Sunday, January 31, 2010

Manic depression and sociopathy (part 3)

Oh, there's something that I wanted to add. My own theory when I'm in a hypomanic and manic state. From personal experience my brain has the ability to work faster and harder in a hypomanic state, so when you're in a social situation everything is happening in slow motion. That means a few things, one you get bored easily, secondly you can decipher people and their motivations much quicker. Combine the latter point with boredom and playing with people becomes entertaining. However, my brain would spin faster and faster if you will, becoming more capable by the hour but at a certain point you have a psychotic break. As if you're reached the practical limit of your brain's processing power and you just unravel and lose touch with reality. At this point you're living in your own world, and it feels great (at least in my experiences it has), but you will freak everyone around out.
I don't know that much about manic depressives, although I was accused of being one once during a period of prolonged illness. I wish I knew more about it, but maybe my readers do. Shall we see what they have to say about things?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Manic depression and sociopathy (part 2)

A reader writes (cont.):
When I was younger, I was very much a slave to my emotions and I would definitely have called myself weak and I think a lot people took advantage of that (including a sociopath or two now that I look at it with the knowledge I've acquired). I'm actually quite thankful in retrospect, I've learned a lot on how to deal and I suppose in turn manipulate people. Another great learning ground was the internet, mostly message boards. People seem to let themselves go and troll with reckless abandon. At first I fell for it, then I identified it, then I partook then I got bored and realized fucking with people over the internet or even just interacting with them was a completely waste of time. Especially if you consider that the good trolls which i butted heads with were probably sociopaths themselves and it would never end.

Having a number of psychotic breaks (since i'm bipolar type 1) was incredibly beneficial. Being completely detached from reality can give you a unique perspective on life.

To summarize one of the points I'm trying to make, is that as I grow older I seem to be gaining better control over my emotions and in some ways closer to the world of sociopathness, which is interesting.

So besides telling you my life story, what's your take on manic depressives? I don't think you can use me as a baseline mind you. If you go into chat rooms geared towards people with mental illness or bipolar you can see that most are completely unstable and it's incredibly easy to push buttons (My meds have erased a lot of my emotions though). I think those people would be closer to average for manic depressives. Anyway, I find what you're going through interesting and wouldn't mind engaging in some sort of dialogue concerning our differences/similarities, at the very least it would help me learn more about myself and sociopaths and offer you the ability to peer into a mind you might not encounter very often.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Manic depression and sociopathy (part 1)

A reader writes:
Been reading your blog, sociopaths have a pretty interesting take on life. I noticed you did interviews with empaths and some people with mental disorders. I used the search function and couldn't find your take on manic depressives/bipolar people. I myself am manic depressive and although it seems completely counter intuitive it feels like there are some similarities with things sociopaths go through (or at least I think there are similarities, I could be way off base). For example, at certain times I have the ability to completely shut off and my emotions and either feel nothing or next to nothing. My husband finds this troubling when after an argument and he's bawling his eyes out and I just stare at him blankly. This also occurs when I'm severely depressed, but when I reach those stages I don't feel pain anymore, it's just being completely numb, lacking energy or any motivation. Nothing seems worth the effort and it's not because I feel sorry for myself, there's no rationalizing it, complete and utter apathy. This usually occurs in a cycle, like a sin curve (my emotional states that is).

Then comes the idea of masks, I think you may have touched on it but my memory is spotty. When I am manic I can play any role, playing with people, mind games and the such is incredibly appealing. When I am near depression but not all the way there as I've mentioned below I've developed the ability to completely hide myself from others. I can be out getting ice cream with my daughter while we're sitting across from each other at a picnic table look straight into her eyes and smile while wishing for a hot bath with razor blades. I suppose in my eyes (again I could be wrong) it's that we're achieving the same ends in this case, although our motivations are completely different, or maybe not.

