Monday, May 3, 2010

Sympathy vs. empathy (part 1)

A reader writes:
I ran across your blog and just wanted to say I really like and agree with what you've written. I'm a sociopath myself, so maybe I'm just happy (yes, we do feel some emotions, don't we lol) to run into someone that understands what it's like. You present the information on what it's like to be a sociopath is a very honest and straightforward way, and I respect that. I, too, have come out to people who I've suspected are sociopaths themselves, but generally if I don't want someone to know, they don't. There's a certain kindred feeling I get in recognizing someone who is like me. Sometimes I admit as much to people as I believe I can get away with, such as admitting to being manipulative or deceitful to get what I want. Like everything, there's an agenda to that: it shows the person I consider them close enough to be able to open up to them and reveal intimate details about myself, and it also gives me attention. And if this person is someone I want something from, well you get the idea.

But I wonder, do you think we are "bad" people? I hate using that word because it seems so black and white. But there are times I almost think I do feel genuine sympathy or sadness, or what I imagine it would feel like, but then again this could be me fooling myself into trying to believe I am normal. Oftentimes, I find myself imitating the behavior I see on TV shows or soap operas, and it's like playing a role of sorts. My grandpa is dying of cancer and will be dead in a few months' time and I stand to inherit his home when he passes. The idea of owning a home is of course a plus for me, and I admit when the doctors expressed a slight chance he may live, I was even disappointed because it meant I wouldn't get my house after all. But things have gone downhill and although I do my best to show sympathy, I know I want that house. I'd never kill him myself, but you get the picture. But just thinking that I can behave this way gets me depressed and I can say I can genuinely make myself cry for real, but not in any way that expresses sympathy for my grandfather...more like a self-involved "why do I have to be this way" thing. I realize I am not normal and my emotions are not normal, but that doesn't mean I believe them to be wrong. I often find myself accusing others of having false emotions, but then I realize that's most likely because they seem so foreign to me that I think everyone must be faking it like myself. It shocks me to find out people actually DO care about others and it's genuine.

If I do feel sadness or empathy, it stems from the fact that I realize I am not normal and I can make myself cry about this. Like "What's wrong with me? What am I lacking? Why can't I be normal?" But I can never seem to cry over anything regarding -another- person. If I hurt someone and I cry about it, it's not because of any remorse, it's more like "Jeez I'm so screwed up"...notice the "I'm" there. It makes it selfish, if you know what I mean.


  1. When all is said and done there is only 'I'.

  2. as an empath, i would have the same reaction about someone dying that i stood to gain something from..does that make me bad? makes me selfish and self-centered and wanting what i want..s's don't have the corner on that if some of us are honest about who we are...that makes us honest about who we are..not bad..just human..many people repress those thoughts and feelings and use righteous indignation as their tool to feel which is worse? some empaths are bad..some socios are bad..but in my opinion, i would rather see myself for who and what i am and what i am capable of than be one that is a "good" and full of self-delusion. they becomes sad victims of life, bitter about all the bad people doing bad things..

  3. "When all is said and done there is only 'i'."

    I disagree. "I" can only be experienced in relation to another. The difference is that the sociopath permanently objectifies the other. Empaths do it too, as when they reduce others to features and traits when describing them, or in referring to them as "he" or "she". However, they also get some kind of higher experience in that relationship where they sort of coexist in each other. The sociopath has no such experience. They are isolated in their own existence, the other only being a part of it.

    1. If "I" can only be experienced in relation to another then how is it that I can experience anything at all when I'm alone. How am I in relation to another when I'm showering?
      It seems like one could simply figure out how to "coexist in each other". If you share certain experiences in common and talk about them and find out your approaches to life you could then care about the person because it makes sense to compared to other people you have run into.

