Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are you sane?

So read one response to "my" personal ad with this picture attached.

I was actually relieved to get such a response. Although I definitely think there are people who truly want to date sociopaths because they are sociopaths (and some do it successfully), I also think that most people do not want to date and/or are not well-suited to date or otherwise be involved with a sociopath. Of course the better the sociodar of the people in the latter category, the better off everyone is. So congrats to the author of this response for having enough good sense to know that we are not quite sane.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pink is a narcissist

In Pink's new video, "Sober," she gets intimate with herself -- particularly around the 2:25 mark:

Now I know people are a little weirded out by the self-on-self action, but I have to admit that this has always been a little bit of a fantasy of mine... does that make me a narcissist as well? Or are sociopaths naturally a little narcissistic because we think as highly of ourselves as we would anyone else who wasn't us but had our same characteristics? Which is very highly, of course, because sociopaths have some pretty great features.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who wants to date a sociopath: narcissists

As promised, here are some results from our sociopath inspired personal ad. Who wants to date a sociopath? Well, narcissists for one. This was a response from the London ad for women seeking men (which was the most popular ad, speculation on why later):
Your add appeals to me because I do extreme sports too. I shoot guns, just hand guns, at a shooting range. Theyre a lot more efficient than swords :) Anyway, I think most guys just mistake being beautiful for being interesting too. Well, to start I guess, im intelligent both conventionally and unconventionally. But I also know how to be quirky and im usually easily amused, which seems to be infectious. I love cars, mostly exotics and luxury cars, and fortunately Ive learned enough about them to carry on a conversation. I also like motorcycles, mostly just sport bikes though. I have a Ninja 500r, im still learning , but the thing is so awesome and fast and dangerous, its incredible. I work with kids and for some reason they love me. Theyre quite amusing and I always come home feeling like I made a difference, which is nice. As a matter of fact Im at work right now, on my phone, so I shpould get back to torturing the children. :) what about have to have something interesting about you.
I'm not too surprised by the narcissist connection. Narcissists wouldn't be turned off by sociopaths' lack of empathy because the narcissist is probably too wrapped up in himself to notice. Narcissists would, however, appreciate common interests, like this guy who has a love of handguns, swords, and fast and dangerous motorcycles. And kids. I think that's the most disturbing thing about his response.

Meet my hero: steak

Sociopaths give off a lot of signs. They don't get nervous, they don't have normal emotional reactions, they laugh at inappropriate things, and they don't understand things like heroes:

Either this kid is an aspie or sociopath or something. I like how the kid obviously struggled with this assignment, given the faint pencil and eraser markings under steak. I can imagine the conversation that led up to this.
kid: what are we supposed to be doing?
teacher: write down who you really like and why
kid: (not registering the difference between humans and a meal) ok.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sociopaths in the news: rape/incest and filicide

Today's theme is horrible things parents can do to their children.

First is a British man who was jailed for raping two of his daughters and fathering many children with them over 27 years. The two daughters were impregnanted a total of 19 times. Nine children survived, five were miscarried and five were terminated. Seven of the living children suffer genetic deformities.

There is nothing about this man that would lead me to believe that he is a sociopath other than the depraved nature of the crimes. Actually I suspect that he is not a sociopath because I would expect a sociopath to use birth control. I think in general the thought of procreating gives sociopaths the chills. Maybe we suffer the paranoia of many a medieval monarch that our children will grow up to be our doom. This seems especially likely when you have raped the child's mother. The fact that this father did not use any sort of birth control makes me want to chalk it up to the empaths' particular brand of evil.

The next story is about a two children who were saved from a freezing river last winter only to be killed by their mother. Well, the two-year old died (by a slit throat), but the seven-year old survived. There are some interesting quotes from law professors (experts?) about the nature of evil:
Cases of mothers who kill their children, like Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, continue to fascinate the public, even as the rates of filicide -- the act of a parent who kills his or her own child -- have remained fairly stable.

"Because these cases are so tragic, they pull at your heartstrings, but they happen all the time," said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.