Of course when I'm near 0 on a sin curve, I'll call that "normal" I function more or less like your average person should. (cont.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Love-ish (part 3)

Agreed that all love has both selfishness and selflessness involved. However, LASTING love eventually evolves from selfishness into selflessness, as it becomes essential to care more about the other person than you do about your own needs. I believe real love contains elements of sincere attachment and commitment that make people stay in the relationship "through the good times and the bad, through sickness and health" etc. Real love is truly defined by how strong it is when life gets hard. Anyone can love when things are easy. That being said, I do not think it is elitist, it just is hard to do. You say that relationships with sociopaths seem to work. Do they? I value your blog and your need to bring society into a better understanding of what a sociopath feels and deals with in a world full of "empaths", however I think we would be hard pressed to find a relationship involving a sociopath that is truly functional (unless maybe it is with another sociopath). The sociopath of course believes the relationship is fine. They are getting what they need from it. But you ask the empath on the other end of the relationship if they are really happy and feeling fulfilled and I doubt you would hear a positive response. In most cases I am sure eventually that relationship is going to come to an end, with the empath feeling like they wasted their time. I have read many of your posts. I remember you writing that you are able to feel love. You have love for your mother, but it is more of just an "outlet" of yourself as she is your mother so it makes sense that you love her. You also wrote that you feel love for people in your life, but it is love "at that time"...and also can turn to intense hate within the same day. Lasting love is more than acting on impulse in the moment. It would appear that "at that time" kind of love does not involve any commitment. No commitment is feeling no attachment. No attachment is at the core of a sociopaths disorder. And a feeling of non attachment is never going to make an empath feel like the relationship is a good one. I do not doubt that empaths, those of us who are not aware yet of who they are actually involved with, or are in denial, or just have low enough self esteems that they do not feel worthy of something better...these empaths might be willing to go through the hardships of a relationship with a sociopath but I am convinced that if you compared the contributions that the empath is giving: they are putting way more effort, concern and selflessness than the sociopath is capable of contributing.

thanks again for your insight. It is very interesting.
Yeah, I see your point. I guess to a certain extent we are just talking past each other. It's amazing how varied the human race is. I love raw oysters, while a lot of people think that is wrong on many levels. I'm not saying my love is better or worse than yours, I am just saying it is different, some people might prefer it, others might hate it. The fact that we are so varied could be an evolutionary accident as you seem to suggest, or there could be some more valid reason, as I believe. It would be very difficult to prove either way, and I'm fine with that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love-ish (part 2)

A response to my reply, from yesterday's post. (The reader requested specifically that I not edit the exchange for publication):
Ok I can see why someone with this disorder would want to feel love and have a relationship, but would you say that the type of love they are feeling is purely a selfish type of love. If we are going to accept the diagnosis of what sociopathic personality disorder is, then this person cannot form attachments and they cannot have the depth of emotion that would create real love (not because they don't want to, but because they are just not able too), and without real love and true concern (empathy) for the other person, would a relationship ever truly work? So, if they want love they want it for how it makes them feel, correct? Falling in love, making someone feel loved, and having it mirrored back to you is euphoric, and probably a high that most can see as a form of power to use. Maybe this is the attraction some sociopaths see in pursuing relationships. It is solely about what they are getting out of it. They cannot give back what is needed to make the other person fulfilled in terms of emotions. It would think it would end up being a selfish, one-sided relationship. Am I wrong?
I think all love has an element of selfishness to it, and that all love has an element of selflessness as well. What is real love? If sociopaths can't feel "real love," is their love valid? Empaths try this argument on me all the time. I think it is elitist. It is like the French complaining that the Chinese don't know how to drink wine because they cut it with lemon-lime carbonated beverages. Relationships with sociopaths seem to work. It's hard maybe, and it certainly is different, but people seem to be able to pull it off. I don't necessarily disagree with you on why sociopaths choose to love in the first place, but I think to say it is selfish and one-sided would be like saying traditional marriage of husband breadwinner and wife homemaker is one-sided -- maybe it is, but which is the beneficiary?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Love-ish (part 1)

