Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Successful relationship with a sociopath?

It probably depends on your definition of success. From a reader:
Thank you for your site. Every other website about sociopathy I have read describes the sociopath as an evil unfeeling predatory monster out to steal your life, money, and children while raping your mother and pouring sugar in your gas tank.

My boyfriend is a sociopath. He told me that towards the beginning of our relationship. While that has resulted in problems in the relationship (understandably, mostly MY problems-he didn't see anything wrong), I have found that communication and understanding has made the relationship possible. We know that there are just some things about each other that we will never understand. He doesn't get how I can be so upset over something like a relative getting cancer ("he's smoked for years, WTF were you expecting?), and I don't get that he can't see that that response out of him doesn't help at all, and can't "feel my pain" as it were.

I know when to back off and let him have his temper tantrums when he gets frustrated or whatever it is that sets him off on a yelling spree.

I know that if I were to loan him a chunk of money, I would never see it again. Even if he said I would. So I don't.

I've learned to expect the unexpected from him.

I've learned when to ask him for something he doesn't like doing (putting on his "normal person" mask and hauling him off to visit my mother, for example), and when to just drop it and go see mom by myself because it will be more pleasant for everyone involved.

I've learned that when he says he loves me, he can't mean it in the same way that I love him; but that doesn't make whatever he is experiencing insincere or false.

Back to you, m.e. Reading more insights in to how sociopaths think has been extremely helpful in trying to understand what I should expect, what I should ask for, and what I need to accept is simply him- unchangeable, undeniable, just like his eye color or height.

Friday, March 26, 2010

You're just full of surprises

A sentence that I have probably heard more times in my life than I can count, coming in third place only after "I love you" and "I'm hungry."

Sociopaths = the good stuff

I posted this a while ago about a study suggesting that sociopaths have excessive amounts of dopamine. Another recent study done at Vanderbilt University has linked the excess dopamine in sociopaths to a hypersensitive reward system that releases as much as four times the normal amount of dopamine in response to either a perceived gain of money upon the successful completion of a task, or to chemical stimulants.

The researchers then suggest that the overactive reward system is to blame for a sociopath's impulsive, risk seeking behavior because "[t]hese individuals appear to have such a strong draw to reward to the carrot that it overwhelms the sense of risk or concern about the stick."


Apart from this conclusion seeming like a huge stretch, a blatant attempt to try to shoehorn scientific findings into one of the "known" "universal" "traits" of a "sociopath," this just seems wrong. From personal experience, I feel like my risk-seeking behavior stems from a low fear response, or a lack of natural anxiety in potentially dangerous, traumatic, or stressful situations. If I am not afraid of something, I am probably going to take more risks, just like those children who can't feel pain so end up shoving fingers in their eyes.

A hypersensitive reward system could explain why sociopaths are allegedly sex fiends, at least compared to the rest of the population. It could also explain why you'll see them at the top of their field, professionally speaking. Sociopaths are probably contributing to society in all sorts of random ways in order to trigger an enormous amount of dopamine flooding through their brain. Risk takers, though? Maybe we are, but I don't think because of this, particularly because an earlier study at Vanderbilt showed that low amounts of dopamine were highly correlated with risk taking and drug abuse. Or maybe we have to be goldilocks-esque about this and make sure dopamine levels are just right?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Conversation with a sociopath (?) (part 4)

D.R.: On loyalty...I remain loyal to a certain degree. At some point, betrayal can become too much for me to trust someone again. Trust does not come easily to me. Someone always has a motive; what it is and how pure are the questions I try to answer when putting "trust" into someone.

M.E.: Hmm, jaded.

D.R.: That being said, when I do decide to trust someone, I expect that they don't break it. It's a privilige, not a right. The more I trust someone, the more I'll invest into the relationship.

M.E.: A very utilitarian view of things.

D.R.: This may result into higher trust and higher investment, until I consider that person a part of my life.

M.E.: A part of your life, or a part of you?

: I would say more a part of me. Someone in whom I place or find a piece of my identity. For instance, my best friend and I have been friends for many years. At first, we were not very close. But as I saw more of myself in her, she became more important to me. This is how I've always viewed love, both sexual and platonic. The only difference is the fucking. I call it "giving myself to them." This bond goes as so: I decide I like you, I will take you for a test run. You drive nicely, a fast ride, rough at times, smooth at others, but I do the steering. I "buy" you with favors, flattery, and give you want you want in a relationship.

