Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sociopath quote: Darkness

And they shall look unto the earth and behold trouble, and darkness, dimness of anguish, and shall be driven to darkness.

Isaiah 8:22

Friday, August 27, 2010

We have met the enemy and he is us

This is an interesting column discussing novelist Franny Burney's experience with an un-anesthetized mastectomy that I thought tied in nicely with the Love Fraud discussion:
Burney’s struggle reminds one that character is not only moral, it is also mental. Heroism exists not only on the battlefield or in public but also inside the head, in the ability to face unpleasant thoughts.
She lived at a time when people were more conscious of the fallen nature of men and women. People were held to be inherently sinful, and to be a decent person one had to struggle against one’s weakness.
In the mental sphere, this meant conquering mental laziness with arduous and sometimes numbingly boring lessons. It meant conquering frivolity by sitting through earnest sermons and speeches. It meant conquering self- approval by staring straight at what was painful.
This emphasis on mental character lasted for a time, but it has abated. There’s less talk of sin and frailty these days. Capitalism has also undermined this ethos. In the media competition for eyeballs, everyone is rewarded for producing enjoyable and affirming content. Output is measured by ratings and page views, so much of the media, and even the academy, is more geared toward pleasuring consumers, not putting them on some arduous character-building regime.
In this atmosphere, we’re all less conscious of our severe mental shortcomings and less inclined to be skeptical of our own opinions. Occasionally you surf around the Web and find someone who takes mental limitations seriously. For example, Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway once gave a speech called “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.” He and others list our natural weaknesses: We have confirmation bias; we pick out evidence that supports our views. We are cognitive misers; we try to think as little as possible. We are herd thinkers and conform our perceptions to fit in with the group.
But, in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.
The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.
There’s a seller’s market in ideologies that gives people a chance to feel victimized. There’s a rigidity to political debate. Issues like tax cuts and the size of government, which should be shaped by circumstances (often it’s good to cut taxes; sometimes it’s necessary to raise them), are now treated as inflexible tests of tribal purity.
To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. A few people I interview do this regularly (in fact, Larry Summers is one). But it is rare. The rigors of combat discourage it.
Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.
I don't think sociopaths are inherently more self-aware than normal people, in fact it may be quite the opposite. I do think sociopaths are at least used to the idea of there being more than meets the eye. The smart ones, in my mind, realize that the phrase "more than meets the eye" doesn't just apply to their own petty shenanigans. In other words, the smart sociopaths realize that they can be just as vulnerable to willful blindness in certain areas as their victims are in others. The stupid ones suffer for that blindness, eventually.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sam Vaknin (part 2)

I asked Sam Vaknin about self-aware narcissism. He corrected me that he has never been diagnosed a psychopath, that he scored a 13 on the PCL-R when he would need an 18 to be diagnosed a psychopath in Europe and a 30 in the U.S.

He linked me to the following about self-aware narcissism, in which he makes some very interesting points about the difference between "changing" and "healing" that I think apply equally well to sociopaths:
Narcissism defines the narcissist's waking moments and his nocturnal dreams. It is all-pervasive. Everything the narcissist does is motivated by it. Everything he avoids is its result. Every utterance, decision, his very body language - are all manifestations of narcissism. It is rather like being abducted by an alien and ruthlessly indoctrinated ever since. The alien is the narcissist's False Self - a defense mechanism constructed in order to shield his True Self from hurt and inevitable abandonment.

Cognitive understanding of the disorder does not constitute a transforming INSIGHT. In other words, it has no emotional correlate. The narcissist does not INTERNALIZE what he understands and learns about his disorder. This new gained knowledge does not become a motivating part of the narcissist. It remains an inert and indifferent piece of knowledge, with minor influence on the narcissist's psyche.

Sometimes, when the narcissist first learns about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), he really believes he could change (usually, following a period of violent rejection of the "charges" against him). He fervently wants to. This is especially true when his whole world is in shambles. Time in prison, a divorce, a bankruptcy, a death of a major source of narcissistic supply - are all transforming life crises. The narcissist admits to a problem only when abandoned, destitute, and devastated. He feels that he doesn't want any more of this. He wants to change. And there often are signs that he IS changing. And then it fades. He reverts to old form. The "progress" he had made evaporates virtually overnight. Many narcissists report the same process of progression followed by recidivist remission and many therapists refuse to treat narcissists because of the Sisyphean frustration involved.

