Thursday, September 2, 2010

Female sociopath child, to teen, to adult

A reader writes in response to yesterday's post, providing the female perspective of growing up sociopath.

For me, the early shift from fitting in as a child, to completely lost socially was around ages 9 and 10. By the end of fifth grade, I had captured my peers’ new patterns a bit better. I had also made a couple of other P/S-like friends from the two grades above mine. Oddly, it was easier to mimic their mimic (a simplified copy of the neurotypical’s behavior that seemed to work for them) than it was to copy the highly complex behavior of those around me.

By 6th grade I realized I was different- that I thought about things differently. I just assumed it was because I was smarter. I think around this time is when my actions really differentiated themselves from my classmates enough to be noticed by others. It was then that my mother began to call me her little cyborg. I wasn’t a big crier, I didn’t get angry easily, and I didn’t get scared, though for her sake I faked great enthusiasm at positive things. I had been going for “Pollyanna”, but I guess, instead, I came across as “cyborg” to my too-intuitive, uber-empath, teacher of a mother. I also remember, after explaining how I came to my position on an issue in class (totally based on logic, not compassion), my teacher responded with a smile (almost in my defense) to the disgusted faces of the other students that I marched to the beat of a different drummer. I thought they all needed to think a little more and feel a little less. Also, in retrospect, I think I remember the first adult that I had noticed I gave the creeps to being an 8th grade teacher of mine. I protected my pets and squished the bugs that annoyed me if there was value in it, all while getting praise from most adults about being the sweetest girl they knew.

In high school, I was much more comfortable, as I’d developed better technique and defined the roles I wanted to play. I noticed some differences between myself and others. While they sometimes became angry or sad, which are passionate emotions, my negative emotions were more of aggravation and annoyance. Though I could become very aggravated or very annoyed, my reaction was just due to scaled up frustration, and not related to the intensity of the emotion it started from. I found that I get more satisfaction out of small pleasures than most others, while things that make people overwhelmingly happy give me roughly the same experience as those little things. Socially, I found that having many separate groups of friends was ideal for me. When I got bored of one group, I’d move on to another. I never played with the people in my 2 core groups, so I always had a place to go, socially, when I’d played a little too much with a group and needed to lay low for a while. I didn’t really need more depth of friendship than this situation provided, though I had two particularly close friends (stories for another day) outside of my groups. I didn’t really have a point where they figured things out or found me no longer appealing as a friend. However, I did find a major stumbling point that I didn’t even recognize until the end of high school: Relationships.