M.E.: You don't mind this because it appeals to your risk-seeking, unemotional nature? Socios (allegedly) have difficulties fully integrating their sex life in the rest of their life.

D.R.: I have a hard time seeing how sex is the end-all, be all in relationships other than the trump card. I find I hold out on it because I want to keep the person around. Other times I give in a bit so they don't think they are wasting their time. In return, you are there when I need you, you do not cheat on me, and you don't act like a doormat. Obviously my friends can have other friends, but when I have a sexual/"romantic" relationship with someone, I do not tolerate them doing the same with someone else.

M.E.: Obviously.

D.R.: All my life, I've always thought I'd be something special. As a kid, I was Lara Croft, saving the world from mystical objects and the evil people that would use them to destroy everything. Then I was a spy...I'd single-handedly take down a terrorist organization, or maybe a corrupt government. Always, it seemed my version of justice was "vigilante," because, of course, police officers are easily bought and sold. So are judges and juries. The whole damn system is corrupt...I wanted to save it. Salvage it. Maybe start a revolution. But I have no set career...just a desire to play the hero. My last boyfriend understood this; he wanted to be a spy too, lol.

M.E.: Again, I have posted about this. Delusions of grandeur are very common among sociopaths. We all think that we were destined for something great, and it's quite possible that we are.

D.R.: I think I would make a fantastic spy. But I think I would also have a problem with taking blind direction if I can't fit it into my own agenda, so maybe not... I'm very good in social settings, and people often think they are learning much about me, but it's all very vague. They just make conclusions I don't bother to correct. I don't lie much, not in a harmful way. Little white lies that don't hurt anyone and probably make everyone better off, yes...but I don't lie specifically to make someone feel bad. Usually I don't have to lie to make them feel bad. Conversely, I don't have to do much to make them want to help me, either. People readily do things for me, even small things. I can be sitting on my ass typing away on my computer and get one of my parents to walk my dog, even if they're in their pj's. My friend drives an hour to see me every week and then an hour back, but I don't ever drive down there unless I must. She's more than happy to do it (which is great, 'cause I hate filling up my gas tank).

M.E.: I sometimes wonder why people adore me so much, too. Particularly in my family, I am a huge crowd favorite. Maybe they appreciate an unusual viewpoint, or maybe they just want to make sure that I'll always be on their side.

D.R.: I am the star of my family. The first in my direct line to go to college, quickly promoted at work, always engaging. I seem like a real go-getter, especially compared to other low-performing relatives (whom I really believe are just acting that way because they see it gets them out of responsibilities).

D.R.: If you decide to post this on your blog (despite how lengthy it is), you are more than welcome to do so. If you must attach a name to it, you may use D.R. It is short for the name of a character in a story I wrote in high school (I loved writing; my stories had very dark or very ironic themes). She was a murderer and a thief, and the entire story was written in her point of view. I've never murdered and I've never stolen (well, not since I was too young to know what stealing is), but they all agreed she reminded them of me. So, you may call me that. :)

M.E.: Yeah, I may, I think people enjoy reading portraits of sociopathy.

D.R.: It’s the villain/antihero that everyone loves to hate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Conversation with a sociopath (?) (part 3)

D.R.: When it comes to interpersonal relationships, my closest friends will tell you I am not like other people. I don't consider this a bad thing as most other people are overdramatic dumbasses. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the interaction. My friends, are not in this category. There are times when I feel they are being irrational, and sometimes I feel they are selfish when they refuse to help me (how often do I go out on a limb for them?), but usually sarcastic comments like "isn't that sweet of you" are just made in passing so that they will see themselves for who they really are and not who they want to be. I love sarcasm, even if it is the most base form of irony. Although, I have to admit, I'm not always on the ball when it comes to being on the receiving end. I can take it when I recognize it, but often I don't.

M.E.: I don't understand sarcasm well either. I can tell that you use manipulation as a major communication tool with those in your "inner circle."

D.R.: It would seem so. But I also make sure they feel comfortable around me and get something in return. Did you feel as if you were helping them in a "tough love" sort of way? A way to encourage introspection?

M.E.: Yeah, I used to think that I was just giving my friends "tough love." And it sounds like your friends like you and that you're not tweaking with them too much, so maybe you are fine. But I sense that this will be a constant source of difficulty in your life, at least if you are even remotely interested in maintaining interpersonal relationships and not burning bridges.