I never said that narcissists cannot CHANGE - only that they cannot HEAL. There is a huge difference between behavior modification and a permanent alteration of the psychodynamic landscape. Narcissistic behavior CAN be modified using a cocktail of talk therapy, conditioning, and medication. I have yet to encounter a healed narcissist.

The emphasis in therapy is thus more on accommodating the needs of those nearest and dearest to the narcissist - spouse, children, colleagues, friends - than on "treating" the narcissist. If the narcissist's abrasiveness, rage, mood swings, reckless and impulsive behaviors are modified - those around him benefit most. This, as far as I am concerned, is a form of social engineering.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sam Vaknin (part 1)

A reader writes regarding Sam Vaknin:
I'm thinking it might be interesting to do a post on this internet phenomenon. I'm guessing you've come across this guy already, but if not, he's a very interesting subject. He's a self-proclaimed malignant narcissist who writes incessantly about narcissism. First there is the clusterfuck that is his main site (, but if you do a google search he's all over the place. He does interviews with himself, and has his own forums where he's the only one allowed to post or answer questions. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding him in narcisissm circles, and it is said his writing actually causes damage to victims of narcissism. I think he's kind of awesome in his own fucked up way.
Now, why a post of narcissism on a sociopathy site?

Two reasons:

1. He's not your average self-deluded narcissist. He's extremely self aware, and also extremely intelligent. He's especially interesting because at first glance it looks like he's trying to help out victims, but really he's just a very self-involved dude who is really writing about himself and his journey of destinationless self-realization. His most telling stuff is his journals (

2. He is the subject of the documentary I, Psychopath (, in which he actually goes through a battery of tests and is diagnosed as a psychopath in two countries. The film shows him fucking with everyone around him, including the filmmaker, who ends the film in a disturbed state. There is also his sad wife, the victim, who will never leave him, who knows what he is but still stays.

3. I think a lot of the self-proclaimed sociopaths as well as some of the "victims" that post comments on your blog are actually narcissists, or are self-aware enough to be struggling with narcissistic tendencies :)

I also recommend reading this thread about him:

I first read Vaknin (and many other resources including your blog) in an attempt to get a grip on what was going on with a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath, but in the process recognized myself in a lot of his writings. At first it was like swallowing a horse pill, but I've gotten used to it now and am trying to figure out how best to proceed.

I keep using the "narcissist/sociopath" term, instead of one or the other, because I do think it can very hard to tell the difference from the outside, though I know they are very different internally. It can be very hard to tell if the self-deception is feigned or not. This particular person I am talking about is self-aware (at least partially) but often acts like he is not. Is a self-aware narcissist still a narcissist? Or does he become something else? This is why Vaknin is especially interesting. The self-aware narcissist actually diagnosed with psychopathy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Love Fraud: the book!

I got stuck watching the movie "Must Love Dogs" at a family function. It was fascinating, if for no other reason than to experience how a certain segment of the world experiences life. Or maybe not, maybe it's just a ridiculous older white woman fantasy about trying to find a "good man" in a world full of crazies, e.g. a philanderer and someone who dispenses with small talk on the first date. The film features Diane Lane saying things like "I slept with a man who isn't my husband, I guess that makes me promiscuous." Weeks later, I'm still wondering -- is this reality or fantasy? Maybe 50-something women really experience the world this way. But it is a Hollywood movie and knowing what I know of the world, I question its accuracy.

In a similar vein, Love Fraud founder Donna Andersen has written a 640-page book religiously chronically her marriage with someone whom she has diagnosed as a sociopath. I've been told that she's being featured on the premiere episode of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" on Investigation Discovery, a sister network of the Discovery Channel.
Premiering on Aug 25 at 10 pm ET, Who the Bleep is a series that features first-person tales of people who were married to scandalous spouses who turned out to be bank robbers, international spies, bigamists and more.
You can watch the trailer here.

Why do I say similar vein? Like the movie "Must Love Dogs," I just can't quite figure out whether your typical Love Fraud reader is delusional, principled, obsessed, wronged, out of touch, or on top of things. I think the position that Love Fraud people take on what happened to them can best be summed up by this passage:
This helps in part shed light on why people on the outside of some exploitative and abusive relationships generally blame the real victims, or express impatience by suggesting victims should just leave a bad relationship right away or should at least have known what someone else was doing behind their back.
But who can truly fathom the tangled webs sociopaths weave when they set out to deceive? Had the women Montgomery victimized known the truth about him before they got involved, surely they would have been in a better position to make different choices, more informed decisions. But they didn't know. They may have suspected something wrong, but short of doing full-fledged investigations, they generally had no direct access to proof when they needed it.

