Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dealing with sociopathy

Everyone always wants to know how to deal with sociopaths, even sociopaths themselves. But for many sociopaths, the most difficult sociopaths they will ever have to "deal" with are themselves. Says a reader:
I'd like to communicate with you, I haven't seen much on the internet from the view of a sociopath. Do you try to act normal? I don't know what I am, and I won't try to label myself. I don't want to be normal, but I need to learn to act normal. I want to keep myself out of jail, the mental hospital, that kind of thing that I've experienced too much. I haven't done anything wrong, but that's what people see in me so it doesn't matter what I do. I just want to live my life freely, unimprisoned. I don't feel how I should, but I want to learn to act that way so that I can keep my independence. Please let me know if you have any experience in this area. Thanks.
There were a lot of points in this comment as well as a follow up comment from the same author that I will address in a later post. The thing that struck me initially about this comment, however, was its similarity to another (long) comment I had seen on another site regarding hospitalization, et al:
I was diagnosed with ASPD in 1992, by a psychologist who gave me a "very poor" prognosis, automatically, due to the diagnosis. It took me over a decade to find a therapist who would actually treat me! Most took one look at my records and dumped me on the spot, because of the stigma attached to such a definition. "Doesn't ASK for help"???? HAH!!! How would they KNOW??? I was asking for help, for certain, but no one was listening. One of them actually said "You don't need a therapist, you need an EXORCIST!" Another threatened to call the cops, and I hadn't done anything! Still another called me "scary and dangerous" and instructed security to bar me from re-entering the building. Later she told a social worker that my EYES had scared her "half to death". Right, like I was giving her the "evil eye" or something. Give me a break. So much of it is just because of words: a label. I had a brief inpatient visit this Spring, partly because of this very same issue. I started shouting sarcastically in the middle of a psych-eval interview, "So, you all agree?!! Oh, WOW, watch OUT!!! I'm a PSYCHOPATH!!! I'm going to destroy the WHOLE WORLD!!!" at the top of my lungs. Not the best idea. I didn't exactly get my true point across. And I discovered that some shrinks just don't have a sense of irony at all; so, of course, I ended up getting committed. And during my stay, another patient, obviously of superior CONSCIENCE, tried to beat me with her Bible, to "get the devil out" of me! The nurses automatically accused me of lying about everything, no matter what the issue, and they kept yelling at me because they were constantly suspicious that I was "up to something". And of course, they just HAD to put me in a room alone; fine by me, if somewhat insulting. Did they think I was going to EAT a roommate?? Or maybe just LOOK at them -- because I started getting that business again from some of the patients and even staff, about giving them the so-called "evil eye" -- whatever. What do they see in my eyes??!! It's too much. Just everything. I'm sick of being treated like a female version of "Jason" or "Freddie"! People look at my psych records and get all these weird ideas, and they expect a cinematic show. Oh, and if I cry or show the slightest bit of pain, no way does anyone believe it's real; I'm automatically attacked for trying to put one over on someone with my "dramatic performance". So. I'm giving psychotherapy one last shot, with a therapist who can look me in the eye without suddenly turning into a panicky wreck. I guess that makes her special. That and the fact she sees me as just another human being, not a freak or "monster" or vessel of "pure evil," as I've been called. But now I finally believe that I'm not "sub-human". I've had extensive neurological testing, and I've been told by several specialists that parts of my nervous system are messed up. I sustained substantial trauma to the head as a child. Meanwhile, as I'm struggling through all that, plus (and especially) the emotional and cognitive aspects of my illness, it seems to me that the rest of the world is having a party to which I am always uninvited. I feel that way because they share things I will never know. Ever, as long as I live, no matter how much progress I do manage to make. Accepting that is very hard. Up until very recently, my hatred for the world was formidable. BUT one thing is vital to remember: IT WAS NEVER MY CHOICE to be as I am. People need to be aware that mental illness is first and foremost a PHYSICAL thing. No one CHOOSES to develop any form of it. The human brain is still a largely unfathomed territory. Less blame and judgment, more science and intervention, would go a long way toward preventing or at least much better management of disastrous illnesses such as mine. Hollywood shouldn't dictate all that people know about such things. Well, anyway. I just thought it was a good idea to offer another person's point of view. And, YES, I am a person, not an "it". Despite numerous protests to the contrary. So many people have called me "evil" -- if I believed it all, I'd end up committing suicide. Although the damage that was done to me so long ago, and what I was born with, cannot ever change, a lot can. I have already changed enough to be able to do something like writing here! Now all I want is to move as far beyond my staggering limitations as I possibly can do. I want a life. I live in self-imposed exile, isolated and reclusive. And yet, when someone tells me I'm "hopeless," it only makes me more adamant about breaking free of the mental cage in which I've spent my whole life -- so far. Statistically speaking, my expected lifespan might fall twenty years short of the general average. But I intend to defy that, too. I'm in great pain now, psychologically, because I'm facing things that are quite horrifying to remember, and it is necessary. But in spite of that, I am starting to conceive of having something worth living for...and THAT is brand new for me. One thing I never forget: "When you're going through hell, KEEP GOING!"
The primary lesson to be learned from this comment, I think, is never disclose to anyone that you are a sociopath, and for sure don't yell about it in the middle of a crowded room. For the high-functioning sociopaths among us, I think it is hard to even want to care about those of us who end up in prisons and hospitals. We want to believe that it is their fault--that they give the rest of us a bad name. But sometimes I really do wonder whether we disown them out of fear because we don't want to acknowledge that there could be a prison term and/or hospital cell in the future for every one of us.