In 2005, 555 children under the age of five were victims of homicide, compared with 544 in 1976. The rate peaked in 1991 at 778 and bottomed out in 1971 at 511, according to statistics from the Department of Justice.

Another fairly stable statistic: In more than 50 percent of child homicides, the killer is a parent.

"The natural defense to anticipate is insanity, because why would a mother kill her own child?" Levenson asked. "It certainly can be insanity, but it's not always the case. Perfectly sane people can do horrible things, and they do, every day."

Mothers can be motivated to kill their children by several factors, according to criminologist James Alan Fox, Lipman Family professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University.

Some act on genuine psychotic delusions, as jurors determined to be the case with Texas mother Andrea Yates, who told doctors she drowned her five children because God told her to do so. Others can be motivated by selfish reasons: Susan Smith's alleged motive for killing her children was that she perceived them to be an obstacle in her relationship with her boyfriend.

"It's a crazy thing to do, but crazy describes the behavior, not the mind," Fox said, adding that between 300 and 350 children have been homicide victims in 2008.

"It doesn't make sense to most of us, but that doesn't mean the state of mind of the person is mentally ill. You may know what you're doing and have very selfish motivations," he explained.
Out of all these murderous mothers, I think the closest to a sociopath is probably Susan Smith, next closest is this Iowan mother, and least likely is Andrea Yates. Sociopaths don't need god telling them to kill someone -- their self-interest can be enough. Of course, sociopaths rarely kill because killing is complicated, messy, risky, and other things that you would expect rational beings to avoid. But sometimes there is sufficient justification for killing -- like when countries go to war or execute prisoners. You know, killing for a good cause.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Love crimes: the experiment

I finally kicked off the personal ad experiment. I posted a sociopath-seeking-love ad in four different cities in four different categories on craigslist. If you're interested in what the ad looked like in its final forms, here's New York, London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Craigslist doesn't have permalinks and they'll only be up there for a few weeks, so sorry if the links don't work for you.

I've already gotten quite a few responses -- I'll let you guess which ad most of the responses are coming from. If I ever do the experiment again, I think I would add words like "sinister" and "emotionally unavailable" to the description because I am getting several responses like "that sounds like me." I wonder if there really could be that many narcissists or sociopaths out there, or whether people are just ignoring the negative parts of the description and projecting what they want to see.

This has been some of the most fun I have had recently. There have been a few very sincere responses that made me feel funny or a little evil. But I quickly got over it. Mainly I think the responders are suckers, "asking for it," or that they would do the same thing to me if they had half a chance. More details on the responses later.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sociopaths in the news: Cannibalism

Under the headline "First Mr Gay UK 'chopped up man and then planned to eat his flesh,'" we read about Anthony Morley (seen here on a dating show) who killed his lover (allegedly) in self defense and then began preparing portions of his flesh for cooking and consumption. But it isn't as bad as you think -- Morley is a chef, so he does that type of thing all the time apparently. Here are the juicy bits from the article:
Speaking softly, Morley, who was found to be three-and-a-half times over the legal drink drive limit the night of the killing, had invited Mr Oldfield upstairs into his bedroom at his house in Harehills, Leeds, to watch a DVD.

He said: 'I remember feeling that he was on top of me doing what he was doing. I felt numb and out of control. I felt uncomfortable and betrayed.

'We had talked about the whole situation. I was not comfortable with having a sexual relationship when we had only just got to know each other.'

Asked if he could give the jury a rational explanation as to why he killed Mr Oldfield, Morley said: 'The feeling of betrayal. I don't know why I went on to kill him at that point, I really don't.

'I can only say at some point Damian's body had just become something I would deal with at work - a piece of meat. That's the only thing I can think of. That was my daily task, preparing meat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sociopath personal ad

There has been some debate about whether people who are consistently attracted to sociopaths get what they're asking for. On the one hand we have people arguing that being attracted to certain sociopathic traits, e.g. charm, gift for adoration, and intensity, are not necessarily looking for a sociopath--they're just looking for someone with charm, a gift for adoration, and intensity. Okay, sure, I understand that logic. But how many sociopathic traits are people going to list off as being attractive and still claim to not be attracted to sociopaths? My theory is that there actually are people out there who are attracted to sociopaths because they are sociopaths.