Okay. It's not an entirely far-fetched sounding version of events, but it is just so far outside of my own reality that I have a hard time seeing things their way. I'd much rather see people taking control/responsibility over what happened to them, like this:

Just as Andersen describes from her own personal growth journey, each of us can explore beliefs that potentially set us up for manipulation by others, whether due to feeling unloved or other unresolved issues from childhood. We can change our thinking and behaviors to focus more on our own well-being rather than expect to be rescued by a relationship or base hopes and dreams on fairy tales. We can learn to identify red flag behaviors in people who are toxic. We can change the way we react to others' attempts to guilt and shame us. We can learn to avoid being sucked into the drama that sociopaths are adept at creating.
I think at their best, support groups like Love Fraud should be trying to accomplish this real, lasting self-empowerment and healing. Instead, I wonder what percentage of these people get better. Do most actually "explore beliefs" that led them to what happened? Do they then apply what they learned through those explorations to fashion a better life for themselves? I would like to see some statistics on Love Fraud recidivism.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's a mad mad world

One of the reasons why I like the 1960's era television show "Mad Men" is the way it exposes humanity's hubris. Humankind has a tendency to look down upon the follies of previous generations, rarely questioning which follies they will be known for in the near future. I love the gasps as "Mad Men" characters drink cocktails while visibly pregnant, a mother sits in the front seat of a car with an infant in her arms and no seat belt, or children play with dry cleaner bags over their heads. I gasp too. I think of fetal alcohol syndrome, the strength of a mother's grip vs. the velocity of a baby in a forward car collision, and how easily small children could become disoriented while suffocating. I don't have any moral reactions to these behaviors, but I am not used to seeing them in these "enlightened" times.

These anachronisms are fun, but I think the most striking thing about setting the program in the recent past is that the despite our progenitors stupidity about certain things, they were every bit as vigilant as we are now about their particular causes. Their causes seem foreign to us -- "T zones," careerism, machismo, communists -- but I think we can related to fact that they're choking on these artificial restraints on their behavior and beliefs just as much as their toddlers were choking on plastic bags. Maybe part of us realizes that in another 30 years we'll be laughing at people using cell phones (brain cancer) and think it's odd that our pets didn't have legal rights (why don't they?), but that doesn't keep most people from remaining blissfully unaware of the tenuous foundations on which their fragile lives rest. It's amazing to me how effective for most people a suburban white picket fence is at keeping out life's demons. Not like I'm much better. Instead of the picket fence, I choose to keep my demons on more of a large, open ranch, figuratively speaking, but I understand that it is basically a matter of preference.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conversation with a reader: loyalty (part 2)

M.E.: So in your case, giving him a hard time about not meeting your needs increased the cost side of the cost/benefit equation.

Reader: If you mean that I eventually cost him more than I benefited him, yes.

M.E.: And you seemed to be set enough on things being that way that to him it seemed like it was going to be a constant deficit. That's the thing with sociopaths, they're fine with running into the red for a little while, particularly depending on the amount of equity already in the relationship, but if they sense something is going to run into the red indefinitely, they would rather just break things off then lose their entire investment. It's like choosing to amputate an infected limb before it spreads to vital organs. I was like that with one of my friends. Her dad had terminal cancer. She is super emotional, sort of self destructive, as a rule, and the smartest person I know personally.

Reader: But she asked you for too much?

M.E.: In a way yes, in other ways no. She never really asked; I just became. I'm flexible enough that I could become whatever it was that she needed, or what I thought she needed. It's hard to know when to stop, you know? You think that you can be whatever they need you to be, and that if the person is important enough to you, you should do so. But it is not cost free to you.

Reader: It's the same for empaths.

M.E.: Exactly! You can't indefinitely wear a mask that is so foreign to the way you typically are, a mask of extreme compassion or selflessness. So the costs of the relationship go up, and the benefits go down because she is depressed all the time and you're not getting what you used to get, very interesting conversations, a check on your own bad behavior, superior advice in all things including fashion. You run many months into the red and there still seems to be no improvement. It will tear you up inside. It's too much, too much force to try to put on your psyche.

Reader: And is there a way to talk about what used to be good about the relationship so that you two can go back to that?

M.E.: Yeah, there are always ways to go back, sunk costs, right? They’re ignored.

Reader: So will you get back in touch with your friend eventually?

M.E.: Ah, we're friends now. She picks all of my best clothing items. We didn't speak for a while, though. I was the one who asked for that, not speaking, that is. I think that hurt her a lot. She has a fear of being abandoned.

