Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Objects of lust

A socio reader asked: "How does it make you feel, knowing people have sexual fantasies of you? Do you feel anything besides the typical ego boost? I know my question is a little rhetorical, but answer anyway."

I responded:

Funny you should ask -- I've been in the unusual position recently in which I can almost guarantee that 15-30% of the people that interact with me at all on a daily basis have had sexual fantasies about me. That's much higher than my usual 3-5%. What accounts for the surplus? I've been in positions of power and authority over relatively powerless and not as attractive people. But it does make me dress up more and be better about flossing and moisturizing. Also I strike poses more often for their benefit, just a little something to remember me by.

How does it feel to know that people are fantasizing about me? Powerful, I guess -- more powerful the more people there are doing it. It seems funny to have power over people that way. Sex makes people weak in funny ways, I guess I mean. I was writing to someone else about sex and power and she asked if I ever use sex as a means to power. I told her never actual sex, there is no power in actual sex. It's much better to maintain the allure, the anticipation of sex, without actually consummating anything, and by much better I largely mean much cleaner. But you should know more about this with your BDSM interests.

Speaking of fantasies, I have had this horrible obsession with someone I barely know for the past few years (or more the idea of them) and i'm not flying to their city. Every time I go, I try to come up with some way to meet up with them, but it makes me feel so weak to want it so much that I don't contact them at all. I *need* power and control. I only *want* to have this person, and if I have to sacrifice some of my power and control to get them, it's not worth it. But I want this person so much and it's been for so long, it has been a thorn in my side.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Music cognition and broken brains

A reader sent me this New York Times article about music cognition that had a section on how people with Autism process music differently from everyone else, less emotionally:
Daniel J. Levitin, director of the laboratory for music perception, cognition and expertise at McGill University in Montreal, began puzzling over musical expression in 2002, after hearing a live performance of one of his favorite pieces, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27.

“It just left me flat,” Dr. Levitin, who wrote the best seller “This Is Your Brain on Music” (Dutton, 2006), recalled in a video describing the project. “I thought, well, how can that be? It’s got this beautiful set of notes. The composer wrote this beautiful piece. What is the pianist doing to mess this up?”

To decipher the contribution of different musical flavorings, [Levitan and a graduate student a pianist] perform snatches of several Chopin nocturnes on a Disklavier, a piano with sensors under each key recording how long he held each note and how hard he struck each key (a measure of how loud each note sounded). The note-by-note data was useful because musicians rarely perform exactly the way the music is written on the page — rather, they add interpretation and personality to a piece by lingering on some notes and quickly releasing others, playing some louder, others softer.

The pianist’s recording became a blueprint, what researchers considered to be the 100 percent musical rendition. Then they started tinkering. A computer calculated the average loudness and length of each note Professor Plaunt played. The researchers created a version using those average values so that the music sounded homogeneous and evenly paced, with every eighth note held for an identical amount of time, each quarter note precisely double the length of an eighth note.

Study subjects listened to them in random order, rating how emotional each sounded. Musicians and nonmusicians alike found the original pianist’s performance most emotional and the averaged version least emotional.
[T]he Levitin team found that children with autism essentially rated each nocturne rendition equally emotional, finding the original no more emotionally expressive than the mechanical version. But in other research, the team found that children with autism could label music as happy, sad or scary, suggesting, Dr. Levitin said, that “their recognition of musical emotions may be intact without necessarily having those emotions evoked, and without them necessarily experiencing those emotions themselves.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Suicidal depression

A reader asks:
I got a question for you: Are you prone to depression? Is it something sociopaths
gotta deal with?

Do you contemplate suicide?

For the past 2 weeks I can't think about anything else, I get depressed every now and then. It's sort of like seasons, I got a happy season where I am the king of the world and I can't be happier, I love my life etc etc.

Then all in a sudden I start missing things I used to like, I start missing my happiness then it all snow balls into thinking that life isn't worth it. And if you thinks properly about it, life isn't worth it at all, it doesn't have a meaning, it doesn't have a goal it's just a fucking rat race with no purpose what so ever.

And the boredom that I fell the emptiness within my one self, it's so hard to stand it's all so superficial, my friends say they like me, they always receive with such warmth and love but yet I can't appreciate it it all seems superficial. Like if they are lying right on your face and everyone is aware of it.

Maybe the thing that bothers me the most is the hardcore interest in something for a period of time and then the vanishing of interest.

That has happened with everything in my life. Girls, friends, uni, hobbies, movies, series. All sorts.

I thought I was a sociopath or a psychopath when I first read your blog and then maybe a narcissist but I don't really know if there is a way to class me, maybe maniac depressive?

I don't really know to be honest, it doesn't really matter, it's not knowing why I act the way I do that will change anything.

Is there anyone else like this out there?