To test that theory, I have come up with a little social experiment. I'll post a personal ad depicting a non-criminal sociopath and see what sort of responses it gets. Here is my first shot at the ad (using as many traits from hare's sociopathy checklist as practical); feel free to suggest alterations so we can make this test as "fair" as possible:
i've just made a few big life changes and am looking to focus more on an intense connection with a special somebody. i haven't had much luck with relationships so far. just when i think i am really getting to connect with someone, they freak out. they start acting like i have changed when really i have been the same the whole time. so after being burned too many times, i am looking for someone who will love me for who i really am, not whatever they imagine me to be. in the interest of full disclosure, here's me:

charming, attractive, succesful, very smart, a cut above, love adventure and intrigue, impulsive, active, love extreme sports, exciting, motorcycles, clever, persuasive, confident, doesn't take no for an answer, not easily deflated or worked up about things, never moody, takes care of self, passionate, loves to tempt and be tempted, driven.

let me know if any of this sounds interesting. and actually, just so i can make sure you're not just spamming people with generic emails, let me know what about my self-portrait is especially appealing to you and why.

happy hunting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

She was asking for it

Some people are attracted to sociopaths for the very traits that make them sociopaths, then complain when they suddenly realize what a horrible situation they've gotten themselves into. Here is a sociopath dishing out some reality to yet another "victim" of sociopathic "love fraud."
As a sociopath myself I can confidently tell you just because someone has those traits does not mean they're a sociopath.


Have you ever dated the type of guy that left you constantly waiting by the phone with an uneasy sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?

Or a guy who made you feel bad about yourself, but for some reason you couldn't leave him? (Of course, that same guy, at times, also made you feel like you were the only person on this planet--you know, that "hot-cold" type).

And have you ever walked into a club and found yourself so attracted to one particular guy, you felt like you were in a trance and literally couldn't stop making eyes with him?

Might mean there's something wrong with you!

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.

I don't want to be normal

In a previous post, I quoted from a reader about normalcy. I apologize for the repetiton, but here are the relevant parts:
"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 don't feel how I should, but I want to learn to act that way so that I can keep my independence."
Here is one person's response to the issue of sociopaths and normalcy:
Human beings are born ignorant. We believe that we are special, yet ultimately we each must die and suffer the same ignoble end. After many years and much soul searching I began to wake up to this and begin to understand why I was so unhappy. Religion is a specialized madness. Morality is adherence to said madness. When you stop to ponder it, and I mean deeply ponder it, you will begin to understand what I mean. Study the work of Frank Herbert for the answers you seek. Every one who has posted here is NORMAL.

If we are all special, how can the group exist? Are we not in competition? Is the caste system wrong if it gives us purpose among the masses, or must we refute our place and strive for the purpose within? How can one fight the system and operate within it unless he/she us/we accept that our divinity/damnation is a personal choice. Why am I cursed with intelligence if I must acquiesce to my masters?
V! That's you, right? Or maybe you have a doppleganger. V's pet subject is normalcy and the sociopath, and how the world's perception of what is normal is really a perversion. I get it, and I like reading those arguments, but also I understand what our reader means: that even if there isn't such thing as normalcy, and/or sociopaths are superior anyway (i.e. if we're picking something to be normal, we should pick sociopathy), the truth is that sociopaths still have to slum it (i.e. act "normal") to get along in this world. More on acting normal in another post.

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.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Suspicious sociopaths save souls

As I have mentioned before, it is pretty easy to surprise a sociopath. Smarter sociopaths try to learn from that and be a little more on guard for the unexpected (which might explain the obsession with conspiracy theories), but it's hard. The sociopath's main tools are manipulation and charm, which are offensive rather than defensive tactics. Like i said before, it is difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of whatever else is happening when playing those cards. Add the nonsensical or erratic behavior of the empaths, which a sociopath could not predict even if he was trying, and you have a recipe for sociopaths who are always susceptible to surprise.

