Thursday, June 3, 2010

The pro-social sociopath?

I found this recent comment on an old post. It raised an interesting question of whether sociopaths can ever be "pro-social" despite being clinically labeled antisocial. The reader explains it thusly:
I don't fit the textbook description of "antisocial personality disorder". That's because there appear to be two types of sociopaths... intelligent ones and stupid ones. The stupid ones break the law (and get caught), lie (and get caught), hurt people (and get caught), and therefore have relationship problems, etc - and get the psychiatric label. Intelligent ones, on the other hand, become politicians, businessmen, etc. At least I assume they do, because not being stupid, they don't get labeled with a psychiatric disorder.

So with my definitions, I'm an "intelligent" sociopath. I don't have problems with drugs, I don't commit crimes, I don't take pleasure in hurting people, and I don't typically have relationship problems. I do have a complete lack of empathy. But I consider that an advantage, most of the time.

Do I know the difference between right and wrong, and do I want to be good? Sure. One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. A peaceful and orderly world is a more comfortable world for me to live in. So do I avoid breaking the law because it's "right"? No, I avoid breaking the law because it makes sense. I suppose if I weren't gifted with the ability to make a lot of money in a profession doing what I like, I might try and profit by crime. But with my profession, I'd have to really hit the criminal jackpot to make it worth a life of crime.

When you're bad to people, they're bad back to you. I'm no Christian, but "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you" works.

So to any other sociopaths out there reading this... don't be an idiot.
This is not the first time I have heard of a pro-social sociopath fitting almost exactly this description, even apart from my own self. But there is also another very simple explanation for this that keeps everything people think they know about sociopaths -- just categorically exclude all of these people from the definition. If you otherwise fit all of the diagnostic criteria for being a sociopath, but have ever done something good in your life that didn't immediately benefit you and only you, we'll call you a social-apath. No?


  1. Excellent description ! And I still want to become a "true" sociopath. I'm continuing to hone my skills and I'm becoming more and more deadly. hehehe.

  2. Let’s see.

    I have broken the law (and never got caught), lied (and never got caught), hurt people (and talked them into believing it was all a misunderstanding) and therefore have little relationship problems as of late, etc… all without a lick of guilt. I also know the difference between right and wrong. I just don’t see those labels or the difference between them as relevant to, or even accurate descriptions of, reality, ergo my indifference to moral concerns altogether. I avoid breaking the law because at this particular moment, nothing I want requires me to do so. When that changes, I’ll be careful, as always. When you are a jackass to others they will be a jackass to you, so be polite. Needless drama (as opposed to needful drama) is tedious. That’s my version of the golden rule.

    Does any of that make me a super duper intelligent sociopath? :-)

    Sarcasm aside, my own instinctive disposition leans towards the anti rather than the pro side of the social spectrum. But only slightly. Really though, I just don’t care either way, so long as I get what I want. I suppose I’d care more if I were sitting atop the social order.

    Hunger, a word to the wise. I wouldn’t worry about being a true sociopath, whatever that means. Be a true you instead. Unless your comment was sarcastic of course. In that case, party on dude!

    1. The fact that you are introspective shows that you cannot be a sociopath. They don't question themselves. You are just a wannbe.

    2. Wannabe, forgive the spelling

    3. He's a wannabe for being introspective? According to this individual he has no guilt or remorse, appearently doesn't have empathy for others, manipulates and broken the law. Being smart doesn't really disqualify him. You're just trying to be all smart and a super special psychologist. Keep studying pal.

  3. the not getting caught part is important. if i need to satisfy a desire i will do whatever it takes to get it, even if it isn't 'moral' or legal. so long as i don't get caught, then i dont know what the big deal is with controlling your impulses just to be "pro-social."

  4. The only thing I think you all have in common is that you just dont give a shit about people. You care about following the rules in society (intelligent ones if you will) but when it comes to socialization and caring for people it seems like you are somewhere on the autism spectrum..

    Or no?

  5. empath, said “You care about following the rules in society…”

    Not I said the spider to the fly. I am truly indifferent when it comes to society’s rules per se. Really though, these days I don’t go out of my way to break the law. The only law breaking I’ve been doing on a regular basis in recent months is driving over the speed limit, which is of course, very, very common.

    “but when it comes to socialization and caring for people it seems like you are somewhere on the autism spectrum…”

    I don’t know enough about autism to comment on that. I will say that I am as indifferent to people in general as I am to society’s rules, legal, moral, traditional and otherwise. I do not see any benefit to being “pro-social” for its own sake. That does not however mean that I am impolite or that I do not know how to navigate social situations successfully. It’s just that the caring thing doesn’t happen on the inside for me.

  6. whats your point?

  7. Pro-social or pro-self? Though their interests may frequently coincide, the two are far from the same. I would argue that anyone who is truly pro-social, regardless of their level of empathy, could not be considered a sociopath. Do you believe that a true sociopath can live and die for a cause? The answer to that is the answer to your half-articulated question.