The idea of killing myself sounds so appealing, such an easy way...
I said: You know, I have a vague recollection of being depressed, but honestly it's hard for me to really tap into any of those memories when I'm happy. When I am up, I tend to stay pretty up, can't imagine myself being any other way. What I do remember about any feelings of depression is that it is frequently accompanied by a sensation of deja vu -- I feel like I have experienced that feeling of depression before, although I do not have a specific memory of experiencing the depression. It's as if when I am up all I can remember are the good things, and when I am down I can suddenly tap into those other unhappy memories with much greater ease.

You might also want to consider whether you are just sick? Sometimes I mistake physical illness for negative "feelings." Or there's something else going with you besides sociopathy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest post: Morality

When I was five, there was a kid in a cafe where my Father would take me who would steal the toys from other kids. Apparently I would watch him steal the toys from other kids. When he decided to steal mine, I spat in his face, at which point he started crying and went to his mom. When questioned, I asked her why I would spit in his face. My Father highly approved, although did not tell me that he approved or had noticed for a number of years.

Around that time, I got the nickname Ender from my Mother's tech friends, due to my obsession with winning games. I figured out how to beat Civilization II without the ability to read, just playing it over and over and figuring out what the pictures meant.

When I got into third grade, my Mother started moving frequently, mostly for financial reasons. I have moved more than fifteen times in my life, but this is primarily of importance because the next several stories involve bullies who figured they'd pick on the new kid with glasses who read books. My general policy was to hurt them just enough they'd refrain from hurting me in the future.

There are only two cases which I find particularly of note. One was in fourth grade, where three kids tried to pick on me after school. I got one face down on the ground before the others could react, and threatened to hurt him if the others didn't back off. One backed off, but the other decided to call my bluff. I had to break the first kid's arm in order to make the courageous one stop hitting me, which I remember thinking as unfair, since he had given up as soon as I had him on the ground. The broken arm was blamed on him falling down some stone steps at the school, and I helped him get to the teachers. I do not tend to hold grudges.

The second was in seventh grade. A large pack of boys had gathered on the blacktop after school, having decided that if I'd fight two or three of them, I wouldn't fight back against five. They cornered me next to the school one day, and told me they meant to hurt me. I told them to hold on a second, dropped my books, and turned to the nearby brick wall. I then proceeded to bash my head against it until I could tell I was bleeding, turned around, and told them I was ready to fight. The guys began muttering about how they weren't going to fight some crazy bastard, and went away. It was the best way I could think of at the time to intimidate them into not fighting me, because I knew they'd win.

Until I was fifteen, I wasn't sure if I was gay, straight, or what. I simply did not feel attraction toward other people. It wasn't until I found a group who I found intellectually interesting that I became at all sexually active. It just wasn't important enough for me to bother before then. I tend to have one girlfriend at a time, with several girls I am involved with consistently, and then a number of random flings. The girlfriend is one of the major points where I find I deviate from the normal idea of a sociopath. My girlfriend is of genuine importance to me, and their well-being strongly effects my mood.

I do not tend to feel empathy toward most people, but my girlfriend is always part of a population which I call "My People". This has never been more than four people, and is generally at least two. They tend to define my self, with their opinions and advice shaping who I make myself to be.

I have a very strong personal code, which I have gained in large part from my Father, who also seems to function in a similar pattern as I do. I am not really able to articulate what this code is, other than that it requires I not harm others simply for pleasure, and that those close to me are particularly off limits.

Two years ago, around the time I turned sixteen, I started to realize that there is something different in how my brain works than the rest of the population. Sociopathy seems to be the closest thing to a proper diagnosis, but there are several things that simply due not fit with the traditional model. I am curious as to what you think about my particular makeup.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


From a socio reader:

S&M is cleaner sex, at times. I take it to a totally different unnecessary level (well, when I was sexual, haven't been in a while now), and make it messy with the blood that was shed, but S&M, is mental fucking more than anything. The masochist already has this fetish to be hurt and disrespected, which is a mental issue in its self, why would any one enjoy being disrespected and humiliated, and it is up to me to deliver this mind fuck that they want. I know of some Dommes that actually have sex with their pets, and customers, but for me I only want it to be mental. I will be able to control them anyway I want, and I am using sex (as in sexuality, being a woman) to do this. Power isn't created with the actual act unless it is rape, and even though rape is literal power over another, it isn't a meaning of creating power.

I actually can't stand sex. You know this much. Others were confused about being an asexual but engaging in S&M, and sadistic sex. It is definitely over rated (the act of sex). I can get my orgasm with some perverted thoughts and a dildo. I don't like people enough to have them hump me for minutes. Sex with women is far better, but I relate more to a male, and I love watching their reactions to my touch. Again though, I am not into vanilla sex (regular sex) that much, and I have cut off my sadistic sex completely.

I watched this old HBO series called OZ, and there was an inmate on death row for killing two women through strangulation or suffocation during sex. He confessed to killing over 39 women, but told the priest that he "loved" them all, and that he truly "loved" all types of women. When asked why kill them if you love them he replied, "Loving someone means they own part of you, and I refuse to be owned by anyone."

