Monday, May 24, 2010

An empathy exercise

A lot of the empathy-challenged have expressed an ability to "imagine" what it would feel like to be another person going through a particular situation. I was explaining this to someone and they asked -- isn't this empathy? If it is, then I guess I'm an empath too. But first let me describe what it feels like using an unusual analogy that I hope works.

Imagine that you are having sex with someone. Better yet, imagine that you are engaged in foreplay, attempting to stimulate a reluctant lover. This is your first time. You have been on an island, grown up there alone, and one day another island dweller like yourself appears. Your experience so far has been auto arousal. You are very familiar with the ins and outs of your own equipment but have had no other exposure to sex other than what you have seen in wildlife. As you attempt to elicit a reaction from your partner, you think of everything you like to do to yourself and try that first. The more similar your partner is to you, the more accurate and effective your actions will be. But what if your partner's equipment looks nothing like your own? In that situation, the best you could do is extrapolate from your own experiences to imagine what it might feel if you had equipment more like your partner's, and act accordingly.

The process may seem very artificial to you at first, like when you scratch a part of your skin that has been numbed by anesthesia and feel only the scratching, not the being scratched. But the more similar the situation is to something you have experienced yourself, the more you can rely on your own personal experiences. Even if the other person is rather different from you, if you have done a decent job data-mining them you should be able to come up with a relatively accurate picture of them. And just like with the sex analogy, you would be getting positive or negative feedback indicating whether you are on target. If you engage in this imaginative exercise enough you can get quite good at it, the same way a professional pianist is not born with the ability to play, but can make it seem like he was with the ease with which he manipulates the keys. As I tell my loved ones all the time -- I don't understand you, but I can predict you very well.

If this is empathy, then I feel empathy. If empathy involves some automatic response to the emotions of another, though, or vicariously experiencing the emotions of another, then probably not. I don't feel vicariously what another feels any more than I vicariously feel the pleasure that I give someone else. Or maybe empaths don't feel empathy either. Maybe they think they are feeling what another feels, but really they are just projecting their own emotions on another.

Rejoinders, empaths?


  1. I think that empths use what they discover about a person, sociopath or not, to fulfill some part of them that needs to be satisfied by getting control over a relationship and trying to change that person to conform to their needs. It's sort of like being co-dependent. But I'm able to give back to the relationship as well and feel genuine feelings and guilt. It's still a form of manipulation but not to hurt anyone I just go about it that way not realizing my motives. And when I start to see my behavior I realize what I’m really doing. Not that it stops me. It's just an awareness. No relationship is without some strategic planning.

    Or maybe I'm just a nice sociopath!??


  2. That definitely sounds different from true empathy, though in a practical sense it has similar results. True empathy seems to involve an automatic emotional reaction to someone else's emotions. It may be an inaccurate, or not useful reaction, but it's definitely innate.

    I am an empath, and for a while I've been wondering if I am even more an empath than most empaths. My reactions are much stronger, and last much longer, than most people's, and even from a young age I felt like I was more perceptive socially and empathically than my peers. I don't know if there's even a name for this.

    The thing is, I think maybe an empath like myself isn't so different from a sociopath, in terms of perceptiveness, and the larger capacity to manipulate. If I wanted to, I could be extremely manipulative, and maybe its being an empath that makes me not want to, or maybe it's just personal choice.

  3. I agree that empathy involves projection of one's own feelings onto another. Obviously we cannot know for certain what another feels at all times (or really at any time).

    Perhaps the difference here, as I read this post, is that "empaths" tend to feel empathy for others almost automatically and continually. It's like background noise. Sometimes you're more tuned to it, sometimes not. Factors that play into this I imagine is your own personality style, mood, stress, etc.

    The process described here seems very deliberate and conscious, and something I think would be exhausting. When I think of how I feel empathy, I can easily relate it to something like rubbing someone's back who I love. As I touch them, I can almost physically feel the same sensations on my own back. I touch the way I would want to be touched.

    Is it something I have to imagine and visualize? No, I don't even think about it, it just comes to me with zero effort.

    Interesting post.

  4. great post. it's all the projecting that gets people into trouble.

    sometimes I feel like a human sponge the way I absorb the emotions of others, that daily mist of fear and hopelessness, excitement and impatience, that’s excreted like sweat by anxious bodies trampling blindly in their rush to nowhere, and that washes over and never fails to engulf me.

    but these emotions of others are only perceptions created automatically by my mind from the aggregation of various grunts and grimaces and gestures of those around me. they are only estimates, environmental indicators of sorts, and it’s impossible to fully make sense of the environment without first disconnecting. i think this is where sociopaths have the advantage.

    if you respond to rage with rage, to sadness with sadness, and to fear with fear, is that empathy? or maybe just a kind of instinct? doesn’t empathy require the ability to disconnect and respond calmly, cheerfully or soothingly, as needed? there must be more to empathy than being dominated by (or dominating) the emotions of others. empathy requires manipulation.

  5. I think of empathy as being somewhat of a built in language. It is automatic and exists without thought or effort. At one point in life, individuals learn the language of empathy. Once it is learned, like the verbal language, it is integrated into the whole individual.

    I think and speak in the English language. The language of empathy is universal and but varies in degree from one person to the next with various factors such as genetics, environment, life experiences etc affecting the degree to which one is empathetic.

    Empathy serves to protect. It to me is like a 6th sense sometimes. Through our empathy we can understand the needs of those close to us, especially our children and offer our emotional support or what ever may be called for in a given situation.

    I don't know how well I would do in raising my child if I didn't have empathy. Children do not understand thier feelings and need the empathy of a parent to help them associate a given feeling with the type of situation that elicits that type of feeling. Some feelings can only be recognized because a person has the ability to feel them.