My freshman year of high school I saw a few different guys, but nothing was serious. Toward the end of that year I heard someone saying disparaging things about another girl who had seen a few guys (actually fewer than me) that year, though she wasn’t nearly as discreet. It occurred to me that boyfriends are part of being a teenager and one would look good in my real-person portfolio. Also, it could be fun! I assumed that whatever we ended up doing (sneaking out, making out, etc), I wouldn’t want to have broadcast on the small town gossip network (for the sake of my mother’s reputation), so I chose someone from the next town over whose family was well-known in the area. This way, he would need to keep things to himself to protect them as well. He was good looking and liked me (I was good-looking, too). Being with him was fun in the beginning, but after a while he became very controlling and violent. I kind of liked that. To the people around me, I was suddenly a victim and weak and someone to be protected. That was…helpful. He certainly wasn’t “hurting my feelings,” and I didn’t mind the physical damage, but after a while the controlling rules he wanted me to follow did get annoying. I didn’t want to be one to hop boyfriends and I didn’t want to leave an angry guy behind me with any ammunition against me, so I formed a plan and waited. The next time that he was really angry at me for whatever and drove off mad (we’d been dating about a year and a half at this point), I waited a couple of hours, then called him (because I could fake cry over the phone, but not as convincingly in person). I explained that I was no longer good for him if I made him so sad and angry all the time and that I loved him too much to keep him in a relationship that hurt him. No problem. Ten days later I was dating the next guy, who I ended up being with for another year and a half. His dad was a preacher, so he was safe, socially. This is where I got stuck. The previous relationship had been a bit of a beard, some fun, and a learning experience, but for the most part I hadn’t worried about what he felt or needed except for how that would affect me: happy boyfriend = a nicer day for me. Of course that means that I tried to make him as happy as possible to make my life easy, but who cares about the motives? I was still a nicer girlfriend than most out there because of it. With Guy 2, though, it was different. Maybe it was because of all those teenage hormones, but my brain formed connections in a way that I don’t think it had before or since. I wanted that guy to be happy. I experienced great pleasure when I could make him happy. We were in a real relationship, and I was missing some key skills for the situation. I was still me- I definitely used stories of Guy 1’s violence as a way of making Guy 2 feel close to me, but I found after a while that I really didn’t need to guide his actions to fit my desires. I was perfectly happy changing myself to be whatever it seemed like he wanted. In the end, it seems that there was a disconnect between what he said he wanted and what he did want and what he said he felt and what he did feel (stupid, crazy, elusive, and evidently important emotions so often get in the way) . I didn’t have the tools with which to intuit when he was lying. I usually read intent very well in people- this helps me manipulate them. I can also see very clearly why they might do something, even considering their emotions, because I’ve been a student of this since fifth grade, but when someone lies with no intent- no real reason or goal behind it- I’m lost. So if I ask, “Is it okay if I do this?” or “Are you okay?” and the response is “Yes”, when the answer was “No”, the only purpose behind it being to make me happy or to not bother me with petty feelings that he may find embarrassing, I don’t even know there is a problem. After we broke up, we dated again a couple of times, and later on, I was able to detect this type of lie with more accuracy, but when I could get to “I know something is wrong- what did I do or say?”, he couldn’t manage to tell me what it was that I had done or said, so there was no opportunity to learn and fix it for the future. Damn hormones affecting neuro-connections. When I think of this guy, still, I get an obnoxious jolt of those emotions that are a little strong for a person who doesn’t generally experience them. Ick. I like thinking I'm above all that.

In my late teens, I dropped a lot of friends because I had moved away and no longer had to worry about how I made my mother look. I still did this and that, activity-wise, to keep up my person cred, but soon I made a wonderful discovery- in one of my activities, there were two other P/S-like girls who wanted to play. There are some major benefits to having friends like this. Their feelings aren’t hurt if I ditch them for something else more valuable that day- they would’ve done the same thing. They are easy to be with because I don’t have to look at everything I do and say through the lens of some other animal. They are less work, because I don’t have to worry about scaring them off with something I do or say. Of course, for the first few years of our friendship, someone was pretty much always playing someone else. Both for the game and for the prize. There were, naturally, guys involved…empaths…poor things… But after musical boyfriends, we all got married and it was lovely. Outside friends were always shocked that we never got angry with one another at the crazy tactics we’d use, but for us, it was all fair-game. The other two probably don’t know what they are in name, but we recognized each other and occasionally would refer to the “us”/”them” distinction.

As an adult, I don’t really want to spend my effort on real people that I don’t have to (other than co-workers, family, etc), but that behavior isn’t very human, so the girls and I are now each others’ people cred. :) I have one best friend (one of the two from high school). I’m devoted to my family, active in my community, and a well-liked leader in my workplace. I’ve found that telling people who notice something (I have no idea what they notice, but on rare occasions, a person will give me one of those what-are-you looks), apologizing and telling them that I’m a very driven type-A person seems to “explain me”. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, who I love like my mother and grandparents. He communicates his needs and reactions clearly since I’ve explained that reading these is a weakness of mine and I easily conform to fit him.

It was only about a year ago that my husband and I were discussing some of the classic philosophical thought experiments that he looked at me and said, “So you are a sociopath.” I smiled and said, “Oh, yeah. That’s me.” And we had a laugh. It’s become a little joke between us (and now my best friend) because he points out sociopath-ish things that I do, but I’ve made a point of referring to it as an inside joke to outside company, so they know not to share. I am cautious about hints that I may be what I am getting out to the wrong person, but for right now I feel relatively safe because I have my go-to explanations for things (Type A, I’m thick-skinned because I had to be at some earlier point, I don’t understand peoples’ drama because I don’t have that kind of craziness in my life, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah) I do worry slightly about the potential for a genetic test to identify a predisposition to P/S behavior , which may be possible based on an article you shared recently, but I expect some time before anything like that happens and if anyone can get around a serious’s us, right? I can’t help but think, in a world with real witches, those burned in Salem would still have been innocents, as the true offenders would have magic-ed their way out of the situation.

