Friday, January 30, 2009

Sociopaths in the news: lawyers

Effects of alcohol on a budding, Obama-esque young sociopath, soon-to-be lawyer:
A promising Harvard Law School standout told cops during a bizarre drunken tirade that he would “lie and cheat” to ruin them if - as a future attorney - he ever calls them to a witness stand, police said.

“A statement like that really has no place in the practice of law,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, who took Charles Claudio Simpkins on last fall as an intern and will now prosecute him on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

A police report states that Simpkins, 24, made the threat early Saturday morning, just four months from graduation, as he spilled out of a Theater District bar and into the back of a Boston police cruiser, barking to officers, “Give me a (expletive) ride, I work for the district attorney’s office.”

A proud conservative, Simpkins seemed destined for a future of unlimited potential.

A graduate of City College of New York, where he majored in philosophy and political science, Simpkins was in 2005 named a Harry S. Truman Scholar for his devotion to public service. He has studied abroad and appeared on several major networks, as well as on, discussing politics.

In a post in September, one political blogger said Simpkins “is what Obama could have been.”

A former CCNY classmate gushed online, “Like Barack, Claudio is also . . . politically active, handsome, and has more honors than I can count.”

But any White House dreams may now be in jeopardy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Do sociopaths love?

Yes. Sociopaths can love with a selfish intensity that puts other love to shame. Their love is a devouring, consuming sort of love. When I love someone, I feel like I want to inhale them -- to literally suck out their soul. When I kiss someone, I try to do just that.

Love may be blind for empaths, but a sociopath sees your faults clearly and loves you still. The sociopath's piercing eyes are not only unsettling because of their unwavering constancy, but because the sociopath's eyes can pierce through to your very soul, leaving you naked before his gaze. The sociopath's ignorance or disinterest in social norms means that he will not see you as the world sees you but how you truly are. They're free of the rose-colored glasses empaths falling in "love" often wear. I imagine this ability would be particularly appealing to those whose role in society doesn't reflect their true worth: members of disfavored races or socioeconomic backgrounds, the too-smart-for-their-own-good crowd, the still-waters-run-deep.

Sociopaths have a genius for adoring. Their understanding of your wants and needs matched with their charm and flexible personality mean that they can and will literally become the man or woman of your dreams. In fact, when I love, my first step is to gather as much information as possible about every aspect of the person's life in order to more closely resemble their ideal mate.

The closest analog to a sociopath's love is probably the love of a child: intense, accepting, selfish. And finally, like a child, the sociopath will be extremely loyal. A sociopath will never put you above himself, but he will readily put you above all others.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I don't know if I have ever felt remorse, but I've definitely felt regret. I have several formerly close friends/former love interests who no longer speak to me. The first couple times it happened were particularly heart breaking. I was just starting to realize that I was different, but reckless about it still and a little in denial about the extent of the difference. To one I even confessed that I had a tendency to treat people in my life like paper napkins -- use them all up and then dispose of them. I didn't really mind being different back then, but I already understood how toxic it could be to others.

One particular old incident still haunts me. I had a rocky friendship with someone I admired a great deal. A long school trip coincided with our most recent fight, and we had to spend time together on a bus. At one point in the trip we were stopped and I watched my friend get off the bus. I looked out the window and saw the person engaged in an impromptu game with classmates. Taking advantage of the moment, I rifled through my friend's belongings and found a personal notebook/journal. I was so desperate to know what my friend thought of me that I immediately starting skimming it. Less than a minute later i looked out the window and couldn't see my friend anywhere. I panicked, threw the notebook down on the ground, and started running for the bus door where I encountered the friend. Trying to distract and buy myself time, I playfully tackled my friend to the floor. My friend was charmed by the playful gesture and seemed willing to reconcile. Once my friend looked over and saw the journal on the ground, however, I knew it was all over. I'd never seen hatred like that in someone's eyes before. I knew in an instant what I had done and what it had cost me.

I don't blame people for hating me. I hate myself a little. Not everything destructive in my life was my fault or anything I would have done differently, but some of it I deeply regret.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sociopaths in the news: OJ Simpson

California attorneys owe their current clients a duty of confidentiality, which is maybe why it took OJ's former attorney and good friend Robert Shapiro years to admit, "he's a sociopath."
Simpson’s former criminal attorney, Robert Shapiro, night before last at a party celebrating Mickey Rourke’s Golden Globe win. I asked Shapiro, who led the Simpson “Dream Team” in 1994-95 that got Simpson acquitted of double murder, what he thought of his former client in retrospect.

