From a reader:
I am writing to solicit a general opinion, perhaps begin a dialog. I seek information to help me become functional.
My biological mother is a sociopath, the "reputation preserving" kind, found a highly empathic "bulldozer"/dominant man, had three children with him (I am the eldest), and abused him into success past his desires or nature. Before gaining sufficient insight, I would say "my parents really should not have had kids"; simply put, these two would not "mate" in the wild and I have a host of mis-matched genes and medical issues to prove it.
My high empathy coupled with intelligence and a completely neglectful/abusive mother has left with me a "debillitatingly deep" understanding of humanity (and a psych degree didn't help either). "Sociopathic type" thinking (outside the box, seeking the cracks in the system) coupled with "empathic data" (I feel what they feel or at least know what they're feeling) means I know far far too much about another person, especially their own self-deception, especially the opinions they have of themselves or others that they might not even know themselves. I can easily "spot" lack-of-empathy types, as well as intelligent manipulative empaths. I do not have sufficient data to claim if I can "spot" a sociopath or not, but I would find the challenge interesting. Whatever else, to me, there is a sub-group of people that present excellent performances but, when considered fully (my empathy with body language analysis, etc.), there are "holes" in the performances. I perceive most people as at least 2 or 3 "layers"; I see through the masks.
While I have this "empathic wetware", I am inherently rational. I write to you because, unlike those on your site, I am "non functional". I have three degrees but no career or financial stability. I can make women feel instantly comfortable (too comfortable), counsel them to find other men but am incapable of attracting one myself; I have never had a girlfriend. The only time I can get laid is with sufficient booze to shut off my rational brain and seek out the nearest mountain troll.
I have developed "a program" that enables minimum social contact to prevent the madness of isolation until my father contracted cancer. I expended all my resources in an attempt to save him and keep myself on an even keel; my mother altered the will at the last minute
; she has won, I am broke with no good prospects for employment. This is a problem as previously I was "lucking out" from 3 major father-linked investments which provided the finances necessary to fuel my development.
Now I must survive in a different way, and am inherently rational, and whatever this "new way" is, I am still trying to figure out what that might be. Your site provides one possible way with some aspects, I think, to be emulated and used. Yet, when you feel another's hurt or pain, as they feel it, perhaps more so, this makes navigating the empathic world... difficult. The idea I use is that of shooting Bambi. In order for hunters to survive and kill furry woodland creatures to eat, is it not highly adaptive NOT to feel said creature's pain?
So.... do you have defenses against unwanted emotional stimuli that I might copy and use? Are there any questions I can answer about "empaths" and their ways? [I feel more deeply than they do, but I am not ruled by emotions; I choose rationality]. I have been to 53 countries and experience the full gamut of people's emotions as you describe as one of your goals, as a "sommelier". To me, human emotions are like wine - mostly the same broad stroaks but a whole range of possibility (see: 53 countries). A purely rational friend has dubbed me a "human to human dictionary". Those who are completely integrated (thoughts, feelings, behaviour) are like "cool glasses of water" as they can be taken at their word, they are relaxing. Everyone else presents some form of "red noise" or bullcrap to navigate through.
Whatever else, hopefully this email has been somewhat interesting.