With that in mind, I am always suspicious of seemingly innocuous remarks, like this comment from a reader:
Have you edited your site? Some recent posts seem to be missing? Also why is it that everyone commenting fails to put down their name. Are we embarrassed to be reading socio stuff?
First of all, no, nothing has been edited/removed, but thanks for making me spend an hour culling through everything just to be sure there wasn't some big hacker conspiracy. Second of all, nice try troll. Might as well suggest that we all put our social security numbers and current addresses along with our comments. I bet our avid reader from the CIA headquarters in Langley would love that. If you were a real sociopath, you would have a healthy paranoia of being discovered and shipped to an internment camp.

Mostly just kiddng, but I agree that identifying yourself as something in your comments allows others to make fun of you more accurately and efficiently. For instance, dear reader, I have no way to identify you other than calling you troll. See how uncivilized that is? Pick a pseudonym like our man V, or at least use your location. Hear me Huddersfield? And while we're at it, let's give a shot out to Boston. Does that scare you? It should. Now, stop suggesting we all use our real names and acquire your own healthy dose of paranoia.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One more way sociopaths are oppressed

As previous posts have mentioned, sociopaths seem to be overly interested in conspiracy theories. This could be another example of that--or maybe I'm reading into it too much. from a reader:

I was recently fitted with contact lenses, and had to pay extra for those fancy "extra water" ones because I have dry eyes. A few days later, this came up in conversation with a friend who is studying to become an eye doctor of some kind. She remarked that dry eyes are a common feature of empathy challenged individuals - sociopaths, aspies and the like. I was just wondering if you, or any of your readers, have similar symptoms? Do you think it is related to our absent

I don't know if this is true. I have never noticed this symptom before with myself. I wonder if any of my sociopath readers have? I can't really think of why empathy-challenged individuals would have dry eyes. Bladerunner style.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How to "manage" a sociopath or narcissist

Although I mentioned in a previous post that I think people can have happy and successful relationships with sociopaths and narcissists, I do think that there are ways to manage their behavior or to help them manage their own behavior. Here is my response to the previous post:

Yes, your friend sounds like a sociopath or narcissist. You should actually be hoping for sociopath at this point, because they are much easier to reason with. Narcissists are completely self-deceived. They don't think they are different than empaths, just better: less likely to be duped, a leader among mere mortals, that type of thing. They like situations where other people are dependent on them, whereas sociopaths like people to be enslaved to them. Narcissists are motivated more by a need to be loved and admired (acceptance/respect), sociopaths are motivated by a need to be respectfully feared and in control (power).

Your friend sounds like more of a narcissist than a sociopath from your description. I've found that most sociopaths, like people with Asperger's, are aware of their condition, even if they may not know what to label it. Because your friend is refusing to admit to himself that his personality fits the Antisocial Personality Disorder spectrum traits, that suggests to me that he is a narcissist. He could also be a particularly low-functioning sociopath, meaning poor self-awareness and poor impulse control. Those type of sociopaths are the ones that go to prison, so you are justifiably concerned for your friend.

Either way, the "treatment" I would suggest is the same: redirection and distraction. This info is taken from a poorly edited book with some decent information called Just like his Father?. It discusses how to parent sociopathic children, but the principles can apply to everyone dealing with a sociopath.

The book describes how to teach impulse control. When children are preverbal (before a child can understand and use words), the only impulse-control tools are redirection and distraction. "Redirection is the creation of an appropriate setting for the expression of impulses. Distraction is the process by which attention shifts away from undesirable impulses." An example of redirection is a child who wants to play with your car keys or phone. You don't want the child to play with those objects because he may break or lose them. You can redirect the child by giving him fake keys or a toy phone. "By providing your child with substitutes, you acknowledge his desires as legitimate, set limits, and teach him to direct himself in a way that is productive rather than destructive." An example of distraction is when a parent tries to "distract a crying child by cuddling him and making funny faces. In this exercise, the child learns to shift attention from a negative feeling state to a more positive one."