A conversation with a reader begins thusly: "Does sociopathic behavior in an individual come from intense feelings of rejection from childhood? Could the lack of feelings or attachments to anything or anyone be a defense mechanism? And if they truly cannot feel love in the true sense of the word, why do they seek and pursue relationships?" My response:
Sociopaths feel love, just differently. I guess it would be like asking, why would blind people ever watch TV? But they do, they enjoy it for different reasons than you might, and sociopaths too find something worthwhile in love and relationships, not surprisingly. I would actually be more surprised to learn that there was any person who was completely uninterested in having some sort of a meaningful relationship. (Except maybe schizoids.)

With regard to your other question, I think most people now believe that there is a genetic connection to sociopathy, but that gene can either be turned on or not by environmental factors, e.g., as a defense mechanism, just like you say.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Explaining the influence of demons in Rio de Janeiro gang warfare:
Pastor Sidney explained how it was he could see demons: "People who are possessed tend to look at a fixed point and have a coldness around them -- their eyes don't blink. The persons themselves are absent." Whenever he saw them, he would "ask Jesus to take them, and the angels come and grab the demon from them." It also helped, he said, to invoke the name of the Lord. "Traditional religious faith helps ground you, as do demonstrations of God's power."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Another sociopath story (part 4)

But let me end with a list of unresolved issues... I wouldn't like to give an image of someone who thinks they're so fucking awesome that all their problems are solved. As a matter of fact, I often torture myself. Wearing new masks and constantly adopting new personas pushes the envelope. My impersonations are increasingly demanding, and I'm often confronted with the limitations of what I can know/do/say. I regularly experience failure trying to pull it off, and I've lost friends and allies because I've either (1) chosen to be the wrong person, (2) gave a poor, sloppy performance without studying the part, or (3) locked myself into a role that was too demanding, almost exhausting for the long run, so I had to make a messy "exit." I also lack long-term plans, which is frustrating. I can plan for the short term, maybe up to 1-2 years in the future, but then I'm lost. I don't know whether I should be married and have kids, succeed in the corporate world, settle down or maintain my independence. Without a clear "dream," I constantly feel unprepared and confused. I dare not choose any specific vision, because I know I'm gonna be bored and abandon it before I get a chance to see it to fruition. So far I have remained a student, which has given me time to satisfy my curiosity and has prevented me from committing to any particular "life," but soon I'll have to make tough choices. Finally, I am terrified of sickness. Death, I can deal with. But being incapacitated, in pain, and looking pitiful in the eyes of total douchebags, I cannot bear. Hence, I tend to overreact to minor pains and overly worry about my health.

Well... I think this is the most sincere thing I've written... ever. I totally get why you feel the urge to "out" yourself to people. I very much feel the same way. I wish people were less blind. I get frustrated when I throw characteristically sociopathic opinions their way (e.g., "everyone wants to be manipulated and lied to") and they respond thoughtfully, yet failing to make any further inferences about me. They may think I'm cute, funny, maybe a little eccentric, but as long as I am not holding a knife they're happy believing I'm like them. As such, your blog is truly invaluable. Thanks M.E.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another sociopath story (part 3)

As far as friends and lovers go, I have to admit I tend to experience most of my relationships as power games. I don't know if this is actually common, but I suspect it should be. I readily perceive the balance of power, I ask myself how far I can control and dictate behavior in others, and I'm overly sensitive to their attempts to control me. I use many techniques to secure power. Emotional people who are strong-willed are terribly sensitive to histrionics, for instance, whereas emotional people who are ultimately weak are better stunned by a display of swagger and cruelty that creates awe and submissiveness in them. I really "feed" off people's emotions and enjoy gaining their trust and devotion. I particularly enjoy leading them to make choices that run against their principles... in their efforts to reconcile their beliefs with their actions, they convince themselves that their love of me is so strong and noble that they courageously have shattered their principles to be "true to their hearts." (Ridiculous, isn't it?) Needless to say they then perceive me as "exciting" and "unique," and attach themselves even more to me, which leads to even worse acts of self-humiliation and submissiveness.

