From a reader:
I am already sorry that my email has to begin with "my ex-boyfriend is a sociopath..." because I know this is something most women think has happened to them. My ex, however, is what he describes as "caught in the net"; a diagnosed sociopath, treated once in hospital and still in occupational care. Not that it helps, of course.Occupational hazard?
When we were together, he didn't act in a way that most women would describe their apparently sociopathic exes as acting, in fact he was very loving and caring, and always spoke of the huge amounts of respect he had for me, and how he took me seriously, and this is why he loved me. Before we were together we were friends and I would watch him systematically destroy the emotional lives of his exes, just for fun, just for kicks. My reasons for loving him were the normal ones; mainly, I was attracted to the sociopath in him.
I saw him just the other day, and we had this long conversation, where he told me about how much he feels he is suffering. I am adverse to all people who assume that sociopaths have no feelings whatsoever. Sure, he doesn't feel guilt, which sometimes makes me feel incredibly upset that he could - and has - hurt me spectacularly, and the only remorse he would feel would be the remorse would follow my excommunication of him, not the fact that he had upset me.
He has started to complain of feeling he has built himself a prison of his own behaviours, that his lack of impulse control is what's driving him to his own insanity. He doesn't feel guilty, his problem doesn't lie in his fear that he is hurting people, it is his basic fear that he will be lonely, that he is damaging himself. He has had a few scares that have nearly killed him, a few outbursts that have landed him in the Police Station or the psychiatric unit. He said something to me about his grip on reality; something about the fact that every time he does something "typically psychopathic", he is bored of himself, and he feels another barrier between him and the real world has gone up. I'm not entirely sure what he means by this.
I wouldn't assume that the reason he is saying this stuff to me is to appeal to my empathy, because I currently have nothing he wants. He is always relatively honest with me, in that if he wants something from me, he will ask for it. He respects me, still, so the mind games he plays with me are very minor and are usually just to keep himself on form.
My question is, is this feeling of suffering a common thing? Sociopaths I know only feel very primal emotions, and he has often told me that my downfall in life is that I am far too empathetic and this is slowing me down, that I could be like him if I wanted to but I'm too compassionate and he finds this quite sickening.