    Although a sociopath is very good at studying human behavior, they do not have the ability to take the logic of a situation and put it together with the very complicated mix of emotions that many situations are made of.

    To have empathy for another in a given situation, it requires that innate automatic understanding of the emotions that would exist in a given situation. It is effortless because it is pulling from a pool of emotional information that was learned early on and has had reinforcement with each year of existence. As a person gets older, due to the repeated use of the language, similar to English, the language of empathy, becomes more sophisticated and vast. That is how I see empathy. Great post M.e.


  6. Attempting to stimulate a reluctant lover? Is this another post about rape?

  7. Yes, this is empathy. I say this as a clinician.

    The "automatic" response is not really automatic, it's just faster and more developed than yours, perhaps. It may seem automatic or magical, just as a ninja's skills often, but both take years of practice.

    Most children are taught empathy from their caretakers from day one, and have a lifetime of practice. Some are naturally better learners, have more sensitivity to picking up nuance, and may be more emotionally driven temperament-wise. But no one -- no one -- is born with a built in sense of empathy. At best, we have mirror neurons that clue us in to another person's expression and compel us to imitate it. This is not the same as feeling what the other person feels. You have to learn to infer that, and to relate to it. And, if you're never taught how to do that, you never develop that skill.

    Morality is the same way.

    Clinicians are learning that meditation can dramatically change the structure of the brain, as can medicine, or injury. So to say that a sociopath is "wired differently" is true. To say that that is a permanent condition is not only inaccurate, it is unfair.

    On that note, I strongly feel that no one should ever be persuaded or forced to change who they are in any given moment, no matter what that may be. I just want to be clear that I'm not saying sociopaths could or should be "cured," only that it isn't as permanent as once believed.

  8. if the sociopath's wiring is not as permanent as once believed then, anonymous, it follows that neither is the empath's. maybe the empath's are the problem? if empaths did a little more "data mining" and relied on their inferred (and frequently self-serving) feelings a little less, we might have less war in the world and fewer misunderstandings.

    why do we always assume that more emotion makes us more human?

  9. on a different note, i wonder who has better sex, the empaths with their faster automatic response to emotions or the sociopaths with their more bottom-up data-mining approach?

  10. Zoe,
    Your thoughts and questions are very interesting to me.

    "if empaths did a little more "data mining" and relied on their inferred (and frequently self-serving) feelings a little less..."

    I agree with this (not the self serving part). As an empath, I have never consciously used my feelings for self serving purposes, that's not to say thought that others don't. I will admit that I have been driven by my feelings. I am someone that feels things very strongly and for many years acted on my feelings. It was as though my feelings were something I could not control and the action that resulted was just a continuation of the feelings. One day, someone said to me "there just feelings". At first, I was like, "what do you mean they are just feelings"? Then I realized how real they are to me but how inconsequential they are to anything else. I had to learn that feelings are something I can control and I better darn well control the actions/behavior that results from the feelings. This is something that I think should be taught in schools at very young ages. Behavior and emotions are addressed in schools only when a kid has done something wrong. Even then, the feelings are not addressed, just the actions. When I learned to actually step back and objectively look at all the facts before I acted, I was amazed at how different the outcomes were. Yes, Zoe, us empaths may be the "norm" but no one is saying that we do not have our issues too!

    As far as the sex, obviously, I cannot speak for the sociopath, I can only surmise. I suppose it depends on what a person is looking to get out of the sex. If it is simply an orgasm, then probably the sociopath has the better deal because they don't have to deal with unwanted feelings. To me, though, if it is only an orgasm that one is after then why not DIY.

    I know alot of sociopaths are into sex that is deviant because they do not feel love and many have sadistic tendencies. I can't speak for that because that is completely foreign to me, however I think as an empath that some bdsm could be fun, but there again there would have to be love between the partners and definitely not in a group situation. For me, as an empath, the bottom line to good sex is love. When there is love, trust, respect and chemistry, there is absolutely nothing better in the world but that is because all the feelings are there. I would have to wonder how it would be for a socipath since the feelings are not there. Anyone care to comment?

  11. I am someone that feels things very strongly and for many years acted on my feelings. It was as though my feelings were something I could not control and the action that resulted was just a continuation of the feelings.

    zan, i grew up with people who could not set aside their feelings for a minute, for anyone, ever. their feelings completely ruled them and still do. i learned to manage mine from a young age in order to manage theirs. although i'm empath in predisposition, i have a sociopathic outlook and trust and respect those who are able to manage their feelings. messy emotion makes me cringe. the way i see it is like this: if you feel for me, don't make it my problem. i need room to feel something back.

    but identifying completely with feelings is i guess not much different from identifying completely with thought. feelings are just a kind of thought. where we all connect, sociopath and empath, is when we're present with one another, through awareness and acceptance, instead of the eternal mental fencing we typically engage in to protect ideas (and feelings) used to prop up who we think we are. we are not the ideas of ourselves.

    to believe pure emotion is more important than logical thinking is, i think, as wrong as believing pure logical thought is more important than emotion. you can't have one without the other. every logical decision is driven (if covertly) by some need, some feeling. every feeling comes to being from some logical conclusion or belief. ultimately, you want to be the master of both your thoughts and feelings, otherwise they are living you.