Reader: Of course it hurt her.

M.E.: Which is why I postponed it for so long, but it was literally making me crazy. I mean, I don't really have any boundaries. It's really hard to be put in a situation in which boundaries are necessary.

Reader: You probably did the right thing, by taking space.

M.E.: Yeah, maybe. It was really hard. I think it bothered me more that I had failed than that I had failed her, you know? I have such a healthy self-image, then something like this comes along. That's when you start feeling like you really are defective, like something is seriously wrong with you. You start believing that no matter how hard you try to do better in the future, this will keep happening over and over in your life like some sort of sick déjà vu. That's when life really starts to seem meaningless.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Conversation with a reader: loyalty (part 1)

Excerpts from an IM conversation with a reader:

It's hard being in any sort of relationship with a sociopath

Reader: It makes me wonder what is the best relationship for a sociopath. I wonder why socios don't pair up more.

M.E.: Probably not enough glue to keep them together. There are times when I question pursuing even some of my most enduring and meaningful relationships, family and friends. Empaths can't ignore sunk costs, typically. If they've poured so much into a relationship, they feel the urge to keep investing even if the costs exceed the benefits. That makes them poor entrepreneurs (or great ones!), but good in relationships because they’re not just willing but wanting to stick through things when they get tough.

Reader: The attachment/bond added to the investment keeps them around...

M.E.: Exactly. Sociopaths don't feel that pull. Not as strongly, at least. I am constantly asking myself, “Is this relationship or plan of action providing more to me than I am giving to it?”

Reader: But I thought sociopaths could be extremely loyal

M.E.: Yes, they can be very loyal. There will typically always be some level of interaction at which it is worth pursuing a relationship.

Reader: Ah, so they're loyal when the relationship is clearly rewarding.

M.E.: Well, maybe instead of best friends they could be good friends, like downsizing, or going on a little hiatus. I think that most people’s experience with sociopaths is that they want to eventually come back and maintain some sort of contact. Just because they ignore the sunk costs does not mean they go so far as to ignore the investment/equity that is already there.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


A pair of researchers recently put the “socio” back into in socio-economically disadvantaged. The study is the first to identify a specific gene associated with psychopathic traits in youth, a gene related to variances in how serotonin is processed in the brain. The twist is that this gene only seems to produce psychopathic traits in those children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researchers focused on sociopathic traits, rather than diagnosing the youths. The characteristics they were looking for include: “tend to be less attached to others, even if they have relationships with them. They are less reactive to emotional things in the lab. They are charming and grandiose at times. They’re better at conning and manipulating others, and they have low levels of empathy and remorse. For example, these folks tend to have less anxiety and are less prone to depression, qualities that might be useful in dangerous or unstable environments. In most cases, their cognitive abilities are also intact.”

The research showed that kids with one variety of a serotonin transporter gene are more likely to show psychopathic traits if they are also raised in a lower socio-economic environment. (Previous studies have shown that people with psychopathic traits typically have more brain serotonin than their peers.)
These children reportedly exhibited less empathy, they were more prone to arrogance and deceitfulness and were less emotionally responsive to negative events than their peers. In contrast, youth with the [same gene] who also had high socioeconomic status scored very low on psychopathic traits suggesting that the long allele is susceptible to socioeconomic environment, for better or for worse.
Yet another reason to be nervous when your car breaks down in a bad neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The meaning of life (part 2)

I have the same problem as everyone else here (and anywhere) with boredom, delusions of grandeur, and an over acquaintance with feelings of emptiness and meaningless. I have chided deluded souls before about their Harry Potter syndrome, i.e. wishing that instead of ordinary they were powerful and indispensable, but that is me as well. I tend to deal with it in three ways: (1) try to ignore those feelings as being delusions, (2) try to justify those feelings as being accurate representations of reality by convincing myself that I really am special, and most recently (3) indulging them through religious devotion.

My religion is very self-empowering. I'm basically being told that I'm the equivalent of a superhero all the time -- not just a child of God but a leader amongst the chosen people. This narrative comports well with my delusions of self-grandeur, so it seems authentic to me. I feel like the demigods from the classics. It doesn't bother me at all that my powers come with restrictions or requirements, which I adhere to because the magic doesn't work without them. Am I deluded? Maybe. Am I happier this way than not? I think so. It simplifies things and keeps me out of trouble. I enjoy the ritual and the "spiritual high." Any sort of self denial I do has a tantric, pleasurable quality to it, at least most of the time. Because I am doing good things instead of bad, I feel like the universe should smile on me. I'm not constantly looking over my shoulder.

