In response to this post, the following question from a reader:
What's up Me. I'd really love to know where you get your information from regarding the sociopath's flexible sense of self. I haven't come across any other material on sociopathology that describes this undefined underlying personality structure you talk about. I'd like to do some more reading about it.My response:
Thanks again for the blog. It's been most illuminating.
You answered your own question before I got the chance to respond. As you have probably seen in your own research, the concept of a sociopath having an extremely flexible sense of self is not entirely original to me, but you were probably unable to find it stated outright (at least I have not been able to find such a clear statement) in any of the scientific literature. That shouldn't be surprising, though. The literature on sociopaths is quite terrible and almost always fear-mongering. Psychologists studying sociopathy focus on the symptoms rather than the underlying causes.Tthere is some work being done mapping brains of sociopaths, and that has revealed that the brain of a sociopath does in fact work in ways different than an empath's brain. Still, though, scientists seem more concerned with defining the characteristics of a sociopath based anecdotally on what a sociopath is not, e.g. how a sociopath differs from an empath behaviorally, rather than studying the sociopath for what he is -- a different human variant. This is the common complaint of the neurodiversity movement: stop seeing our variations from normal human behavior as symptoms of a defect, and start acknowledging that we have a separate but equal system of thought and survival.
But back to your question. I got my information from piecing together seemingly disparate elements of the literature on sociopaths in a way that conformed with my own personal experience . Psychologists see traits like "inability to conform to social norms," "lack of conscience," "chameleon-esque," "masked," "charming," "undetectable," and "versatility" and think that it is a hodgepodge of unrelated characteristics. They understand the "what," but they don't understand the "how." As you mentioned in your most recent comment, I believe the "how," the origin of many of our observed behaviors, is that we don't have a rigid sense of self, a characteristic that I believe you correctly label as one of the sociopath's defining characteristics, and if I may add, perhaps the predominant defining characteristic.
I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I enjoy your comments. And do let us all know if you find anything written on the sociopath's flexible sense of self.