Shapiro was quick to respond. “He’s a sociopath,” Shapiro said, surprisingly.

Did Shapiro always think Simpson was a sociopath, I wondered? Shapiro smiled. “What do you think?” he answered rhetorically.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tony from Skins = portrait of a teenage sociopath

I recently finished watching the first series of the British television show Skins, which features the game playing of a young sociopath. He is smart, charming, promiscuous, manipulative, risk seeking, without regard for the safety of himself or others, deceitful, and lacks remorse for the problems he causes for others, presumably only for his own pleasure or gain. He quotes sociopathic literary references:
Shakespeare: Conscience is but a word that cowards use, Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

Nietzsche: The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.
His friends admire him but are afraid of him:
Sid: You freak me out sometimes.
Tony: But it's never dull, is it?
And in his description of himself:
Life in Bristol is boring as sh**, so you gotta make your own fun. Keep it interesting. Try new things. I think that the best things happen when you're the one in control. My best mate Sid loves to do whatever I tell him, it's pretty safe. Actually, most of my friends do what I tell them to do. After all, I'm Tony Stonem. Michelle is the sexiest girl in school and, of course, she's my girlfriend - wouldn't have it any other way. Occasionally I do the reading thing and right now it's La Nausee by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Tony is a very accurate depiction of a teenage sociopath who is enamored with his talents and ability to control his friends. He is also very textbook in his propensity to overreach in his game playing and his recklessness in choosing targets and in not bothering to remain anonymous -- things that more mature sociopaths have learned are worth extra care.

The only reason I hesitated in diagnosing him as a sociopath is that I wondered whether he was a narcissist instead. Narcissism and sociopathy can be very similar in how they manifest themselves. a narcissist supposedly
1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Sociopaths can also seem to have many of these qualities. Sociopaths may be more discreet in real life, but as some readers have noticed, sociopaths can frequently seem full of themselves, particularly when writing blogs about themselves. The real distinction between a sociopath and a narcissist is not the whats but the whys. Sociopath traits result from faulty emotional wiring and narcissist traits result from self delusion. I think this difference is illustrated very well here. Without hearing the inner monologue of decision-making, it is hard to tell whether someone is a sociopath or just a narcissist.

Here's why I think Tony is a sociopath rather than a narcissist: when one of his schemes falls apart in a big way, he tells his friend Sid, "I know I'm a wanker, but you all like me that way." To me, that sort of self-awareness can only be found amongst sociopaths.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on Obama

Some random thoughts on the inauguration of American President Obama:
Aldous Huxley: At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

Henry Brooks Adam: It is always good men who do the most harm in the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft: Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil. No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Rene Descartes: The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.

William Penn: To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics as well as morals.
But then again, I am not a huge fan of change.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sociopaths love mind games

Sociopaths are known for playing mind games, but why? Is it boredom? Is it because we happen to be very good at it and people generally like to do the things they happen to be very good at? For instance, this comment from a reader:
Ive just figured out Im a Socio, Im not really bothered by it(How can one miss what one has never had?). Now that I know... I feel empty. Well I do feel something, The Games, Oh the thrill of the games. But everything else seems like shallow water in comparison (its there just not as strong as others I expect).

Im twenty-two, rather gifted in games. I was always like I am ;) I learned from two game players... As the Caterpillar would say; "Whoo Are You?"

Am I uncommon?
If you mean are sociopaths uncommon, then no, they are all around you in different shapes and sizes. If you mean are there other people who make game playing one of their primary activities, then no, again you are not alone. One might say that entire cultures were built on a predilection for game playing, most notably Gypsies. But who doesn't enjoy a well-executed con? For instance, the man who "sold" the Eiffel Tower, Count Victor Lustig:
Everything turns gray when I don't have at least one mark on the horizon. Life then seems empty and depressing. I cannot understand honest men. They lead desperate lives, full of boredom.
Of course, be aware that there are consequences to game playing, like dying of pneumonia in Alcatraz.

Sociopath quote of the day: ruthless

Those who seek to achieve things should show no mercy.

-- Kautilya

Friday, January 16, 2009

Misreading the signs

In this post I talk about successfully sparring with sociopaths using emotional misdirection. I got the following response dismissing the effectiveness of that tactic:
Just because one person feeds you indirect or false information does not mean they will win. What about the other hundreds of people observed before? A sociopath doesn't learn when they've done something wrong because they either gain pleasure from it or honestly see no wrong in it, but this does not mean that they simply do not learn.

Lying to a sociopath and thinking you will win is stupid. What has the sociopath been doing his or her entire life? Lying. Unless they end up falling into a highly-narcissistic lifestyle, they are going to recognize a liar and will immediately trump them due to their amount of comfort and experience with lying that an empath would not have.

