Saturday, September 26, 2009


Strategy isn’t mysterious. And it isn’t just for politics or business or war. Strategy is nothing more or less than the art and science of getting what you want. In that sense, we are all inveterate strategists. Fortunately, most of us don’t want much. We want to have satisfying relationships with family and friends, to make ends meet, to have fun from time to time. Even in those mundane circumstances, however, we’re still strategizing, still trying to figure out how to get mom to back off or our girlfriend to give us more sex or our boss to give us a raise. We’re all, consciously or more often than not unconsciously, trying to get other people to give us what we want. Or put another way, we’re all after power of one sort or the other. We’re all strategizing whether we want to admit it or not.

Here are a few pointers I’ve found helpful in strategizing. First, decide what it is you want and why. Knowing why you want what you want could prove illuminating. You might even realize you don't want what you thought you wanted after all, which brings me to the second pointer. Decide if what you want is worth the price you’ll have to pay to get it, because nothing is free, not even love.

Third, and this pointer is for the empaths reading this, you must find a way to manage your emotions, especially guilt and fear. If you have to do something society tells you is "wrong," then so be it. Don’t waste your limited time wrestling with your conscience. Fear can be a powerful motivator, but it can also hamper your ability to act, and it can cloud your judgment if you don’t know how to see fear for what it is and deal with it. This point can be expanded to cover emotions in general. Being overwhelmed by emotion is very often an impediment to effective strategizing.

Fourth, assess your resources. What resources can you use to accomplish your goal? And I’m not just talking about money. Intelligence, good looks, talents and so on are all resources.

Fifth, assess the context. What’s the historical and/or psychological background, if you will? What are the ‘political’ circumstances? And if you think this doesn’t apply to areas like romance, think again. In the case of romance, knowing your target’s psychological background, for instance, can play a critical role in determining how you’re going to seduce them. And politics, practically speaking, is just another word for strategizing, which boils down to people trying to get what they want. So you can see how this could apply to relationships. How do the people around you play politics, or attempt to get what they want? What games do they play or what tactics do they consistently employ? That knowledge can prove useful in your own strategizing.

Sixth, remember that our goals very often revolve around people. You need to be able to manage them, to push and pull them in the directions you want them to go in. This is why the sociopath’s innate ability to read others is advantageous. For instance, pretending to have suffered the same kinds of wounds is often an effective way to find out where another person’s buttons are, which comes in handy when you need to push them.

Seventh, pick your battles. Knowing what you want and why will clarify which battles you want to fight and which you want to avoid. The above is only a beginning. There are a variety of sources you can mine that will help you become successful strategists, from Epictetus to Machiavelli, from Sun Tzu to Robert Greene.

Why would anyone want to become good at getting what they want? The answer is simple: death. All of us, the sociopath and the saint alike, must die. Life is short and often hard. Go after what you want and don’t stop until you get it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The ubiquity of bullshit

I was talking to a teenage family member the other day about her anger issues. As is typical of teenagers, she is often melodramatic and self absorbed. She is also unusually perceptive. One of the things she’s having a hard time dealing with is the staggering amount of bullshit she sees all around her. She’s noticed the hypocrisy, inconsistency, and lack of insight that characterize the lives of her parents, grandparents, and the rest of the family in general. These same dullards who have made messes of their lives are now trying to make her ‘behave’ by rules they don’t hold themselves to, and she resents the hell out of it. She asked me why there’s so much lying in the family and I told her what I wish someone had told me at her age. I explained to her that most people lie to themselves. They sell themselves on their own bullshit and they need their family, friends and other ‘loved’ ones to play along, like extras in a poorly scripted B-movie. I told her that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by the consequences of their actions. I told her that one of the unspoken meanings of ‘family’ is to be considered part of the circle of delusion that those within use to exempt themselves. I told her they resent facts because facts are hard, cold and inhospitable to their ego-boosting fantasies. I told her that it isn’t just the family who swim in a sea of bullshit. I told her that what I am saying is true for almost everyone. And finally, I told her that should she ever find a way to control her anger, she would be able to use her perceptiveness to her advantage. I explained to her that her insight into the ubiquity of bullshit could equal power.