Monday, April 18, 2011

IM conversation with a friend

M.E.: there are times when i'm around people that i get the feeling they think i'm a little off

Friend: hah

M.E.: that happened with gay neighbor today when i seemed overly worried about my own self instead of the guy who actually got fired. also today with the subletters.

Friend: yeah. well, it's true you don't always hide your self-interest as well as the rest of us

M.E.: ha. it's why i try to purposefully be generous, though
(1) i know what effect it will have on others
(2) i have the peaceful assurance of knowing that although i can be a leech in many ways, i won't get a bad reputation because i am mysteriously and inexplicably generous in random ways

Friend: hah. yeah. everyone is happy in the end

M.E.: right, i get what i most want and give only those things that i am more than happy to give

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The cruel aspie

I have a particularly hostile and clueless aspie in my worklife. Although I found his machinations incredibly annoying, I didn't react in the emotional way that he seemed to be expecting. This made the aspie try harder to be cruel at first, thinking perhaps that he just wasn't pressing the right buttons to send me over the edge. When I continued to react with apathy to his insults and played his games back on him until I got the upperhand, he began playing the victim, although not credibly because of the papertrail he left that I had the foresight to maintain. The weird thing about this sudden shift to the victim role is that I think he actually believes that he is the victim. In fact, he is the one that I tweeted about who vehemently complained that he was "a decent human being" (which he most certainly is not) and as such does not "deserve to be treated this way" (which he most certainly does).

This interpersonal "drama" is why I found this email from an aspie reader particularly interesting, both for the parallels (particularly a proneness to callous manipulation and self-deception) and the differences (whatever the relevant psychologist thinks they may be):
When I was 7 I was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome.

Until recently I had not realised that I was as cruel of a person as I see I am now in retrospect.

Whilst growing up I would physically attack my brother until he started to bleed, and when he did my only thoughts were for myself that I might get caught.

I manipulated people and lied to get more money from my mother (my parents divorced when I was age 6). I am no longer violent, But I am extremely emotionally manipulative and I still lie regularly without realising it.

After breaking up with my (now ex) girlfriend, she made me realise these things about myself. When I was with her, despite feeling that I should love her, I treated her with spite and coldness. When she would ask me to proofread her writing I would tell her I found the style boring and that I was astounded she received good marks for something so poorly constructed. I was contemptuously jealous of her ability to write so well. I would treat her like an unintelligent child when we debated and when she cried herself to sleep telling me of how her father never showed her any affection and was utterly self obsessed, I did not react. I saw such a time as merely an opportunity to become closer to her, gain more of her trust. I do not feel remorse for these actions although I do miss her affection and wish I had not been so cruel if only so she'd still be with me.

I told her that I suspected I was a sociopath and could not love her. I thought my honesty would be welcomed and she could help me become a better person. She left instead.

This was kinda crushing, not that I did love her, but because I was dependant on her to support me emotionally. I thrive on being loved, but as I am such an obliviously callous person (which I only realised recently) people find it difficult to love me. I also tend to discard people when they outlive their usefulness.

I was doing research on the subject to confirm my suspicion when I came across your blog. It seems as though my situation is congruent with the diagnosis, so I went to see a psychologist to find out if I could get help. I explained my childhood diagnosis and the psych seemed absolutely sure that I am not a sociopath and that I in fact do have aspergers syndrome.

She explained what Aspergers syndrome entails and how it fits my queries just as well as sociopathy, even slightly better.

I then came across a post on your blog about the difference in perception between "aspies" and sociopaths ("soc's"[SO-shez]). It occurred to me that even though I am perceived as a harmless, socially awkward, 'genius', I am just as bad if not worse than people who's correct diagnosis would label them as 'serial killers' or 'child molesters' what have you.

This is really just plain wrong. I would like to talk further with you and help in anyway I can with this issue of inequality of public perception. Having read so much it is clear to me that aspergers and sociopathy are similar disorders and poisonous associations in wider society will just continue to perpetuate themselves with books such as "the sociopath next door", and "the snakes in suits." It sickens me that you would be treated as a monster when I am treated with respect for essentially very similar neurological disorders.
So there you have it: tell a girl you're a sociopath and get broken up with, tell a girl you're an aspie and maybe get some pity sex.

Friday, April 15, 2011


From a reader:
First of all, outwardly I appear charming and intelligent with a readily engaged sense of humor. By the way, laughter is something I've learned to fake perfectly. Very few things are actually funny to me and most of those include scenarios where someone gets conned even for the hell of it or some other kind of misery in those around me.

Speaking of other people's pain - I understand it perfectly on a totally intellectual level but can't feel it myself. When my uncle died recently I had to wear sunglasses a lot because I can't cry on cue (yet). I liked the guy because he was smart and could carry a conversation with me, but the fact that he's gone is absolutely no bother to me at all - I'm not happy about it, it just doesn't make much difference to me.