Your "battle tactics" seem more like a way of defeating you rather than sociopaths as a whole.
Right, that last sentence is probably the most true. But am I really so alone in that? I mean, other empathy challenged individuals like aspergers and autistics also frequently misinterpret emotional cues and are easy to trick. I make emotional/social errors like that in the weirdest circumstances. For instance, this conversation with a friend:
Friend: Why do black men always scream at me? Like, whenever in the street? It's a weird social thing, no?

M.E.: They scream at you?

Friend: Well, like, at the grocery store today, I walk past this black man who was just buying groceries and he starts yelling: hey girl? shopping? shop til you drop, I know you can! And on and on until I got into the store. And this happens a lot. It's a weird racial thing, no? The whole yelling thing. Black men do this.

M.E.: I guess they do. I just always felt like they were my friends, but thinking back on it now, they were strangers.

Friend: The screaming black men?

: Yeah

: No, strangers.

: Yeah, I don't have any male black friends then. That's too bad.
EDIT: not like I ever thought these people were friends or acquaintances. I mean that there was an emotional/social illusion such that I forgot they were strangers yelling at me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Drugs, eating disorders, and burn victims

I regularly cull through photos of drug addicts, anorexics, and burn victims (let's be honest, bulimics, you're not horrifyingly skinny enough). My drug addict of choice is the crystal meth user and his rotting-out-of-his-face teeth. These pictures are the result of no one stepping up to help a drug addict, and it’s hard to look away.I think everyone likes to stare at the macabre, even empaths. They're all images of human destruction, of course: the drug addicts show the effects of a demon, the eating disordered show the effects of a mental weakness, and the burn victims reflect our own inhumanity back at us.

But I do feel like I get a unique pleasure from gazing upon them. I think I like the notion that I can easily understand how bad their lives are. If sociopaths like me can understand their pain, then they and the similarly afflicted may be the only people immune to a sociopath's exploits. They're so bad off even a sociopath can feel sorry for them, somewhat. At least they have that to cheer them up!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are libertarians sociopaths or vice versa?

First let me out myself as being libertarian, but with a little bit of a Burkean twist. for the uninitiated, libertarians are essentially socially and fiscally liberal -- kind of a "don't tread on me, laissez-faire" attitude regarding government interference. I'm a libertarian because my main fears are mob mentality and idiots having power. I think my fear of mob mentality is directly linked to my perception that i am an "other," i.e. sociopath, and a very unpopular one at that. I think a lot of non sociopaths could be afraid of idiots in power and naturally want to decrease the power of government in general, but I don't know.

There has been a lot of rubbish written about libertarians all being sociopaths, but fewer people suggest that all sociopaths are libertarians. I find the first suggestion ridiculous -- there are many reasons to be a libertarian without necessarily being a sociopath. Although if you want to read an infuriating discussion about this, look here. Just a snippet:

Libertarians to make moral judgements, they error on the side of freedom. THAT IS A MORAL JUDGEMENT.

Nonsense. Liking freedom is NOT a moral judgment. This illustrates the point of the study exactly. Sociopaths want to be free to do whatever they want, regardless of the harm they do to other people. All Libertarians are sociopaths, but NOT ALL sociopaths are Libertarians.
The commenters go on to indicate that many other political parties seem to appeal more to sociopaths than libertarianism, e.g. socialism, fascism, communism, and other forms of totalitarianism. Thoughts? Are sociopaths represented in every political belief system? Are they only at the extremes?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sociopath quote of the day

I've done the vilest things, the foulest things, but I've done them superbly.

-- June Miller, from Henry and June

Friday, January 9, 2009

How to fight a sociopath -- and win!

A book like that would be an instant bestseller. If you figure there are 50 million sociopaths in the world and every one of them knows about 200 people, that's ... that's a lot of people who would be buying the book. It seems like most empaths can't tell how to spot a sociopath, so you go reading all these books and looking at all these websites purporting to tell you how. The problem with those sources is that they may be have some valid information, but they're about as useful as a book about becoming a millionaire. Maybe some of those methods would work with some empaths looking for some sociopaths some of the time, but there is no surefire method. That's why you have all those books and websites.

Still, I sympathize with your position, empaths. You're creeped out that there are these otherworldy beings wandering around making your life miserable for their own sport.

