Here are a few excerpts from the book of William L. Hamilton  “Saints and Psychopaths”  that I thought I would share with you……………


“If you have a true saint for a teacher, then you have a real possibility for spiritual attainments, including enlightenment. If your teacher is a psychopath, then you may become a programmed puppet, and you risk being sexually or financially abused. You also may lose your job, family and possibly even your sanity. Eventually you risk disillusionment from pursuing any spiritual quests”.  


….There are more psychopaths pretending to be saints than there are real saints.  This book will provide you with some understanding of what a psychopath is, what a saint is and how to tell the difference. It is also a sharing of what I have found  in  my  search  for  inner-peace  and  for  ways  to develop  my unrealized  potential.

Some  paths  I  followed  were  more like  stepping  stones which  went  part  of  the  way,  but  became  obstacles  to further  progress.  Some  of  these  paths  were  offered  by sincere  teachers,  and  others  were  paths  of  entrapment offered  by  psychopaths.  I learned something from all my spiritual teachers, if only that some teachers and teachings should be avoided. I hope that sharing my experiences will provide  you  with  some  guidelines  for  avoiding  similar mistakes,  while  encouraging  you  on  your  own  spiritual quest.

There  are  more psychopaths  than saints

Psychopaths pretending to be  saints  present  a  very serious problem for all  spiritual  traditions.  There  are many more  psychopaths  pretending to  be  saints  than  there  are real  saints.  If you have  a true saint for  a teacher, then you have  a  real  possibility  for  spiritual  attainments,  including enlightenment.  If your  teacher  is  a  psychopath,  then  you may  become  a  programmed  puppet,  and  you  risk  being sexually  or financially  abused.  You  also  may lose your job, your family  and  possibly  even your sanity. , Eventually you risk disillusionment in  the  pursuit  of any spiritual  quests.

For the purposes of this book I define  a saint as any true spiritual seeker who, through a process of study, discipline, prayer,  or meditation  has  attained  a  purification  of mind and true spirltual understanding.  In the Buddhist tradition a  saint  would  be  fully  enlightened,  although  a  legitimate teacher would be one who has attained  at least the first  of four levels  of enlightenment.

A  psychopath  is  someone who is  morally  defective  and does  not respect the  values  of property,  truth  and  proper consideration  for  the  effect  of actions  on self  and  others. Generally  mental  health  professionals  do  not  regard psychopaths  as  mentally  ill  because  they do  not  manifest obvious  dysfunctional  behavior,  but  they  appear  to  be rational.  Most  professionals  prefer  the  terms sociopaths, borderline  personalities,  or antisocials.

Perhaps it is because my degree in psychology dates back to 1959 that I prefer the old fashioned  term psychopath.  I am doubtful that changing the name for each current vogue in professional  understanding  contributes  to  the  public's understanding of this very important issue.  Also, my direct personal  experience  with  psychopaths  has  reinforced  the view that psychopaths  are indeed  mentally ill,  even if the signs  are not immediately obvious.

Distinguishing saints from  psychopaths

Distinguishing  a  saint  from  a  psychopath  presents  a unique  problem  because  they  have  some  common characteristics that seem at first  to be identical.  Both saints and  psychopaths  can  have  the  appearance  of a  beautiful, radiant  and  attractive  being.  Both  may  tell  you,  Be  here now,  forget  the  past,  forget  the  future;  be  spontaneous, heed your inner voice, follow  your bliss.  Both may advise you  to  not  be  bound  by  traditional  social  values  but  by higher spiritual  values.  Both may have messages from  God or  spiritual  teachings  tailored  just  for  you.  Both  may  be homeless  wanderers.  Both  may manifest fearless  behavior and  may  risk persecution.  Saints  and  psychopaths  can  be intuitively  perceptive  of  people's  mood  changes,  new developments, and new understandings.  They may appear to manifest similar psychic  powers, healing, mind reading. and  channeling from  other realins.