Furthermore, I really cannot maintain a monogamous loving relationship. I've tried... with wonderful people that were smart, engaging, funny, and devoted. Nowadays, it's a matter of weeks till I'm utterly bored and start fucking other people, including their best friends. My sexuality is as flexible as the rest of my personality, so I can be straight, gay, aggressive, romantic, a fucked-up jerk or an innocent dork. I am not extremely good-looking (though I keep healthy and in shape) but I've had several simultaneous parallel relationships. Some of my partners even knew about my other affairs and were totally fine with it, even when I asked them "Do you realize I'm just using you till I'm bored?" I have thus developed a moderate contempt of romantic relationships and their special nature, and tend to view them as a basic need (like food, sleep and sex) that people are willing to go to any lengths to secure.

Finally, as far as hiding goes, I have the best mask of all: nervousness. Nobody (really, nobody) thinks you're a bad or "dangerous" person when you're nervous. Bite your lips or fingernails, appear shy and clumsy, look innocent and act lost and out-of-place, and the worst you're gonna be perceived as is "incompetent," maybe a "loser." Furthermore, a person who seems incapable of controlling their anxiety is almost always trusted. No one believes that someone lacking the ability to pull themselves together can actually scheme and manipulate situations, or even be mildly strategic.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another sociopath story (part 2)

As for empathy, I used to have traces of it as a teenager but now it seems to have faded into oblivion. (Hence I always wondered if you can turn narcissist/sociopath after the age of 15, yet I've read many times that the onset of both conditions is usually during early childhood.) I do sometimes wonder, however, whether what I now remember as "moments of empathy" was mere self-manipulation. For one, I cannot remember ever crying about anything, besides a single major personal defeat. I never lost my sleep or got anxious about another person, though I've experienced both in relation to my own problems. I have felt anger and even gratitude (or chivalry, if you prefer), I have felt regret and embarrassment, but I haven't felt guilt or remorse to any meaningful degree.

Another awkward thing is... I have never, EVER been depressed in my life. Not a single day. I believe I can evade depression forever because I have a very helpful, well-developed skill: the ability to manipulate myself in erasing memories. I have read many times in your blog that our flexible identities can create fake memories, so I suppose all of us can easily erase memories as well. For example, if I experience a rejection in the context of dating, I can totally "forget" about it, not just dehumanize or attack the credibility and worthiness of my rejector. Complete and utter removal of the unpleasant event from history. Maybe this explains our rumored lack of ability to learn from past mistakes and punishment strategies... maybe we just erase the mistake/punishment from our textbooks and just move on.

Yet, although I do not feel depression/melancholy, I often used to experience emptiness and a lack of identity. "Normal" people seem to have a very static self-image, even when they're not fully aware of it. Their lives have structure and coherence, and they can track their progress over time. (On the flip side, they can get pretty morose if their progress has stalled because of this.) I, on the other hand, can never "settle." I feel I want to be everything and everyone. (And I can!) But very often I have NO IDEA who I really am. Your blog has been extremely helpful in this respect. I now define myself more accurately as the "mask bearer." I am perfectly fine not being "something in particular," but "something that can turn into anything." The only real problem for me now is keeping track of my actual preferences, my real wants, and not overly assimilate the preferences of the persona I'm pretending to be. But I'm getting better at it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another sociopath story (part 1)

A reader writes:
I am in my mid twenties, currently a PhD student in a well-known university. I have always been smart, but I shall readily admit I'm a lot less intelligent than (virtually all of) my academic colleagues. I never studied long hours or read heavy books, but I've always been terribly curious... so much that I think curiosity and versatility are my two defining traits.

I've wanted to learn about everything: philosophy, religion, science, psychology, economics, sports, sex, languages... there's nothing in this world that does not interest me to some extent. Yet, I'm almost constantly bored -- out of my mind. I learn and debate issues to stimulate myself with the few people that can "follow," but almost nothing can sustain my interest for more than a few weeks or months, sometimes even minutes.

