Friday, September 30, 2011

Traders > psychopaths

As a sometime dabbler in the stock market, I found amusing this Der Spiegel article about traders being not necessarily more ruthless than psychopaths, but definitely more pointlessly vindictive:
According to a new study at the University of St. Gallen seen by SPIEGEL, . . . stockbrokers' behavior is more reckless and manipulative than that of psychopaths. Researchers at the Swiss research university measured the readiness to cooperate and the egotism of 28 professional traders who took part in computer simulations and intelligence tests. The results, compared with the behavior of psychopaths, exceeded the expectations of the study's co-authors, forensic expert Pascal Scherrer, and Thomas Noll, a lead administrator at the Pöschwies prison north of Zürich.

Appetite for Destruction

"Naturally one can't characterize the traders as deranged," Noll told SPIEGEL. "But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test."

Particularly shocking for Noll was the fact that the bankers weren't aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage. Instead of taking a sober and businesslike approach to reaching the highest profit, "it was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents," Noll explained. "And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents."

Using a metaphor to describe the behavior, Noll said the stockbrokers behaved as though their neighbor had the same car, "and they took after it with a baseball bat so they could look better themselves."

The researchers were unable to explain this penchant for destruction, they said.
As continued here:
Faced with a hypothetical choice between co-operating for everyone’s benefit and getting a predictable reward or cheating and possibly getting more for themselves, traders were more likely than psychopaths to cheat, said Noll.

As a result, psychopaths, who broke the rules occasionally, won the most, ordinary people, who almost always played by the rules and who co-operated, came in second, while traders, who didn’t care how their actions affected anyone else, cheated the most and won the least.
Sounds like a violation of the Diamond Rule to me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fan mail (part 2)

i like this a lot. can i publish it?


I was hoping you wouldn't respond, that you'd prove me wrong. It would have been nice if your reaction would have been briefly thinking "What an asshole" before hitting the delete button. That would have been the non-sociopathic response. Almost everything I said was a lie, by the way, including my professed love of "stalking" sociopaths and the rosy nostalgia I painted such "victories" with. I was just engaging in a behavior that gets a specific behavioral response. I was wondering if your awareness of your sociopathy, and your openness about it gave you increased ability to act cognitively in ways that I have found sociopaths to be almost entirely behavioral.

I actually believe sociopathy makes some necessary contribution to humanity (though I don't know what it is), and the fact that it still exists in a fairly significant portion of the population is evolutionary evidence of that. The problem isn't genetic sociopathy, it's the intentional creation of imitation sociopaths through education and socialization that is destroying our species. Those bogus sociopaths engage in cruelty and stupidity because of social pressure while lacking the filter of self interest that true sociopaths possess, self-interest that will curb a sociopaths destructive appetites when they become aware that those appetites are self-destructive. Imitation sociopaths have no such awareness or ability to change their behavior. They don't engage in sociopathic behavior for the thrill of it, they do it because they are required to, and the joy they feel is fleeting.They usually hit the bottle or eat a bullet once their immersion in the occupation requiring that sociopathy, and hence their emotional defense against their past sociopathic behavior, ends. Once the social controls of occupational socialization no longer shield them, the remorse creeps in and can become completely overwhelming (PTSD is one common disorder that can arise from engaging in and witnessing extreme sociopathic violence as well as from personal trauma).



Is also a common behavior of sociopaths- the compulsion to indicate that they are not the person they are pretending to be. Providing some cryptic signature with a dual meaning known only to them, but which will skate by without attracting the attention of the reader makes the lie more enjoyable, for some reason. I have had occasion to notice this behavior and test my assumption in real life- jesus, what a piece of work that guy turned out to be. The paper trail of legal documents he left in his wake showed a Goddamn monster. Good thing you guys have that habit though, because he developed some sort of gay infatuation with me because of my writing, and then became openly sociopathic when I didn't respond (not gay). I had to blindside him with the fact that I knew everything about him, including his home address, and since he knew nothing about me, it would be in his best interests to just go away- so he did.