D.R.: My father always told me I take things too personally. I genuinely felt like he was trying to be an asshole. But I can sure as hell dish it when I want to. My friends, however, are all very intelligent. They (usually) are very understanding of how I see the world, or at least, accept that I see it differently. My dearest friend (and probably my mother too), is what I believe you call an "uber empath." She relates to everybody. It has led her to associate with people who I call "vampires" (emotional leeches who crave attention so badly, they fuck up their lives).

M.E.: And you, an emotional vampire.

D.R.: I'd like to think I'm more sauve about it though. I guess the difference is how they are all about themselves and I am about the other person. I love her as if she were myself (nothing sexual, nothing romantic), and naturally I want to protect her.

M.E.: This is a very interesting description of your love for her. I think for socios more than normals, we love and hate in others what we love and hate in ourselves, i.e. we see everyone as a reflection of ourselves.

D.R.: Yes, this is an accurate description of it. Especially for my last attempt at-for lack of a better word-an intimate relationship. He reminded me very much of myself. I find I'm more attracted to those that do. The same goes for all my friends in accordance to the loyalty I feel to them.

M.E.: Maintenance is really hard. You're young, so you probably are starting to realize that. It's hard to keep a relationship going. It's hard to keep a job going. It's hard not to get bored and selfish and just want to escape. All my life has been one escape after enough, with never much more than a few years in between each escape. When I was young it came more naturally -- everyone was moving from one thing to another, changing what they were studying in school, changing schools, matriculating and going to different schools, starter jobs, secondary climbing the ladder jobs. I don't know, I guess it's just good to be aware that escape is not always possible, or it shouldn't always be what you resort to first.

D.R.: Funny you should mention escaping. I used that exact term to tell one of my closer friends why I seemed so flighty lately. I get bored very easily, so I'm constantly looking for a change in pace or scenery. I know all too well that escape isn't always possible, especially in the financial situation I'm in. I keep telling myself that when I get to where I need to be I can pack up and haul off to start over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coversation with a sociopath (?) (part 2)

D.R.: I have always considered myself different from others. Not weird, just advanced. I see the consequences of their actions before they do, and while they often ignore the advice they ask me for, I find I'm usually a good predictor at how things will turn out. I never got enraged when things turned out negatively because I saw it coming and they were warned. It didn't surprise me. i feel like i have already written about my ability to "see the future," but looking at the past blogs, i can't find where. anyway, welcome to the club. Pleasure to be here. I assume my membership card is on its way. There are a few exceptions, and I find I react negatively out of wounded pride. I don't like to be wrong; it doesn't happen often. When it does, I become irritated. I may or may not lash out depending on whom I blame for the mistake. If I see where I made my error, I correct it and move on. If I don't, I am a very angry woman, and I can say some very hurtful things. I did this more often when I was younger, finding that guilt trips worked wonderfully on my peers when I needed something or when I simply felt betrayed. But then, shouldn't you feel guilty if you betray me? I'm fiercely loyal to those I care about, and I expect the same in return. What goes around, comes around.

M.E.: Yeah... that is a belief typically held, but not exclusively so, by the empathy-challenged.

D.R.: But I didn't have a criminal childhood or anything. It never really occurred to me that I could. If I did what I was supposed to do, I wouldn't get punished. If I got bruises for talking too loud in a library as a toddler, I wasn't going to find out what would happen if I shoplifted. I find I must actively remind myself of the consequences. I did have a few problems at school, (one that actually landed me in "counseling") but nothing necessarily criminal.

M.E.: Same here

D.R.: I've also never thought of myself as emotionally inept. I feel outraged at things that I do not like.

M.E.: Morally outraged?

D.R.: No, more like a child who didn't get their way. But there are things like child abuse and trafficking I have problems with. Children don't know any better, and many are too weak to help themselves anyway. I'm not particularly stirred up by what is happening but that someone believes they are entitled to do it. I'm not a fan of bullies.

M.E.: Ha, me neither.

D.R.: I have what I consider to be a moral code that has evolved with time and knowledge. I believe in God, that his son and self Jesus is the savior (regardless of the haters who have nothing better to do than worry about how I decide what is right and wrong as if I care about their opinions), and that he has a set of rules (or guidelines as I tend to think of them) for living a healthy, happy life in a FALLEN world. What I mean by that is: the world is now defective; this is how you handle it until I fix it. I don't think the same rules always apply just as they changed from Old Testament to New. Mine is not to judge; it's to deal with what's in front of me the best I can.