I honestly don't care for people very much but I keep them around for the same reason I imagine a chess king covets his pawns - they're useful and if I exploit them enough they become invaluable. I'm good at this - to me human interaction is based around a simple principle: you give so you can take, and if you're wise you can give very little and receive a lot.

I've given it some thought and I realized that I have feelings but not emotions - feelings are anger, desire, physical satisfaction - all things I experience powerfully. An emotion is, if you ask me, an attachment to someone based on one of those basic instincts - this is what I lack. I don't care about people at all except for what they can give me and I take a lot of pleasure in subtly manipulating their
emotions when they aren't doing what I want.

I am a thrill-seeker. I have no driver's license and I enjoy stealing my parents' cars at night and going out to party with friends, then sneaking into their room and leaving them by the bed so "there's no way I stole them, Mom." I steal cash, from everyone, but only when I know with absolute certainty that I won't get caught - different people have different thresholds for their likelihood to notice, obviously. Once I do something like this it becomes boring and any small adrenaline rush I may have derived from it is gone.

I have violent fantasies with slight sexual undertones - kidnapping someone, anyone, and doing whatever I want to them for as long as it takes for me to get bored before ritualistically killing them and disposing of the body. I drift off sometimes when people piss me off (which is almost all the time - they are, for the most part, pathetic and weak) and have fantasies like this - for example, I was sitting behind a friend of mine in a car - the man wouldn't shut up so I imagined how easy it would be to loop my shoelace round his neck and just pull till the struggling stopped. These thoughts don't scare me - there is no sense of shame associated with them - they are simply a part of who I am.

It's strange, but as a child I was outwardly very normal. I never understood certain things like birthdays but I did understand that it was important to fake it, so I did. I was never violent but I was constantly prodding at other kids' emotional weak spots for fun. They would go to the teacher and tattle, but I chose such a trivial problem that the adults basically told them to suck it up - and they did. When another child angered me I did this in earnest to spectacular, tearful results. This is how I got my real jollies as a kid but it was never picked up on by the adults around me - I'm a master at charming people older than me and prefer them to those my age - their behavior is much more linear. When I was seven years old my father took me to a lab party (he's a genetic researcher) and I amazed a table of his seven colleagues and boss with my knowledge of the immune system while my parents stood in the background looking politely embarrassed.

I want to know what the readership thinks because, being underage, I can't get a Hare
Checklist (PCL-R) done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How would you feel?

From a reader:
I find your blog fascinating. While I have sociopathic tendencies, there are certain traits I have that rule me out as a true sociopath. However, I follow your blog and I came across an article that I thought you might find interesting. I'd also love to know how you would react to a situation like this.

The gist of the article is that a female gorilla in a Korean zoo lost her life-long 25 year companion/cell mate. She is inconsolable. The only other gorilla she knew is gone.

In a closed environment such as this, without interaction beyond that of one other person, how would a sociopath act? I know for myself, I am a completely malleable personality that revels in my many different personae I can call upon at will. But I started thinking how I would feel in this situation. If I was forced to spend the next 25 years with only one man, how would my personality settle? Would it change? Would a 'real me' come out? Or would it just be the same personality for all 25 years, while I would know deep down that it isn't the real me, since the real me doesnt exist? And when I lost this one man forever, where would my sense of loss come from? Would it be simply the anger generated by loss of someone you needed or would it be supreme sadness rooted in deep emotion?

I am aware that sociopaths feel emotion, but I am asking what that emotion would feel like if there was no one left to play with; no one left to charm; no one left to dispose of - just this one other soul to keep you company until they died, leaving you all alone. I know the idea of isolation is hell to most sociopaths. But what I would like to know is what people hypothesize the relationship and their role in it would be like if they were trapped in a closed environment with only one other person for 25 years. Would the sociopathic behaviors/desires increase, remain the same, or would they diminish? Minus a group of victims (sorry to be general with that term), how would a sociopathic personality react to having just one and only one person at their fingertips? Would the behaviors even be able to be classified as sociopathic.
M.E.: It's hard to imagine, honestly. I think it would seem nice at first to only have to interact with one person. I've gone through periods when I am tired of having to wear so many different masks. Not having to change masks all the time would in some ways free me to be able to have more of my "own" thoughts. But I think I would also feel like a retiree -- when you're in the midst of a grind, you can't help but fantasize about having more freedom to pursue being you, but the daily grind of work life also defines you so much that when it goes away there could be the sensation of a "lack" of "you". I think that this proneness to lack of self-definition contributes largely to the persistent feeling of "emptiness" that plagues sociopaths. One time i referred to it as always being aware of the abyss and people accused me of being dramatic, but i meant it in the literal sense -- a void, a vacuum of not just self or sense of self but of non-relativistic reality.