  12. <As far as the sex, obviously, I cannot speak for the sociopath, I can only surmise. I suppose it depends on what a person is looking to get out of the sex. If it is simply an orgasm, then probably the sociopath has the better deal because they don't have to deal with unwanted feelings. To me, though, if it is only an orgasm that one is after then why not DIY.

    well i was being facetious. i really think people take sex too seriously. sex should be fun. instead people use it for ego gratification. that's boring.

    it's interesting that you write "probably the sociopath has the better deal because they don't have to deal with unwanted feelings". why unwanted feelings? do you mean feelings expected of him that he doesn't want to feel? so if you're not after the orgasm, does that mean sex is a bargaining chip? as in i give you sex, and you give me feelings? so if the guy gives you pretend feelings, isn't it only fair since you really were giving him only pretend sex? this is where i side with the guys.

    to me, passion is passion, whether sociopath or empath. it's obvious from M.E.'s writings that he's a passionate guy, who also has feelings. but feelings for the other person and commitment is something that you don't find or develop during sex. maybe the difference is that empath guys buy into the pretend sex as much as the empath women.

    from my own personal and very small sample of encounters, i would say sociopaths are better at sex than empaths, and empaths are better than narcissists. narcissists are just the absolute wooooorst. :)

  13. Zoe:"it's obvious from M.E.'s writings that he's a passionate guy, who also has feelings"

    Could you expand upon this? I'm bemused by the statement, almost.

  14. i would love to but have to go have my hair done now. later..

  15. Zoe,

    Zoe, sounds like you had an interesting upbringing. Did you grow up in an Italian or Irish family? I can see how a person would have to seriously manage thier feelings around others that are so exprressive about thiers. Do you have sociopathic friends? What brought you to this site? Has the thinking and the emotional way that you have developed lead you to a place where you identify strongly with sociopathic people?

    "so if you're not after the orgasm, does that mean sex is a bargaining chip? as in i give you sex, and you give me feelings? so if the guy gives you pretend feelings, isn't it only fair since you really were giving him only pretend sex?"

    Zoe, what I meant is that often people, especially men and I would imagine more especially sociopaths really just want and need the sexual release but do not want the obligation of afterplay at which time there is an epression of affection and love. I did not say in particular that I am not into it for the 'O' but it is not the be all end all for me. There needs to be a combo of both things but more importantly the emotional connection. My point was, if it is just about the 'O' and does not involve feelings for the other person, why bother with the other person.

    I don't think that there is such a thing as "pretend sex" unless one person is being paid and the other is paying.

  16. I have a question to ask you instead. What if you received the most intense passion you've ever felt from anyone in your life. What if the relationship you had with someone swept you off your feet and you never felt so wonderful in your life. What if this person understood you more than even your own family. What if deep down inside you knew they had no capacity to genuinely feel that way. In the back of your mind you knew they weren't capable of feeling that way, but its so real you never could see the difference. Would it matter to you?
    Sociopaths are better at faking emotions than people are at actually feeling them. Nobody likes a unfeeling asshole, so why does everyone find sociopaths charming? If people enjoy our charade more than they like people's genuine displays, than what is the issue?

  17. Hey UK,
    Glad you could join us for this one! What you described happened to me. Yes, you are absolutely right when it comes to the passion, charm and feeling so understood and cared about, the sociopaths have the empaths beat by a mile! It was the most incredible experience I ever had. For as incredible as it was, on the flip side,at the end it was by far the most devastating and emotionally heart wrenching time of my life. To find out that the love of my life, my "soul mate" was not real and that I was essentially making "love" to a stranger for 3 years, trusting that stranger with the very core of my being was so absolutely mind boggling and the joke ended up being on me. The pain that accompanied his disappearance after I had invested my time, love, energy and trust was so intense that I thought it would kill me. I had never experienced that before and did not know that it was possible to feel such depths of despair. It is that pain that has kept me from having another relationship. I truly don't think that I can ever trust anyone again.

    I get what your saying UK. The difference between what you saying and what I experienced has to do with disclosure. It sounds like you have worked out a very nice relationship with the "queen". You have been forthright with her. She knows what you are and you understand her. If both people going into the relationship have all the info and the cards are on the table, then hey, why couldn't it work? In theory I suppose that the type of relationship /sex that you talk about could work out fine with most women. Sociopaths appear so genuine and the sex is truly "fantasy sex". The problem that I would have is that I would know that that the person really could not feel any depth of love for me. The love and feeling that occurs with sex is what helps to bond the people together, among other things like compatibility. It's a very uncomfortable and vulnerable place to be when you love someone and know that they cannot love you back the way you love them. I would live in constant fear of the person leaving me for what appears on the outside to be more attractive, smarter, richer whatever it is than me. The outside is all there is to the sociopath. It is understandable that a sociopath would get bored easily because there is nothing on the inside to bond that person with another. It is an incredible ride while taking the trip but when the trip is over one learns that the trip was to hell. That was my experience.


  18. Wow UK and Zan. I can relate big time!

    But why do some people find these people attractive in the first place while others can see thru them like glass and would not give them a second look or at least not get emotionally involved..? I think my 7 year old sensed something before I did!! And why is it so hard to let go when you know they never meant one word of what they said and some time has gone by. I have been in loving relationships before and have been left by the man and even though I was hurt I let go after a few months and moved on. It's been much harder with this relationship, which wasn't a long one. Even though my intellect says thank God my heart says why, why, why.

    I can't control it and even though I'm doing better, I still imagine myself with him. I hate it.


  19. It's been much harder with this relationship, which wasn't a long one. Even though my intellect says thank God my heart says why, why, why.

    maybe it was real in a way the others weren't? maybe you sensed there was some connection that you never had with the others. but because something is real doesn't mean it's going to last.

    or maybe it was never real? empaths want the fairytale, and sociopaths are predisposed to creating it, but i think it's always only just a fairytale to the sociopath and after a while it's time to stop pretending.

    to me it's the little honest moments when we connect with others that are real, and i don't think you can give them labels like love or friendship or even hate, because the labels are mostly an idea of what we want and expect from the other, an idea distorted by emotions and hormones.

    possibly it's not about letting him go, but letting go of the fantasy. and maybe hanging on to those little real moments?