M.E.: I'm religious too, actually. I did a post on this.

D.R.: Yes, I remember reading it. This is actually how I stumbled upon your blog. I am what I call happy when things go well for me and mine. I am aggravated when they do not. I am not sad usually...not like I see other people be sad.

M.E.: I did another post on this, negative emotions.

D.R.: I'm not prone to crying; only in times of great frustration with no other outlet do tears shed. They last a minute, maybe two, and all traces of crying are gone. I think: what's the point? What do the tears do? Will they call my fairy godmother to take me to the Palace and get my glass slipper? No, they'll make my face wet and my throat dry. That's unpleasant. I hate crying. I can't handle it. I don't know what to say or do because I just don't feel it and I know I'll make it worse. Sad for me is what others call melancholy. I get bored, very easily. this is a socio trait. And in my current living situation, there is not a lot of time to "go out." I don't feel like I'm missing out on a chance to socialize; just that I'm bored and I need to build my network so I have more options next time I'm bored. Boredom=sadness for me.

M.E.: Yeah, just someone said something like this in the comments in the negative emotions post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Conversation with a sociopath(?) (part 1)

D.R.: As a result of a recent discussion in my forensics class, I found myself incredibly interested in sociopathy. How could an 11-year-old girl (Mary Bell) take the life of a toddler? Of two? I saw no motive, nothing to gain...Many of the things I found were echos of what I had heard in the past: sociopaths/psychopaths want to hurt. They relish in pain. They are heartless. They destroy "good" people for the sake of destroying. Everything is all about power. It was the last one that caught me. Isn't everything about power...for everyone?

M.E.: Ha, no, I wish it was. Some people are all about love or acceptance or any number of things. But you sound like you're interested in the power angle.

D.R.:It's more likely to get me where I want to go. It's always about who has the upper-hand in the relationship, "what's in it for me," etc. That wanting power is considered monsterous in society is highly hypocritical, but that is besides the point.

M.E.: This is sort of charmingly naive, in a way that only "young" sociopaths can be about the way the rest of the world runs. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, though. We all expect to see in others who we are ourselves, project if you will.

D.R.: I'm beginning to understand this. I guess I used to tell myself that everyone else was just putting on a front. Again, projecting. It was with no real insight other than a list of "symptoms" that I stumbled upon your blog. Assuming you are a sociopath, and what you say is true (and not just some elaborate deceit), then it seems to me sociopathy is more extreme realism than a disorder. I say this because in very many ways, I relate to the things you post, but I would hardly consider myself a "sociopath" in the common use of the term. I prefer the aformentioned realism. I write to you because I'm curious as to what your take would be. If nothing else, I find you highly logical, intelligent, and interesting.

M.E.: Yeah, the aspies and other empathy-challenged also believe that sociopathy is a form of extreme realism, because for them it is the closest anyone has ever come to describing their particular reality.

D.R.: Maybe. Since I had never been given the term "sociopath" to describe my behavior and viewpoint, realism is the label I thought fit me best.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Child custody fights (part 2)

A reader's experience in a child custody fight with her sociopath ex (cont.):
He was not happy with the amount they ordered him to pay, so he asked for a continuance. However they established visitation in a gradual step-up fashion. I was not happy with this at all. He had never shown an interest in my daughter before, but now - all of a sudden - with a price tag on my daughter, he was adamant about "following the court order" (touching, isn't it?). But there was an edginess to it all. He seemed panicked and his energy was all off. His once unshakable and confident demeanor seemed a bit desperate, reflected in his threats, his attempt to drop his wife's name at every opportune moment. So obvious, for someone who is usually so smooth. It became apparent that the wife still knew nothing, though he kept saying she did (methinks he protested too much).

Finally, in one last act of desperation, he drove over four hours to "talk honestly" with me, prior to a meeting I had with an attorney. I was thinking this was going to be some revelatory moment. And yet, it turned out to be more of the same threats and ultimatums. This time, however he threw in a deal. He would agree to less money per month and no visitation if I left him alone.