    I would ask what would happen to your "pro-social" "sociopath" when his luck runs out. What will he do when he loses his precious job? It's then that the line is drawn between pro-social and pro-self--when the mask is lifted and the true personna is revealed. Don't ask us for answers, M.E., ask yourself. Do you believe in the pro-social sociopath?

  8. Pete and Daniel are right. You do what's neccessary to get what you want. I'm highly intelligent but I'm not on the right side of the tracks. I do what I have to in order to live above average. I've flown straight before too when it allowed me to live the same lifestyle, but I sacrafice safety to get what I want.
    There's a lot of absolutes thrown around here. If you are living a criminal lifestyle you are a unintelligent sociopath? I beg to differ.
    I recently was looking at a psychological profile on Bin Laden. Certainly he's not living above the board, but he's very intelligent. John Gotti didn't just break the law, he broke his own organizations laws, but would anyone say he was unintelligent?
    In the end its about getting what YOU want. How far will you go is the real question

  9. Anon @ 353..

    Whats YOUR point?

  10. ukan aka thunderball?
    Just curious.

  11. There is no such thing as true altruism, so the question at hand is moot. Everyone does things with some incentive in mind; it's only natural.

    I think it's obvious that many laws are simply arbitrary instantiations of social boundaries. Breaking a law makes one no more anti-social than following it makes one pro-social.

    Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds this blog somewhat of a bastardization of psychopathy.

  12. I, for one, was entertained. Thank you m.e..

    Still, It boggles my mind that people cling so desperately to labels. That "intelligent sociopath" is a good example of someone who is
    *seemingly* doing a superb job at playing the social game, and yet feels the need to imagine himself as a sociopath. The Nepalese guy from a few posts back though is exactly the type I'd easily ascribe sociopathy to. Same for some abusive and/or cheating husband. As for the rest of the crowd, can't we all just celebrate our empathy-challenged selves for what they are.

    I apologize if all this was a bit *flowery*. I'm high as a kite right now.

  13. No I'm not thunderball.

  14. Doesn't the Anti in Antisocial mean against social, or Against societies rules. That would be all of them. Pro-Social would be For social or For societies rules.
    There is no such thing as a ProSocial Sociopath. I think people are mislead by the label/term Antisocial...cause the Antisocial is so in fact Sociable, & Charming.

  15. I treat the weak people bad, because it's fun, and they're worthless, and the strong ones well, because they can actually get things for me.
    Treating people how you'd want to be treated? I want to be treated like a god. I'm not going to treat some scumbag mongrel in the street that way unless I at least break even somehow.
    I really don't understand why you're lurking in the archives, M.E, though I'm guessing you've ran out of things to say and now you're wading through the crap for the corn.

  16. Agreed above commentor. Walk on the weak so your feet don't get dirty. Step on the weak so you clan climb on their suffering to the top.

  17. Daddy hurt you real bad huh?

    So now you take it out on other people, all in a vein attempt to reclaim the love that your parents couldn't give.

    Some people from that equation become the abused, others like you become the abusors. Both suck.

    I'd be willing to be 40% or more of you here (who aren't empaths) are alcoholics. I know it.

    You poor, poor people.

    1. Not likely alcoholics at all. Its well known that most alcoholics are tortured by feelings of guilt, which are one of the reasons they keep drinking. Interestingly enough, if the capability of honesty is there, these are also the same ones who are most likely to recover.
      So do your research, then tell us how you "know it"- a ridiculous assertion.

  18. Confused PsychopathJune 8, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    It's strange that I found this forum. I was reading about Joran van der Sloot, I honestly didn't think he killed Natalie, but this new one, man, he fucked that up.

    So, I started reading up on sociopathy, and I pretty much have all the traits.

    I have a Type A personality. I'm highly intelligent (scored perfect on a graduate-level standardized test, which apparently was 150+ IQ), have worked on Wall St, very manipulative, I smoke, I drink (a lot, I'm not an alcoholic in the sense that I drink everyday, but when I drink I drink hard). I enjoy cocaine, although the come down is fucking brutal. Besides the habits, I am physically healthy and I stand 6'2 235lbs, I participate in Track & Field. I don't give a flying fuck about the law. I've defaulted on debts. I've never filed taxes. I'm very good with women. I'm very charming and can socialize with virtually anyone. I crave constant simulation, I fucking read Bloomberg 24/7 and the news. If I don't obtain instant gratification from something, I move on. 99.9% of people are pathetic and fucking stupid, oblivious to the monotony around them. All I care about is making money. And deep down, I often feel dead.