Like I said, she’s a teenager, so much of what I said didn’t really penetrate her endless self justifications. And I'm sure I bored the hell out of her. She's a smart girl though. When she’s older, she’ll remember my words and hopefully find them useful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello kitty

A reader referred this blog to me from another self proclaimed sociopath. It has a few interesting entries. As always, I can’t be completely sure whether someone else is or is not a sociopath. This entry in particular however, humorously displays the thought processes of the lazier sociopath pretty well:

Here..kitty kitty

There's a cat stuck in the cellar. I wonder how many days it will last. I hear it every night mewing away. At first I thought it was a woman moaning or crying but no it was just a cat. I know the correct thing to do would be to tell the owner and have them do something but I owe rent and it's really too much of a hassle. I am the only one who can hear it, in time the noise will fade and when the smell kicks in, I'll let them know. For now though I just have to grin and bear the nuisance of having a dying cat in the cellar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The cure for a bleeding heart

I’m reading a book titled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. According to this autobiographical tale, John worked for years as an economist whose main job was to cajole third world countries, especially those of geopolitical significance to the US, to take out huge loans that he knew they couldn’t afford. The loans were supposed to be used for infrastructure development. The developers the countries hired would naturally be US companies. Once these countries defaulted on their loans, as Perkins says everyone knew they would, they would be indebted to the US. This indebtedness would make the countries much more likely to cooperate with US interests all the while leaving them in sometimes worse conditions than before. Perkins struggles with his conscience throughout, but all of those sleepless nights and pangs of guilt never stops him from doing his job. His heart bleeds for the poor and downtrodden of these nations, but he keeps selling their governments on loans he knows they can't repay anyway.

And that illustrates one of my main problems with bleeding hearts. So many of them are hypocrites of just this type. By the time Perkins writes this book, he has seen the light and is attempting to make amends by spreading the word about the evil empire that is the US. What isn't spelled out in the book is that he now runs high priced seminars discussing the topic of his book and self help subjects in general, in luxury locations and at little economic risk to himself since he apparently remarried well. Which would earn my admiration normally. After all, he's moved from exploiting third world countries to a public all too ready to feel guilt about its relative wealth and to project shame. The bleeding heart leftist tone his book has taken so far is too annoying though. He doesn't have the good sense and the courage to admit what he's doing and enjoy the game. He condemns the imperialist agenda of US corporations while acting as one of their chief agents. Liberals like this so often pass judgment on the greed of others from their McMansions and cross the world preaching the virtues of environmentalism using their private jets. And liberals aren’t the only type of bleeding heart. Social conservatives for example wail loud and long about the evils of abortion and the virtues of being pro-life while exulting in a righteous crusade against Islam, which they euphemistically call a “War on Terror,” and are in love with the death penalty. So much for that pro-life thing, huh? How can conservatives also be bleeding hearts? For the purposes of this post, you know you have a bleeding heart when you romanticize something out of reality and despise anything or anyone who contradicts your fantasy.

Suffering from a bleeding heart doesn’t just breed hypocrisy. It’s blinding. The bleeding hearts of the world refuse to see the realities staring them in the face. Liberals refuse to acknowledge that changing society and government won’t transform a selfish and often dumb human nature, while conservatives refuse to see that there is nothing sacred about the past or tradition and that sometimes innovation is necessary. Those are just two obvious examples. By not seeing and grappling with reality as it presents itself, you make yourself ineffectual, inefficient and ineffective. You make yourself stupid.

What’s the cure for a bleeding heart? A huge dose of reality. Become a realist. Open your eyes. Become curious about the world around you. Take in as much of it as you can. Learn to describe it as you see it and not as you wish it would be or could be. Then go deeper. Look for the roots of what you see. When examining other people, look first at their deeds and not their words. Practice detachment from your own feelings and behavior as well to gain as much objectivity about yourself as possible. In all these ways and more, you can make the switch from romantic idealist to pragmatist, from bleeding heart to realist.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Loving father or calculating sociopath?

Clark Rockefeller, aka Christopher Chichester, aka Chris C. Rowe, aka Charles ‘Chip’ Smith, aka Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, was convicted of parental kidnapping in June of this year. After losing custody of his daughter Reigh to his wife, Gerhartsreiter kidnapped her and attempted to start a new life with her under yet another one of his aliases. He was of course found and arrested, His daughter, whom he affectionately calls ‘Snoops,’ was reunited with her mother. His conviction was the culmination of an amazing, Tom Ripley-like tale of changing aliases, fascinating deceptions, and quite possibly murder.

I remember watching his story as it was told on “Dateline” earlier this year with great interest. Of course, we can never be completely sure of these things, but his modus operandi, along with his responses during an on air interview, virtually screamed sociopath to me. A psychiatrist hired by the defense diagnosed him as a narcissist who also suffered from grandiose delusions. I can see that. After all, his last and longest alias was as nothing less than a Rockefeller. But the calculation and manipulation that spanned decades suggested he was more sociopath than narcissist. He knew what he was doing. He was an experienced actor. He slipped into and out of different roles with ease and he knew exactly how to comport himself, which words to say and which emotional buttons to push to maneuver others into believing whatever he wanted them to believe about him. At the very least, malignant narcissist might be a better explanation.