24 comments:

  1. I am quite familiar with the highly functioning sociopath. I've lived with one for over seven years and have a child with one.
    That terrifies me, my child is innocent as children are. I do not want her to grow up marrying a man or even getting involved with a man like her father. But parents are role models aren't they, for their children.
    If you are seeking help you probably are NOT a true sociopath, bc you wish to get better. Sociopaths have no remorse, guilt, or even an inkling of the evil they perpetrate is wrong. If the truth is inconvenient for them they will merely construct another reality for themselves.
    I wish you a positive road to discovering your humanity.
    We can all use a little more humanity and compassion.

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  2. I don't think either of those two authors quoted actually said that they were a true sociopath, so that is not the point. The point is trying to live your own life despite an unusual personality.

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  3. Imho, I think anon1 touches on something that IS important(though perhaps not the point of the post) the 'true sociopath'issue. It seems to me one thing this blog is doing is redefining 'sociopath'(those two authors are also crying out loud for that in a way, "I'm a sociopath, but I'm good!")-which is defined in such a limited manner, it doesnt really acknowledge the spectrum along which sociopaths and extended, empaths fall. So sociopaths are necessarily full of hate, mostly harmful evil folks (maybe those are core elements, but degree and extent to which those 'impulses' are dealt with matters!!)who are best locked up.So that, anyone with 'good' traits, CANNOT be a sociopath (!!) Which is also the definition which you high-functioning sociopaths are constantly trying to subvert, as you (and everyone) should-well if you want to out and claim visiblity for your variant of love/life/attachment. ANY alternative minority world view (gay, the disabled, people of colour, women) cannot do without a tag, an IDENTITY-and although M.E.'s and other Ss understandably would want to distance or sever connection from the 'bad sociopaths' to escape the cuckoo house, a better strategy for the longer run would be 'rewriting' what is a 'sociopath'. Right now its the 'bad sociopath' that dominates discourse (movies/internet/fiction/abnormal pscyh textbooks). Well, naturally, pains louder...(and my heart aches for anon1, NEVER denying that pain) but I think blogs like these are truly a first shout for the 'good sociopath'(like my S :))Thank god for the internet!

    -mk

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  4. The term sociopath is used to define a subgroup of criminals, so sociopaths are by definition criminal. I agree, this website is trying to redefine the term because "sociopath" or "antisocial personality disorder" weren't meant to define a culture or group of people as it is portrayed here, but instead a subgroup of criminals, as a certain amount of crime is required for the DSM definition.