Although  the  powers  of a  saint  and  a  psychopath  may seem  the  same  at  first,  they  have  different  roots.  Saints have  a  calm,  clear,  empowered state  of mind  as a  result  of discipline,  meditation,  and  introspection.  Psychopaths  can develop  paranoid  samadhi,  which  is a  concentrated  mind, because they have  done  so  many unskillful  things  such  as lying,  theft,  injury,  adultery,  substance  abuse,  etc.  Their powers  corne  from  having  to  have  a  very  sensitive awareness to perceive when someone is coming after them. They  are  also  gluttons  for  attention,  and  when  they  have your  attention  they  will  start  to  feed  on  your  spiritual energies like  a  psychic vampire.  They  can  sometimes read minds, tell  the  future,  do healings, see things which aren't physically apparent and you may become mesmerized and convinced  of their divine  power.

So how do we tell saints  from  psychopaths  My teacher, Sayadaw U Pandita,  says that he never makes up his  mind about peoples enlightenment until he has known them and observed them closely for a year. It is in the nature of saints to  respond  to  sincere  requests  for  help,  and  guidance.  If you  sincerely  want help  they will  be  there  for  you.  They may ask you  to  make commitments once you are  training under their  guidance,  but there  is unlikely  to  be  an initial urgent  commitment.  Psychopaths,  on the  other hand,  are more  likely  to  corne  on  to  you  with  an  initial  urgency, demanding that you make  a  commitment immediately  or lose  your  opportunity.  Therefore,  my  first  advice  about telling  saints  from  psychopaths is to  take  your time.

Amoral or immoral

In  time  some  very  distinguishing  differences  between saints and psychopaths become apparent. Saints have such a  deeply  rooted  morality  from  their  own  direct understanding that by normal social standards they may be amoral.  The  Buddha  clashed  with  his  culture  by clisparaging  rites  and  rituals  and  not  respecting  caste. Christ,  too, conflicted  with his  culture.

Psychopaths,  on  the  other  hand,  are  simply  immoral. Their  clivergence  from  social  standards  involves  self gratification  and  clisregard  for  doing harm.  At  first  it may be  clifficult  to  discern  whether  a  teacher  is  amoral  or immoral,  but in  time  it may  become apparent whether  or not  he  or she  adheres  to  the  standards  of behavior  being taught.  The situation  that Ram  Dass  found  himself in  was that of having a teacher who insisted that everyone tell the truth,  but she  herself  constantly  lied.  She  forbade  the use of drugs, but used them habitually.  She insisted  on celibacy for  her students,  but practiced  adultery.

I  use  a  standard  of evaluation  I  call  SAY,  MEAN,  DO. Saints will  say what they mean and will  do  what they say. Psychopaths will mean something other than what they say and what they do may have little  relationship to what they say and mean. For example, psychopaths may say they love you  or  want  to  help  you,  when  what  they  mean  is  that they want  attention  or  money.  What  they do  in  the  long run is  going  to  be  a  clisappointment.  It takes  a  while  for consistency  or inconsistency  of SAY,  MEAN,  DO to  come into focus.  The  more  time  you take  in  evaluating  this  the more  accurate  your conclusion  will  be.

The  pattern  of avoiding punishment

Psychopaths  skillfully  evade  blame  when  they  are confronted with having done something wrong.  Since they lack a true sense of guilt, they do not respond the way you may expect a  guilty  person  to  behave.  Psychopaths  have a very  distinctive  sequence  of  responses  to  dealing  with confrontations.  If one  method  of stopping a  confrontation does  not  work,  they  will  change  strategies.  When confronted  with wrong-doing,  a  psychopath  will  respond in this  sequence:

1) Ignore  the issue.

2)  Deny that they have  done  something wrong.

3) Attack the accuser, usually  accusing the accuser or being the  one who has  done  wrong.

4)  Threaten  to harm the  accuser, someone else, something, or self.

