Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sociopath on drugs

From a reader:

Hi there, 

I literally just now (10 mins ago) discovered your site, and found myself wondering about sociopathy and drug abuse. I'm learning to embrace the term currently, as it seems to be utterly precise in describing myself, but I'm also a highly functional alcoholic. Are these things in conflict, or does it make sense that this would be the case? Poor impulse control, managing this addiction unbeknownst to nearly everyone around me, etc. On the one hand, it seems like (from the descriptions on your blog) a sociopath would be hesitant to engage in things that strip them of control, but given that I feel like alcohol firmly restores my control -- and allows me to more fluidly (pun!) manipulate my environment, the abuse of alcohol doesn't seem to be at odds with sociopathy. 

I am sure you're busy and won't respond to this, but since it is such a profound quandary in my own life, I thought it might help a lot of people to include it in your FAQs section. Many people have a hard time navigating their sense of self amidst drug abuse. What is my brain? vs. What is my brain on drugs?

M.E.: I have heard conflicting things about addictions. I myself don't like the feeling of loss of control that I get from any narcotic type substance. But I have also heard that sociopaths can be very prone to addiction -- maybe because they don't care about the supposed immorality of abusing substances? Should we post what you wrote and see what other people have to say?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Morality experiment

From same reader:

My experience my entire life has been people trying to lay a moral "trip" on me - in the sense that I "ought" to be "good". They never gave me a convincing reason. It was always easy for me to see, for instance, that me taking what I wanted led to me getting what I wanted. Maybe I got punished, so I needed to be sneaky and not get caught. I have a calculating mind, so I'd take risks if it seemed like the benefits outweighed the costs. This is classic sociopathy/psychopathy. I've been this way as long as I can remember.

Recently, after the losing-my-sense of self experience (see previous emails), I noticed that depending on how I behaved, I'd have more or fewer thoughts about "me". That is, if I had a conversation with someone and I wasn't truthful, I'd replay the conversation in my head. That gets in the way of having fun. Rather than being able to enjoy what's in front of me, I'm replaying my lies. Of course, it makes it easier to remember the lies and whom I lied to, but it isn't as fun as being able to enjoy whatever I'm doing when I'm doing it.

So I did some reading, in a book written by an embezzler (sociopath?), "A Practical Guide to True Happiness". In it, he explains that when we do things like kill, lie, steal, etc. that is exactly what happens: we'll feel more disconnected from life. If you've experienced being connected to life and then the feeling of contraction, you know that one is nicer to live. So his advice is that we eschew lying, stealing, etc. And if you notice this stuff, you change your behavior. Once you figure out that the stove is hot, you stop touching it.

After experiencing things and paying attention, I've decided to change my behaviors and behave morally - so that I'll have peace of mind. It has nothing to do with good/bad or moral/immoral. I feel relieved to have figured out this. For about four decades, I've been a deliberately amoral person. As you'd expect. I've treated people badly, treated animals badly, lied all the time (aka "living a secret life"), cheated, stolen, etc. Relief is near immediate. You get peace of mind and it stays.

This is the one way I can see an evil person deciding that he wants to live a moral life: he decides he wants complete peace of mind.

I should have figured it out by now - but as you know, sociopaths aren't that good at learning from negative feedback (in this case, contraction of mind) nor do they have much insight (into what their mind is like from moment to moment). The classic way of trying to tell a sociopath to behave ("do it or else" or just "be good") doesn't work at all and leads to resistance.

I thought I'd propose the following exercise for your sociopathic audience:

1) Pack a bag of waste paper, empty bottles, etc. into a plastic bag. Try to make sure it has some trash that blows away.

2) Go out on a walk in nature on a windy day. Make sure you are alone. Do deep breathing to get REALLY relaxed. Watch the play of light, sounds and feel your feet and legs as you walk around. If you concentrate on your breath, you'll get more and more relaxed. There might be a feeling of contentment. Your sense of who you are may be feeling "bigger" and more vacuous - check and see if you feel that way, or if you feel like a robot made of meat, trapped in your body. When you are very content and relaxed, move to step 3. Even if you are anticipating step 3, try to set that aside, and focus on relaxing and noticing as much as you possibly can.

