Psicopatia Dr.Hugo Marietan



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presento la traducción del artículo
«El complementario y su
, una gentileza de la traductora María
Gowland, que será útil para ampliar la difusión de estas
investigaciones sobre el vínculo psicópata-complementario.
Todo aquel que quiera colaborar con traducciones de
artículos a otros idiomas, será bien recibido en esta
página. Gracias.

Dr. Hugo
Marietan, marzo de 2008


The Complementary and his Psychopath


Hugo R. Marietan (2)


por María Gowland


«One is the torturer and the tortured. The
torturer is in the wrong because he believes he’s not
taking part in the suffering; the tortured is in the wrong
because he believes he’s not taking part in the guilt.”


A way of being

This topic is
approached from a clinical point of view, therefore the
descriptive aspects will be emphasized

To be a psychopath
is a way of being, a personality, a variable of human
types. It is not an illness but an atypical way of being,
infrequent, raucous, due to the patterns of behaviour that
don’t fit in on some occasions with the general patterns
of behaviour in the community.

The psychopath is
a person who has a different behaviour because he has
different needs to satisfy. That’s why he makes a
particular use of his liberty, he draws his own codes, and
he repeats patterns of behaviour and has needs of intense
stimulation. All this analyzed by an ordinary person who
sees the psychopath as someone who, in some aspects of his
behaviour, can’t adapt. The psychopath doesn’t behave like
a psychopath in 100% of his actions, he reveals his
psychopath in certain types of relationships.

Another basic
characteristic is reification. This implies taking away
from the other person the attributes that make them be
valued as a person, that is to diminish them, to consider
them as an object and in that psychological manoeuvre be
able to manipulate them.

Ultimately, in a
serious psychopathic act the psychopath commits an action
of such magnitude that this very act describes him.


Forms of
relationship of a psychopath

The psychopath has
at least three ways of relating psychopathically with
another person. 

The associative is
when the psychopath comes in relation with another
psychopath. This type of association is given when the
project he/she has to undertake is completely beyond him
as an individual. The relationship is tense and the
balance is maintained while the objective persists. It
must be remembered we are talking here about extremely
narcissistic, egocentric, and consequently the attachment
they might have is only justified by the objective.

The second type of
relationship with the other is circumstantial, that is,
when the psychopath encounters the occasional victim; when
he acts his psychopathy for criminal purposes, a rape,
fraud, for example. It is a ‘specific’ encounter.

Another form of
relating is the complementary one. This is when the
psychopath encounters his complementary or the
complementary finds his psychopath. It’s a relationship
with a double track and it is far from the preconception
of victim and the one responsible for that suffering. Both
actively take part to maintain the connection. I believe
that the person who is able to remain together with a
psychopath is not another psychopath, as it is normally
understood. I believe that the one with more chance of
relating and remaining with a psychopath is the neurotic.
This relationships are seemingly stable
METAESTABLE, they are maintained, but with explosions and
unbalances all the way along its development. 


The complementary

I wish to point
out the descriptive aspect of this presentation is drawn
from my experience in treatments with complementaries who
live with psychopaths.

I have observed
that a persistent psychopathic circle is formed; and I
think no system remains if it does not conceal a need.

The type of need
that the complementary satisfies with the psychopath or
the type of bond that leads to this relationship being
maintained is not based on logic but on the irrational.

When attending
these people the first thing that arises in their speech
is the complaint. The complementary uses the scenario of
the therapist – patient relationship to communicate his
complaints. These are not ordinary complaints, they’re
complaints about humiliation, disqualification, even
physical aggression. The way of presenting the complaint
can vary from the justification (“I provoked it”),
minimization (“he/she hit me but it’s nothing), the level
of detail (to morosely dwell on every detail of the
events), seeking sympathy (“he/she makes me suffer so
much, isn’t that so?”)


The secret

From the ordinary
logic, one could ask; What’s this person doing with that
psychopath? What are the benefits of maintaining this
relationship? Reasoning under logical parameters, the
permanence of this relationship can’t be understood. Even
if the circumstances that lead to acts of aggression and
the ways of preventing them can be analysed, these are
repeated. By this what I mean is that to reason or clarify
why these things happen, in this case is useless because
the bond is irrational.