After children become verbal, most toddlers use language to strengthen their impulse control. "Watch as your child picks up the previously mentioned keys or cell phone while repeating to himself 'don't touch mommy's keys' and 'don't play with mommy's cell phone.' Commanding himself to put the objects down requires a great deal of effort. You may notice that the commands your child gives himself are identical to the ones you have given him. . . if you have witnessed this process, you have observed the building blocks of conscience . . . once the conscience is fully formed, the process of verbal command over impulses happens automatically. The child can stop himself without thinking about it."

I would say that most high functioning sociopaths are stuck at repeating to themselves "don't touch mommy's keys" with a great deal of effort. As they routinely do this in a particular area (e.g., don't tell people they're fat), they may develop a habit and not have to think so much about it anymore. But obviously if you have a friend whose lack of impulse control is leading to self-destruction, the friend probably isn't even at the don't-touch-mommy's-keys stage. That's why i suggest redirection and distraction, if possible.

Your friend has legitimate needs and wants, and you want to be sure to address those and not alienate him by criticizing his basic self/needs: "By providing your child with substitutes, you acknowledge his desires as legitimate, set limits, and teach him to direct himself in a way that is productive rather than destructive." You need to find out what his needs are, and cater to those needs in non-destructive ways, or teach him to do that for himself.

I don't know what non destructive substitutes may be for your friend, but you should probably prioritize in your mind which of his less-than-desirable behaviors are the most harmful to him, then focus on those. Otherwise, it would be like your friend trying to quite heroin, alcohol, sex, porn, cutting, smoking, and bulimia all at the same time. Not possible. You have to prioritize.

I suggest your friend reads The 48 Laws of Power. It's sort of a sociopath's bible about how to cultivate power, but I think it can also really help narcissists become more self-aware and sociopaths have more impulse control.

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In love with a sociopath

People got problems. I understand. One such problem is loving a sociopath or narcissist. It's a tough job, sure. But is this a problem without answers? Or a problem whose answers you don't like? Here's the following problem from one such person:
I have seen your blog. I am not sure if you can help, however here goes... I have a "friend" that I was very involved with. Much of what he did did not match what he said..but he (when pushed) would open up and show me things to show me he was sincere. he said things like "I love you but not the way you need to be loved" he would tell me he wanted me in his life, then ignore me... I would get angry and we fought, all the time.. it was a pattern I didn't like... He was very bad in business, lied all the time, had and has such potential, but does everything to ruin what he has. He cheats people and doesn't see it that way. He cheats on his wife (second one) and on his lovers as well. Omits truths and gets angry and shuts down when confronted. Always runs to different places, keeps his business as a means to escape reality, never lives in one place. I have told him I believe he is a sociopath, it expalns much of what I have seen and know of him and his backround... he says he know he has problems, but wont accept that is what it is. he said he wanted my help, then stopped talking to me, says he is too busy and will call, then doesn't. This of course starts a fight...only on my side because he does not respond at this point, but still wont say he wants me out of his life... I told him that is all it takes for me to go.

I don't know what to do, he is hurting people, owes money all over. I believe he is trying to dupe women because he needs money, his wife is ill, he says she is divorcing him, but I dont believe him, and I am not sure if he is damaging her more. I dont know how to reach out to him to get him to at least be open to this and try to straighten out his life... it is late, he is already almost 60. I know it is very difficult to change, but I think he may want to because he wont tell me to go away.
Let's first talk about the wisdom of getting involved with a sociopath, and then we can talk about specific ways you can handle a sociopath in some other post.

Loving a sociopath can be great. I know all sorts of people in relationships with sociopaths and narcissists, and they seem happy:
I believe in the possibility of loving narcissists if one accepts them unconditionally, in a disillusioned and expectation-free manner. Narcissists are narcissists. This is what they are. Take them or leave them. Some of them are lovable. Most of them are highly charming and intelligent. The source of the misery of the victims of the narcissist is their disappointment, their disillusionment, their abrupt and tearing and tearful realization that they fell in love with an ideal of their own invention, a phantasm, an illusion, a fata morgana. This "waking up" is traumatic. The narcissist is forever the same. It is the victim who changes.
Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 1 Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin. See also.