    Yet, I've been in love, although I became very domineering, which was something I never expected of myself (I guess you could call it domestic violence, but I was never physically abusive). My ex told me she left because I only enjoyed the chase, and once I get bored, I lose interest (from her own mouth). I care about my family, deeply, but my father is a schizophrenic who left at age 12 and my alcoholic mother beat me daily, so I guess I've learned to shut off my internal feelings. My cousin died of stomach cancer abroad, I was only told after the death. I drank for a week then convinced myself he never existed because I can't deal with the pain. I have friends, good friends, we talk regularly. I do feel empathy for friends and family, but not for strangers or co-workers per say. I enjoy sadomasochism, and watch videos of gore, people being beaten, porn, but I feel no empathy towards the people.

    Am I a sociopath? I don't consider myself one— I understand this is one of the traits haha, denying it— but this is just who I am. I function well in society— to me it's more of a survival mechanism. Nobody else gives a fuck about you, so why should you? Make money & enjoy life, is that not what life is about?

  19. ^^^Do you have a conscience?

  20. Daddy hurt you real bad huh?

    So now you take it out on other people, all in a vein attempt to reclaim the love that your parents couldn't give.

    Some people from that equation become the abused, others like you become the abusors. Both suck.

    vein --> vain*
    abusors --> abusers*

    I'd be willing to be 40% or more of you here (who aren't empaths) are alcoholics. I know it.

    You poor, poor people.

    So, have you prepared your survey yet?

    Also, You don't need to be an empath to see that alcohol or any sort of narcotic has the potential to be harmful to one psychologically or physically; it's called making an informed decision (i.e. using your brain).

    I try to avoid both alcohol and drugs because I like maintaining full control over my faculties. I'd like to avoid revealing anything about myself in a drunken stupor if possible. Not to mention, neither does anything to affect my mood enough for me to become addicted.

  21. "have ever done something good in your life that didn't immediately benefit you and only you, we'll call you a socialapath. no? "

    This to me seems a bit incorrect.

    My example being giving money to a beggar. I do it sometimes. Not because I feel bad or what not, but because I dont want to talk or deal with them so I give them some change.

    Someone might see that as me being nice and having empathy. Some might agree with me and just do it to avoid any kind of communication.

    Sort of like is the glass half empty or half full.

    Any thoughts on this?

  22. interesting post :)

    you just can contain immediate gratification urge, therefore your impulsiveness is under question. You also can compare risks which makes you really not a true sociopath...

  23. Travis,

    people cling to labels because they can be useful.

    Wait until a label doesn't aid that person in some way, or if it happens to turn out harmful to him, and you'll be seeing anti-label speeches all over the place.

    I know that's how I would do it.

    That said, that ASPD label is close to useless. It's been criticized since DSM-IV first came out because it's so vague (and after all, a position of preference is not a disorder. Being against of for socialization is not a question of personality disorderedness. They'll most likely bring the original Psychopathy term back when DSM-V comes out).


    I meant to write something giving the same message that UKan have posted, but he already did it, so...

    Still: I can't help but scoff a little when I see these statements made by kids who reek of upper middle class and who has clearly been skating through life on a wave of their parent's reputation and bank account.

    Having been caught or even being to some extent 'low-functioning' does not determine a person's intelligence! To even say that, and say that you're intelligent in the same sentence, that makes me scoff.

    It's hard to take someone serious who can't find something more valid than gross generalizations to put forth as an argument for your own intelligence.

    Besides, many of those who claim to be high functioning in the manner that you (the reader in M.E.'s article) do, are really not high functioning if you look closer, you tend to live like that because you're enslaved by fear - like every mainstream average person: Fear of getting caught if you commit a crime, fear of having to do time, fear of losing your job, fear of what your dad will say, fear that your girlfriend will leave you, etc..

    That's not High Functioning!...

  24. Hey, Hunger,

    How's your project sociopath going?

    It is very possible to develop sociopathic behavior, so if you really feel intensely enough for it you can come to resemble a sociopath quite well.

    However, you cannot become a 'true' sociopath. That term defines a kind of sociopathy (or psychopathy) which is mainly genetic, people are born with those traits.

    But it doesn't matter, from the outside no one can see the difference (well, psychopaths and sociopaths can, but it's not for them you want to be sociopathic, is it? It's because of what you can do with it in empath societal context, yes?)

    ... Anyway, I'm just curious. - I've come across a few - not many, but a few - who have said the same thing: They want to develop sociopathic ways, skills, behavior, etc.. So I'd love to hear from someone after a while, how it went or how it's going.
    I reckon a lot give up or loose interest after a while. :)

  25. I have a habit of lying ,and never getting caught but instead of saying i have never done drugs I will tell people I have I think I try to lower people expectations of me or something but I find its a great tactic honestly.

  26. I bet if a lot of people were willing and able to speak completely honestly about the thoughts and feelings they deny all the time, they'd be considered "sociopaths". The exclusivity of the label is so overrated and, yes, romanticized.

  27. I bet if a lot of people were willing and able to speak completely honestly about the thoughts and feelings they deny all the time, they'd be considered "sociopaths". The exclusivity of the label is so overrated and, yes, romanticized.


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