of the BACP’s code of conduct, but nonetheless an arresting piece of writing that brought the subject matter alive and held my interest throughout.
    Thank you for a thought provoking article that raised interesting points throughout. I’d love to see it as a play.

  2. Wildeve

    There’s something about Janet’s way of loving that really turns me on. It’s far away from my experience and expression of love but it actually seems really healthy.
    I think Joe is scared as the word psychopath itself is scary in our society. It has given me a new understanding into what a diagnosis of psychopathic can be-it’s a word that has been used to describe heartless killers, war monger’s, the destructiveness of capitalism even and I think highlights a general fear around mental health conditions (and how misunderstood they still are even by someone as intelligent and loving as Joe).
    I’m loving how this is getting me thinking by the way and I never usually feel brave/worthy/intelligent enough to post things but I wanted to take the chance and express myself here as it feels like a place where that will be ok 🙂

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