This last bit is a particularly good consequence. I am terrified that I am going to live to be 120. I know I could always kill myself, but I haven't had the fortitude and strength of conviction to do it thus far, who knows if I would even be physically able to do it then. I want to make sure that whatever I am doing in my life is sustainable, or easily retractable, or at the very least untraceable. Writing the blog violates that rule a little bit, but I guess there is such thing as being too careful. I'm particularly paranoid about the internet's ability to record things for all eternity. Shelley ridicules Ozymandias (“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”) while standing in front of the crumbled ruins of his "works," but now even the commonest of common men in the developed world will be immortal via Google's aggressive cache projects. There are a thousand things I can think of off-hand that I would rather not have immortalized.

But this long, rambling justification for the way I live reminds me of my closeted gay friend who works a nightmarish expat job for the money, is paranoid about touching public door handles, has two regular maids who don't know about the other just so neither thinks he is as unkempt as he is, spends the little free time he has sleeping or on role-playing games, and is secretly enamored with his straight best friend. I know my life seems equally ridiculous to the casual observer. Maybe that's why no one really talks about the meaning of life -- they have already found out what works for them, but are just too ashamed to discuss the sordid details.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The meaning of life (part 1)

A reader asked:

Hey dude, you know what would be interesting? An article about how sociopaths deal with boredom. What is boredom for a sociopath, why is it that it is so hard to deal with it and what do we do to not get bored. I am also curious about it. Thing is i am scared of the emptiness within myself. it's like when i was younger i used to have all these feelings that managed to keep me from getting bored by myself, you know, i had a way to meditate. but now whenever i am alone all i can sense is an empty space and for some reason i feel scared about it. it's like if i don't hold tight onto something i might fall into emptiness and never come back, dunno exactly. anyway, it's that emptiness that i want to know more about and how to deal with it.
Good question. I address this issue a little bit in this post. I was sort of made fun of for it in the comments of this post.

The human psyche really is so fragile. We lie to ourselves all the time about our existence and the meaning of our existence, like my recent post about free won't. Ignorance really is bliss in a lot of ways, but no matter how we try, we end up catching glimpses of the meaningless of life. I don't know why, really, but your question reminded me of Clive Wearing, a former musicologist, now the most severe form of amnesia ever documented. Every minute or so, he forgets absolutely everything and experiences a feeling of being born ex nihilo -- as if he never existed before, but now suddenly he does. He keeps a journal in which he writes over and over again, "I'm awake! For the very first time!" "I'm alive! For the first time!" "This is the first moment of my consciousness!" I think about him sometimes and wonder whether his life is horrible or wonderful.

What do you think about the subject?
I read the post and i think you are kinda right. That's how i feel, like living in a foreign country, gazing at the view but not being able to make any real interaction with the environment. I have been recently diagnosed with immature behaviour by a psychiatrist because i can't really make real progress in getting more mature, and i have to because i just dropped out of college because i was getting bored. Now i have to start all over again cause i don't want to skip college. I think it's true what you say about our meaningless existence also. I keep lying myself with fantasies about me being some kind of "chosen to do great" like that harry potter thing you talked about but i can see through the fog i create that i could also be a looser like everyone else. The "bad" thing is that realizing that i am just like everyone else doesn't change me. It's like i can't accept it willingly. I go on doing what i do and i feel kinda bad cause my psyche doesn't want to stop playing and realize that it has to get it's ass to work. Guess this unchangeable emptiness is something i have to get used to and work myself off to start doing some actual work. Guess this is why i reminded you of that amnesia guy. No matter what i do i can't change my perception upon life. I am still a kid even though i am 19.

About what you asked, i think he is having a good life feeling the beginning of his existence all the time like that. If he doesn't remember and the thrill keeps coming and coming i think he lives kinda happy all the time. Even though if someone explained to him his condition from a to the z, i think he would be kinda sad but not for long, right? Reminds me of the movie "First 50 dates" with adam sandler. If the people around him keep his illusion alive he doesn't have any reason for which to be unhappy and i guess that is all that matters. Sure, he won't do anything with his life being stuck in that loop hole but for him it doesn't matter, right? If i get to think of it he could be unhappy if he realized at the end of the loop that he is loosing his memory. That would be a moment of unhappiness, which would only make his existence pitiful but not horrible. Is pity a feeling a sociopath would feel? Hm...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sherlock Holmes: high-functioning sociopath?