This makes a lot of sense, right? You order a vanilla milkshake, get a vanilla milkshake, everyone's happy. You order a vanilla milkshake, get a chocolate milkshake, start complaining to the server that she screwed up your order, no one's happy. This happens all the time when people get exactly what they asked for without realizing what it was wanted. So the first step to assessing the "problem" of being in love with a sociopath/narcissist is taking a hard look at yourself and figuring out whether you "asked for it." If that is the case, the "problem" is not with the sociopath/narcissist -- it's with you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Empaths = ticking time bombs

A reader emailed this article with the subject line, "What happens when you don't properly break up with a sociopath." I was excited for a possible sociopaths in the news post, but disappointed to read that it looked like a simple crime of passion:
Carol Anne Burger killed her former lover by stabbing her 222 times with a Phillips-head screwdriver and then took pains to hide her crime, police said Wednesday.

Jessica Kalish, who shared a house with Burger despite breaking up with her more than a year ago, was found last Thursday stuffed in the backseat of her gun-metal BMW sedan, abandoned behind a medical office at 2300 S. Congress Avenue. Her blood was splashed around the rear end and undercarriage of the car, as if her killer had tried to load her into the trunk. The driver-side window was shattered.

Examining the body, detectives absorbed what had been done to her. Stab wounds were clustered around the back of her head and stitched across her back and arms and face. Most were between an inch and an inch-and-a-half deep. A blow to Kalish's neck probably killed her, investigators determined.
Okay, murder with a screwdriver, not bad. I feel like I have seen that before in scary sociopath type movies, but that's where the sociopath connections end:
Burger, a 57-year-old writer, did yoga, had a fondness for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel and preferred to watch musicals in theaters with Dolby Sound. She recently stopped drinking coffee. She thought Jackson Browne's "For a Dancer" was good to listen to when you were sad, and she refused to take anti-depressants despite her relationship problems with Kalish.
Okay, so not a sociopath. I mean, maybe with the "fondness for Shark Week," but you keep reading the article and can only come to one conclusion: crime of passion. Yes, sociopaths can kill, maim, or otherwise injure "loved ones," but at least we act predictably. Empaths! They are the scary ones! They'll get all worked up about things, get into this emotional frenzy, and next thing you know you have a screwdriver shoved in your neck. "Watch out for empaths" warns this article:
On the morning she realized her husband and son would learn the family was losing their house, Carlene Balderrama, 53, faxed a note to the mortgage company, then went to the basement and shot herself.

"I hope you're more compassionate with my husband than you were with me," she wrote in a suicide note left for the company.

It is a dramatic picture of the worst that financial stress can wring. As home foreclosures and unemployment mount, so do their companion tales of fraud, robbery, arson and even murder. And though suicides remain rare, evidence that financial stress is erupting in rash, often illegal behavior isn't difficult to find.
Not just suicides, murder-suicide--like that man who killed his his wife, mother-in-law and three sons, and then shot himself at their Los Angeles home. Empaths are on the rampage!

I admit that sociopaths are sort of scary. But that's just because we don't have the same boundaries for human behavior that you expect in neuro-typical individuals. But what is scarier? Being out in a jungle where you know there are tigers and you take the appropriate precautions? Or being in a zoo with your family when the tigers suddenly break free from their enclosure? Empath boundaries don't do any good when they can just hurdle over them whenever they're upset. That's what empaths are like: ticking time bombs. Screwdriver-murderer's friends know what I am talking about:
Her friends, the ones who can bring themselves to believe what police said about her, turn the question over in amazement.

If this could happen to someone like her, they said, what does it mean for the rest of us?

Does no one comment?