That's an example of what I meant when I said that your behavior is a lie but your words are true.

You can post my first email, along with this one to your site for visitors to freely read, but I don't give any permission to use it in any other manner, place, or for any commercial purpose.

Doctor Leroy Mclovin,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fan mail (part 1)

From a reader:
Loved your sociopath blog. I bet you love all the emails from dipshits trying to "help" or relate to you. "It's a lonely life" waaaaah! waaaah!

I'm not a sociopath, I feel guilt, love, remorse, responsibility, etc. Deeply so, as a matter of fact. So deeply that I will hold to my nonsensical morality in the face of death. I consistently act against my own best interest to the benefit of others. but I can imitate you to perfection. I can also immediately spot sociopaths. You are plastic people. Walking blow up dolls.

I stalk sociopaths online from time to time, actually sent a couple of you to prison for sex offenses just from their behavior on messageboards- and they were typical sociopaths- well respected in the community, their disease hidden completely, and they attempted to use the weight of the entire community against me, failing miserably(direct, hostile confrontation with sociopaths to humiliate them publicly works wonders. Make you fuckers scared, use words like a cattle prod to force you to cross the line, since there's a bear trap there waiting for you on the other side). I've had contests that lasted years and watched sociopaths crumble, their spirit just snap, their sociopathy dragged out into the light and their actions become an object of open ridicule. God it's beautiful.

Here's your weakness (and I can tell you this because you have absolutely no control over it- no ability to act differently. I can tell you today and still lure you in under a different identity tomorrow), you are attracted to more "advanced" sociopaths (I'm sure you've noticed how other sociopaths will flock to you because of the blog). You idolize and despise them. Like moths to a flame, you want the power they seem to possess, and then you want to destroy them with it. . .and that power that you perceive them to possess, which you are so strongly drawn to, is the power that person has to SEE behavior in the words of others, the power to dissect and destroy the human heart like an insect.

It's great, if I "let slip" statements as simple as "morals are for the homeless", or "guilt isn't a leprechaun, there's a pot of shit at the end of that rainbow" the sociopaths come running like I'm their messiah, and always in the same manner. Always with the same demeanor. Always. Like roaches that will always scurry under the fridge when the light comes on. If I say "he who trades freedom for safety deserves neither", I. . .well, I won't tell you what doors that opens, since you are a sociopath. You should see the sociopaths I can yank out into the light by saying "Marx was a cat-herder". Doctors, lawyers, professors. . .makes no difference. you're truly all the same.

The truth is, your intelligence is seriously compromised by your disorder, just like "empaths" intelligence is seriously compromised by their lack of a disorder. You have a blind side big enough to taxi the spruce goose through. An "empath" that can see you as clearly as you can see them has an enormous advantage. You are behavioral, like rats that'll keep hitting the bar that dispenses food, no matter how many times it shocks them, but you only see that in "empaths". Language is lying, behavior tells the truth, but for you it's the opposite. Your behavior is a lie, but your words ARE true, if one knows how to interpret them.

By the way, don't flatter yourself- you do have the "evil eyes" just like every other sociopath. That thousand yard stare comes and goes though, depending upon your interest. You just never see yourself in the mirror when you are talking to someone that has nothing to offer you.

By the way, if people can be made into sociopaths, sociopaths can be made into a reasonable imitation of a person (the first step being when the sociopath informs those around them that they are sociopaths. Sociopaths deal with two problems- lack of human emotion and isolation from humanity. You can't alleviate the former, but you can the latter). The process of socializing humans to become sociopathic involves placing them in a situation where they have to choose between their morals and their desires, and reward them socially for choosing their desires. It's just like wiggling a fence post back and forth until you can pull it out of the mud. It can work the opposite way as well.

