Sunday, April 26, 2009

How did you become you?

Shocked (and impressed) question from a friend after I explained to her how to seduce her crush. I didn't tell her, only smiled in response. She wouldn't understand.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Aspie's bully sociopaths

In keeping with the previous post of aspie's/autie's not being as innocent as they seem, I was sad to see this story of an innocent sociopath being tormented by people with asperger's/autism. I guess being empathy-challenged makes aspie's/autie's excellent bullies:
I got involved in a forum war on Aspergia three years ago, in which I was arguing that a sociopath’s neurodiversity should be respected just like everyone else’s. The argument got started after a woman who was a clinical sociopath started posting on Aspergia’s forum. She had a very poor understanding of other people’s emotions, and she habitually made provocative statements as a way of getting responses that were strong enough for her to understand. Although she knew this wasn’t the ideal way to interact with people, she didn’t know what else to do. She came to Aspergia to learn how autistics dealt with the problem of misunderstanding emotions.

Of course, she didn’t explain all of this forthrightly and ask for help. I don’t think she was capable of expressing her intentions so clearly. Several of us dragged it out of her after a long, convoluted discussion that literally went on for days. After we figured out why she was there, a few of us started giving her advice on constructive ways to ask people about their feelings without being manipulative.

Unfortunately, by then she had already annoyed several other members of the forum with her confusing and provocative writing style, and they got together and decided to hound her off the forum with a barrage of nasty personal insults and rants about sociopaths. The poor woman did her best to avoid taking the bait and to practice writing friendly, non-provocative posts, but it didn’t matter what she wrote—they bashed it, and her, mercilessly.

I told them they should be ashamed of themselves for bullying a person because of her neurology on an autistic rights forum. The resulting argument went on for two months.

I’m not trying to start a war here, but I do feel it’s necessary to say this: Sociopaths have a cognitive disability. They’re not necessarily evil, and they can be taught more positive ways of interacting with people. And I am very strongly opposed to demonizing any group of people on the basis of their neurology.
First of all, I want to know what is this aspergia and what happened to this woman?Second, I wonder why she would be on an asperger's/autism site for advice on understanding emotions. That seems like the blind leading the blind to me. But fellow sociopaths, be warned that you will get even less acceptance from the rest of the empathy-challenged community than you will from the empaths themselves, to their eternal shame.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Living life as a sociopath

I asked a relative of mine to describe living life as a sociopath:
I might be a sociopath. When I make a nasty remark or hurt someone’s feelings, it is easy for me to blame my actions on the person I’m hurting. I lose patience with people that can’t do things as quick as me.

I am easily bored at social gatherings where all of the discussion is light small talk. I will use this time to get the most stoic person to laugh. This makes me feel I’m in control. I also use flattery to make people feel good.

I was a delinquent as a child and treated my teachers as tools for my pleasure. I would only stop the “torture” after they would cry and even then I felt a sense of victory when I could beat them mentally.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sociopath or scoundrel?

Elie Wiesel, the nobel peace prize laureate and holocaust survivor, lost $15.2 million of his charity's money and lost his own personal life savings to Bernie Madoff. What did he have to say about him?
"Psychopath’ — it’s too nice a word for him,” Mr. Wiesel said in his first public comments on Mr. Madoff and the Ponzi scheme he is accused of perpetrating on thousands of individuals and charities, including the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

"Sociopath,’ ‘psychopath,’ it means there is a sickness, a pathology. This man knew what he was doing. I would simply call him thief, scoundrel, criminal.”
Sociopath is too nice of a word for him?! I thought this day would never come! But NPR criticizes Wiesel's choice of words. In a 5+ minute commentary, their resident linguist says the following (paraphrased):
Sociopath is not a term we use affectionately, we reserve it for unsympathetic malefactors. . . Certain clinical language exonerates badness by reframing it as illness. Sociologists describe this phenomenon as the medicalization of deviance. . . Sociopath is a loose term now used to describe anyone unfettered by the pangs of conscience. . . "Sociopath" doesn't add anything to what Victorians would describe as "heartless wretch," but now it comes draped in a whitecoat.
Thank you for your unsolicited opinion, NPR. Wiesel, on the other hand, is clearly a true visionary and humanitarian.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kill the rats!

Michael Vick was convicted of torturing and killing dogs. Many other football players have been convicted of rape. I asked my liberal co-worker, “What is worse, torturing and killing dogs or raping humans?” She said, “Of course killing dogs is worse!”