One of my favorite comments is an outraged response to this post:
"Does no one comment? I see the psycopath as a mutant being, an accident or freak of nature then a combination of nuture but not allways just mostly in the poorer classes. God can heal you people but you have to become self aware enough to choose the right or the good rather than self! May His hand touch you all and heal your pain and fill your hearts with His Grace!"
I laugh inappropriately whenever I think of this comment. "Does no one comment?" the outraged individual asks. Sort of a "how can you people read this and not be incensed?" In my mind, I picture some outraged Christian type who has fallen down the rabbit-hole into a bizarre world where up is down and down is up. What a delicious image! Welcome to my rabbit-hole, sociopath friends and friends of sociopaths.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pretending to be normal

I'm sorry to keep harping on this (and this), but aspies get all the breaks for some reason. This article is about bit torrent programmer Bram Cohen who learns late in life that he has Asperger's. Under the heading, "Learning Empathy:"
One afternoon in the summer of 2003 he was eating at a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley with his girlfriend, Jenna, and her young daughter. They were talking about empathy, a notion that baffled Cohen. "Then a baby cried, and my daughter turned and made a sad face," Jenna recalls. "He said, 'You mean like that?' I said, 'Yes, it's automatic.' " Not for Cohen, though, who told her that emotions seemed mysterious. Jenna, who had worked with autistic kids, suggested he might have Asperger's.

Cohen never sought a formal diagnosis but turned his considerable attention to the matter. He learned how to detect and mimic human expressions, follow social cues, maintain eye contact, flirt. He began pretending to be normal. "Then I realized how out of it I had been my entire life," he says. Jenna likens Bram to the android Data on Star Trek: "He'd add information to his social algorithm and practice until it became natural. He's graduated to being an eccentric nerd."
After that comes more "bla bla bla, aspies are great, look what this aspie was able to accomplish" lovefest. And then the ridiculous comments:
"What a well written article on a seemingly great guy. You've got to admire anyone who acknowledges inherent 'differences' and actively works to improve themselves and their relationships. And to his wife, you must be a true saint to put the time and effort into such a complex situation. Thank you for sharing your story."
And even more naive:
"Profoundly uplifting story. Mr. Cohen shows the world what it's like to see with the eyes of a genius"
I'm seriously disgusted. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I'll never understand empaths. What is the difference between this guy's crazy lack of empathy and a sociopath's? Is it really just because he seems sort of harmless? ("Little kids would be frightening psychopaths if not for the fact that they're relatively weak and dumb compared to adults.") But he can't be that harmless if he created a program that is used to share pirated movies and games with millions of users.

As I have said before, I am all for rights for the empathy challenged, but have a little consistency! How is that everyone hates sociopaths for having no conscience, but aspies can do no wrong? People are utterly creeped out by sociopaths learning and mimicking emotions, but with aspies it is "acknowledg[ing] inherent 'differences' and actively work[ing] to improve themselves"? I feel like I am taking crazy pills.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

V is for Vendetta!

[guest post from elite sociopath, V]

This is a Taoist parable from the book VITALITY ENERGY SPIRIT, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.


Lung Shu said to the physician Wen Chi, "Your art is subtle, I have an ailment; can you cure it?"

The Physician said, "I will do as you say, but first tell me about your symptoms."

Lung Shu said, "I am not honored when the whole village praises me, nor am I ashamed when the whole county criticizes me. Gain does not make me happy, loss does not grieve me. I look upon life as like death, and see wealth as like poverty. I view people as like pigs, and see myself as like others. At home I am as though at an inn, and I look upon my native village as like a foreign country. With these afflictions, rewards cannot encourage me, punishments cannot threaten me. I cannot be changed by flourishing or decline, gain or loss; I cannot be moved by sorrow or happiness. Thus I cannot serve the government, associate with friends, run my household, or control my servants. What sickness is this? Is there any way to cure it?"

The physician had Lung Shu stand with his back to the light while he looked into his chest. After a while he said, "Aha! I see your heart; it is empty! You are nearly a sage. Six of the apertures in your heart are open, one of them is closed. This may be why you think the wisdom of a sage is an ailment. It cannot be stopped by my shallow art."
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