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  5. DSM is written by dumbasses. If you want to be one of them, accept their bible.
    -Vigilius

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  6. I'm sure you are welcome to take the term "sociopath" and do whatever you want with it. However, you should be aware of what your definition of it is and what the original definition was in doing so. The term "psychopath" is actually the term for the "mental illness" that I believe you are defending as simply another personality here. However, in 1930, a man named G.E. Partridge coined the term "sociopath" to refer to the criminal problem that psychopathy created in society. Therefore, sociopathy would not be the "mental illness" or thinking style of the person, but instead a subset of psychopaths who are criminal. Using this definition, all sociopaths are psychopathic, but not all psychopaths are sociopathic. Granted, these are rather antiquated terms so perhaps their definitions should be evolved. However, in doing so you should be aware of their sources and original meanings so that you are, in fact, redefining the term instead of simply misinterpreting it, as the latter is careless and undignified.

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  7. There's a difference between you and me. You read that girl's story and wanted to shove her under the rug. I read it and wanted to meet her, talk to her, maybe even help. You are a sociopath, I am a super-empath.

    -This is Draxious

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  8. I am curious, which post above makes you think someone wants to shove the girl's story under the rug?

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  9. @anon who cautions against hasty redefinitions:

    -When used synonymously with ASPD and dissocial personality disorder, the official biggie terms, sociopathy is NOT defined by criminality (that was a hundred years ago).So, you can not violate laws and still be diagnosed with sociopathy (although ASPD diagnosis requires conduct disorder as a child or adolescent).
    - Criminal behaviour could be an oft checked criterion though because crime is 'loud' and demands fix.
    -Now theres no way of estimating this, but from limited personal experience and the occasional 'good sociopath' raising their voices on the net, I suspect there are scores of people out there who do not violate the rights of others but 'fit other diagnostic criteria'-some of which they might want to fix and some not but which in any case is their call.
    -That they have to face so much hostility is all that I'm questioing-and changing that scenario is not just about rewriting the DSM IV but re-interpreting (or misinterpreting :) as you call it) the unofficial image of the sociopath which is what directs the reaction of the vast majority of the world towards sociopaths anyway.
    -mk

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  10. Hey, first anon!

    You missed the entire point of this post. LOL.

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  11. Hey Iddy,
    I know I did, in retrospect, I speedread the post, I didn't check out the nature of the blogger either (didn't read previous explanations of why she was blogging etc).
    When Hannah Arendt described Eichmann(?), the term "banality of evil" stuck in the public psyche.
    Sociopaths aren't all the incarnation of supervillainous evil and criminal deviancy, no they walk among us as aliens, some are quite well adapted, some do little harm to others, more self-tormented.
    And as Freud pointed out, we are all insane, only differing in the degree of insanity.
    Sorry for hastily scouring these sociopath blogs. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about my particular sociopath. I'm hoping that my daughter will not follow in the steps of her father.
    I guess I was just a sucker for this sociopath (i'm not trying to stereotype anyone, really, I'm just familiar with "my sociopath" and what he is capable of).

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  12. I am surprised to see how sensitive you all are to being disputed.

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  13. First anon: Fair enough.
    Most recent anon: Eh?

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  14. I stumbled across this site while trying to define my own personality traits. I certainly exhibit a fair number of the associated traits of a sociopath, so maybe i am one.

    The thing is, I never used to exhibit these traits, in fact as a child i was very empathic - this changed when i went from a loving home to living with an abusive and largely uncaring stepfather, and a mother who just didn't want anything to jeapordise her relationship with said stepfather.

    What happens when you systematically abuse an empath?

    The answer is simple - they stop empathising and start lashing out once it gets too much. In my opinion, and i could be wrong on this, but the medical definitions don't take into account the complexities of the human soul, sociopathy is simply a natural instinct for survival and even revenge on those that destroyed part of their psyche. I never got justice for the wrongs that were done to me, my child brain at the time "toughened" itself to deal with the situation and went about exacting revenge in lieu of justice provided by those that should have been protecting me from such harm. The problem is, how do you stop?