I've been meaning to watch the first episode of the new Sherlock Holmes television show in which he outs himself as... you know what:
"I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."
Equally as entertaining, though, is following the blogosphere's reaction to arguably the biggest sociopathic outting of our time. Like many who refuse to believe (Claymates, anyone?) there are some skeptics, or at least some who are worried that the show glorifies sociopaths:

Sociopaths, even high functioning ones, present themselves as something they're not - and this is a primary characteristic as well. They mimic feeling and empathy to lure their prey and it rings hollow. Sherlock does not try to mimic, he observes. Obsessive-compulsive, and hyper-intellectual but not a sociopath. Sociopathy is not the new cool, and sociopaths are very destructive, whatever level they function on.
Sociopaths aren't the new cool? I couldn't tell whether that was a normative or positive statement, so I did a quick search and turned up this question on
I have noticed that the media kind of glorifies sociopaths, and people think they are cool. Why do people think sociopaths are cool but other antisocial diseases, like aspergers, are uncool? They both make people act differently... And if someone can explain the difference I would be grateful
Eat your small black hearts out, aspies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Conversation with a friend: acting on impulse

Friend: Ok, but socios are pretty inflexible regarding what they want to do in the day to day.

M.E.: Yeah, compulsive.

Friend: Because they're always right.

M.E.: Well, I don't know if they are always right, they are just compulsive about whatever it is they happen to be compulsive about. For me it’s efficiency, others, violence, whatever else. We have poor impulse control.

Friend: And yet, you don't have emotional impulses... It's confusing because empaths have impulses based on emotions, with poor impulse control when the emotions are strong. So I always think that sociopaths have better impulse control because they are not slave to their emotions.

M.E.: Yeah, i can see how that seems contradictory.

Friend: Oh wait, I think I get what you mean... Sociopaths do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it without a sense of responsibility or obligation stopping them. Is that sort of right?

M.E.: I mean, think of the people that have OCD compulsively washing their hands all the time. If you could say that those people do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do without a sense of responsibility or obligation stopping them, then yeah, you're right. Emotions can compel you to do certain things, I am sure. But in the absence of emotions grows the unemotional compulsion in the sociopath's brain.

Friend: But emotions can also keep you from following your impulses, if you have greater ethical loyalty to something else...

M.E.: Yeah, emotions can keep you from following your impulses, so can other things like ethics or security cameras.

Friend: Okay, I think I got it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Female sociopaths and BPD (part 2)

My response:
Yeah, this is interesting. I'm assuming you're female? I sort of wonder sometimes why BPDs are typically female and ASPDs are typically male. I do think that the extremes of both those conditions are very distinctive, but I wonder if women who demonstrate traits from both tend to be diagnosed BPD, while men tend to be diagnosed ASPD. What do you think? How did you get diagnosed BPD?
The reader:
Well, they say there are a lot of similarities between the two, but just as many differences. One of the main differences I've noted between ASPD and BPD, is individuals with BPD have been described as on the 'border' of neurosis and psychosis- which, I'm sure you already knew that, but it helps the point I'm about to make. Now, I was once upon a time diagnosed with psychosis, but that was during the time I refused to cooperate with my treatment and/or therapy sessions, and I'll be the first to tell you I NEVER experienced any hallucinations that weren't really there. So much for psychosis, eh? Of course, I'm not implying that hallucinations are inevitable or even present with BPD, just the principle of having once-upon-a-time being diagnosed with something so far-fetched. Now, neurosis; I've also read/heard individuals describe BPD as a constant state of remorse, low self-worth, etc. in which case, I'm the complete opposite. What I feel isn't a clusterfuck of mixed emotions, in fact, it's an emotional vacancy. Although, I do wonder if it's possible to have both? Apparently, it's easy to misdiagnose those with ASPD with BPD instead, and just as well, if a personality disorder such as BPD goes untreated for such an extensive amount of time, it's possible for it to 'manifest', I guess, in to another personality disorder.

I've often found myself asking the same questions about BPD and ASPD. You know, that maybe BPD is just a female's version of sociopathy, ha. But, I can tell from my own experience and research that's not entirely true. So, if I've already been misdiagnosed on several occasions, then it's possible I may have been misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Yes, I am female, by the way. Now, how was I diagnosed with borderline personality disorder? Oh, boy, I wish I could tell you. Unfortunately, not even I am entirely sure how they came to that conclusion, heh. I imagine it has something to do with my reluctance to cooperate- I was never honest. Although, I used to self-mutilate, but not because I wanted to die or because I hated myself. It was more so for the adrenaline; it provided a momentary high every time I did it. Maybe that's the reason it was so easy for me to become addicted to. But, I never told anyone else that. I guess it's safe to assume they interpreted my self-harming behaviour as a 'cry for help', or an attention whore's way of saying, "I hate myself. Please, someone pay attention to me!!!!one11!1" That was never the case with me. I didn't WANT help. All I wanted was to be left the fuck alone, but my mother was- and still is- such a worry wart, that's like asking an African-American to stop being so black.
.... Just not going to happen.