  20. 2 said...
    Zoe:"it's obvious from M.E.'s writings that he's a passionate guy, who also has feelings"

    Could you expand upon this? I'm bemused by the statement, almost.

    M.E. has made the point on several occasions that sociopaths have feelings, and has described his own. also, his style of writing is frequently evocative, crafted to appeal to the emotions. a person might be able to learn to imitate emotions by watching others, but to write evocatively you would have to have an appreciation of the emotional effect of the written word at a level that i don't think you could get from just observing people's reactions to speech. i think you'd have to experience it yourself emotionally.

    as far as passion goes, i think M.E. is passionate about his blog.

  21. Zan said...
    Zoe, sounds like you had an interesting upbringing. Did you grow up in an Italian or Irish family? I can see how a person would have to seriously manage thier feelings around others that are so exprressive about thiers. Do you have sociopathic friends? What brought you to this site? Has the thinking and the emotional way that you have developed lead you to a place where you identify strongly with sociopathic people?

    i grew up in the typical slav patriarchy run by dominating misogynist females. we weren't emotional, and displays of emotion, including appreciation for music, were always mocked. my parents would even mock their own displays. showing emotion was a weakness. being overwhelmed by emotion was always someone else's fault or a "sign from above". the emotions ruled, such as (and whenever) they were. i was the anomaly.

    i have a friend who i joke with about us being sociopaths. my outlook and past have led me to appreciate the games that people play, both empath and sociopath. i do actually relate to both, but not with the way empaths create an identity from being victims. sociopaths seem to have more sense and know their minds. i like that.

    ultimately zan, the only person responsible for you is you. you decide what you share with someone else, but they're not obligated to give you a thing in return. if you're only willing to love them as long as they keep loving you back, then how is that real?

    i find it hard to believe that there are these sociopaths out there who are so good at fooling people. the ones i met i found easy to see through. the one i dated dumped me and it hurt for a while, but i didn't love him and i wasn't in love with him. we were a bad fit, and i wasn't even really attracted to him at first. but then there was the fantasy that evolved. i missed that! but it was just a fantasy, mostly mine. i can't imagine hating him.

  22. My point was, if it is just about the 'O' and does not involve feelings for the other person, why bother with the other person.

    i'm not sure this is sociopathic as much as a gender difference, but i'm with the guys on this one. why can't the expressions of affection and love take place during foreplay? or by waking me up in the morning with a nice hot cup of coffee?? i've endured what felt like leech like pawing afterwards with one ex.. there are also guys out there who expect afterplay. let me sleeeep i say! :(

    i think for some people the feelings of affection and intimacy happen during the act itself, while for others they need to establish the emotional connection afterward. to make it okay.

  23. UK said..
    Sociopaths are better at faking emotions than people are at actually feeling them.


  24. Sociopaths lie to themselves almost more than they do to other personality types, and they are good liars. You would have never understood your boyfriend, because your boyfriend doesn't understand himself. He left you because you lost importance to him. In his mind you didn't know him at all, so didn't deserve him. The reality is the only way you would've known him is if he told you how his mind works. Catch 22 being he doesn't know himself well enough to be able to communicate who he is.
    Most people spend all their lives trying to figure out who they are. We call it growing. Why would sociopaths be any different? Sociopaths are put in a situation where just like everyone else the less mature they are the more irresponsible they are, and every person has a responsibility one way or another to society. Ironically, psychology rejects the sociopath, but society thrusts their emotions into the sociopath's arms as their responsibility. Always the rebel, the sociopath rejects that responsibility, and sometimes uses that rejection as an excuse to abuse it. There are many reasons sociopaths do bad things. There are many reasons why people of all types of personalities do bad things, but to say they are all the same is ignorant. People make judgements on sociopaths purely based on capability.
    Grace you find it hard to let go of whom? The person or the idea? The individual or the relationship itself? How did he make you fall in love?
    Zan you say he left you out of nowhere, but you felt him detatching, please explain.

  25. Hi UK,
    You explain it very well. When I look back in hindsite, it was obvious that he did not understand himself. He would often say things that were very contradictory. He would make a statement then I would express my thoughts and suddenly he was saying the same thing as what I was saying. I could tell that in the end when I figured it all out, it was devastating to him. I think he was afraid of me finding out. He would pace and talk about how he loved being with me while at the same time appearing to know that it needed to end. When I would suggest that we break up, he would say "not yet". I did not understand what the conflict was. I just thought he didn't love me anymore or at least not enough. I could not understand what the confusion could be. Either you love someone or you don't. I am actually the one that ended it with him. I vowed a long time ago that I would not allow anyone to treat me like crap. I took crap all my life from my father and I was just not going to take it from any man. Breaking up with him was the hardest thing I ever did in my life because I loved him still so deeply.

    The pain after our breakup eventually got to be so intense that I called him and wanted to get back with him (after about 3 weeks). By this point, I could tell that he was involved with others. I actually did not find out who he really was until after we broke up and I was told by friends who knew. I confronted him and he ran as far away from me as he could but I ran after him, wanting answers. He continued to lie and I never got what I was looking for (the truth). If I had gotten the truth then I could have remained friends with him. Without the truth there is nothing to base a friendship on. I would have forgiven him because he cannot help who he is. It must be so hard to be who he is and want relationships but not be able to connect or feel really understood. The more he lied, the more pissed I got. We never got to a place where anything could be salvaged and I always worry about running into him.