What fascinated me were the contradictions he seems to represent. His cons weren’t of the usual “bilk the idiots out of tons of money” variety. It was more along the lines of wanting to find a mask to actually be. Gerhartsreiter wanted to be something other than the anonymous German kid he was born as and he was determined to make that happen, even if it meant living a lie. To that degree he reminded me of Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley. Also, there was the attempted kidnapping of his daughter. Was his daughter supposed to be a bargaining chip that he would use against his wife in some future power play or did he actually hate the idea of being separated from her? There were several witnesses at the trial who claimed that he was nothing but a loving and devoted father to his child and the wife never suggested otherwise during the trial nor afterward, with the exception of course, of the kidnapping itself.

Did Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter actually want to "be someone"? Did he make an emotional connection of sorts with his little girl? Is someone who has clearly demonstrated a capacity for deception and effective manipulation capable of such a thing? And if he is capable of making any kind of love connection, what does that say about the idea that it is impossible for sociopaths to love?

Monday, September 14, 2009

PCL-R vs. M.E.SC-R

Has anyone ever wondered what would happen if a sociopath revised the PCL-R? Well, now you can stop wondering...

Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised:

Need for stimulation / Proneness to Boredom
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral control
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Lack of Realistic, long term goals
Juvenile Delinquency
Early behavioral problems
Revocation of conditional release

M.E.'s Sociopath's Checklist Revised:

Go getter / Doesn't wait for grass to grow
Thinks for his/herself
Not Afraid to Take Risks
Freethinker as Youth
Independent at Young Age
Victim of the System

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wired to Sociopathy

I've been watching a real interesting show for the second time. The show is called The Wire and its cowriter is a former Baltimore detective who is using his old case files to contribute to the show. The interesting aspect of this show is the fact that it tells about the system from a inside perspective in the unseen war between the drug dealers and the police, then goes further to explore the source of the so-called drug war. Instead of having the evil sociopathic drug dealers vs the stand-up police force saving society, they show the sociopaths leading the charge on both sides with the general public and underlings caught in the crossfire. The first season begins with a homicide in the projects and a subsequent trial where the defendant wins because they had paid off the witnesses. The detective, McNulty, gets tired of losing cases so starts manipulating the system in order to go on a crusade against the criminal enterprise he keeps losing cases to. The interesting thing about it is the twist it takes on that the detective admits he doesn't care about stopping the drug dealers -- he just wants to show everyone how amazing he is. Throughout the show this detective shows more and more traits of a sociopath until the last season, where the show straight admits this is what they were building you to see. The detective fakes a serial killer on the loose in order to build funds for his unit by making identifying marks on murders he's called to solve. To further it he makes calls to the newspaper faking to be the serial killer. When the FBI profiler comes in a meeting and explains the killers traits (The DSM-IV'ss definition of a sociopath) the entire room glances at him.

Each season focuses on sociopaths in different parts of the system. The justice system, the waterfront, the schools, and finally the media. Different people from inside those institutions have commented they were the most realistic portrayals of the institutions they had ever seen on TV. It is actually Barack Obama's favorite TV show. However, Showtime actually refused to take up the show due to its pessimism. This show has a more accurate portrayal of sociopathy in reality in contrast to shows like Sopranos or Dexter.

I will leave you with a dialogue from the show:

Lester: Tell me someting Jimmy, how do you think it all ends?

McNulty: What do you mean?

Lester: A parade? A gold watch? A shining Jimmy-McNulty-day moment, when you bring in a case sooooo sweet everybody gets together and says, "Aw, shit! He was right all along. Should've listened to the man." The job will not save you, Jimmy. It won't make you whole, it won't fill your ass up.

McNulty: I dunno, a good case—

Lester: Ends. They all end. The handcuffs go click and it's over. The next morning, it's just you in your room with yourself.

McNulty: Until the next case.

Lester: Boooooy, you need something else outside of this here.

McNulty: Like what, dollhouse miniatures?