Doctor Leroy Mclovin

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Antisocial evolution

A reader writes:
ME, this article made me think of you. It reminded me of some of the discussions I've had with your readers, regarding the perceived evolutionary advantage of being a sociopath. Here, we have a colony of traditionally cooperative, successful microbes, placed in an environment with unprecedented access to resources, resulting in the emergence of genetically-induced anti-social behavior. Obviously, the scales are different, but the parallels between this experiment and post-tribal human society, as it relates to the emergence of sociopaths, are certainly striking. Of note is the observation that anti-social behavior is only advantageous so long as socialization is still the norm, and once the majority of the population stops enforcing social behavior, the entire colony dies under stress. The implication that anti-social behavior only appears advantageous in the short term, being a complete evolutionary dead-end should the genes become dominant, is a topic I thought you might enjoy dissecting. Enjoy.
“It just makes you ask, ‘What on earth is that doing?’ ” said Gregory J. Velicer, a former student of Dr. Lenski’s who is now an associate professor at Indiana University. Dr. Velicer experienced this bafflement firsthand while watching the evolution of a predatory microbe called Myxococcus xanthus. Myxococcus swarms lash their tails together and hunt in a pack, releasing enzymes to kill their prey and feasting on the remains. If the bacteria starve, they come together to form a mound of spores. It is a cooperative effort. Only a few percent of the bacteria end up forming spores, while the rest face almost certain death.

This social behavior costs Myxococcus energy that it could otherwise use to grow, Dr. Velicer discovered. He and his colleagues allowed the bacteria to evolve for 1,000 generations in a rich broth. Most of the lines of bacteria lost the ability to swarm or form spores, or both.

Dr. Velicer discovered that some of the newly evolved bacteria were not just asocial — they were positively antisocial. These mutant cheaters could no longer make mounds of spores on their own. But if they were mixed with ordinary Myxococcus, they could make spores. In fact, they were 10 times as likely to form a spore as normal microbes.

Dr. Velicer set up a new experiment in which the bacteria alternated between a rich broth and a dish with no food. Over the generations, the cheaters became more common because of their advantage at making spores. But if the cheaters became too common, the entire population died out, because there were not enough ordinary Myxococcus left to make the spore mounds in the times of famine.

During this experiment, one of Dr. Velicer’s colleagues, Francesca Fiegna of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, discovered something strange. She had just transferred a population of cheaters to a dish, expecting them to die out. But the cheaters were making seven times as many spores as their normal ancestors. “It just made no sense,” Dr. Velicer said. “I asked her I don’t know how many times, ‘Are you sure you marked the plates correctly?’ ”

She had. It turned out that a single Myxococcus cheater had mutated into a cooperator. In fact, it had evolved into a cooperator far superior to its cooperative ancestors. Dr. Velicer and his colleagues sequenced the genome of the new cooperator and discovered a single mutation. The new mutation did not simply reverse the mutation that had originally turned the microbe’s ancestors into cheaters. Instead, it struck a new part of the genome.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Sometimes I hear people say that they were "born this way," whatever way that happens to be. To say you are born a sociopath or born gay is like saying you were born smart or born tall. Yes, you may have the genetic predisposition to be smart or tall, but the existence of feral children is an important reminder that no one is born any of those ways, that we rely on the most basic daily interactions, nutrition, culture, education, experiences, and myriad other influences in our development to become who we become. I realize that "born this way" is just shorthand and I've used it too, but I think it is sloppy and often masks some of these other important influences.

Was I born to charm? Born to harm? I wasn't necessarily even born to speak or wield a weapon. So how do we get there? What makes some of us different from others. Obviously it has a lot to do with genetics, but it also has so much to do not just with our our experiences, but in what particular order and when in life we experienced them. It's through our experiences that normal gened people can be desensitized to things like killing, and sociopathic gened people can be sensitized to things like being aware of the needs of others.

I intentionally sensitize myself to things all the time. When I studied music, I sensitized myself to minute changes in pitch because I played a fretless string instrument and needed to be keenly aware of pitch to play in tune. Now it drives me crazy to hear musicians playing out of tune. It's not just that I have a more discriminating taste than I used to, I actually have a very visceral reaction to pitch problems to the point that I can feel nauseated.

