Identifying the Predatory Empath
Many people assume that those with strong energy awareness or sensitivity are good stewards of this knowledge. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as we have seen most recently demonstrated in the documentary, Fyre Festival (on Netflix) or in the popular podcast, The Dropout, featuring Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos.
Both Billy McFarland and Elizabeth Holmes were able to scam millions from investors and consumers, and powerfully influence those around them, in a way that seems almost surreal. They had a control over certain people that was uncharacteristic of how they normally operated. So what is it about Billy McFarland and Elizabeth Holmes that elicits this and allows them to sustain such cons? How can someone hold such influence over so many people, that it would make them ignore their own questions?
Regardless of whether you have seen the documentary or listened to the podcast, we all are aware of those that fit this profile: charismatic, highly influential over others, usually able to rise to place of power or status quickly.
I felt compelled to write this post, after speaking with someone about my strong suspicions of Billy McFarland of the now infamous Fyre Festival as being a predatory Empath. It had never occurred to this person that some individuals may have the ability to use people's own emotions in order to manipulate them! I would measure that a healthy quantity of scam artists, some “Spiritual Teachers” that seek to disempower others- rather than empower, and I would wager a few serial killers are predatory Empaths.
To understand this, we need to look at a skill that we have talked about before, just in a different context. Empathic Skills.
Empaths are people who are highly sensitive and aware of the emotions around them. This can be the emotions of locations, emotions left behind on objects, and emotions of those they are interacting with, or in the vicinity of. Under normal conditions, an Empath develops tremendous empathy, sensitivity, and compassion for others using this highly developed sense. When managed well, it allows them to become incredible teachers, counselors, healers, and friends. Empaths are generally drawn to time in nature and harmonious places, may avoid large groups or chaotic energies, and are exceptionally generous and often develop good emotional intelligence.
However, some individuals with energy sensitivity fall into another, much rarer category, what I have termed, the predatory Empath. In the case of predatory Empaths, this awareness of the emotions of others is used to influence and manipulate them into doing what they want them to do.
Highly developed Empaths don't automatically come with the ethics to match. (do yourself a favor and commit this to memory)
The good news, however is that this is very rare when we break it down into percentages.
You can avoid a lot of heart ache by learning to recognize the calling cards.
But first, how does this happen?
Empathic skills can be developed in a variety of ways. In one theory, if a child has a caregiver that is emotionally unstable, emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive, an alcoholic or addict, or has another form of mental illness, then as a survival mechanism, the child becomes acutely aware of the moods of others. This heightened awareness allows them to sense quickly the moods of others and avoid trouble by getting out of dodge when the temperature of the room doesn't feel quite right.
This same sensitivity can be developed under a neglectful or very critical caregiver, as the child tries to please and highly attunes to the emotional state of the parent.
In my work with Empaths of all types, I have also seen those exposed to domestic violence situations and emotionally abusive relationships develop these skills later in life.
To be clear, this is not the only way that Empaths develop. Some people are born with it, some develop in other ways.
Even under these harsh conditions of development above, almost all Empaths go on to be well adjusted, happy, kind, compassionate and loving healers!
So what makes someone prone to become a predatory empath?
The mind in many ways is an incredibly resilient thing. Most people that experience even tremendous suffering are able to recover with support, resources, love and compassion. However, some people who develop this skill (perhaps from one of the above development scenarios) may also be prone to biological dysfunction, “faulty wiring”, or are suffering some other form of psychological or spiritual disturbance.
In general, the predatory empath is able to sense and deeply sense the emotional state of others. They are often very intelligent, charismatic, engaging, can seem fun at first. Very skilled predatory empaths can fool even the most savvy person.
They use this awareness of other's emotional states to manipulate, rarely showing any regret or remorse. While they have emotional awareness, they lack true heart and sensitivity in dealings with others.
What to look for?
Grandiosity: Grand ideas often sold as being virtuous and of great benefit to others if you can only see their vision. At the heart of it is actually a desire for power, dominance, control. Often, a need to prove something.
Very animated and engaging speaker or “idea person”. Often gets people's guards down very quickly.
Personality aspects, speech style, voice pattern may change between interactions with others noticeably.
Is often inconsistent in how they describe important concepts to one person over another.
May also like to travel with an entourage or have an excessive number of assistants/employees/consultants/investors, etc. They use those in their entourage as a source of fresh emotional energy.
Will often imply that they are very special, the only one with the skill set for XYZ, or “chosen”. Inflated sense of self-importance.
In the beginning, their target may feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster – predatory empaths usually like to get people hyped up, excited at first. You may feel an emotional high followed by a low or sense of vacuum afterwards.
While they may ask you a lot of questions to figure you out, they may seem impersonal, and detached from their personal lives. No matter how long you know them, often not seeing them in moments of vulnerability or intimacy.
Feel very energized by their presence and then when they leave confused or wondering why you committed to do something or why you felt so inspired, when you don't later. Question your own perceptions, wondering why you feel so changeable. Asking yourself, “what is wrong with me?” “Why am I being so weird?”
Inspires a fierce loyalty and often makes absurd requests at some point during the relationship.
When they leave target will be left feeling sad, empty, confused, un-centered– as if knocked off their game for a period of time.
A certain mystique about them, feeling like you never get to know the “real” them.
Feeling fatigued when they leave.
Many people left in their wake.
Your greatest friend in helping you to identify potential scammers is your relationship with yourself. When you know yourself and are attentive to your own self-care, it is easier to notice when you simply don't feel good after interacting with some people. If you routinely feel knocked off your game by someone, ask yourself if you feel more like your true self when you are with them or more confused. If confused or less like yourself, then be aware.
When making investments or partnership agreements with others, be sure to observe them with a variety of people and in a variety of situations. Listen to your gut. If something feels off, get out – even if you aren't able to identify exactly what it is.