My brain is like a stomach whose lining has a hole, it constantly needs stuff to process otherwise it starts eating itself, so to speak. So I guess in answer to your other question about what would I do/feel if I were in complete isolation, I would probably lose all track of reality and sense of self and go crazy. But isn't everyone like that? What an odd flaw to have in the human psyche.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A letter from a former forensic psychology student

From a reader:
I've been reading your blog about six months and I must say it is most refreshing to discover a page that does not villify sociopaths, painting them as these evil people whom want nothing more than to roam the Earth manipulating, raping and killing. Your blog has confirmed for me what textbooks could not. Reading through many of the self-reflective posts I find myself identifying with them. I came to your blog unsure as to what exactly I was, I knew I was different and I certainly matched up with a lot of the traits that are succinct in ASPD, however I did not believe myself to be one as I can have emotions such as happiness, anger, sadness. I was what society considers normal up until about the age of 12 (I even distinctly remember feeling guilty for ruining something that belonged to someone else and seeing their reaction), following a rather traumatic incident, coupled that with constant bullying through both primary and secondary school my ability to feel guilt ceased, (I can't ever recall feeling empathy).

I learnt very quickly how to manipulate those around me. I did however have to learn how to be socially graceful as those around me and I grew up. The best way I can describe it is, "it's like performing a group dance that you don't know. You watch those around you and attempt to emulate them, however you'll always be one or two steps behind." There is one particular incident that sticks out in my mind. I was 18 and in my final year of school, one morning a friends dad had died, the school gathered our year together, told us and then told us to take all the time we needed and to go to class whenever. I sat down with my group of friends, all looking miserable and pensive. I did not understand how they could feel this way, it was not their dad who had died, it would not directly affect them. However I knew that I must follow suit, so I sat there looking miserable and pensive like the rest, the foremost thought in my mind being "I can't be the first to leave, I hope someone goes soon, after the first person leaves I'll wait a couple of minutes then head off, the ground is really uncomfortable."

I'm 20 years old now, studying psychology at university with the original intention of gaining a PhD in Forensic psychology, however after seeing first hand what's involved in the research side of the profession I've switched my focus to that of a medical degree. The reason for this partly being as I see it as the ultimate challenge, when I was much younger doctors appeared to be these omnipotent beings that us mere mortals could only hope to be like. Which brings me to my next conclusion, I am not just a sociopath, I am sociopath with narcisstic tendencies (not something I'm proud of). I do part-time work in the bar/gaming industry, I excelled at that, not because I wanted the satisfaction of having done a good job (that concept is laughable to me), but because I wanted to move up. I'm the youngest person working for that business and I have more responsibiltes than people twice my age.

I'll end this with an anecdote that shall lead into a question. In class we were studying, ASPD and the question of Nature Vs. Nurture was raised, loving a good argument I decided to throw my two cents in and suggested a hypothesis that no-one else was considering, as members of the class were either on the side of nature OR nurture, but never considering that the answer could be both, which led to an interesting ten minute discussion. I used the knowledge I have of my own personality to come up with the idea. Having NEVER felt empathy, but having felt guilt at one point could it be possible that people possess certain genes/characteristcs (whatever you wish to call them) at birth, that give them the potential to become sociopathic, however only when placed in certain situations does the sociopathy present itself, if for example I hadn't gone through the traumatic event, if I'd had a normal schooling life as opposed to one rife with bullying would I be "normal" now?

Food for thought!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Arms race

What to do when you encounter another socio? Engage them? Ignore them? Give them a wide berth?

When you meet socios in real life, there's a recognition that can happen. One time I was out with a friend of a friend. He said something about another guy being Jewish and I asked, "How do you know?" He said that when you are a "member of the tribe" like he is, you tend to pick up on other identifying marks in others. I think the same is true of sociopaths. The mask a sociopath wears is directed at the public, not at other sociopaths, so naturally it will not work as well for sociopaths. It would be like hiding behind a wall when your predator primarily uses echolocation or infrared to identify its prey rather than visual sight.

In response to last week's articles on sociopath co-workers, a sociopath reader told me about her own encounters with a sociopathic co-worker, to which I asked her:
Do you think she also has your number? Do you think she will be a problem? I often wonder whether it is better to do an open arms race, so they know they can't initiate any form of aggression without immense retaliation, or whether it is best to secretly stockpile. Which will you take with this co-worker?
She responded:
My co-worker is definitely aware now. It is only a problem in that she has mentioned, "I think so-and-so and I think the same way," many times in different ways, and I am concerned that she will get caught in some shenanigan and people will remember that statement. When it comes to setting up territory or what have you, I am pretty lazy, so unless there is a direct conflict of I want this and she wants that, where she isn't willing to give in, I don't forsee a problem. Also, we have different styles. For example, as people go, she has gotten very close to our manager and director. I, on the other hand, have gotten close to the manager's closest friend, the director's most trusted adviser, and a manager from another work group. This is my preferred practice, as any influence won't look like it came from me and any benefits won't look like a person favoring someone they are closer with. The outside guy is in case something needs to come from outside the team and because he is well-respected in the company by all groups. There are four of us that spend time together on our team, and she picked one and I picked the other. Most importantly, when project assignments came up and she wanted the same as me, she backed right off as soon as I stated my preference.