5)  Apologize  and  admit that they have  done  wrong,  then ask for  a  clean  slate  or new start

A saint, on the other hand, will  either immediately admit that  he  or  she  has  made  an  error,  or  ask for  clarification and  seek  reconciliation.  An  example  would  be  Christ's advice  that when  someone asks  for  your coat you should give  your  cloak also.  Generally,  saints  will  place  a  higher value  on  harmonious  relationships  than  on  pride  or possessions.  We  must  allow  for  cultural  factors  and personality  characteristics,  but  when  confronted  with wrong-doing, saints  generally will  follow  this  sequence:

1) Acknowledge  errors  and  misunderstandings

2)  Admit that they have  made an  error

3) Apologize

4)  Offer  compensation or correction

5)  Avoid  that type of error in the  future

The  first  strategy  of  the  saint  is  the  last  strategy  of  a psychopath.  But  when  psychopaths  are  finally  forced  to apologize  they  will  outdo  the  saints.  Their  previous belligerent  attitudes  will  vanish.  They  will  apologize profusely and confess the error of their ways in great detail. They may even list wrongdoings that you were unaware of, to  impress  you  with  the  depth  of  their  change.  Their transformation  seems  quite  impressive  and  even professionals who should know better are sometimes taken in  by  their  pretense.  Judges  have  suspended  sentences  of repeat bigamists  and  outrageous  con  artists  who  swore  to devote the rest of their lives  to  making restitution.

“Give  me  a  clean  slate,”  is  the  refrain  of  psychopaths. They will  proclaim that they are a new person or that they have  been  born  again.  Sometimes  they  insist  that  they should  not be punished because the person who did those things  no  longer  exists.  Indeed  they  may  make  drastic changes  in  their  behavior,  from  being  rude  and domineering  to  being  humble  and  submissive.  It  is, however,  all  a  ruse  to  get  off  the  hook.  For  awhile  after being  caught  psychopaths  may  go  through  a  quiescent

period,  but in time  the  same  old  patterns  of behavior  will reoccur. They are not bound by conscience or true remorse. As  soon  as  you walk out the  door they may revert to their old  ways without skipping a  beat.

Motivating with guilt

Another  sign  to  watch  for  is  that  psychopaths  tend  to motivate you with guilt.  Anything you do wrong becomes a lever for manipulating you. This is particularly true if you break,  or threaten  to  break  a  promise,  even  though  they usually  have  poor records in keeping promises.

Purity of motives offers protection

Some of the spiritual teachings you need to learn concern impurities in your seeking.  To the extent that your seeking is  motivated  by  desires  for  power,  prestige,  sex,  sense desires,  etc.,  you  are  vulnerable  to  being  seduced  by  a psychopath.  To  the  extent  that  you  are  motivated  to become enlightened or to purify your mind of defilements, then  you  are  on  safe  ground.  Usually  our  motives  are  a mixture  of good  and  bad.  If you are a true spiritual  seeker, you will  convert experiences with psychopaths to a process of  purification  which  decreases  your  lower  motives  and increases  higher motives….



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  • According to this,  my mother is a psychopath.  Though,  she'd never be able to see or admit it. I truly will never know what to do with her. 

    About the charles Manson comments,  "oh my". Is all I can say. You never know who's being serious on the net either.  I try not to get emotionally involved in other's opinions.  Like he said in the post "live and let live.. "

    Peace and blessings! 

  • Thank you for this article, I found it to be very encouraging.
    I was trying to put my finger on why I was drained of my finances, drained of my Spiritual energy, and pursuits. Now, I know why; everything you said of the psycopath happened in life, and I did not grow, I got sick, paralized with fear, afraid to go to sleep, fighting death demons trying to snuff me out in my sleep!
    I thought this was the way I was to stay in this mess; until I left the church, and sought better ground for my spiritual growth, and it works. Your article just put a nail in the coffin on that subject...
    Again thank you so much! God Bless your Channeling, this was right on time!
  • Good message, but the article is faaaaaaar too long. I don't have time to read it all. Make a radio edit for busy people who don't have all day to read. 