    Having been in such a psychological torment for the formative years of childhood, how do you become "normal" when you've never really known normality?

    The moral superiority exhibited by sociopaths was once just that, they did once hold the moral high ground, they knew right from wrong and they knew wrong was being done to them and nothing was being done about it so they adapted their views of the world accordingly - it's difficult to feel empathy for anyone when no empathy is shown to you.

    So in my view, and this is just my opinion, a sociopath is probably just a scared child in an adult body, trying to protect themselves from the harm that has been visited upon them by "normal" people. Once the walls go up, it's damn hard to bring them down again and each negative response just adds another brick to the wall - more proof that they are right to mistrust the world and treat it with contempt.

    There may be genetic factors involved, differences to the brain even, but largely i think that society itself has created sociopaths and the reason they fear sociopaths is because of the skeleton in society's closet that sociopaths represent.

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  15. Firstly, thank you for this forum, its quite lovely and useful.

    As a so called natural "empath", I find myself grateful to have such an effortless ability to act in such a way that the tribe sees as reinforcing the collective good, a cooperator vs a defector (game theory), however I am in deep admiration of the useful Machiavellian qualities of SP's.

    I wish there was a master course in SP logic, is it teachable?

    Abd criminality, what is crime exactly? we have crimes categorized as either mala in se or mala prohibita, or something in between, like the non crime of an "infraction"

    Not everything "wrong" is codified as crime, and not everything criminal is "wrong".

    Sociopaths can be sexy, I love a very pretty and dangerous female, it's like owning a leopard, I just wish she was high functioning, smarter.

    Lions may be "evil" to gazelles, gazelles evil to Lions, at least when they make it hard to feed the lion cubs.

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  16. my midnight grocery crew leader said this to me " Pussycat, pussycat I hate you, pussycat, pussycat I hate you !!! Pussycat, pussycat I wish you were dead !!! Pussycat, pussycat I want to kill you !!!!"
    I went to the risk management meeting next i'm head to cops
    is this mob related ?

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  17. The 12th Anon kind of sums up my ideology of sociopathy.

    I find it funny when sites against sociopaths gawk at sociopaths but they never apply the standards to themselves nor notice that they created the sociopaths.

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  18. Classic Sociopathy is actually pretty rare, maybe 1 in 20 from my experience. However, sociopathic traits can vary in everyone; some exhibit more traits than others, some can hide it a bit, some can hide it all very well.

    The anger is of great concern to all. I have moderate depression that can lead to a homocidal hatred of all human beings if not kept in check with meds. I tell only those close to me about this. If broadcasted widely (as I've done in the past in the name of honesty and full-disclosure) discrimination and avoidance is a natural outcome. Lesson: use descretion and common sense.

    Your sociopathic traits cannot be treated but the sadness and rage that keep you from getting a handle on this CAN. Be patient and find a counseler who is willing to assist IF you're honest and up-front about it. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

    I wish you happiness and peace.

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  19. playing for your pity. classic antisocial technique.

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  20. To cut it short,from the ages 12-16 I was molested and abused along with my mother getting beat by her boyfriend she found online. Everything I read about sociopaths fits him to a T but I guess we won't really ever know the truth about. He is now in prison wanting to max out his time due to him then being off papers or parole. Him and my mother have a 5 year old son together and for him still controlling our lives he is going to want to stay in my brother's life he will be 8 when he is out of prison, is there any chance we can strip him of his rights due to this illness? or will he learn his behaviors and eventually turn into a sociopath as well? what about any treatments if so?

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  21. To answer your questions:

    Not that I know of, maybe, and no, respectively. If you can demonstrate that his presence would endanger the boy, it might work, though.

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  22. Anonymous said... playing for your pity. classic antisocial technique. July 10, 2010 1:54 AM

    That one didn't get past me either ;-)

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  23. Anonymous said... playing for your pity. classic antisocial technique. July 10, 2010 1:54 AM

    That one didn't get past me either ;-)

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