Given your options, I am a "secretly stockpile" type of person.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Acting the part (part 2)

M.E.: I've been put in a situation at work recently with social rejects and it is amazing the sort of things I am able to get away with around them, little slip ups, etc., that used to trip me up with some of my smoother colleagues. I think I wrote about this once, that I do very well in the first 30 minutes of sustained talking to someone (very charming), but the longer it lasts, there is more mental fatigue plus I start running out of completely safe topics or canned material. I often think the best way to figure out whether someone is a sociopath or not is to force them to keep talking with you until they start to crack and you start to see what's underneath. It would depend on the person, but I think that someone familiar with sociopaths would definitely be able to notice warning signs after about 4-6 hours of sustained one on one interaction. The trick would just be to isolate the potential sociopath for that long.

The possibility of being outted through conversation is what makes a fake diagnosis of Asperger's appealing to me because when you do slip up they'll just attribute it to that rather than getting online and googling your symptoms…


:) The 30 minute conversation is a little long for me- I was always great for about 20. I find, now, that I can sustain long conversations better as long as I have a goal with each one, like, "During this conversation, I'm going to work toward getting participant A to agree with me on 3 statements, so he files me away as like-minded." or "During this conversation, I'm going to change her mind on this, which would make my life slightly easier." I still have a limit, certainly, and I definitely get the mental fatigue you mentioned, but more than that I get bored. A person's drivel just doesn't hold my interest unless I am actively doing something with it.

The asperger's Dx is definitely appealing for covering slip-ups. I mentioned the possibility of aspergers to my husband, but his response was something to the effect of, "You don't have aspergers. You're just a psychopath who wants to be lazy." He is so funny.

As far as detecting other p/s individuals, I do try to keep an eye out so as to not get in their way. Don't get me wrong- I will take something I want, but I'm not interested in starting something with another p/s unless it is worth the effort and potential exposure. Co-worker 2 from the story hit some key p/s points the first week I knew her. I actually came home the first day and told Aristotle that my first day was good and that he should watch out for coworker2 (my work does a lot of whole-family events, so he spends a good bit of social time with the job people). During a safety training, when the speaker was flashing up gruesome pictures of the bad that can happen when being unsafe with the kinds of materials and equipment we use, I scanned the faces around the room, and all but two were disgusted immediately. Coworker 2 smiled first. :) Since, I've seen her mask slip just a little, here or there. At lunch, when the chatter moves to something morally or ethically based, she always waits for another's opinion and piggy-backs. When anything controvercial comes us, she takes the groups temperature before committing. Finally, the girls and I were all out drinking recently, when we were sharing our back-stories, and her's was one of early divorce, managing a mother with a pd, and mild sexual abuse by a step father. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly triggers for a potential p/s. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Acting the part (part 1)

From a reader:
I've had a fun experience a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd share.

I've moved from working in academia, where those in power see those below them as either dismissible and squish-able piss-ants or disciples, to a company where people are more on equal footing. Over the years, I learned to adapt the sweet and lovable little girl act I had designed for adults to a cute an innocent chick act for guy-games to the wide-eyed mentee act in academia. My so-sweet-I'm-quirky (and-non-threatening!) status has always served me well. I was never suspect when my shenanigans could have pointed toward me. Teflon. I was free do make happen whatever I'd like. Now that I'm in industry and nearing my 30's, I don't think I can quite pull that persona off without about 10 cats and dresses with shoulder pads and tiny flowers. I recognize this, but it is still the character I've trained to slip into when my personality is on auto-pilot. I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and some of my new colleagues took me out to lunch. At the end of the meal, a personalized cake arrived, complements of the team. Showing over-gratitude endears people to me as long as it seems genuine (and I definitely pull off genuine), so when paying I held up the remnants of the cake and told the cashier (with a big smile) "My friends bought me a cake for my birthday! They are wonderful!"

Here's the fun part. Co-worker 1 leaned over to co-worker 2 and said, "And she says she doesn't have Aspergers." ! :) !!!!!! This was in reference to an earlier comment as Co-worker 1 does, indeed, have Aspergers and we had been talking about it. As a side note, co-worker 2 is most likely a p/s type, but much younger, so we have non-colliding orbits. Probably more on her at another time. This is thrilling. I'm going to have to work a little to pull off mild Aspergers, but Aspie Co-worker 1 making those comments certainly won't hurt. It seems like this would give me cover on any non-empath-like comments I make or actions I take, while allowing me to appear to be a cute little Aspie. :) This will require that I encourage the development of the comments from Co-worker 1, but luckily both 1 and 2 are pleasant to have around, so crafting her message and my image should be some fun.
M.E.: I love this. I try to play the aspie card whenever possible and appropriate. Aspies themselves are a little harder to trick. They can recognize that you are different from other neurotypicals, but they also recognize that you're not quite like them either, without necessarily being able to put a finger on why exactly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Giving in

One symptom of my life being too legitimate recently is an increasing need to exercise self-control, a resource that recent research suggests is in limited supplies:

Results suggest that "people have a diminishable supply of energy that the body and mind use to engage in self-control," says study author Kathleen Vohs, a consumer psychology professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "When people use this energy toward achieving one goal, they have less of it available to use toward achieving other goals."