3) Take out the bag of trash and empty it. Watch the stuff blow away. Try to see how you think and feel. Does your mind contract? Do you feel more or less like someone trapped in a body. Does your mind fill with justifications about why littering is OK? What is your mind doing? How does your body feel?

4) Notice - how connected to nature do you feel? Any regrets?

5) Leave all the trash there and get away. Notice if your mind replays the incident later, or if you have any thoughts about it.

Another similar exercise:

1) Drive your car in some traffic. Get into a relaxed, happy, content mood. Pay attention to the breath as you drive. Reflect on how miraculous it is that you've got a body, a car, eyesight and all that you need to drive down the road. Try to notice how you feel in your body. Big and vacuous sense of self? Or do you feel weak and like you're trapped in your body? When you're feeling relaxed and content, or even joyous, move to the next step.

2) Do some bad driving in front of other people. E.g. run a red light. Go through a stop sign that you should. Do a u-turn in the wrong place. Just pick some maneuver that is anti-social, but that won't get you put in jail. Do it. Do a bunch of it.

2) Notice how you feel in your body. What sort of thoughts are you having? Do you feel better or worse than when you were relaxed? Is your mind filled with justifications. Do you feel connected to your fellow humans.

3) Note if you replay the incident in your head, replay what you'd say if told not to do it, etc. The point is to notice if what you do impacts your experience later. Does it?

When I did these experiments, I was bothered at how it felt to be me afterwards. I enjoyed being relaxed and happy more than I enjoyed being selfish.

It might be nice if your readers would do some experiments and send you responses. You could get two blog posts out of it. :-)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Liberation unleashed

From a reader:


Hey, I thought I should tell you I made it through the gate.

It would be very interesting to see what would happen if more sociopaths did it. Fearless, curious and introspective sociopaths ought to be able to do it.

In the process of doing it I noticed a bunch of stuff for the first time.

My everyday life is a lot nicer since doing it. If you were stuck in solitary, you'd want to live it out with a non-dual mind.

If nothing else, I suspect the lack of a strong sense of self explains a lot about sociopaths being happy even as they wreck their own lives.

M.E.: What do you mean?


I realized that I don't have a self. There is no self to be found.

You can know that intellectually, or live your life that way from moment to moment.

When you live it moment to moment, it is a lot like being a focused sociopath (flow: sensory clarity and focus), but absolutely without any striving or clinging. It can go on for long periods of time.

One continually noticed thoughts that take one out of the moment - typically "I" thoughts - but one recognizes them as thoughts about something that doesn't really exist.

That's describing it in words - and words don't work. E.g. describe "thrill" to someone that hasn't experienced it.

Sociopaths are actually quite close to realizing the truth that there is no self, but being close isn't enough. Why is the sociopath in jail? Because although 99% of the time he accepts WHATEVER is happening, there's that 1% of the time where he thinks he needs the money, the sex, the whatever - and he acts as though he believes it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A cold dish of revenge

This is a really amazing story in the New York Times of an incredibly elaborate revenge scheme:
When Mr. Ramrattan, dressed in a suit and tie, first entered her restaurant in 2006 and introduced himself as a police detective, Ms. Sumasar, a single mother, recalled being impressed.

The two began dating, and Mr. Ramrattan eventually moved into Ms. Sumasar’s house. At first, he seemed attentive, but she grew suspicious of him. He lied constantly, she said.

“I said to Jerry, ‘You tell so many lies, I think you actually believe what you are saying,’ ” Ms. Sumasar said.

Throughout 2008, she said she begged him to leave but he refused.

After Ms. Sumasar said she was attacked, on March 8, 2009, she pressed rape charges against Mr. Ramrattan, who was arrested and released on bail. Soon after, Mr. Ramrattan sent friends to intimidate her, prosecutors said.

They said that when she would not back down, he vowed to put her away.

The key to his scheme, prosecutors said, was to spread fake clues over time, fooling police into believing that all the evidence pointed to Ms. Sumasar.

They said he coached the supposed victims, driving them past Ms. Sumasar’s house so that they could describe her Jeep Grand Cherokee and showing them her photo so they could pick her out of a police lineup.