    "Zan you say he left you out of nowhere, but you felt him detatching, please explain."

    To answer your question, he traveled for his job and had control of how much he traveled. He traveled more and more and I knew it was to detach from me. When we were together in the end, he was very demeaning to me. He would find faults with the very things that supposedly attracted him to me in the first place. It was as though he was trying to start fights. I could not imagine a breakup that could be more messy. UK, what are your thoughts about what I have written here?

  26. Zan, I got the truth from him. Not all the truths to every lie but a general statement and conversation where he admitted to me his faults and how confused he was about himself and who he was. This conversation took place because he was lonely and upset. I didn't say anything in response to him that would give me the upper hand or threaten his style. I just said...thank you for being honest, I understand..and not much more. It didn't matter to him one bit that I could accept him. He has no use for me because he can't get what he wants from me now and that would be boring for him. He's done with me. If he knew how sorry I felt for him he would never want to be with me cause then he would look weak. I wish he was more educated because he may have done something better with his life and used his intelligence.

    I would have preferred to be with a man who was boring, shy and a pizza eating fool but could be honest with me. But then again that relationship might not last with me because there would be no But much less pain.


  27. Grace,
    Even though I didn't get the truth with all the specific details, in a way, I got the truth. He lived a secret double life, filled with extreme deviancy. He had the potential to expose me to god only knows what without my knowledge or consent. Thankfully I tested neg to all STD's. He had little to no value for me, otherwise he would not have done what he did. When he had the opportunity to come clean, he chose to keep up the lie, despite all that he knew I had been told. He did admit to little vulnerabilities and concerns about his own psychie which I believe was an attempt to get me to feel sorry for him. Whatever the situation, we were both fucked over. Doesn't really matter what to situation was, the outcome was the same. What is it that we are doing here? What is the answer we are looking for? More importantly, what is the question? It can't be about "love". It has to be about us. What is it about us?

  28. Zan, what I realize is that some people are ok with who they are. Or they are not in enough pain to change. People may argue that I need to change if I'm the one hurting. Even though we may not agree with it morally or is what it is and we cannot change anyone. And I'm not sure I would want someone trying to change me either. You probably feel that way too.

    But I do wish we could have been friends on some level because he was so interesting and attentive to me. And not all sociopaths are horrible people. Some just don't care enough to make some adjustments and be honest about themselves and not hurt people. But they would have to be aware of that first.

    I really appreciate this webpage.


  29. You led me to believe he just vanished on you, why did you do that? Usually picking fights stems from resentment. I won't venture to guess why he was resentful, but I'm pretty sure you know why. Sociopaths will be so cold as to resent you for them having to lie to you. So this relationship didn't vanish in the night. You saw the train coming, and you didn't know how to stop it. He left because you are useless to him, you already broke up. You don't get answers because you are nothing to him now. I never contact my exes either, and I make sure I leave them broken. Why? Because I'm malicious, and just like I make you feel special, I can make you feel worthless.
    By what you said about him changing opinions when you are talking about something shows that he was trying to mirror you. He learned a lot from you, but that doesn't matter now.
    Grace and Zan you will most likely go for the opposite side of the spectrum. You'll probably get the pizza eating shy fool. One that you can control. Guess what? You will measure him up against your previous sociopathic boyfriend and he will fall very short. You will know how he felt then. The resentment. You will do everything your ex did to you to him, because he's a dissapointment. You think your type will change Grace? You could no more change your type than change your father. How will anyone else different make you feel the way you felt? You will encounter sociopaths, and you won't see them coming. If people could, then sociopaths wouldn't be so feared.
    I find your pitty humorous grace. Its also a weakness. One of the sociopathic traits is that they see themselves as the victims, when usually they are quite the opposite. You feel sorry for him? If had the capacity I would feel sorry for you.
    You still don't understand do you? That intensity that he had when he looked at you. How could it just vanish? How could the voice that made you feel you wanted nothing but him, made you give so much of yourself, turn into something that only tears you down? How could someone so close become so distant? Its like he wasn't even there anymore. The fire was gone. You were left with that cold look he had only has in his private moments without you. You never saw it before, but now its all you see. His influence over you continued as you found a way of blaming yourself. It wasn't till he was out of reach that your love turned to hate. Now that hate burns hotter than your love ever did. You are bitter that he could just move on so quickly. You know why he could? Because the fire of love or hate is put out by indifference. You need to learn indifference, then you will understand him.

  30. UK,
    "You led me to believe he just vanished on you, why did you do that?"

    I wasn't trying to deceive you. I may have been the one to make the move towards ending it, but it was he who did the vanishing act. He was trying to get me to do it because he was too much of a coward to end it himself. I knew that if I didn't end it, things would get extremely ugly. I forget often that I was the one who actually did the breaking up because what I remember most was the distance that developed, me trying to get back together and the pain of missing him.

    Why would you want any of your exes to feel worthless? What does that accomplish for you, UK?

  31. It makes them like everyone else. Everyone else is the world and its me against the world. It takes back every gift I gave them. You can't give part of yourself away and not take it back. It leaves less to give the next time. When i break up I don't need a friend that's my ex, I need someone to step on to get a better person.

  32. UK,
    If I just sat here and did nothing to help myself then all you say would be true for me. But I got help and I learn from people like you. I can't speak for Zan but I'm sure she is more aware of people like you now than before. It may take more time for us to get to know someone than before. LIKE A YEAR before trusting! UK, If someone like you can maintain a facade with someone like me for a year than I deserve it. I think that's what went wrong for this guy..he couldn't keep up with me. I like going to NYC to museums and art galleries and stuff like that. Of course all this requires money and he had none! I like looking at Saturn through my telescope and I like to talk about the world and learn things from other people. He had nothing to offer me like that. Just sex and the right rx of attention. How long could he keep that up? This is in retropect of the time he was a Godsend. He did pretent to be interested and I believed it. He tried to be interested in my son and my son believed it! Thank God I only have one child.