Lester: Hey, hey, hey, a life. A life, Jimmy. You know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I wanted to touch on empathy. Sociopaths don't feel empathy in the common definition of the word. Though there are many definitions of the word, the most common use comes from the ability to feel others emotions in order to help the other person. It is associated with sympathy and compassion. In this definition of the word, sociopaths have no capacity for empathy, since their focus is on benefiting themselves. However, a sociopath does have the ability to understand what others are feeling to the extent that they can trigger people's emotions in order to manipulate them in ways impossible to others. They are able to simulate emotional states in order to manipulate people's empathy. This can be to gain sympathy, compassion, belief, or any other state of consciousness they want people to have towards them. This act is very similiar to empathy, only the goal is not to put oneself in another's shoes in order to help them, but to help the sociopath. The common belief that a sociopath can't understand other people is false. How else would they have the uncanny ability to charm others? The ones who don't are not likely to achieve all the goals they want. To the real sociopaths out there: find out what other people are in need of emotionally and satisfy that need. Some people need direction. Some people need self esteem. Some people need the confidence that you carry. Once you understand the people around you power is truly in your hands.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sociopath co-parents: defense against the dark arts (part 2)

My response:
Have you read this post?

I think in general the best way to get rid of a sociopath is to poison the well. But first you have to be absolutely sure that you want to be rid of him. It sounds like you still like having him in your life or in your child's life.

But if you are sure you want to get rid of him, my advice specific to you would be to hit him where it will probably hurt the most, financially. Speak with a lawyer about what sort of child support he would be legally liable to pay. Start collecting damaging information about him that you could use in a custody battle. For example, does he have unsavory guests at his house, does he smoke, drink, or have a history of violence or crime? If he is a true sociopath, you should be able to come up with quite a bit of dirt. Consider hiring a private detective. Find out things that he does not want you to know, things that would make him seem very unsympathetic in a custody hearing. Clean up your own past. Make sure that you are seen as a model parent. This is all very important preparation. You know what they say about planning: "To be prepared is half the victory." Sociopaths typically think at least a few steps ahead for their own actions, so you have to come up with your own defensive and offensive strategies.

After you have made yourself seem like the perfect parent and made him look like a terrible parent (3-6 mos? Don't rush things, make sure they are right before you do anything), start complaining about how he never does enough for the child. Be whiney and annoying.Mmake him wish that he had never met you. Whenever your child sees the father, try to schedule times for when he is sure to be upset -- hungry, tired, teething, etc. I'm not necessarily suggesting that you torture your child for his sake, but it might help. After about a month or two of this, start complaining about child support. Say that you are going to hire an attorney unless he pays you (double that amount your attorney said you could get from him). Do not tell him that you have already consulted an attorney. Do not tell him that you have already done background checks on him. Never tell a sociopath that you are plotting against him. Always make yourself seem as incompetent as possible. Your weapons that you have gained against him (information, etc.) should only be used as a counterattack, not the initial attack. You are like the southern army at Gettysburg -- on a hill, the strong point. If you got off your hill because he draws you into an attack, all is lost.

Hopefully he will start thinking that you are more trouble than you are worth. If so, try to get him to think it would be a good idea if he gave up custody. Suggest that you might be getting married or dating someone else who wants to adopt the child.

If he does not give up custody, perhaps if you have provoked him into some sort of action, e.g. hiring a lawyer or trying to get custody himself, then your next best option is to give him enough rope to hang himself. Make him think that you are still doing nothing. Hide all the cards until he shows up one day in court and you have all these witnesses and evidence suggesting that he is a terrible person. All his misdeeds will be public, the court can order a restraining order, and you will hopefully be given legal protection from him for you and your child.

Hope this helps. If it is true that your ex is a sociopath, that means your child may also be a sociopath. Read this post. Get more savvy. Read books on manipulation like The 48 Laws of Power, so you can recognize when others are trying to manipulate you. Always have an escape plan for everything, a ready made excuse. But don't talk to people about this. People can't be trusted not to talk. In a war with a sociopath, information is the only real power you will have. Guard it with your life.

Sociopath co-parents: defense against the dark arts (part 1)

Co-parenting with someone you don't like can be hard. It can be especially hard if that co-parent is a sociopath. Is it possible to get the sociopath co-parent out of you and your child's life completely? A reader asks:
I believe that my X and father of my baby is a sociopath. When we were first together i found him very charming so I fell for him. I later found out that he is a pathological liar. The majority of what he says is a lie. At the beginning of our relationship I just believed everything he said because I didn't know any better, but the truth eventually came out. He used to always tell me he loved me over and over everyday, but I would get frustrated because his actions would never follow through. Everytime he did something wrong he always blamed it on me. Things were never his fault in his mind. He also never appeared to feel guilty when he did anything hurtful to me. In fact he rarely even knew he did anything wrong until I had to spell out for him how he had been terrible and how it effected me. He never seemed to have the ability to realize on his own that he was doing anything wrong. Everything he does, he does for himself and what makes him happy with no regard for how it affects others.