I’m sad to say, this is where the animal activist/liberalist/conservationalist mentality has matured to be. I once was asked, “How many lab rats would you kill to cure cancer?” I said, “Any and all rats I can get my hands on!”

I’m certainly not advocating killing off animal species left and right because any good biologist knows that the more diversified an ecosystem is, the more stable it is. If the lab can “produce” as many animals as they kill off, I say kill as many animals as you need.

One of my recent jobs had some Threadleaf Brodiaea (see image) on the site. We wanted to replant the bulbs on a portion of the land (almost ½!) that was not going to be developed. The environmentalist did not like that idea and made us create a 40 foot tall wall in order to not disturb the dirt the bulbs were in.The wall cost about 2 million to build. These are the reasons the economy is in the tank.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Feedback from readers

Here is some feedback on the site, both from commentary regarding the blog on other sites and e-mails:
I ran across another site called “Sociopathworld”. Very insightful and somethiing of an eyeopener. I would describe it as the “Glenda the Good Witch” of the sociopath world. I plan to go back there to read further. I’ve only ever heard of sociopath criminals without really considering the alternative. One article was about raising a sociopathic child. My understand, however erroneous, had been that sociopaths are born not made. It is apparent that it can be either. Taking it one step further, I would expect there to be some crossover or mixture of traits. Actually, there must be. It would explain a lot of things. Okay, I’m pretty sure I have sociopath out of my system now.
just wanted to say thank you for all your work writing your blog. I find it insightful and encouraging.
So I will continue to read, even if I never publicly comment.

Thanks again,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dating a sociopath/narcissist (part II)

My reply to the question from the reader:
My initial thoughts are that he is obviously charming enough to be attractive, he seems very egocentric, and he is not above abusing close relationships but will still make the minimum amount of effort to maintain those relationships so they will be available for further abuse (milking the cow instead of slaughtering). He is manipulative, he doesn't conform to social norms, he has a flexible version of reality/truth -- these are all sociopathic traits. Growing up in a hard environment does not make him less likely to be a sociopath, but more so. The fact that he stood up for a kid being beaten up could go either way, but I think it argues more in favor of sociopath. Sociopaths and narcissists both have a grandiose self image, have a low fear response, and are in need of excessive amounts of stimulation. These and other sociopath/narcissist specific traits would encourage jumping into the fray rather than avoiding fights, even if the fight does not concern them at all. Particularly in this instance where the odds seemed stacked slightly against him, but not too much, and there was a certain amount of nobility to the cause (with the added benefit of impressing you), this seems more like the behavior of a sociopath than a rational person who probably would not have interfered or would have called the police instead of turning vigilante/superhero.

It's hard to diagnose sociopaths secondhand, and even more difficult to diagnose sociopaths thirdhand (firsthand would require intimate knowledge of thought processes that only the suspect himself would have access to), but it is not unlikely that your boyfriend is a sociopath or narcissist. The two are very difficult to distinguish based on outside observation alone. Like a dolphin and a shark, they may generally look the same and act the same, but they come from quite different patterns of interacting with the world. If you feel like your boyfriend has a great deal of self-awareness about his condition, his behavior, and his motivations for his actions, he is probably a sociopath. If he seems oblivious to the inner workings of his mind, the consequences of his actions, or seems to live in a reality entirely his own, he is probably a narcissist. Either way he sounds like he is low-functioning and is probably not a good person to indulge. If you continue to have contact with him, you should establish firm boundaries and clear consequences and follow through with those consequences (although arguably only sociopaths would have enough self-awareness to learn to live within set boundaries). Do not let him manipulate you into compromising you or the rules you have set for him. If you fail to do these things, anything negative that happens to you will be no one's fault but your own.

But I do understand the attraction. Sociopaths and narcissists can be very alluring.

Thanks for reading.
Reader's response:
thank you for your reply! yeah, after he abandoned me there i cut him off and he has yet to come back(but i DO care about him, which actually frightens me because i know he isn't good for me.) and you're right, they're very attractive to me atleast because i like a man who isn't afraid to defend himself or others. it's just hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that if he is a sociopath or narcissist, he can't feel compassion.. its very foreign to me. i really enjoy your site btw :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dating a sociopath/narcissist (part I)

Question from a reader:
hey, i've been reading your site and i was wondering if you could give me your opinion on my ex.

a few months ago a guy who i had a fling with in high school contacted me and we got together(this was after two years of not seeing each other. [when we were in high school] we messed around(big mistake on my part) and he kind of stopped talking to me(which is to be expected.) somehow he got the idea i told his cousin what happened and he started a mission to destroy me, at which point i got prank calls for hours on end telling me i was ugly, etc. praying on my insecurities. anyway he left high school and i guess got in trouble for beating up some guy who was bullying his nephew, and he moved to texas.