This is when it is helpful to know who you are dealing with. Had I been dealing with anything other than a sociopath, I would have said "hell no." The cards were in my favor. He was bluffing and it was obvious. No way would he risk visiting my daughter every weekend with the wife wondering what he was up to. But with a sociopath, I've learned, you have to let them think that they're winning. It appeases some control thing they have an insatiable appetite for. And regardless of how little the child support would have been, he would have come up with another number, I'm sure. He just had to feel like he was dominating the outcome in all of this.

Thanks to this website, I've learned much about how to best deal with him, but even so this was also through trial and error. I have lost several battles dealing with my ex, much to my frustration. I became emotional when I shouldn't have. I let him push my buttons when he refused to call my daughter by name. I reacted in fear when it seemed obvious he had objectified her, reduced to simply an obstacle that needed to be removed from his life. After much consideration, I decided to accept his offer. Though very tempting, to call him bluff would have infuriated him, and I have no doubt he would have periodically made my life uncomfortable. Initially, I would have felt satisfied that I got his goat. But it would have been short-lived and a small victory for small battle in a much larger war that held higher stakes. His offer affords us peace. And it affords him the illusion that he won.

As m.e. wrote in response to one of my emails "it would be better for my daughter to live in poverty than to have this man a part of her life."

My daughter and I get to live in peace, in a healthy environment, with tons of people to love us both. And we get a monthly allowance from the biological (albeit sociopathic) sperm donor.

Battle lost. War won.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Child custody fights (part 1)

One of my readers has been going through child custody issues with her sociopathic ex and father of her child. It's an interesting subject, and I do believe that there are pretty common mistakes that empaths predictably make. About the topic generally, this lovefraud post is actually sound advice. But for a more personal angle, I asked my reader to write her story summing up some of the advice I had given her and how she applied it to her particular situation:
How do you deal with a sociopath when he's fathered your child?

It wouldn't be such a big deal if there wasn't so much at stake. Sure, there's the whole business of my heart. He didn't just break it, he masterfully chiseled at it until there was nothing left. I hardly knew I was being tormented as he romanced me into insanity, literally through hell and back. But that's another story for another time. The end result was that I finally left with what shreds of dignity I had left. I was three months pregnant.

Our relationship was convoluted with other women, one of whom he married around the time I was about four months along. She never knew about me, much less the impending baby.

When my daughter was born, I filed for child support, confident he would not pursue visitation in order to protect both his marriage and reputation in his community. He is a charming, executive director of a well-known non-profit organization and is socially active in his town. This, I believed, was my leverage. I would soon learn that when you choose to engage in battle with a sociopath, nothing is what it appears to be, and you have to step into his world, his rules, his games. It is not for the weak or faint of heart. You have to be strong, have an undetectable poker face, and be ready to call bluff when the timing necessitates (but be ready for the consequences of calling bluff - it will generate a strong reaction from your sociopath, which is not advisable when children are involved).


It is also a delicate balance of knowing just exactly how far to push, and when to give in. I learned the hard way that you absolutely never, ever let a sociopath know what your vulnerability is. This seems like a no-brainer, but for me, the fear was all to real when he began to threaten me with visiting my infant daughter. Mistake Number One. It would prove to be a fatal mistake that would be difficult for me to overcome and regain my footing. I learned it became easier for me if he underestimated me. So I played the light-hearted airhead. Absent-minded, not a care in the world. This worked for a while. When it came closer to our court date, he pushed more and more to see my daughter. I told him he was more than welcome to stop by. And then I would inquire innocently how his wife was doing. This was just subtle enough to make him gently back off. We did this for a while until we met in court.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Sent to me by a reader. If you magnify the icon of Leopard's text editor (TextEdit) for mac computers you see the following:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Politicians and female sociopaths

Under the heading, "Is your favorite politician a sociopath?" at the Huffington Post:
What do John Edwards, Bob Barr, Rod Blagjevich, John Ensign, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, William Jefferson, William Jefferson Clinton, David Vitter, James McGreevy, Tom DeLay, Charles Rangel, Newt Gingrich, and David Paterson have in common?

Obviously, they're all politicians who've been caught doing something illegal, unethical, mind-bogglingly self-destructive, or all of the above.

But what also binds them is that none of them seem to believe they really did anything wrong, in spite of vast evidence to the contrary. When they finally have no option but to appear contrite, their apologies feel stilted, scripted and anything but heartfelt.

* * *

These are men (and yes, they're all men) who've operated all their lives in a world that rewards them more for their acting abilities than for who they really are.
What Patterson, Edward and these other pols are missing, at the most basic level, is an inner life: the capacity for introspection and self-awareness, or any reliable connection to a deeply held set of values.