The setup began in September 2009, prosecutors said. An illegal immigrant from Trinidad told the police that he had been handcuffed and robbed of $700 by an Indian woman who was disguised as a police officer and had a gun, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said Mr. Ramrattan had persuaded the immigrant to lie, telling him that he could receive a special visa for victims of violent crimes.

Six months later, another man said he had been robbed in Nassau County by two police impersonators and described the main aggressor as an Indian woman about Ms. Sumasar’s height. The man said he had managed to take down the first three letters of the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s New York license plate — AJD.

All the while, Ms. Sumasar had a strong alibi, including cell phone records showing that calls were made from her phone at a casino in Connecticut on the day of the robbery.

But Sheryl Anania, executive assistant district attorney in Nassau County, said Ms. Sumasar’s business was foundering, so she appeared to have a motive.

The final fake crime was conjured in May 2010, officials said, when an acquaintance of Mr. Ramrattan said she had been held up by a couple posing as police officers. She said they were driving a Grand Cherokee, but she gave a full Florida license plate number.

She said she heard the pair call each other by name — “Seem” and “Elvis.” Elvis was the nickname of another former boyfriend of Ms. Sumasar, who owned the Jeep.

When the police looked into the Florida plate number, they found that the day after the purported March robbery, the title and the plate for the Cherokee had been transferred from Elvis to Ms. Sumasar’s sister in Florida.

Ms. Sumasar, who holds a Florida driver’s license, had driven the car to Florida to register it. To the police, she seemed to be covering her tracks.

With all the evidence pointing to Ms. Sumasar, the police arrested her. Bail was set at $1 million.

Prosecutors said the scheme unraveled in December 2010 — just weeks before Ms. Sumasar was to go on trial — when an informer told the police that Mr. Ramrattan had staged the plot. The informer gave detectives a number for a cellphone owned by Mr. Ramrattan.
On the one hand this shows the sheer ingenuity and potential determinedness of someone like Ramrattan. On the other hand, it sort of reminds me of an episode of Scooby Doo for over the top nefariousness ("and I would have gotten away with it too..."). Still, it's a cautionary tale for those who might underestimate the potential harm from engaging with a sociopath.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Famous sociopaths (part 2)

Another recent find is the artist Amedeo Modigliani, as featured in a recent NY Times article:
  • A recent biography "recasts the artist’s character from dissolute victim to active performer, one who controlled the way his life would be viewed by his contemporaries, and by ­history."
  • "[H]e tended to carry himself like a prince. And the experience of having survived a series of childhood health crises, including tuberculosis, only increased his sense of exceptionalism.
  • "Unsurprisingly, he viewed artists as privileged beings. At 17, he wrote that as a species they had “different rights, different values than do normal, ordinary people because we have different needs which put us — it has to be said and you must believe it — above their moral standards."
  • In seeking financial support: "Sometimes it came in sustained relationships with women like the British journalist and poet Beatrice Hastings. Hastings, under the name Alice Morning, wrote a running account of the Parisian art scene for an avant-garde journal called The New Age. She had a caregiver’s temperament (she collected stray animals and nursed wounded wasps back to health) and money she didn’t mind sharing, and she liked to get high. She was everything he needed.
  • "[H]e consciously used intoxicants as a cover to hide a “great secret,” that being the recurrence of his tuberculosis. . . . Modigliani, terrified of the social ostracism that would result if he were known to have the highly contagious disease, deliberately fostered a reputation as an alcoholic and addict to prevent detection. This cover allowed him to freely drink the wine that soothed his coughing, use the drugs that gave him energy to work — his output of paintings surged in his last years — and pass off as drunk and disorderly any irritable or violent outbursts. . . . [T]he very idea of someone keeping quiet about a lethal and contagious disease raises serious ethical issues. Did he ever warn his friends, and his countless lovers, about their risk of infection from him? We have no evidence one way or the other."
  • "[O]ne of his dealers, described him as 'all charm, all impulsiveness, all disdain.' The writer Max Jacob, who was very much part of Modigliani’s bohemian crowd, called him 'the most unpleasant man I knew. Proud, angry, insensitive, wicked.'"
  • Cheated on his pregnant, teenage girlfriend, who killed herself days after he died.
Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies


Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.