The complementary
often gives the impression that he relates to the
psychopath through anguish, in other words, that following
this premise, the bond would be an unpleasant one. However
after seeing many of these complementary patients, I think
the bond is the pleasure obtained not necessarily the
pleasure of suffering. It is an indescribable suffering
where the suffering is a secondary effect of that
enjoyment DISFRUTE. The complementary person brings us the
complaint, shows us the price of their pleasure, shows us
“ the bump on the head” 3.

This type of
secret enjoyment, in the sense that it is (consciously
unknown) to the complementary and sometimes even to the
psychopath. However there is something there that unites
them; perhaps in their ‘animalness’, in the irrational,
there lies the pleasure.

On some occasions,
in the argument some of the complementaries maintain, they
tend to relate it to some kind of special enjoyment, with
sex for example; but that does not manage to justify
paying the price of humiliation, lowering the other
person’s self esteem, their deterioration as a person.
Some are able to grasp that with the psychopath they were
able to uninhibit their repressions; they’re able to carry
out the forbidden.


The Unmodifiable

characteristic of the psychopath that should be taken into
account is his impermeability to modifications. The
psychopath is a person who is able to tolerate a great
deal of pressure, he/she can put up with punishments, and
even so maintain his/her position. This makes the
complementary give in because the other’s position is
unyielding; he puts him/her in the position of “ this is
what there is, take it or leave it…if you can.”

The complementary
ends up fighting, not against the psychopath, who cannot
modify, but against themselves, against their awareness of
their self worth. And he/she is forced to give in. This
being forced to act against himself/herself, is highly
painful. Yet the absence of the psychopath is even more
painful. This makes the complementary pay the price and
continue with the relationship.

The golden rule
that maintains this relationship is the formula “ with
him/her I feel bad but without him/her I feel worse. “
Between the ‘bad’ and the ‘worse’ lies the enjoyment.


Particular Codes

If you talk in
depth with these people, it can be seen that between the
psychopath and his/her complementary own codes, signals,
gestures are established modifying the other’s behaviour.
A patient used to say to me “my father looks at me in
‘that way’ and I already know what I have to do.” Another
patient would say “ I used to follow him from behind, he
didn’t want me to stand beside him to avoid commitment;
however, by his way of walking I knew if I had to stand by
him or stand aside or whatever.”


Undermined Self

The complementary
has his/her self-esteem undermined. I use the term
‘undermined’ because the erosion that the psychopath
carries out on the complementary is generally not a
grotesque or brutal action but on the contrary it can be
very subdued and subtle; it disqualifies, creating
insecurities (it’s a game of a prize and three
punishments”, where it’s never clear when the prize comes
and when the punishment, or even why) until the
complementary’s self esteem ends up being  diminished. 
One consultant said to me: “Before I was never this
insecure. I had a job, projects, initiative, I used to get
by on my own. Now I have to ask everything, even the most
insignificant little thing. He finds criticism to all my
plans and arguments, always finds a but, a reason to
criticize, the negative side. He isn’t aggressive, but
makes me reason and in the end I adopt his position and
convince myself that my way of approaching things is

The psychopath
does not spend his time pondering what to do to get the
complementary to do such and such a thing, or what to do
to disqualify him/her or lower their self esteem. What
he/she does is not a planned strategy to obtain a certain
behaviour. They are what they are. This type of behaviour
that ends up undermining the complementary comes out



A marked asymmetry
is established regarding the consideration towards the
other person. The psychopath sees the other as something
that belongs to him/her, at their disposition and without
a need for a logic to sustain this position. That’s the
way it should be and that’s it. The complementary
considers himself/herself and his partner as a person.
He/she doesn’t know they are with a psychopath. Some of
his/her behaviours can seem a bit strange but he/she can’t
get out of the system to evaluate and draw a conclusion;
“he/she is a psychopath”. Considering him/her an equal is
where the judgement fails: “I don’t understand why he/she
did that, in his/her place I would have…” And he/she
suffers thinking of a mistake or expecting an apology;
he/she wants to be considered by the psychopath as a
person. This is an illusion, something impossible to
obtain. The mind of a psychopath cannot be empathetically