    I am afraid to treat someone the way he treated me like your saying...if I understood you right...but see then his treatment to me would roll over into my other relationships and I'm sure that's what he ruin me. I am letting time go by though so I can see this without my hurt feelings getting in the way. You objective.

    And yes other men seem boring to me now but I have to know why that is and I do. I cannot expect something like that from anyone! It's not a reasonable expectation from people. It's just my imagination that is working me.

    Zan, don't let these experiences set the template for future relationships! Sometimes when things are quiet and boring but you can smile at each other and sit through a good movie..The English Patient is a good movie to watch with a date..things are not so bad.

    I'm in college working on my second grade have not been affected by this and that's a good sign.

    ps..I'm working on my second career and so far this has not affected my grades and that's a good sign. Zan, sign up for organic chemistry at your local'll forget about him real quick.

  33. zan and grace,

    instead of looking for a guy who will treat you like an equal and be your best friend, be your own best friend and look for a guy who will treat you like a queen. when you're in a relationship, never give it all up. keep a little mystery.

    these guys were attracted to you because you had something to offer and if it didn't last it's because it couldn't. the reason isn't important.

  34. UK,
    It that your need to leave your exes feeling worthless is based on resentment and leftover anger. How could a gift you give take from you and leave less for the next person. A gift that you give should leave you richer because the gift you leave behind is leaving a special part of yourself behind that has been given already while leaving you whole. If you the gift took a piece of you away then the gift should not have been given in the first place. If you take your gift with you, it simply goes with you and you have made no difference. The time you spent with the ex is wasted. Time is our most prescious commodity. Why would you want to waste it for you or for anyone else. I think this as similar to eating a pizza. It tastes really great but once it is gone, it's gone. There is no evidence of the pizza after it is eaten (i could get gross but i won' Same thing with the time you spend in a relationship. Wouldn't it be much more powerful to leave behind happy feelings and good will? If you leave negative feelings and bad blood then that is bad for you as well as her? Maybe you feel "indifferent" but life goes one and as it does the pile of crap that you leave behind keeps getting bigger and bigger. Eventually it will come ans bite you on the ass in ways that you won't anticipate. I think that when you give a gift, the gift keeps giving and there is even more to give to your new "queen" and all other people in your life that matter.


    "be your own best friend and look for a guy who will treat you like a queen. when you're in a relationship, never give it all up. keep a little mystery."

    That was great advice. I am working very hard to be my best friend. I go through slumps but I find that as long as I have projects that I am working on to better my life then I am my own best friend. I am a very creative person and that has saved my ass many a time. I get lost in my creativity and it help distract and repattern my brain from my obsessional thinking which is really what makes the situation kind of rough. It is what keeps me from reaching that beautiful place of indifference.

    That is funny, I am working on a second career too! I also have 1 child,a daughter. We have a lot in common. It seems that our pesonality is similar along with our life situation.

    Thanks everyone for your very thought provoking feedback. It has created some greatly needed awarenesses for me! Hope you all are having a wonderful day! I am having great day today. The weather is gorgeous. I am redoing my kitchen and it is coming along great. Everyday should be like today!

  35. You assume I'm like your ex, and that my girlfriend lives a facade. Do you think most sociopaths are losers with no money? What if someone paid for every date, and took care of you? Would you assume he's not a sociopath or have a different opinion? Does every relationship with sociopaths have to be nefarious or is every human relationship in general a gamble?

  36. UK,
    I assume you are addressing Grace. Are you ignoring me now? Are you thinking I was deceiving you? I really would like to hear your response to what I had to say about the "gift" (if you are open to sharing your thoughts). You strike me to be a very high level sociopath who is very self aware. I bet you do quite well out there in the world. Are you a business person?

  37. Uk,
    I hope to hell your not like him!! You know and understand yourself...and I’m sure your very smart and can be respectful to people. Even though you’re blunt with your ideas you don't sound angry. This guy was smart too but he wasn't refined in anyway. He didn't take care of his mind and try to make something of himself. He could never come on this website and express himself..he's to pissed off to care.

    All relationships are a gamble. There is no guarantee of anything...not one thing. Too bad I learned that the hard way. And having some money to spend on doing stuff together is important. I don't care what anyone says.
    Zan, I’m glad your having a good day.

  38. I don't see any reason not to destroy my exes before I leave, Zan. I know just the right things to say to tear them down. I like to leave without leaving doubt in their mind as to the future of our realtionship, I don't want a stalker, and I don't want the new queen having to worry about old garbage rolling in the the bin I left it in.
    I am a successful person, but it is in a unsavory business.
    2, personally I'm past using my talents to sleep with a different bird every week, and I don't like moochers that live off women. A women who understands you can stop you from going to far, and they can share your secrets. They have a devotion and loyalty you can never get somewhere else. If you can't get something somewhere else than you better keep it wouldn't you say?

  39. UK,
    "A women who understands you can stop you from going to far, and they can share your secrets"

    Is there such a woman for you? I'm just asking..I'm too tired to go back and read your prior posts so I don't know your story...if you told it. I guess that's part of the relationship I didn't get at the time.

    Destroy your exes? Tear them down? Now you sound like my ex. Why on Earth? I just don't get it.