The truth is that sociopaths are largely harmless. Just ask Andrew Bird. Sure, we may play with your minds a bit, but with me it's more like teasing than anything else. Let's say you had a younger sibling who you liked to give a hard time. Or when you're out and about and you see a little girl dressed up like a princess or a little boy dressed up like a pirate, what do you do? You say, "Wow a princess!" or "Oh no, a scary pirate!" You play along with the kid because you can. It's sort of fun and you get to feel like you are being superior and nice at the same time -- so superior that you can afford to condescend to their ridiculous level and play along with their little fantasies for a while. Empaths are for the most part harmless too, so why not go along with their make-believe? Meet an empath who thinks he's beautiful or smart or talented? Feed that belief. That's pretty much all the sociopath interactions you'll see in your lives. All we do is tell you the equivalent of "Santa is real." Is that really so bad? Those of you who are smart probably realize it's just for your own good.

But with that said, I can predict situations in which you might want to beat a sociopath at his own game. What next? Well, as mentioned in earlier posts, one of the sociopath's main tools is mimicking human emotions. How do they know what to mimic? By watching you. How do you trick them? By feeding them false information. A sociopath's ability to act normal is only as good as the information he has available to him about what you expect. When you feed him false information, it ends up like one of those dry British farces where misunderstandings and confusions abound. But you're not confused because you know what's going on. And then you've beat him. That's all there is to it.

Congratulations, you fought a sociopath -- and won! Was it worth the effort? How about a nominal charge for a bestselling book of the same name?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sociopaths, mimicry, and blank slates

"I pick up on accents." That's what I always tell people when they ask where I get my accent from. When I hear someone speaking with a distinctive accent, I adopt it for my own, at least for that moment while I'm with them. It can get particularly offensive or dicey when I adopt the accent of someone of a different race or class from me and they think I'm making fun of them. I do it very naturally and the result, like that of many aspects of having a personality disorder, is that I don't really have the accent of my nationality or place of birth -- the default. What I have instead is a hodgepodge where people assume that I'm foreign, but no one can quite put a finger on where I might be from.

For sociopaths, mimicry is their metier, their bread and butter.
Hare once illustrated this for Nicole Kidman, who had invited him to Hollywood to help her prepare for a role as a psychopath in Malice. How, she wondered, could she show the audience there was something fundamentally wrong with her character?

"I said, 'Here's a scene that you can use,' " Hare says. " 'You're walking down a street and there's an accident. A car has hit a child in the crosswalk. A crowd of people gather round. You walk up, the child's lying on the ground and there's blood running all over the place. You get a little blood on your shoes and you look down and say, "Oh shit." You look over at the child, kind of interested, but you're not repelled or horrified. You're just interested. Then you look at the mother, and you're really fascinated by the mother, who's emoting, crying out, doing all these different things. After a few minutes you turn away and go back to your house. You go into the bathroom and practice mimicking the facial expressions of the mother.' " He then pauses and says, "That's the psychopath: somebody who doesn't understand what's going on emotionally, but understands that something important has happened."
I think mimicry is interesting, and I think a lot of empaths think it's freaky. What I find more freaky is what constant mimicry suggests -- that you have no baseline "you," that you are always just reactions to outside stimuli.

I have a good friend who was initially very frustrated that I didn't seem to have defaults: no default understanding of right and wrong, no default beliefs, no default personality even. Everything had to be reasoned, everything had to be constructed anew. It can be frustrating for me too. It's time consuming. And sometimes it disturbs me how impressionable I am. Being a blank slate, sometimes I can surprise even myself with non sequiturs or unpredictable behavior. It's sort of scary.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Interviewing tips from a sociopath

I had an interview today for something I want. Sociopath skills are never so useful as they are during an interview, but I imagine uber-empaths can be very good at them as well.

Interviews are interesting in general because the interviewee is clearly looking for the "right" answer. When they keep looking at you expectantly, you keep talking. If it is a double interview you keep talking until the two interviewers make that knowing eye contact with each other. Sometimes you'll get a real amateur who is checking things off his list. Most of the time, though, you have to do what sociopaths do best -- tell people what they want to hear.

Do they know I am pandering to them? Do they know that I am essentially recreating that scene from Being John Malkovich where you just say anything and everything until you get some sort of response:

How about this, if I can guess your
first name within three tries, you
have to come out for a drink with me

Why not?

(watches her face as he guesses)
Buuuhhppaahhhhnnn. . . . .
Muhhhahhhhh. . . . . ahhhnnnaaa. .
nollltuuukkkaaaaralllll. . .
tashabararassssssuuuuusaaaaaaa. . .
Mwaaaaaa. . . . .Mahhhhhkkkkk. . .
sssseeeeeen. Maxine?

Who told you?