Things that used to shock me no longer do through repeat exposure, and vice versa. I know that my genes might predispose me to the way I think and interact with the world, but I also take full responsibility for the amount of control over the rest. Every day I am in motion, sensitizing myself or desensitizing myself, constantly reshaping my brain, making and breaking habits, making myself more less inclined to act or think a certain way.

I am careful what I do and say, what I allow myself to think and daydream about. It's not always because I am worried about external consequences (would I do these things if I were sure to not be caught?), but rather internal consequences. How would doing or thinking that thing change me and is that someone I want to become? I'm all too aware that we are what we eat.

On a related note, I don't expect to look or act exactly like other sociopaths because I haven't made the same trillion decisions in the same order that they have, even if we might share a particular gene sequence. Via my exposure to the myriad variety of sociopaths and other personality types that I've run into on the blog and in real life, I have eliminated many misconceptions I had about sociopathy (criminals are low-functioning, etc.). Keeping an open-mind is one of the habits I hope to keep by challenging my own beliefs as vigorously as I challenge those of others.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Evil = ignorance

"There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -- Socrates

I was watching some science fiction film the other day with a classic good against evil struggle, but more morally ambiguous than most. Characters in the film were picking sides and the audience was tempted to make judgments about who were the "good" guys and who were the "bad" guys. I thought of my own religious beliefs that include "good" and "bad" as concepts, but more in the sense that everything has its opposite. Maybe because I've been trained to think this way from childhood or maybe it's because my brain works differently than most but I rarely have normative takes on morally "good" or "bad" issues. However, reading this quote reminded me that I do take a negative normative stance on ignorance, particularly willful ignorance of the self-deception variety.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Song: Terrible Things

If you dig under my feet
You will find things that you don't want to see
Things that I hide deep down inside
A menagerie of the tragedy I caused and all of my flaws
And my demons are all that can see
Then what would you do if you only knew?

All of the things that I've done
Terrible things you would never believe
Things that I've done
Oh, how you'll run
If you knew a single one
All of the things that I've done

Would my face give me away
I know it won't
'Cause I don't even feel
I just reflect what you expect
So you don't suspect that
I could be exactly who I am

All of the things that I've done
Terrible things you would never believe
Things that I've done
Oh, how you'll run
If you knew a single one
All of the things that I've done

I know that I'm inflected
But who could have predicted
That monster that I've become
I keep things carefully covered
So no one will discover
That I could be the culprit
I'm sorry I can't help it

All of the things that I've done
Terrible things you would never believe
Things that I've done
Oh, how you'll run
If you knew a single one
All of the things that I've done

Friday, September 23, 2011

Socios on TV: Breaking Bad's Gus

From a reader:
Have you followed the TV show Breaking Bad at all? It has a fantastic premise: a middle aged chemist is diagnosed with cancer, and this in combination with a mid-life crisis of sorts leads him to begin cooking meth. The various travails of his life in the aftermath of this choice make for great viewing, and the show is great television. It's from AMC, whom you may admire already if you've ever seen the show Mad Men.

At any rate, there is a character named Gus who runs a massive meth production and distribution network, something he does with sterile precision and professionalism. In seasons 1 to 3, he remains courteous and polite at almost all times, although certain scenes allude to his likely sociopathy. In the first episode of the currently airing season 4, his true nature is shown for the first time, in an exhilarating portrayal of his ability to kill without the slightest hint of emotion, although it is a combination of calculation and burning anger that leads him to do it. The actor is exceptional- his face remains blank, but you can feel the smooth decision-making process happening behind it.

The link is here.