The consequence is that they feel no impulse to take responsibility for the consequences of their behaviors.

In Jim Collin's terrific book Good to Great, he concludes that great leaders are characterized by a paradoxical blend of fierce resolve and great humility. The politicians who've failed us most egregiously have no shortage of fierce resolve. What they're lacking is any authentic humility: the capacity to recognize and own their shortcomings alongside their strengths.
I have a few reactions to this. First, regarding these people all being men: sociopathic traits seem to be equated with masculinity, for whatever reason. Maybe it is the desire for power? Or the ruthlessness? Whatever it is, sociopathic traits are valued more in men than women. Consequently, these traits would not benefit women as much as men and we wouldn't expect female sociopaths to succeed as much as male sociopaths. We trust men who seem confident, we don't trust women who seem confident because we feel like their confidence is probably a front: either they have something to hide (incompetence), they're just a selfish power hungry bitch, a narcissist, or they are likely out of touch. Otherwise they would realize that issues are a lot more complicated than they make it seem, so go back to your cooking and ironing, this is men's work -- that's the way confident women are often seen. But a power hungry man seems like a man with a plan -- a leader. A power hungry woman seems like someone with a bone to pick, or a personal vendetta.

Not surprisingly, female sociopaths seem most visible/influential in the sex/seduction context. Society welcomes a display of female power in the seduction context. It's kinky. Historically, the women who appear on most people's suspected sociopath list tend to be those whose sociopathic traits have been effective in seduction. Even cleopatra and other historic female leaders seem to be primarily remembered and admired for their skills of seduction and diplomacy, rather than their skill at successfully managing the domestic affairs of their nations -- i.e., exercising dominion over not just one smitten man, but over hordes of (emasculated?) men. It was great for Egypt's foreign policy that Cleopatra could bed all of Rome's leading men, but my impression is that her country seemed to have been running just fine before they showed up.

Second, it would not surprise me at all to hear that sociopaths make good politicians. I would expect them to be good at a number of things, actually. I would expect the number of sociopaths in the public eye to be at least as high proportionally as the number of sociopaths in the general public. Despite our low-achiever reputation due to high percentages in the prison population, our different way of looking at the world, charm, self-assuredness, and eye for exploitation opportunities would likely lead to success in any number of fields (am I looking at you, Bill Gates?). Plus politics is basically all about power. Why do you think anyone enters the game? There seems to be no money in it (if you're honest), or at least much less money than these people could get in the private sector. But I do think it makes people uncomfortable to think that the only people running their nations are so power hungry they would do anything to rule over others. There does seem to be a certain latent conflict of interest there...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sociopath code

A frequent question I get is how can sociopaths be good? Why would sociopaths choose to "do the right thing" if they don't feel the emotion "guilt" like everyone else does?

We all use short cuts to make decisions. It would be impossible for us to make a fully informed, reasoned decision every time such a decision was necessary. Empaths use emotional shortcuts, sociopaths don't/can't, so we come up with some other shortcut. A lot of sociopaths use shortcuts like "anything goes," or "I am only in it for me," but I have also met/talked to many sociopaths who have a more "principled" approach to life. I have met sociopaths who are utilitarian, a la Jeremy Bentham, or even Rawlsian. Some of my readers use religious codes to guide their actions. I use the shortcut of economic efficiency, gap-filled by Judeo-Christian ethics, which for me acts like a mental/emotional exercise regime -- monotonous drudgery, but ultimately good for mental/emotional health. The one thing that sociopath "codes" tend to have in common is that they don't fully map with prevailing social norms.

To my eyes, normal people lack a certain consistency in their sense of right and wrong. I think the American political parties are a good example of this. Why is the christian right against helping poor people? How can big government square with a desire to maximize individual freedoms? I have often wondered why people choose to be "conservative" or "liberal" rather than libertarian or socialist. My mind can't reconcile the seeming inconsistencies like other people's minds do, apparently.

One sort of bad thing about the sociopath's "code" compared to the empaths' is that the empath really drinks the Kool-Aid and believes that their way of life is "right," and has intrinsic meaning and purpose. Sociopaths get no such benefit from our codes, which is why our coping methods for dealing with the world, with all its uncertainties and pointlessness, are not always adequate to keep the darkness out of our minds and hearts.
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