I'm right?

Who told you?

That's incredible! Nobody told me!
I swear! It's kismet. Maxine!
It's a beautiful name. There's a
psychic connection. Don't you see?
It was meant to be! Maxine! Maxine!
Maxine! I will shout it from the

Somebody told you.

Oh, Maxine, nobody told me. Maxine,
Maxine. It just came out of me like
a song, Maxine. A beautiful crazy,
song, Maxine. Maxine. Maxine!

Harmless sociopaths

I don't know what it means, but I like the good publicity of Andrew Bird's song "Oh No":
in the salsify mains of what was thought but unsaid
all the calcified arhythmitists were doing the math
it would take a calculated blow to the head
to light the eyes of all the harmless sociopaths
oh arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
oh arm and arm with all the harmless sociopaths
calcium mines were buried deep in your chest
oh calcim mines you buried deep in your chest
oh no we're deep in a mine
oh no a calcium mine
so let's get out of here
past the atmosphere
squint your eyes and no one dies
or goes to jail
past the silver bridge, oh the silver bridge
wearing nothing but a one-sie and a veil
oh oh deep in a mine,
oh oh a calcium mine
arm and arm we are the harmless sociopaths
arm and arm with all the harmless sociopaths
in the calcium mines buried deep in your chest
oh the calcium mines buried deep in your chest
oh oh deep in a mine
oh no-- calcium mines oh no

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why Sociopathworld?

Some have wondered where the title "SociopathWorld" comes from. It comes indirectly from a book by Dr. Robert Hare, recognized expert on psychopaths and psychopathy: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Even though I doubt Dr. Hare added the subtitle, I thought it was an interesting visual image. What if there really was a world of the sociopaths, like some sort of planet of the apes. Would it be at all like a Disney theme park?

The reason I doubt Dr. Hare chose that subtitle (or possibly even the main title) is that he doesn't seem to make any normative judgments regarding sociopaths in his book. If anything, as I mentioned in another post, he seems to be pro sociopath:
I don't feel comfortable calling it a disease. Much of their behaviour, even the neurobiological patterns we observe, could be because they're using different strategies to get around the world. These strategies don't have to involve faulty wiring, just different wiring.
What do you all think? Is it a disease? Is it disturbing? Now that you have accessed a window into the soul of a sociopath, is your heart troubled? If not, what do you think would be a better or more accurate subtitle for Dr. Hare's book about the world of the psychopath?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Israelis are sociopaths

Not all. But most. So says a blog citing the 52% israeli support of continuing the bombing in Gaza. Under the headline "52 percent of Israelis are sociopaths," the blog also cites a 2003 film, Gaza the killing zone, which asserts that "Gaza is an open air concentration camp where snipers take pot shots at children, aircraft shoot missiles into crowds, and bulldozers randomly destroy homes with impunity."

Now i haven't been following the current situation closely enough to opine on whether the current military operations betray the masterminding of a sociopath or not. All I can say is that I have been to Israel and it is a nation of sociopaths. Not all. But definitely more sociopaths than nonsociopaths. And not just Israelis. The numbers from the Palestinian population appear to have a similar proportion of sociopaths as the Israeli population.

Israeli sociopaths aren't nice either. Definitely not the nice, fun loving, efficiency obsessed sociopaths that inhabit the Netherlands. Instead they are the bullied "made-to-be sociopaths by a horrific history of blood and carnage" type. I don't want to say they're a nation of serial killers, but if there ever was a recipe for making a serial killer, the Israelis have cooked it up.

The holocaust was over 60 years ago, but Israelis are still feeling the effects. First of all, you have the poor, weak victims of the Holocaust who were subjected to untold horrors. That can mess anyone up. Then you have the fact that the Holocaust naturally selected sociopaths to survive in greater numbers than nonsociopaths. Who do you think did okay in concentration camps? Someone who was kind and shared food and other resources with strangers? If we have learned anything from shows like Survivor and Kid Nation, it is that sociopaths will not only survive, but thrive in situations that involve strategic, competitive positioning for very scarce resources by currying the favor of captors and turning on their own. Next you have a nation that from its infancy was led by people who were aggressive enough not to move to America or Argentina to blend in with the local population, but to invade someone else's country and forcibly take it over. Add to that the children of these people, children that that were not only genetically predisposed to be sociopaths from their parents, but were also subjected to near constant violence, including decades of terrorist violence and hatred, and have been trained to be icy cold killers and assassins. Voila, you have yourself a nation of serial killer-esque sociopaths.

Not like there is anything wrong with that. Unless you are Palestinian.
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