  4. I understand the kindred spirit feeling. I have this friend and he and I definitely seem to recognize things in each other that are familiar. Without disclosing my life story here for all to see, suffice it to say that he and I are both socios, and I think that's what brought us together. We've never talked about it specifically, though I believe we have each dropped enough hints to the other that we can fit the pieces together. For me, it was always a relief to be able to let my guard down a bit with him (never all the way though--never that way with anyone) I could let him see parts of me that I hid from others because it seemed we looked at the world in similar ways. For once, I did not feel judged for being myself. I also felt that the more of ourselves we exposed to each other, the more we became comfortable and liked each other. Also, we would swap tips on manipulating and conning and brag about our (mostly socially acceptable) exploits to each other. This was truly the closest I have ever felt with a person—I may have even felt empathy toward him a time or two. I almost felt normal. Then we had a fight and haven't spoken for a few months…
    I really miss having someone who understood that side of me. We really admired each other's cleverness, I think. I believe that each of us knew what we were capable of, and that it didn't have to be all bad stuff. It was like I could really let someone know who I was, and instead of thinking I was evil for it, he thought I was clever and we helped each other figure out ways to use those skills in more socially acceptable ways. I think we taught each other a lot about how life is easier when you make an effort to fit in and follow rules, even when you know you are so different than others and the rules make no sense to you. I think it’s better to try to be good and fit in, no matter how hard it is. There is strength in numbers. We seemed to spend a lot of effort reminding each other of the rules and about what people are "supposed" to do, and about what “good people” do. I don't think socios are bad people, per se. Some are bad people, of course, but then again, there are plenty of bad people in the world who are not sociopaths. I just think we have different skills and look at the world with a different set of eyes than most people do. I could very, very easily be “bad.” It’s easier for me, in the moment, to just do whatever I want. As I get older though, I realize that following the rules and fitting in serves me better in the long run. This is why some socios wind up in prison, while others are successful in sales or business. It’s all in what you chose to do with it. We did not choose to be this way, but we can chose to use those skills in ways that help us, not hurt us.
    If he and I ever become friends again, I WILL disclose myself to him as a socio because I know he knows he is one too--we just never outright said it. I would never disclose myself to anyone else. I might drop hints, but he is the only person I would ever consider straight up saying the word “sociopath” to. It was a long time before I even knew there was a word for it. I always knew we had something in common I had never found in another person. It was after the dissolution of that friendship, that I found this blog. I am relieved to see that there are others like me and him, and I was glad to find a site that didn't bash socios. It is not easy being this way, and all the drivel on the internet about locking us up, kicking us out of society, and about how we have no feelings certainly doesn't help. I have plenty of feelings. Too many feelings, in fact. It's just that a lot of them are about myself and are different from others.
    To the writer, and others who have “come out” to others whom you thought were socios—how did that go? And do you feel closer to them than you do to others?

  5. Reader, you don't sound like a sociopath to me. You're beating yourself up in the same selfish way that empaths do.

    "Why am I so screwed up?"

    Classic guilty thought. You're just selfish, like everybody else. Don't rationalize it by slapping a label on yourself.

    A sociopath wouldn't see those thoughts as screwed up. A sociopath would see everyone else as screwed up for expecting them to feel differently. They are accountable to no-one, and everyone is accountable to them.

    Think of a sociopath's mind like you'd think of God's mind. According to Christian philosophy, God dictates what's right and wrong. He's the only judge, and anyone who disagrees with him, for any reason, is wrong and can burn in hell for eternity. That's sociopathic thinking. God would never ask, "Why am I so screwed up??" after wiping out nearly all life on Earth with a flood.

    Seriously, get some perspective.

  6. I was thinking the same thing as I (boredly) read through the tale of woe. No sociopath, just a wannabe.. But I dont get why people would WANT to be??????

  7. the need to feel less?

  8. I don't think socios are bad people, per se. Some are bad people, of course, but then again, there are plenty of bad people in the world who are not sociopaths.

    Well, you're a lovely oxymoron, aren't you?

    Also, you wouldn't happen to be the Narc I dropped a few months ago would you?

  9. Well, you're a lovely oxymoron, aren't you?

    Also, you wouldn't happen to be the Narc I dropped a few months ago would you?

    If I am, then it's only because you knew you could never control anyone prettier or smarter than that dumpy woman you've got now.

  10. If I am, then it's only because you knew you could never control anyone prettier or smarter than that dumpy woman you've got now.

    Hey you lay off my hideously stupid dumpy woman. What's her name again? And, what am I doing with a woman?

  11. Who cares as long as she's got dinner ready? I guess she is good for that much at least.

  12. I sense some bitterness. Why is that?

  13. U sicko, your grandfather is ill and all your thinking about is the house,get help you incompassionate low-life...

  14. U sicko, your grandfather is ill and all your thinking about is the house,get help you incompassionate low-life...

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