  • Awesome post.  I always pondered about how to tell the truth tellers from the lying manipulators..... saints or psychopaths.  So many people that are disingenuous are such convincing liars.  I think this article spells it out pretty well.  The longer that I have been in the new age communities the more this quote "….There are more psychopaths pretending to be saints than there are real saints" seems true to me.  There are all sorts of people in these communities that act like they are enlightened and somehow "above" people and look down their noses at anyone who does not agree with their beliefs that they present, and that is the problem of coming into the new age community and assuming that it is a light and love which it is not...My rule of thumb for myself is if the information does not resonate with me and seems to be contrived and with an ultimate motive of trying to control people, that it is not information that I will embrace.  I have my bullcrap meter set to high and if something seems fishy to me I am not afraid to say so, because if someone is really enlightened and saint like, then they will have no problem with me stating how I feel.  If they do try to kick me to the curb, they are not worth my time and emotional investment and lesson learned by me.  Thanks for this awesome post.

  • I don't see this as bad or wrong:  " The situation  that Ram  Dass  found  himself in  was that of having a teacher who insisted that everyone tell the truth,  but she  herself  constantly  lied.  She  forbade  the use of drugs, but used them habitually.  She insisted  on celibacy for  her students,  but practiced  adultery."

    I see it as proper guidance:  tell the truth (honesty), sobriety, sexual preservation.  Seems like she might have been building "saints" for herself, in order for THEM to help HER (since apparently, she really needed them).

    • The teacher of Ram Dass in your example is following a "do as I say and not as I do" philosophy. A "Philadelphia lawyer" (i.e. a lawyer who obtained his law degree while in prison) does this as well; they are usually found serving their community via teaching (since they are not allowed to practice law). Or they assist with powerful criminals on how to dodge the law.

      Hence, you are making an assumption that a teacher of questionable character is a builder of saints; many such hypocrits for teachers are either serving a self-imposed sentence for their errors (which they still can't acknowledge) or they have no place else to go with their knowledge and experience. David was known as "the saintly sinner," and while his ways did favor some people, it didn't favor all of them. His son Solomon was a perfect example of a student who went the wrong way, as he was punished for going down a path he had no business following (despite all the wisdom taught by a "saintly sinner" father).

      • That does not acknowledge the point I made:  building "saints" for herself, in order for THEM to help HER (since apparently, she really needed them). 

        What I see is judgement being passed, instead of people seeing an opportunity to actually help somebody.  Of course, another person's pursuit for High Value could possibly be best achieved IN helping a judged person, like the woman exampled.

        • Good point. But note that sometimes it is wise and smart for one to make occasional judgement calls, or you can get conned by an opportunist masquerading good intentions. There are good and bad people everywhere, and this write-up provided can help in determining who can be a spiritual charlatan and who isn't.

          It's not smart to join company of the likes of Jim Jones or Charles Manson by failing to exercise a little judgement of such persons via their past actions. 

          • I understand.  I think there are likely more people who do not want "help" than those who do but I think it is harrowingly tragic when the ones who DO want "help" do not receive it and instead, they are pushed further and further into judgement and condemnation / damnation.  In suffering, some people lose their ability to articulate (cannot directly ask for help, they can only demonstrate their needs).  Of course, not all are in service and so there are real limits as to who can, and will, actually serve an individual (when it is outside of the realm of "designated" or "official" help, ie "professional services").

            Of Charles Manson (pbuh), he is actually Divinity.  He had a very difficult job to do on Earth but he has his place in Heaven.  Most people do not know it, but I do.

            • Susan Atkins (who stabbed Sharon Tate 16 times with a Manson-prescribed Buck knife, and then tried to cut out her fetus (with the same knife)) also claimed that Charles Manson was not only Christ-like, but the real J.C. during her incarceration in 1969.


              Sharon Tate

              And your reason for Charles Manson's divinity is...

This reply was deleted.

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