Monday, March 22, 2010

Conversation with a sociopath(?) (part 1)

D.R.: As a result of a recent discussion in my forensics class, I found myself incredibly interested in sociopathy. How could an 11-year-old girl (Mary Bell) take the life of a toddler? Of two? I saw no motive, nothing to gain...Many of the things I found were echos of what I had heard in the past: sociopaths/psychopaths want to hurt. They relish in pain. They are heartless. They destroy "good" people for the sake of destroying. Everything is all about power. It was the last one that caught me. Isn't everything about power...for everyone?

M.E.: Ha, no, I wish it was. Some people are all about love or acceptance or any number of things. But you sound like you're interested in the power angle.

D.R.:It's more likely to get me where I want to go. It's always about who has the upper-hand in the relationship, "what's in it for me," etc. That wanting power is considered monsterous in society is highly hypocritical, but that is besides the point.

M.E.: This is sort of charmingly naive, in a way that only "young" sociopaths can be about the way the rest of the world runs. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, though. We all expect to see in others who we are ourselves, project if you will.

D.R.: I'm beginning to understand this. I guess I used to tell myself that everyone else was just putting on a front. Again, projecting. It was with no real insight other than a list of "symptoms" that I stumbled upon your blog. Assuming you are a sociopath, and what you say is true (and not just some elaborate deceit), then it seems to me sociopathy is more extreme realism than a disorder. I say this because in very many ways, I relate to the things you post, but I would hardly consider myself a "sociopath" in the common use of the term. I prefer the aformentioned realism. I write to you because I'm curious as to what your take would be. If nothing else, I find you highly logical, intelligent, and interesting.

M.E.: Yeah, the aspies and other empathy-challenged also believe that sociopathy is a form of extreme realism, because for them it is the closest anyone has ever come to describing their particular reality.

D.R.: Maybe. Since I had never been given the term "sociopath" to describe my behavior and viewpoint, realism is the label I thought fit me best.


  1. I wouldn't describe S as extreme realism. More like extreme presentism.

  2. That projecting bit certainly holds true, to an extent. But there is also a difference between the workings of the "world", and the workings of the people that inhibit it.

    Also, here's a fun way to overcome self-projection unto others. When you're in a place with a potential and attentive audience, try saying something "outrageous" - something of dubious moral value in that particular cultural context. Be sure to attach a humorous string to the claim, so you'd have something to fall back on in case things go sour. At the same time be sure that this claim is something you secretly hold to be true. This is important. You're comparing world views, not your sense of humour or sarcasm.

    For example, if you're at an education conference, say "Children are like robots, minus the capacity to think logically". Then take a good look around. If you did this right, then you should see a variety of expressions ranging from "amused" to "appalled".

    P.S. Do NOT do this at an address from which your pay checks are shipped.

  3. Why is Mickey Rourke in the pic? I love Mickey!

  4. The picture was taken from Inside The Actor’s Studio and is of a "conversation" in a casual setting, not a interrogation room.

    Mickey Rouke might represent the sociopath in the picture: he’s cool, calm yet dressed a tad bit outrageous/flamboyant.

    Though—the same could be said of James Lipton since he blends into the furniture and appears to pose no real threat, yet he is the one asking the penetrating questions.

  5. "aspie said...
    I wouldn't describe S as extreme realism. More like extreme presentism."

    i am siding with aspie on this one, i think he hit the nail on the head...

  6. me too.. presentism.

  7. Realism: "the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth"

    Presentism: "The belief that only current phenomena are relevant; Interpreting past phenomena in terms of current beliefs and knowledge"

    Presentism seems to follow the "heat of the moment," while realism takes a more aloof, analytical approach. While presentism flows with the sociopath's impulsive behavior, realism would be the point from where he or she views the moment.

    The definitions were found on Google:define, by the way.

  8. I didn't know that was a real word.

    That is interesting.

    Would it be more accurate to say that "realism" would be the point when he or she takes a "view" or makes a "judgement" about the moment (or what has been viewed)?

    Realism seems to describe a set of beliefs and a view (however real). Presentism seems to describe, at least in the way I meant it, as living in the moment, viewing the moment non judgmentally and without preconception (possible?), with everything else flowing from this. One first views the moment and then takes a view on the moment?

    I think what may be unique about sociopaths and others is not some realistic view, but living in the moment, and possibly to what others might seem like a pretty intense degree. What informs their realistic view. But I could be wrong.

  9. Travis - I do that. It's useful.

  10. Aspie,

    I've always seen realism as an empirical view. These are the facts; this will produce that outcome. Presentism is living only for the moment, but can be viewed in terms of emotions. Example: I am sad right now, so everything seems hopeless. I am angry, so the whole world is out to get me.

    If you were to sort of mix the definition of realism with what you meant by presentism, you would get the empirical, just-for-the-moment approach. However, more ambitious sociopaths would be looking ahead to make sure the consequences don't outweigh the reward (see politicians).

  11. "in the moment" presentism = i observe that i am sad right now without judging it. i am not my sadness. or i am more than my sadness.

  12. D.R. You sound like an ISTP. You don't have the moral defects that a sociopath has. Google istp and see if that fits you better.

  13. Does anyone know if she was a sociopath or a psychopathy.

  14. Extreme realism is a nice way to put things, we have the innate ability to see the world for what it is, rather than what the majority of people wish it to be. However this is not to be said that we cannot imagine what it is you wish the world to be, quite the contrary. We can imagine it in a more detailed way than you could expect, which is why we can know what you want, what you desire to be and how it would make you feel if all your desires come to light

  15. ...or did not. Putting it simply we do not care, although I myself am curious to know what it is like to "care" I am perfectly capable of disconnection from any subject, object or person. It is not that I cannot feel a bond to any of the afore mentioned, but simply that it is not empathetic, I can see discomfort, but do not feel for it. But importantly I do not seek out discomfort for an individual unless I believe recompense is due. At that stage I usually lack the self control to stop said series of actions taking place.

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