Of course, I don’t even know for sure that I am a P/S since I’ve never been diagnosed, but I am pretty confident that I fall somewhere on the spectrum. :)


  1. I have known females who seemed more symptomatic of the condition but, I'll defer to those more knowledgeable on the subject, with interest.

  2. Many doctors will diagnose sociopathic females with Borderline Personality Disorder, as if it was the female version of the condition. And vice versa.

    Not so sure that makes sense at all.

    I think there's a couple posts around here about this.

  3. It doesn't make sense. Borderline is based on a sundry of emotions which counteract eachother and then turns into anger, irrational acting out, and deviancy. The only similarities APD and BPD share is the manipulation they use to latch on to the next victim. Borderlines use manipulation to gain love, and attention. Antisocioal's use manipulation to gain objects, or possess material things. I was off and on dating and best friends with a borderline for 11 years. We were the complete opposite when it came to our emotions. She was always frustrated with my lack of interest towards her sexual advances and attention seeking emotions, whether it be anger, or misery, and I was always annoyed by her pathetic neediness, clinging, and constant parnoia of my intentions. The relationship was off and on, and very toxic, but it was nice for a while. We at times canceled each other out, but when we were both interacting due to her emotions it was pure destruction. We never stayed faithful to the other, and were always jealous. The lying was constant, we both knew, but towards the end it became more of a, who can hurt the other more, thing. Because she allowed me to for so long, I wanted to control her. I wanted her to hurt for being so damn weak and she wanted to hurt me for being so cold. We were only staying to see who gave up first. To both us us whoever gave up first was the loser. I left 1st. She now gets to add the fabel of me abandoning her to whomever she latches onto next, but I get the personal gratification of knowing she did truly love me, couldn't show it due to her intense self hatred, and she is in pain because I left. I damaged her severly, and that's all that mattered in the end.

    Trust me, these two personalities are completely different. To diagnose a female BPD is almost sexist. A female can lack emotion, not all woman are nurturers.

    1. There are plenty of combos of personality disorders and lots of NOS typings - "Not otherwise specified" I believe I am dealing with a friend right now who has both borderline and sociopathy combined - and yet she is not totally one or the other. And I do not believe that any person is all of their disorder. Humaneness shines through in anyone at times no matter how disordered.

      I also think I know the type of relationship of which you speak. I have borderline traits as well and was with someone who was narcissistic and lacked conscience as well at obvious times and that dynamic was very destructive. Now I am with someone who is not narcissistic and I am not finding myself turning into someone out of control of who she really is.

  4. Yep, I do think it's quite sexist, and the phenomena is probably molded after (nearly) outdated cultural expectations. Female "hysteria", et al.

    Since the current definitions of personality disorders seem to based mostly off of behavior, one can almost understand how the two may look similar from the outside, but the intentions behind the respective behaviors are nearly the opposite.

    A borderline's main driving force is that of fear of abandonment. Sociopathy — uh, not.

    Borderline = attachment
    Sociopathy = non-attachment

    Nevertheless, the two are very often magnets for each other.

    Also, it can be debated whether or not borderlines are capable of love. I do not think they are any more than any other personality disorder... their love is centered around fear.

    That ain't love.

    1. really? and you know this for sure?!

  5. Since the current definitions of personality disorders seem to based mostly off of behavior...

    It's frustrating that even after much of behavioural psychology has been replaced by cognitive psychology, most of the criteria for psychological disorders/illnesses are still based in behaviourism. It's, admittedly, an important part of psychology, but certainly fails to explain the underlying reasons/emotions that cause such behaviour.

  6. On topic:

    I too , and still do, have a myriad of social circles I belong to. I never stay near one long enough to actual be social, I fade out in almost all of them, but I am still a key source. I am never entertained by any of them long enough to just be satisfied. That was the only good thing about my ex. After I was bored with these groups, I always went back to her, even if it took months, I always went back. It was the best when she didn't expect anything from me. She just had to fall in love...though I don't imagine it takes much for this kind of personality.