    Zan, I'm wrong..UK is angry. I keep thinking that I was with the worst of them! Maybe I was spared early


  40. There is such women. I do have one. You have to let them in on the joke, as I see it, of all the nefarious things you do. Can you be the accomplice of a terrible person? That's a question only you can answer, but I think both of you would.
    Do I sound angry? I'm quite happy and content with the life I lead. The reality being that I found this site with the intent of learning how better to use my skills, rather than trying to find closure in a bitter part of my life like you have grace.
    Grace you have no idea who's worse for you, which is why you are left with the disasterous people you date.

  41. UK

    "The reality being that I found this site with the intent of learning how better to use my skills, rather than trying to find closure in a bitter part of my life like you have grace."

    The way I see it is, we are here to learn something. What that something is, is relevant only to the individual. It is not about judgement. It is about sharing our viewpoints and perceptions of the world which are very real and valid to each of us. We take what we can use and throw out the rest. What I have read here and the communication that has taken place is one that I believe will stay with me for a long time. I do not judge you, UK. You are honest and forthright and I respect that. I can't say that I relate to your way of thinking but you have validated for me alot of what I have read about sociopathology. You have helped me to understand that socipathic behavior is deliberate, well thought out and all about manipulation. I read about the mimicking of behavior, but there again, I wondered if socipaths just simply did this, thinking that this behavior is how everyone functions or do they know they are different. I now know that they know and put alot of effort into hiding this big secret. If I were a sociopath, I would be angry. I would pissed that god did not give me the full range of emotions that he gave most other people. I would be pissed that I would have to expend so much energy just to appear normal,fit in and be accepted. I would be pissed that I would have to feel paranoid, wondering whether anyone suspects. I would feel alone and isolated because it would so hard to spot another like myself. Since socipaths are a realtively rare breed, even if you could spot one, you wouldn't run into too many. Sociopathology is considered a personality disorder, one in which has been ignored by the psych community. You certainly don't see ribbons for mental health issues. For all the pain that I experienced in my relationship, I have learned so much. I don't feel angry at him today (although that has changed from day to day and sometimes hour to hour) and I feel that I am very close to being able to forgive him. I realize that his pain or lack of it along with his emptiness, lonliness and isolation are a lifetime sentence for him. I would not wish that on anyone. Maybe in his way, he was doing the best he could and just couldn't do it anymore. Maybe he hid his other life from me because he needed it. But maybe he needed his life with me just as much. The lies and betrayal are so hard to get past, but if I just understand that it is part of the disorder and it really wasn't personal, it make it a bit easier. I do wish for him that there will be someone that is like your "queen" that he can open up to and share who he really is. I wish for him that he will become as aware of who he really is, like you are, so that he can be comfortable in his own skin and find someone that suits his skin not the skin of the lady dujour. I wish for me that I can feel peace inside and not fear runnning into him. I feel actual terror at the thought. I don't quite understand why because he is not violent. He is a coward and truth be told, I think he is afraid of me.

    Thank you Grace. Hope you had a good day too!


  42. We don't suffer. We don't sit paranoid at the thought of being 'found out'. We aren't angry. We don't care. All of these things you think we do consciously we actually do subconsciously without thinking. Its when you learn what your subconscious is doing when you are truly powerful. That's not just with sociopaths, its with everyone.

  43. UK,
    You have blown it for I thought I had it all figured out. Guess I better stay on the site and learn some more. I don't know why, but I am so intrigued by you guys. It's not just because of the ex boyfriend. Your all so fascinating to me for some reason. Maybe it is because I wish I didn't care. UK, in your estimation, what is the downside to being a sociopath? I want to not care. How do I sign up? How did you learn about your subconscious? What made you realize that you needed to? If it was all suconscious then how did you know that you were different? If you all are not hiding a "secret", then why do people talk on this blog about the fear of being found out? Do you think that sociopaths that do not have your awareness struggle with being a sociopath? Sorry for all the questions. Thank you for the answers!

  44. UK,
    If you have let a woman in on your style then you have been honest with her and that's a good thing. You’re not afraid of yourself I guess. But treating a woman like a queen would mean her feelings come first and that would be unlikely for come first.

    You know I was bitter because I didn't feel I deserved the treatment I received and I didn’t know what I was dealing with. Now I know and if I keep the bitterness with me then he would control me even if he's not around and I don’t want that. I could have been the most perfect girl in the world and he still would have bailed out. If he didn't want to be with me he could have just broke up with respect. At least that would be the mature thing to do. My past relationships have not been disasters. I out grew a lot of them. And some men out grew me. Truth is I haven't been in many relationships because I married and now I find myself appreciating my ex-husband… he seems like an angle compared to what I have seen.

    I'm sure you don't suffer. Not yet but as you get older and life does its funny tricks on will think about your next move differently. And that's if you’re lucky enough and you become truly conscious of your behavior. Nobody escapes this stuff. Why can’t you use your smarts towards something that will benefit someone else? That’s the true sign of intelligence and there is no greater satisfaction. And if you don’t feel these feelings than what difference does it make if you create or destroy?
    Remember something if you care to…it’s not what you think, or say or feel or don’t’s what you do that matters. At least that’s what I have to try to remember to do.
    Hi Zan!