Another guess is, at that time, I was in that violent romance I mentioned earlier. When I say 'violent', I mean we used to get physical with our fights. It wasn't your typical man vs. woman where she may hit him and he not hit back, or he strike her and she falls to the floor like a damsel in distress. No, this was equivalent to two men fighting; he'd sock me in the face, I'd haul off and retaliate all the same(or vice-versa), then we'd start turnin' tables. My mother was there to witness a lot of our altercations (how classy, right?), so when I wasn't cooperating with the therapists, she'd step in and talk for me, ha. So, in turn, they knew about him and I- some good, but mostly bad.

All in all, I couldn't tell you why they diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. I never thought my psychologists was that bright to begin with, and after actually studying these things, now I KNOW he wasn't that bright. Hence why I came to you; you're an anti-social, yeah? You know what it's like and you're on the outside looking in as opposed to my situation. I find it's hard to 'diagnose' myself because the information is so biased, but then again, I know myself better than anyone.
Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of labels anyway. I basically consider "sociopathy" to be a buzzword for a cluster of personality traits, a particular world view. As a diagnosis, who cares if you are or not, it's not treatable anyway. But for trying to learn more about yourself by talking to others similarly situated, I think it has been really helpful for me at least.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Female sociopaths and BPD (part 1)

A reader asks:
I was wondering whether you knew of any information available on female Sociopaths. I would love to try and find at least some small amount of collected data out there. I read a few articles written in the past on the subject and thought the content was very interesting. My interest is that I'm a Male to Female Transwoman who is of the belief and "diagnosis" that I am Sociopathic. I exhibit typically female sociopathic traits whilst still harboring some male traits and am lately trying to define or examine myself more, and in doing so I would like to take reference to "classic" cases of the past and present. My questions would simply be what do you usually see? are they murderous? are the power hungry? do they have children? how have they been "caught/discovered"? and what was the consequence if they were?
Another reader had asked a similar question recently about the relationship between sociopathy and BPD.

I ran across your blog during one of my researches, and was pleased with what I found. For once, something doesn't seem so foreign. I think I may be a sociopath. Not that it bothers me- it doesn't. But, I'd recently taken an interest in criminology and after doing so much research and what not on these 'disorders', I seem to have an uncanny similarity that meets the criteria. Before that, however, my guess is I probably would have never even realized my 'condition'. So, perhaps these studies were an outlet of some kind; maybe even a way to better understand. Myself, particularly.

They say that adolescents before the age of 18 don't qualify for the diagnosis criteria, but instead, those that hold potential are usually at some point diagnosed with O.D.D, AD/HD assuming they were forced in to therapy. Key word: forced. I, too, was diagnosed with O.D.D (and AD/HD) before the age of 18, most of which started at the age of 15- though I won't go so far as to say I didn't have those behaviours before then. I very much did. I was also forced in to therapy. I never complied, and the manic episodes I do have of convincing myself I'm in need of it are quickly dismissed. I go through a spell of, "I'm pretty sure I may need help", and once everything's over, I'm back to the mind set of, "I don't need nor want anyone's help." So, I never get it.

I have tortured animals (no, I'm not trying to sound like some serial killer-in-the-making here, I'm just getting everything off of my chest. Trust me, it's long over due), given I've never actually killed any bigger than your average domestic house cat, but I'm pretty sure it started somewhere around the age of 6 or 7. It started off as frogs, baby birds, to the point where I was- in my mind- harmlessly sneaking fish out of my best friend's fish tank, and my neighbor's, and 'experimenting' with them. Frogs, lizards, rodents, birds... baby birds I'd find in nests around the yard. Basically, what ever creature was around. It gradually escalated to even my own cat at the time, and then one of the puppies of my neighbour's dog. I never felt bad about it- no shame, guilt, etc. And still to this day do not. I grew up fatherless, and around the age these 'symptoms' started becoming more and more apparent, I spent majority of my teenage years in and out of lock up for mostly truancy, with a few cases of assult and even fewer cases of vandalism. However, the time spent in these facilities, I constantly lied and manipulated my way through therapy- from exaggerating my 'conditions' to actually acting out the 'good behaviour' that was expected of me, in which case, I knew I'd get an early release. If not an early release, I most certainly knew I wouldn't have to spend any more time in these facilities than what I was initially set to do. As hard as it was to keep my temper in check- which has been described on several occasions as a 'ticking time bomb'- I passed with flying colours for the sole purpose I simply wanted to return back to the comforts and freedom of my own home.