Results suggest loss of self-control resources isn't the same as being tired, she says. "The ability to engage in self-control is determined by prior use of self-control, not by how much sleep one had the night before."
Sian Beilock, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago, says it's interesting that "being taxed in terms of doing one task can have these spillover effects on another." People may think they can compartmentalize the different tasks they do during the day, but it turns out they are all connected, she says.
For the rest of us, Vohs recommends being more mindful of priorities:

"When you want to engage in good self-control, the best thing that you can do for yourself is set up your day so you exert your self-control resources toward that specific task you want to succeed at."
Maybe this explains why I have been needing so much alone time recently. My social interactions used to be casual, more for pleasure and relaxation. As my life gets more legitimate, more of my social interaction is professional and highly visible. Consequently, I have had to exercise more self-control in dealing with others. However it is important to realize that exercising self-control in one situation, even in a relatively meaningless social interaction, could hurt the amount of self-control I could muster in another situation in which it might be more important for me to exercise self-control.

The article is right, it's a question of being mindful of priorities and not being a spendthrift with scarce resources. Instead of denying myself all the time, I should find healthier outlets so I can be around people without exercising so much self-control, perhaps athletics or music.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let's play doctor

From a reader:
I was wondering about sociopaths and have a feeling that I may be one.
So I've been scouring the internet searching for some sort of answer. Every site has different answers to what makes one as well as their tendencies differ. Unfortunately it seems I can confirm a majority of the tendencies. I play mind games with people and enjoy it when I hurt them through them. Breaking people up making them cry. Weird things like that. Also since noticing that I'm positive for things like that I've been thinking back on certain things. Everything I ever do causally with other people some how turns into a contest in my mind and I have to do everything possible to win. Extreme hatred towards loud obnoxious rude people (aka narcissist).

Also my ultimate goal is to take over the world... Has been for a long time. Long before I even started thinking about if I was a sociopath. I have had daydreams and dreams of gaining power for as long as I can remember. I've also had other dreams from about when I was 13. The first one was watching some kill themselves and it was extremely exciting. There have been other ones. Most recently I've been excited from the thought of watching as a rain of fire kills everyone on the earth. I know these things are "Wrong" but the thoughts of killing people is so exciting. I don't see anything wrong with it. It's supposedly just our animal instincts to kill. Of course I wouldn't kill anyone for pure pleasure right now. I still have no power and even though I could probably get away with it saying that they attacked me first. It would be a waste of time right now. I have an obvious lack of respect for human rights and people as people. I've thought before this that people are simply tools and I still do.

Your recent sociopath test was extremely helpful. The second question is exactly what I've always done for as long as I can remember. Lies about things that happened to gain sympathy, trust, or interest from other people. My favorite one is pretending to be grieving for an old friend who died of cancer. Of course I've learned that if you add some truth from a story that you have heard or read people believe it instantly. Yes again to questions 3,4,6,7,8 and 12.

As for why I think I am a sociopath I noticed it awhile ago when reading up on some stuff online and I came across the term sociopath for the first time. Now that I've read your site more I'm almost positive that I am. I guess I just came asking you for confirmation. Kinda pointless. I don't think it's a bad thing to be one. In fact supposedly from all I've read being a sociopath makes you superior to everyone else. That's pretty much all I can come up with to tell you. I don't know if you can tell me if I am one but thank you for your time either way. The only other question now is whether I was born one or if it was from childhood trauma. A bit of both I think. My parents were a bit abusive at times. Anyways thank you for your time and your Blog. It has been extremely helpful.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Guest post: Protectionism

When dealing with a social path one must ALWAYS remember and look for those signs that are what I call "Protectionism"...

Here are the (real life) signs I endured;
  • Look for other bank accounts or funding that will aid their "escape" when they are ready to leave.
  • What they show as a "openness" such as the sharing of email passwords, bank accounts, etc. or things that typically would be shared between "trusting" couples, you can bet they have another bank account they funding, another email account they are confiding or undermining the relationship to someone they trust very much...Maybe a Sister, Mother or a "friend" that you will seldom have access to or see very sparingly as to ensure "innocent" conversations never lead to some information accidentally leaked out.
My comments to the above: My wife has what I call "Escape-ability Issues"... When one looks at her history, funding her "escape" from day one is key. They will bankroll their plan by skimming a few dollars here or there. What my wife did was to take full advantage of my lazy and uninterested attitude in what bills needed to be paid, how much was being deposited or taken out of the accounts. For me, as long as the bills were paid and no bill collectors calling - I was fine. This was the key for her. While both our pay checks were deposited into the same account it didn't take long for her to open another account in another State (Usually where a relative or Friend lives). From there, she would take a few hundred dollars and U.S. MAIL it to that friend to deposit into the "secret" account. Soon as I was to learn she actually had 5 bank accounts.