Contact Zero

What is our role
as therapists, in this type of relationship? When the bond
is very strong there’s nothing to be done. When the
relationship is broken it’s generally because the
psychopath leaves his/her partner, and this is the
possibility the complementary has of getting out of the
vicious circle. Otherwise it’s very difficult. The other
possibility is when the complementary is so fed up, in
other words when the suffering broadly surpasses the
benefits he/she obtains from the psychopath. This is when
the complementary seeks help. The intervention of the
therapist in this case, considering it is an atypical
relationship, must also be atypical. A family tie that is
not standard cannot be treated in a standard way.

The basic rule to
achieve the separation between a psychopath and a
complementary is “zero contact”, considering the bond is
irrational as soon as they see one another again the
psychopathic circle starts all over. The therapist must be
creative and take on a more active role than usual to
broaden the possibilities of the complementary.


The limits of

Neither words nor
arguments are of any use considering that the psychopath
is a good manipulator of words, a liar who can often be
very convincing, especially with someone who strongly
desires to be convinced, such as the complementary.

Some pointers that
can give results are: play the teacher, so that the person
is able to understand the characteristics of the
psychopath, raise their own self esteem, achieve zero
contact, strengthen their affection with antidepressants
and sedatives (separating from the psychopath produces a
paradoxical effect: relief and a great deal of anguish at
the same time).


The manipulation
from exhaustion

If the
complementary tries to get out of the psychopathic circle,
as ‘THE THING’ belongs to the psychopath he/she will
pursue psychopathically. For example, a consultant once
told me: “I was on my way to work and as I looked through
the window, I’d see him in the street, when I went out
some place at night I’d see him in the same place, or when
I got home at dawn I’d find him at the door waiting for
me”. The fear of finding him anywhere at any time in the
end left her confined to her house and even this way he
tormented her by phone and with a lot of letters. This
exhaustion is such a strong pressure that it generates a
great deal of anguish. In this case resources from other
previous conversations are used.



What happens once
the complementary has broken off from the psychopath?
Experience has shown that the person never goes back to
being the same after being with a psychopath. Once he/she
separates the best thing is to make new contacts. However
if they are normal they seem boring, dull and
unstimulating. A lot of time can go by before it’s
possible to form another relationship. This makes the
distance with the psychopath harder. Sometimes they are
able to form a new relationship with an initial harmony
but then the person turns out to be another psychopath. So
a person who has been through the experience of being with
a psychopath will never be the same again and his/her
tastes will never be the same. What can be expected after
having satisfied deep needs? The thirst, the memory?



Conference presented at the 7th International
Congress of Psychiatry organized by AAP  on October 18th 
2000. Round Table: “Psychopathy” This topic can be
completed with the reading of two previous articles; 1)
Psychopathic personalities, Alcmeon 27, November 1998 and
2) Describer of Psycopathy, Alcmeon31, November 1999;
which can be downloaded from internet from the site: o


Psychiatric Doctor of the Borda Hospital; lecturer of the
Faculty of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires,
Argentina. E-mail: 


3 The
matter of the “bump on the head” comes from the following:
one of my patients was recurrently hit on the head, (he
didn’t hit her on other parts of the body to avoid leaving
marks) she’d say to me lowering her head and separating
her hair: “Look Dr. see the bump he’s left me?”



If you feel you
identify as a complementary or have doubts, write to me at
, and

Put your name,
place of birth, age and describe your problem in as much
detail as possible.


Traducida el 4 de marzo de 2008.




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Hugo Marietan

Nacido en Buenos Aires, en 1951

Médico, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Bueno Aires, 1981, MN 62757

Médico Psiquiatra, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1986

Formación Docente: Egresado del Curso de Formación Docente Pedagógica en Ciencias de la Salud y Carrera Docente de la Facultad de Medicina de la Universidad de Buenos Aires

Docente Adscripto a la Carrera Docente Facultad de Medicina. de la Universidad de Buenos Aires desde junio de 1991 a la fecha.

Académico Titular de la Academia Internacional de Psicología de Brasil (2002)

Para ver el curriculum completo:

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