My mother, however, would always be able to see through this, of course. She was always there to witness my behaviour where as these therapists, these doctors, they only saw the facade I put off to get myself out. So, when ever I was confronted with these issues- what ever they may be regarding my behaviour at home- I'd either lie, talk my way out of it, or admit to it and follow it up with the whole "I genuinely want help, I don't want to feel like this anymore" sentiment. After wards, I'd continue my 'good girl' act and voila, all was well.

I haven't 'grown out' of this stage, if growing out of it were genetically even possible. It wasn't too terribly long ago I was doing other 'misdeeds' that would most certainly qualify as grounds for arrest. Again, it feels like a normal, every day part of my life, even though, no, I don't go out every day and commit acts that, if I were caught, would land me some time. It just feels that way. On another note, it's impossible- for me at least- to get attached to someone, or anything for that matter. The one time I thought I was in love was powered more so by greed than true feelings, and while at the time I thought I felt so strongly about this guy, I took an intense satisfaction out of hurting him. Whether that was cheating, lying, or just harmlessly flirting with an enemy or a close friend of his just to hear him cry later on the phone. Of course, I never admitted that to him. He'd have left me high and dry had he known the true motive behind it. It was a very violent romance. He shared a lot of 'sociopathic' traits, as well, so that only added to the turbulence.

Inevitably, I become mildly sadistic to those friends I do keep close, but I charm them, I flatter them and you'd be quite surprised; my personality is award winning, though feigned. I have an intense desire to be loved, and though I don't and will never go out of my way to intentionally please someone, I get one of the biggest satisfactions out of hearing those three words; "I love you", and knowing that on my behalf, the feelings will never be reciprocated. And then, once I do hear them, I almost immediately become bored. The spark fades, the challenge dies. There's no thrill. I go clubbing on a weekend basis, sometimes on weekdays. Every time I'm out, I make a note to drink, even those days I say beforehand, "I'm not going to drink tonight." I mostly blame a very poor impulse control, and the alcohol makes it easier to mingle because otherwise, I become disinterested and aggravated with the people around me. My drunk personality is quite the opposite; I'm usually very relaxed, I get along and my sense of humour is not of your typical females. I'll crack jokes about subjects that commonly, you'd only hear from men. People down here aren't used to that, so it gets me in 'good' with everyone, including the staff members. Which, ultimately benefits me. I can't complain about that. Alternatively, I'm very prone to bouts of an insatiable aggression; I'll jump at the opportunity to kick someone's head in, even if they're minuscule by someone elses standards. But, I reason and rationalize, twist and misconstrue the story just because if people actually knew what was really going on, that'd defeat my entire image.

They say sociopaths very seldomly feel embarrassment, which in my case, is true. I very seldomly feel it, but when I do, it isn't in drastic measures where I'll run out of the room and go cry about it at night and wallow in self-hatred. It's more along the lines of, "Goddamnit, I can't believe that just happened... oh well." Only temporary. By the time I wake up from my drunken stupor, my 'embarrassments' are actually rather funny and I'm ready for a round two. It's just a setback.

So, all in all, that's me in a nutshell. Granted, I was never actually diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder, but instead, borderline personality disorder. Now, this brings me to another conclusion; BPD's live in remorse (at least from what I know of), their entire psyche is a clusterfuck of emotion. I, however, feel the exact opposite- like an emotional vacancy. It's so easy to walk out and put on a smile for everyone, but the minute I'm home and the door is closed, that smile quickly fades. Yes, I also know sociopaths, apparently, aren't introverted, and though I may do a lot of analyzing in general, I never actually analyze myself; I KNOW what I'm doing, I KNOW what I'm saying, I just don't give a fuck. But, while I know what I'm doing, I haven't the slightest clue who I am. I've always just thought of myself as 'here', as if I were looking down from the sky, watching the world beneath me. Like some sort of celestial entity, though I'm not delusional enough to actually believe I AM some kind of celestial entity. That's just silly. Though, now that I mention it, I don't actually believe sociopaths can't be at least somewhat introspective. After all, Edmund Kemper knew exactly what he was. ;)
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