As our divorced neared, I began to check the bank statements.As my trust in her built, the bank accounts were created. By the last 4 years of our marriage those bank statements showed my 2 checks per month being deposited and only one of hers (because she knew my habits of never checking) What really gave this away were the many Post office Receipts I found from many Post Offices around her job, where we shopped and a few near us but nearly all the receipts continued to show the same amount ($1.06) and certified mail. It was the weight of these envelopes that were all the same...In a test, I mailed myself a check to my house from one of the same post offices she used. The weight and cost was exactly what showed on those receipts. I then asked for the cost to States using the same method she mailed to (California, N.C., PA.) and it was the exact same for the weight.

Lastly, Watch for those (seemingly) innocent trips. In my Case just two months before we were to be married, her Mother was in NYC, just a few hours from where we lived yet, she met up with her Mother but....Advised me it was a "Girl meeting"....Like, WTF? We're getting married in two months, I never met her Mother and this was a great chance (Her mother lived in California)...Yet, she didn't want me to meet her.

In another instance, her "Best Friend" was getting married but only the wife was invited....I later found the invitation with both our names. Her "Best Friend" was also the person she was sending checks to deposit to for years.
My best guess is that she never wanted us to meet thus jeopardizing innocent conversation to reveal anything....Which means, my Wife was probably lying to her to make deposit's...and of course, setting up the stage of when she left...She had the perfect cover story....The old, "I never wanted to tell you"...

They Calculate like a Cray Computer but, sooner or later when they are discovered failing to note some "loose ends", they leave your life as fast as they came into it and they have no fear because they have already funded their escape. They move on to their next prey.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest post: Sociopaths in manga

I've been thinking about certain Japanese anime and manga I am audience to recently, and I realize that openly sociopathic characters, or at least characters that fit those criteria without being labeled as such, seem to be more common in roles that do not involve out-and-out villainy. I'm not certain whether there might be a difference in cultural perceptions involved, but I suspect that diverse sociopathic characters are more common in Japanese media simply because, freed from regular social conventions, you can do more things with them than other types of characters.

There is one sociopathic villain who sticks out in my mind because, unlike most in Western media, he *doesn't* fit the mold of an unrepentant murder-rapist - Izaya Orihara, of the light novel, manga, and anime series called 'Durarara'.

Izaya is a twenty-six-year-old information broker living in the Tokyo district of Ikebukuro. The chief joy he gets out of life is simply playing with other people's intentions and expectations, and he uses his occupation as an excuse to screw with people on a professional basis. In addition to this, he has a particular modus operandi that seems to suit all of his purposes simultaneously:

Step 1: Find a high-school-age girl, preferably an insecure or withdrawn one.
Step 2: Ply the girl with attention until she is completely infatuated with him.
Step 3: Plant the girl as a spy/information gatherer wherever he feels she is necessary.
Step 4: Once he has gotten enough use out of her, find ways to undermine her confidence and self-worth, which are at this point totally dependent on his approval.
Step 5: Repeat ad nauseam.

In the very first two episodes of the anime, Izaya contracts a group of kidnappers working for an unlawful pharmaceutical company to abduct one of the girls who works under him in this way. Once she is rescued by the heroine, the trauma has affected her so badly that she goes to the top of an abandoned building with the intent to jump off the roof, but relents at the last minute. Izaya takes the opportunity to pop up, revealing that he's been following her the entire time, and congratulates her - on doing exactly what he thought she would do in the aftermath of such an event. He goes on to tell her, in a syrupy tone, that he's rather disappointed in her now... because she's not *quite* as special as he initially thought. Her anguish at this latest insult and manipulation is palpable, and once he leaves she really does jump, but is again saved (physically and emotionally) by the heroine, which is fortunate for her because it releases her from Izaya's control.

Izaya mentions in passing that he loves humans - 'humans' being the operative word, because it indicates that he thinks of himself as being on a separate level from them. This does indeed seem to be true, but not in the way that normal love is expressed. As far as he is concerned, his use and abuse of others is a fitting expression of affection, and despite his skill at manipulation he seems to be unable to grasp the sincerity of other people's feelings. Late in the series, when he ends up in the hospital, a girl who has been covering for him (in a complicated way) by pretending that both her legs are still broken has a breakdown and bursts into his hospital room with the intent to kill him. Her own stress is so great that she breaks down crying - and Izaya, startlingly, responds to this by embracing her and telling her how much he still loves her.

Why is this significant? Because Izaya is easily the most popular character in the series. Fans do not downplay his sociopathic tendencies at all - in fact, they actively revel in them, and look upon him as hugely entertaining. I find myself hard-pressed to argue with them, considering that he is a man who thinks nothing of using his connections to hound a particular target he's been hired to search for, then turning up moments after the man trips and falls flat on his face and jumping up and down on him like a trampoline. If what Izaya does isn't hilarious in a mean way, it's still damnably fascinating to watch.
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