  7. The definitions of personality disorders in the proposed DSM-V is supposed to be more dimensionally-based, rather than categorically-based like the current DSM-IV, which may be somewhat of an improvement.

    Not sure, though, as I'm not interested enough in researching the details. Labeling kind of bugs me in any form, but I guess it's necessarily for the sake of social pragmatism.

    Or some shit.

    1. Or some shit would be it is necessary to know when you are dating a narcissist because one can destroy you over time until you figure it out - what the real problem is. Some things demand labels for the safety of others, even if there is some gray area there.

  8. It was the best when she didn't expect anything from me. She just had to fall in love...though I don't imagine it takes much for this kind of personality.

    I probably have some borderline traits. Yep, doesn't take much. It's empty, though.

    Things are probably best when people don't expect anything from anyone. Though maybe that's empty, too....

  9. It was the best when she didn't expect anything from me.

    This would be the ideal situation wouldn't it? I'm not even a psychopath/sociopath, and I prefer friendships/relationship that require little to no expectations form each other. It's nice being able to still get on with each other even after an extended hiatus. No hurt feelings from feeling "abandoned" or any of that nonsense.

  10. Things are probably best when people don't expect anything from anyone. Though maybe that's empty, too...

    For me, it's not that I have "no" expectations, but maybe "a level more based in reality" of expectations compared with others... so it's not like everyone has a glass that is full and and mine is empty. It is more like everyone has a glass with 2oz of water in it. The difference is that they have 8oz glasses and keep hoping for more water, while I have a 2oz glass and am content.

  11. Also,
    M.E., thank you for posting my email :)

  12. It is more like everyone has a glass with 2oz of water in it. The difference is that they have 8oz glasses and keep hoping for more water, while I have a 2oz glass and am content.

    Good analogy.

    For me, that 2 oz. is mostly simple shit like common sense, manners, not being a complete moron, not smelling like ass, not telling stupid lies (smart lies are another matter)... etc.

    That extra 6 oz.+ is mostly just bullshit and entitlement. Pisswater.

  13. "That extra 6 oz.+ is mostly just bullshit and entitlement. Pisswater"



    1. plumbed in through pink tubes?


  14. Aw come on Medusa, don't you want to have a sobfest, share feelings and bond after sex? Don't you long for those 3 hour long phone conversations where I patiently listen to others bitch and moan all day. Life is sweet, eat it up.

  15. Fuck crying in front of dudes. And fuck talking on the phone.

    My ideal relationship involves a lot of silence.

  16. Silence is good.
    My socio could never have it silent. It was always some combination of him talking, music going, and the damn television. It took me forever to learn to sleep with the t.v. blasting.

  17. Being a woman and being possibly a bit socio I find this very useful to pretend being a Borderline. As far as I know this diagnosis is more tolerated by society. If I would ever be suspected I would go for Borderline !

  18. I agree with anon above me (3:01PM if someone posts before I do). I find that being female people are far more lenient to an "emotionally troubled" woman as opposed to a sociopathic one. If you're boarderline people can still have the idea in their head that there is a person that they can relate to who is just trapped behind a troubled mind.

    People as a result are much more sympathetic. Males can't pull the emotions card as often and when they do are subject to more scrutiny then the poor defenseless woman who is obviously a sweet emotional person deep down.

  19. I'm sorry, but I'd rather be a person that just doesn't care than be some irationally over emotional wreck. Women are already seen as weak, being psychotically emotional doesn' t make it any better.

  20. I'm not talking about what you should be. I'm talking about what should you PRETEND to be if you're in trouble.

    Anonymous 3.01

  21. This particular poster does not seem like a sociopath at all based on the given information. She is worried about how she would make her mother look. Thats not a sociopathic way of thinking, that is thinking normally associated with empaths as in (I don't want to cause my mother pain so I'll try to act my best around her).

    I'm very skeptical that the poster is a sociopath/psychopath etc. Maybe a narcissist or just another type.

  22. "Borderline = attachment
    Sociopathy = non-attachment"

    This isn't true either. I don't suffer from attachment, does that make me a sociopath? I think it's a bit more complicated. I think anyone who cares how a particular action or series of actions makes their mother or father look, is either not a sociopath or there must be different levels. Something is going on there because if not for caring how we make our parents look why would we have incentive to look good at all? Isn't it all about preserving honor in the sense of doing it for sake of not making our parents look bad or the reverse which is doing something good to win the praise of our parents?