The relationship ended when I truly fell in love with him and was trying hard to do the best I could to win his love. He got bored. I also got pregnant with his child and during my pregnancy I needed him, but my neediness just pushed him away. He broke up with me and I moved out when I was midway through my pregnancy. I still loved him though and wanted a father for my baby so I kept trying to win his love back. It never worked. He just used me when I offered him everything he wanted and would tell me he would care and be there but never followed through with his promises.

What I am worried about is what to do now that my baby is born. So far the father has made promises to care but has continued to lie, treat me badly, not come around when he says he will etc. When I get mad at him and explain to him what he has done wrong he will maybe act as though he cares for a couple of days. Or when his family gets mad at him for being a terrible father he will try and care because he doesn't want to deal with crap from his family. Because of his inability to feel guilt or no when he is doing wrong, I am very scared to have him around my baby or take him into his care. I am worried about trying to kick him out of me and my babies life though because then I think he'll feel it as more of a game to go to court and fight for custody and will do so, not because he cares about the baby and seeing him, but because he doesn't want to lose. What do I do? How can I get him to leave me and the baby alone and disappear from our lives. I'm scared to let him be around, but I'm also scared of trying to make him go away because it might actually make things worse. Please help.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Raising a sociopath child (part 3)

Also, you have to be more careful about your identity and your child's identity.Ddo not leave an electronic trail of anything, even for something like this. I am not the type of person who would abuse any knowledge I have of your identity because I simply don't care. But! Some day someone will care, whether it is a future employer for your child, a college admissions office, whatever. You don't want anything to be able to be traced back to him or her. Because once things are out there on the internet, they are there forever. Get a separate e-mail account for anything like this, keep your online presence to a minimum, never let pictures or any information about your child get online. I know people are pretty reckless about privacy nowadays, but this is very important.

You have to get more savvy if you are going to raise a sociopath. Sociopaths are sneaky and will try to get away with everything. Plus you have to protect your child from the world that wants to hate him or her. You have to learn how to think 2-3 steps ahead, always. Have back up plans. Have ready made excuses. Do not get upset about things in front of your child or strangers. Keep a level head. Always give at least the illusion of control, and bolster that illusion by actually maintaining a high degree of control over yourself -- but not over your the child. Your child must not ever think he or she is in a power struggle with you because you will become just an obstacle to eliminate.

Hmm, okay. That's probably enough to think about for now. More to come, I guess. Or if you have any specific questions, let me know. But these are basic things that you should be doing or should stop doing right away.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Raising a sociopath child (part 2)

My response:
This is a very interesting question and I'm glad you came to me because I sense disaster already. First the positive: having a sociopath child can be just as good, if not better than having a neurotypical child. There is nothing keeping your child from being a great, high achieving, functional member of society. I excel at many things, I have meaningful relationships with people, I have a very full life. I also suffered a lot to get where I am, and most sociopaths have similar stories. Luckily for me, my parents managed to do a lot of things right, and I love them for that. It could have gone very badly, I think, and I appreciate the fact that it didn't.

I think the biggest thing that parents of sociopaths need to learn is to realize when you are helping and when you are hurting. For instance, you should not tell other people (including school officials or anyone else) that your child may be a sociopath. I understand the impulse. I have a little relative who has had significant hearing loss, which is immediately obvious to anyone. Even if it wasn't, though, the parents are more than willing to make it known, particularly if it would affect the child's schooling. Nowadays we expect schools and teachers to be understanding of children's individual strengths and weaknesses. This "legitimately" includes autism and asperger's, but does not include sociopathy. People talk (even on this site) about the forced execution of sociopaths and how they would kill a sociopath baby if they could. Sociopathy (even if applicable) is a label that could forever inhibit your child's life and development. If everyone knows your child is a sociopath, they will treat him differently. He will not be given the benefit of the doubt like other children will be. Once he knows that every anonymous bad thing will be blamed on him, he will do only bad things because at least that way he will get the pleasure of the thing before he gets punished for it. Sociopath children are very very sensitive to perceived fairness and incentive structures (more on that later). If I were you, depending on what you have told the school official, I would play it off as much as possible. I don't know what you could do, but maybe tell the counselor you were just trying to warn him about the sociopath family member you mentioned, or even better trying to warn him of the evils of trying to diagnose someone before 18 (the "official" age for diagnosing a sociopath), e.g., don't make the mistake of doing that with my child, otherwise I will pursue legal action. You could suggest your family history includes asperger's, and you're concerned about your son. I would also do some research to try find a doctor who will readily diagnose your son as having asperger's. Unlike sociopathy, asperger's is an "acceptable" diagnosis that can be used to explain your sons other antisocial symptoms without fear of reprisal.
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