i didn't talk to him for two years, but i added him on myspace recently cuz i wanted to let go of the past etc. he had just moved back here(he lives with his male best friend) and he drove two hours down to where i live to see me. that day we messed around again and he asked me out. i declined because, well, i knew his past and i was kind of freaked out by him. he was COMPLETELY different.. he was showering me with compliments, he opened up to me, we had the best time... lol, he even started crying because i asked him about his grandfather that had died a while ago(he had told me two years earlier about it and how it had effected him.) he even says at one point he wants to marry me. this is all in the first week. anyway, as they say, the honeymoon phase doesn't last forever.

well, for one thing he askes me for money all the time. and three weeks into the relationship [i have to pick him up drunk, he doesn't call back for a few days] so i break up with him. he says nothing. later that week [i contact him online] and he calls me and askes me whats going on, saying he didn't get my texts(he uses his friends phone) and he loves me and hes so sorry. we make plans to hang out the following week.

on the way [to some excursion] he sees some kid getting beat up by two older kids and flips the car around and confronts them. they say they're siblings and just playing, so we leave, at which point i give him a big kiss because he was being a hero lol. anyway, he says he wants to get something to eat so i said okay, you're driving. [he drives two towns over and] i started crying because i knew he was going to leave me there and he gets out of the car and says he'll be right back. 20 mins later and he doesn't come back.. leaving me in the middle of a strange town without my glasses or a license in the middle of the night. he doesn't call me the following week or apologize or anything, so i write him a letter breaking up with him and havent talked to him since.

obviously this guy isn't the one for me, but do you think he's a sociopath? the reason i ask is because he seems to have no qualms about abandoning me somewhere or taking money from me, or just all around being manipulative and a liar. however, he has shown some empathy -- ie, where he stood up for that kid getting beaten up, and he's had to grow up in a very hard environment which could have made him extremely anti social and manipulative, but maybe not a true sociopath. what do you think?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sociopaths, Psychopaths, and Narcissists, oh my!

Here's a comment from a reader about the value of professional psychological diagnoses:
As you have diagnosed yourself as such I am not too worried however much your attempts at diagnoses you should have already figured out diagnoses are there for the pathetic people who cant understand what these things are. So they make up these diagnoses and things that should be corrected but if you think about it there is a DSM but no manual for whats normal no manual to counter it. Normalcy is what is socially acceptable and what is "Right" to these people. However there is no real right and no real wrong the only right there is is what us as an individual decide is best for ourselves. There maybe sociopaths in psychology but in reality its just another type of person their is no real disorder its a way of being.
I agree. Some people comment on this blog saying things like "sociopaths would never do/say x," which i figure are probably just arguments over semantics. For instance, one writer described the confusion over the terms sociopath and psychopath thusly:
Without getting into the politics surrounding the different diagnostic systems, people who were unaware of the need for precision and accuracy for research and assessment adopted a preference for using either ‘psychopath’ or ‘sociopath’ and came up with their own workable definitions. In other words, things got a little sloppy. I’ve even seen professionals use the term 'sociopath' but rely on the criteria specific to the concept of a psychopath. However, for researchers in psychopathy, ‘sociopath’ has a different connotation.

Which brings me back to the original question: the difference between a psychopath and sociopath. If you subscribe to the Hare criteria for a psychopath, then you see the conning, manipulative narcissistic liar and user as a psychopath, as long as he or she is completely lacking in remorse or empathy. The sociopath, however, is capable of guilt, caring, building relationships, etc., but only within a certain context. He or she will have loyalties to a specific group but not to society at large. They care nothing for social norms and will break them with impunity if it serves their purpose. So, on the surface, they may resemble psychopaths. However, they might genuinely feel remorse over harming someone within their group or family. They will have a moral code specific to that context: they might not lie, exploit, or manipulate within the group. Thus, they exhibit psychopathic behaviors in certain contexts but not all.
If these distinctions are accurate then maybe I am more sociopath, not psychopath. Or maybe we follow the DSM and say i have APD. Or maybe I'm a malignant narcissist? The labels are fuzzy, and ultimately they don't matter. I am who I am. I think what I think, feel what I feel, do what I do. I know I'm not typical. I don't care to debate the nuances of particular definitions or diagnoses, I just want people to know that they live in a world with people like me.
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