  45. Well said Grace!

  46. People are hiding for various reasons Zan. I think some people on this site are exagerating. Some people on this site are acting this cinematic version of what they think sociopaths are. They paint this false picture of a suffering man with no emotion, waiting for some caring bird to come and save him. Its bullocks. Some comments and articles are here to shock us into thinking the people writing them are without compassion and sick, really they are just trying too hard. Some comments and articles that are here are the reality we live and very genuine.
    I don't suffer. I did as a youth and maybe that's how I became who I am. However I always had a nack for reading people. People naturally followed me all my life. I read psychology while doing a stint behind bars and stumbled on sociopathy. After studying for a while I felt that I unlocked secrets in myself. I learned how to channel the traits I had into things that were of greater benefit to me, rather than becoming a tornado of destruction that obliterated everything it touched. I learned to organize people, instead of rabble rousing a mob. I still am what I am and its far from perfect.
    Psychology is very flawed. They teach you not to be yourself. They have created a endless series of disorders with pharmacuetical solutions to them. Some disorders are very real, however I don't feel sociopathy is. They complain that sociopaths don't come in for treatment so they can't study them too closely. Why would you go in for treatment if you are happy with yourself? If therapy gets flipped on the therapist, then who is of sound mind?
    You asked me the cons of being a sociopath, so I will tell you. Sociopaths are drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. My girl says I purposely choose an occupation that's detrimental to society. People dissapoint you a lot more because you expect a lot from them. You see people making the same motions, saying the same things, responding the same way, and it becomes tiresome. That's why we are bored all the time. Like a old movie you've watched so many times you can predict the lines.
    People expect more from you. They come to you because you're rational. People say society rejects the sociopath, and some people on this site would agree. Some people wish it was that way so they can paint the picture of being victimized for being different. I don't believe it at all. Society loves the sociopath until we get out of hand. You can't charm people who hate you, so how would a sociopath ever be so charming? The biggest con of being a sociopath is when you are younger mentally. Its a non stop rollercoaster ride of destruction.

  47. Grace: Put her feelings first? No, not at all. I'm sure you will find most of the human race doesn't put others first. That's ridiculous to ask in any relationship . Its mental servitude for weak people pleasers. You want your man to put you first, because you put him first. The reality is he won't and some will even take advantage of it.
    You asked why I don't use my skills to benefit other people. I wonder why you constantly think of other people when now more than ever you should be thinking about yourself. You say that benefiting other people is more satifying than benefiting you. For someone who feels they need to please people so that they like them, this might be the case, however I get no satisfaction from such things.
    Creation and destruction are very powerful acts. I'm satified by power.
    Your acts don't matter. Your motives do.

  48. People expect more from you. They come to you because you're rational. People say society rejects the sociopath, and some people on this site would agree. Some people wish it was that way so they can paint the picture of being victimized for being different. I don't believe it at all. Society loves the sociopath until we get out of hand.

    This sums things up rather well. I'm usually the first person people go to for advice because I'm never bogged down by my emotions like they are. Yet, often times people still never listen because they are unable to overcome their frustrations. After a while it simply becomes pointless and indeed very boring, and I stop giving them advice and move on.

  49. UK,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Sociopathology is so misunderstood, I believe. The psychiatric professionals that work with sociopaths go into a therapy session assuming that they will be manipulated which is probably true. What is cool about this blog is that the anonimity of it allows us to speak freely. I can't imagine what reason you would have to lie, unless you have some need to lie to yourself. This seems unlikely to me since you seem to be very high level and comfortable with who you are. Your answers to my questions are very fascinating to me and bring up more questions (i hope you don't mind). I guess the biggest one has to do with your statement below.

    "After studying for a while I felt that I unlocked secrets in myself. I learned how to channel the traits I had into things that were of greater benefit to me, rather than becoming a tornado of destruction that obliterated everything it touched."

    In your estimation, UK, what do you think society could do to help sociopaths understand and accept themselves from a young age? In doing this, do you think that it would help sociopaths to feel integrated into society instead of being being or feeling somewhat scapegoated or outcasted? How do you think that society/the mental health professionals could identify these children and help them channel their destructive energy into a positive means that would benefit them and society? What could we do so that we can all live together and get along? Again, sorry for all the question and thanks again for the answers!

  50. Well that's the million dollar questions isn't it? I won't pretend to be a therapist, so I can't answer those questions

  51. Zan,
    I think it's something that starts in early childhood. Not sure if more men are sociopaths or woman..but either way I think that's when guidance is important and setting the right example. If I lie then my son will think its ok to lie too. If I talk nasty to my family or friends he will do the same. If I show compassion to people and apologize for my wrongs then he will pick it all up. And of course I’m not perfect at any of this. Perhaps there are physiological, chemistry factors as well. Then there is individuality and perception involved too. That goes for all of us..not just sociopaths. And I'm not a therapist UK...that just seems to make sense to me. But I'm sure it's much more complicated than that. I signed my son up to walk the dogs at the pound once a week because he’s an only child and started to think he’s the center of the universe. He loves it and he knows he is needed by the dogs. He’s only 7 and kids are so smart these days but the emotional intelligence hasn’t caught up. On top of all this work there is no guarantee that he will turn out to be the decent person I hope he will become.

  52. Great thread! Catch you guys in the next one.

  53. I didn't read all the comments so I don't know if anyone else pointed this out, but by DEFINITION, empathy is vicariously experiencing what someone else is. It is literally feeling like shit when you make someone else feel like shit, hence why many people will avoid doing so. Try this, imagine if someone hit you, how would that make you feel? Unless your masochistic, I'm guessing you wouldn't like it. So, based on that, one could assume that another person would not enjoy being hit either (unless masochistic).

    Empathy - intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

  54. To my knowledge, empathy is measured in the time it takes to produce an appropriate response, or at least where AI units are concerned. While AI units can produce logical responses, they cannot or are slower than empaths at perceiving sympathy. While it's possible that the machine may assume the socially correct emotion, empaths assume that the machine is only artificially displaying the emotion as the logical response, not what it considers the immediately moral response. It just comes down to whether the means or the ends matter more to the sociopath or empath. Empaths tend to value the means, while we Machiavellian sociopaths go for the end result.

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