    " I wouldn’t want to have broadcast on the small town gossip network (for the sake of my mother’s reputation)"

    That is not the comment of a sociopath. Unless I'm a sociopath too, I assume this is why everyone behaves that way. Nobody wants to look bad or make their parents look bad. Everybody has killed bugs as a kid, some have killed live animals. Nothing anyone does as a kid is going to determine whether or not they'll be sociopaths as an adult. In fact this poster appears to have a level of reasoning that I don't see in many legit sociopaths, but that I do see in narcissists. That is the level of reasoning where they want to protect their reputation above all else, and their parents reputation above all else, so they don't adopt certain behaviors.

    No this female poster is not a sociopath and probably just a narcissist or individual with aspergers syndrome.

  23. Yes, Savagelight, that whole worried about the mother thing is what had me questioning, too.
    I'm not a sociopath, yet as a rebellious youth, I didn't give two shits what my mother thought.

  24. Impression Management is integral to the Sociopath MO, as is Impression Management extended to those they care about.

    Pythias cares about herself, her mother and now, her husband, very much.

    Given a full life to live, that's a short list. Mine is sitting at one, and it used to be two.

    What I think you didn't take into consideration is that how the people you care about are often the people you're associated with. Being in a small town, her mother's rep was worth its weight in gold.

    I was a rebellious youth, too, Aerianne, but I protected my father's rep, fiercely. Sure, I'd talk shit about him with the guys, but that was more to 'fit in' than anything else.

    Absolute obsession with Impression Management is one of the sociopathic traits that simply does not get as much recognition as it should, in my book.

    1. Impression Management - It's an extremely narcissistic trait. But N's or sociopaths, they all slip here and there and maybe the poster saying she was worried how it would make her mother look is just displaying her habit of feigned concern for another.

  25. This is all to me borderline socipoatic. When you are with a person who is extremely jealous, defensive controlling and then you find out out you have been cheated all long, before you are served with criminal charge by police after that very same person assaults you and then cries-wolf and plays the victim. Since you are no longer needed you are discarded like toilet paper in which all blame is wrapped in. And very same thing that she would hate the most to happen to her - she gives out like a Sunday roast. And when you think you saw the worst - she doubles it up, until you disappear, or you you roll over and throw the white flag accepting her terms.
    Unbeleivable lack of empahty and remorse and any regard to what is right and what is wrong. Manipulative as hell, with classic signature - whatever she "hits you with" - expect to be accused of. Scary, and i feel sorry for future victims.

  26. Like hell are you a sociopath! People like you make people with real problems/disorders look stupid and attention seeking. Honestly.. It's laughable :)

    1. I agree! My daughter has no concern for me or anyone else that cannot fill a role she has for them. She had multiple partners long before high school and has many in the wing right now. She is 35 years old and still lies and manipulates those she has a purpose for.

  27. I am 18 years old and my story is quite similar to yours (the author of the article.) When I look back I have always been like this and i have always been different although I made it seem like it was a great to be different. I play with people's emotions and I love to read people, it's natural. I have read that most sociopaths are men, however I'm a girl and I still have those sociopath traits. I guess I'm over my self deception and now I am just looking for answers out of pure curiosity. Thanks for the article, it helped. At least I know I'm not the only one like this :)

    1. in the same situation, if your attractive you should email me. that is if your trying to find someone like yourself.

  28. The only thing she qualifies for is type A attention whoring, which falls under narcissistic PD than P/S.

    What a load of rubbish and inane lies, what benefit is there to "out" yourself?

  29. have you caused havoc in your family because this lack of feelings?

  30. Your description of your childhood is so very tame compared to that of my daughters. Feel fortunate on that count and count your blessings. Most sociopaths do not think of how their actions will hurt a loved one....unless they have a present need to keep them in their life

    1. I agree with you this person seems to be a lot more sympathetic than I would ever be. I truly do not sit here and care for another's feeling unless it will sever its purpose at a later time. I am sure that many would say your daughters and I are nothing but monsters. I find it amusing to be categorized that way.

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