On a positive note, my curiosity has taught me a wide array of things, which has made me an excellent conversationalist. I can successfully engage people in long discussions on a topic of their preference. Give me any B.S. and I can embellish, package and present it as a brilliant idea. I can support any view and I like playing devil's advocate, even for ideas I could never truly believe in.

Like most of us, I have always known I'm different... I prefer the term "special." Yet I only very recently associated sociopathy with myself. As you've said, the image of the sociopath that people are taught is distorted and hence seemed irrelevant to my own existence. I am not particularly violent, although I am often domineering and aggressive. When I initially came across personality disorders I thought I was a narcissist. The reason is that (1) I have limited empathy, but I'm not completely deprived of it, it just seems to activate selectively and very rarely, and (2) I have always had a grandiose view of myself; I sometimes fantasize about having power to control the world and kill thousands or perform miracles. On the other hand, I never believed in my own fantasies (I maintain a pragmatic view) and I don't desperately need the acceptance and attention that a typical narcissist is supposed to require. Moreover, I am definitely not loud. Maybe I'm a mix of the two, with elements of sociopathy being stronger in some areas of my psyche, and elements of narcissism being stronger in others.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seducing too well (part 3)

I learned this lesson long ago from being too smart: people will not want to play with you if they feel there's no chance they can win. It's a consequence of being good at games. It's lonely. Being rejected because you're too good is almost as bad as being rejected because you are incompetent. Depending on the situation and the person, there are things you can try to do to make it better. With my crush, I tried to alleviate the nervousness in the same way you'd try to calm an overexcited animal. Slow moves, explaining what you are doing the entire time, telling them there's nothing to worry about, no harm will come. There's a certain amount of shaming that can go into it. I try to make them see how ridiculous it is to be scared of little old me. The whole thing is a lot of work, though, and there's no magic bullet that will set them at ease. This seduction fire is not dying out because of too little oxygen—it's sputtering because there's a heavy wind: too much oxygen.

In my mind this is also a failed seduction. It reminds me of that scene in Pollock where Peggy Guggenheim seduces Pollock only to have him drunkenly ejaculate prematurely. I've come to realize is that anyone, any age, any gender, can show the restraint and judgment of a 12 year-old boy if you set up the seduction wrong.

I made things worse with my crush because I got frustrated and almost disgusted. I pushed the shame tactic too hard. I got traded down for a simpler model, not just shelved but back-shelved. It has taken months of soothing tones and being a shoulder to cry on before I've gotten back into my crush's good graces, and even now I tread as lightly as I can, on thin ice, because we are still not quite there.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Seducing too well (part 2)

The second too-well seduction started months before the first, but is still not complete. The first time we met I felt nothing but slight interest. The second time we ran into each other walking out of the office at the same time. I knew we would take the lift together, then walk through our building's maze of halls for at least five minutes more. Even after that we'd probably end up walking in the same direction, both of us sneaking out early. I was actually a little nervous about making so much small talk, but I had nothing to worry about. Somehow I was given the five-minute mini life story of everything that was that person's life since age 18, and it fascinated me. I just listened. It's amazing how much more effective listening is as a seduction tool than anything else. The infatuation quickly became mutual: mine was firmly rooted in narcissism and a desire to exploit. The thought of my crush made me salivate. The other person's infatuation was... I'm still not completely sure.

It's interesting how I guide people to knowing and adoring me. I do it in a very similar way each time. I have never taken hard drugs, but I find the accoutrement, the routine, the near-ceremony of the preparation fascinating. The way your junky girlfriend might softly persuade you to try heroin before guiding you through the process is how I feel when I let people "get to know me." Everyone is an M.E. virgin when I get them. Deflowering them can either be gentle or rough, but it always follows a certain pattern. Like hard drugs, I know I have certain side effects. They are similar in different people, though of course no two people are exactly alike. But I've never had someone react so strongly to me as this person.

