Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Acting normal: gateway drug to charming

Okay, as promised, I address the reader's question of how to act normal, or in this reader's particular case, charming.
Although I had a tumultuous childhood and adolescence, I am now 21 and more in control of myself than anyone I know. I watch others have emotional breakdowns and can only think that it looks like a lot of wasted effort on their part. I have learned facial expressions through FACS (the facial action coding system, used by investigators). Not a single person I know has guessed that I am anything other than well-adjusted and the most controlled person among a bunch of seniors panicking about the next few years of their life. I am not a criminal, nor do I have criminal intent, but I manipulate those around me just enough for them to leave me alone so that I can live a normal life. I am routine-oriented, and rarely let others get in the way. I am still working on a sort of a front, but I think I am well on my way to complete control of my own little spot in the world. I found your blog looking for strategies that sociopaths have used in their lives, as I hear that they have somehow learned to act "socially charming" and would like to acquire that skill as well for when I need it.
Acting normal is not an easy thing to learn. It is trial and error. It is specific to you. The good news is that the skills you learn to "pass" (manipulation, deflection, projecting confidence, listening skills, strategic flattery) are the same skills you use to be charming. This wikihow article about being charming is actually a good primer:
Charm is the art of having an attractive personality. This characteristic can only be achieved over a period of time. While everyone is born with differing amounts of natural charm, much can be acquired and honed through practice and patience. As with dancing, the more you practice, the better you will become. Effort and careful attention to the needs and desires of others will ensure that charm becomes a permanent part of your character.
Et cetera. There are also other books that have helped people, like Emily Post's Etiquette, How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to Talk to Anyone, among others. Use your sociopath wits and extreme objectivism and learn social graces like you learn anything else--hard work and genius.

It turns out that things like deflecting--always turning the conversation back onto the other person--and similar "smoke and mirrors" routines--are all things that people think are charming. It may take a while to get to the point of mastery, but if you are already "passing," sociopath charm is right around the corner.


  1. What is normal?
    NORMAL simply doesn't exist except perhaps in the Midwest ;-)


    just had to share that link with all of you.


  3. I thought Foucault wrote a book called NORMAL, but I couldn't find it. Maybe I'm thinking of someone else, or possibly this one:
    The Normal and the Pathological (Paperback)
    by Georges Canguilhem (Author), Michel Foucault (Introduction), Carolyn R. Fawcett (Translator)


  4. Empaths often use abnormal behavior to act charming. It sets them apart from others and makes them feel as if they are truly special and unique. The sad part of this fallacy is that there is no real abnormal behavior within the range of mental health. Anything they do fits into a niche of things that other people do because people are fundamentally the same.

    -This is Draxious

  5. Disappointing comments on this one. It's sort of telling that hundreds of people chime in with their thoughts of violence and superiority, but nobody has a word to say about charm.

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  26. I've watched my husband - the way he expresses concern for people and actually remembers what they say and follows up on it later. I found myself recently bored silly by a coworker going on about her sisters broken leg and I asked a polite and thoughtful question. I was so pleased with myself for recognizing a moment to use the skill, but was tremendously disappointed when I was not rewarded by her shutting up and going the hell away. Sigh. I don't think I want more charm if it's just going to cause people to intrude on my notice uninvited.

  27. Normal is whatever the person you're trying to manipulate thinks is normal. Thus goes for the art of charming. Although it may be helpful to study different ways to charm, it is just as important to study what charms your person reacts best to.

  28. normal is in the eyes of the beholder

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