I began this "courtship" with my new crush and realized pretty quickly that I made my crush debilitatingly nervous. At first, I really relished in this power. I was sick from enjoyment every time I noticed a quiver, a tremor, a crack in the voice, a nonsensical sentence. My crush could not recover, though, could not grow stronger. I was winning by too great a margin for my crush to remain interested in playing the game.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sociopath quote: Conscience

"Conscience? You mean that thing that kicks in when there's no logical reason to behave the way people want you to?"

-- from House, MD: "Teamwork"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More portraits of sociopathy

People always ask me questions. Sometimes I ask them questions back:

What did it feel like to discover you were a sociopath? Were you more relieved or curious that there was a label for the type of person you are?
I've been trying to put a label on myself for the type of person I am for years now -- since I was around 14 years old. The fact that I've never been able to quite understand emotions or why people have them effectively resulting in a sense of separation from the rest of society and an overwhelming drive to engage in grandiose entrepreneurial projects, the end result of which is usually a fantasy in taking over something or someone, has led me to think I had Aspergers syndrome (a mild form of autism marked with anti-social behavior and the ability to hyperfocus on sometimes superfluous hobbies).

But, after hearing from several people (the guy at the bar, an ex girlfriend, co-workers) that I had a sociopathic personality I decided to research it further and was incredibly relieved that I had finally found the correct label. At least now I feel as though I stand in some niche and that there are verifiable characteristics and an adhering portion of the population.
Did you always know you were different? or had you assumed that everyone else was just like you?
When I was in Middle School -- about 13 years old -- I came to home room one day and the kid I had been sitting next to since the beginning of the year wasn't there and everyone around me was crying. I asked what was going on and they sobbingly expressed to me that he was dead. He had been riding his ATV and flew off and hit a tree and died instantly.

My first thought? "Damnit, I wonder how long before everybody stops crying and talking about this and everything is back to normal".

That's also the first time I've ever been yelled at for not crying during an "appropriate" crying situation, but not the last. I just didn't feel ANYTHING for the situation. He was dead, who cares?

Years later my grandmother took her last breath in front of me -- I felt nothing. People die. After that my girlfriend's little brother was hit by a car and died. I had a hard time dealing with the situation because I didn't know how to be emotionally supportive.

Several of my friends commited suicide during high school and I went to all of their viewings. I remember one situation where a friend of mine said, "why aren't you crying?" and I said, "the only reason people cry at funeral's is because they're all of a sudden reminded of their own mortality and that they're going to die too, so really everyone here is just being selfish". That person never talked to me again.

So, did I always know I was different? Yeah, but I clearly saw that other people weren't the same as me. I've never been able to understand people's feelings. I just don't get it, not one bit.

I've tried to feign feelings or at least act like I have them, but that's all I've ever been in my life thus far (I'm 23) is an actor. I can adjust to any personality type within a matter of minutes. I can say things I know people will like and act in ways so people will think I'm cool. Basically I'm just a chameleon, which is great for my business aspirations hah hah.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Occasionally I worry for my sanity. In my younger years, I could do all sorts of stuff and walk away unscathed. Now I feel like my mind is getting old just like my body is getting old. Sociopaths have a flexible sense of self, but does it get less flexible with age? Like my skin or my muscles? If my sense of self becomes more brittle with age, what will happen when I am 80? Will my mind eventually break, just like my brittle bones? If I am sane, will I still be able to put on my "mask of sanity"? Will people find out who I am? Or will my ability to do devious things just be compromised to the point where I no longer am able to do them, or when I do them I'm found out and simply labeled a garden variety asshole? I am starting to wonder whether there could be a mental version of viagra for sociopaths. If my mind goes, where am I?

Friday, January 1, 2010

I'm looking through you

For my all my readers, but particularly empath victims of sociopaths -- wishing you the ability to see things and people how they truly are in 2010.
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