I strongly suggest you set aside 45 minutes to watch this, and I would love to know your impressions. In the event that you are too busy to spend 45 minutes on this, the scene in question is from appx. 27 minutes in until 38 minutes in.
M.E.: I have been a big fan of the show, initially for the fun premise and the overall bleakness. I too thought that Gus was a sociopath. When wearing a mask, he is almost obsequiously polite--classic sociopath. I particularly liked the third season for him, when he was clearly "seducing" Walter [protagonist] into going into business with him. It's so understated and tasteful the way he crawls into Walter's head and feeds him whatever he needs to hear. There is actually palpable chemistry between the two. But you are right, the portrait of Gus as sociopath was really completed in the first episode of this current season. Interestingly, the more I watch the show the more it seems like Walter leans narcissist, or at least is highly narcissistic. At first I just wrote off a lot of Walter's eccentric behavior to cancer and the premise, but the writers have actually done a great job making him seem like he was a ticking time bomb and if it wasn't the cancer scare, it would have been anything else that might have finally set him off into a narcissistic tailspin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back for more (part 3)

Do you know why I love him? I feel sometimes that it's silly that I do. He is obviously bad for me, or for anybody in fact. But....

The other night, he invites me over, and his friend A is there. He takes care not to pay a whole lot of attention to me. He doesn't include me in the conversation, he doesn't look at me while he talks. Every so often he responds with much irritation to something I say or do, but that's all. He flirts with A, and when I sit down he makes sure to sit somewhat far away from me, even at the expense of comfort. It made me feel crazy-sometimes I don't really know if these gestures are purposeful and other times I'm sure they are. I go into his room, look at his wall, he's covered a section of it with his artwork. One of his pictures has written along the sides "this is nothing but a torture game". I walk out of his room and the words echo in my head and I feel better, like I can see through him.

Later that night, it is only me and him and A. He asks A if she's heading out soon, and she says, well, at some point she is. Ten minutes later, he asks her again. She says, yeah, she's going to bounce. And she does. So I can't help but get the feeling he's engineered the situation so that she would go, and I'd stay. And we go in his room. I sigh for no particular reason. What is it? He instantly asks. Is something wrong, what's up?

I think to myself, you expect me to complain about how jealous I feel. But I won't, I've seen this coming all along. So I just laugh at him, say, nothing.

We sit down on the bed, I'm somewhat far away from him, he asks me again what's up, I assure him nothing is up. And I'm like, I'm not going to play into this and he's not going to get into my pants. But then he pulls me closer to him and puts his hand on my thigh and I realize that I'm going to let him win. Because I want to. Because if I get so turned on when he touches me I might as well just go with it. I don't know why all the emotional manipulation makes me frisky. But it does.

Later, I say, "you like to toy with people, don't you?" but he dances about with his reply and I allow myself to be led away by his evasiveness.

I suppose something must be wrong with me. There's a perfectly nice guy that I know who is attractive enough and very into me and sweet as hell, but if he touches me I just squirm and feel antsy and turned off and cold.

Maybe it's because I play mind games myself, which has been pointed out to me before. I don't really know, but how can you go against that fire that some people just spark with their skin?

Sociopath boy has this raptor gaze, like he is devouring me with his eyes. Like a hungry predator. It makes my heart pound, those eyes on fire. and I just feel like I would very much like to be eaten-what can you do?

Sociopath boy, he consumes life with this same fervor. At heart he is nomadic, forlorn, there isn't a place for him. He says he'd like nothing more than to travel the world endlessly, never settling, forever without a home. Sometimes I think he feels a poignant emptiness. I love him because he ripped me from my comfortable little nesting place inside my head, he threw me into the world and showed me the silent places in the mountains where he once drove aimlessly down mountain trails alone in his car, smoking pot and possibly reflecting on the space inside himself where something seems curiously absent...he lies, yes, pathologically. I told him once how much I admired his natural talent for lying. He seemed quite flattered until he realized that I had been implying more than I'd said, and at that point he looked at me and said, "stop trying to pin me down as the bad guy".
His lies, they can be part of what makes him such a pleasure. It is grand to hear him weave tales of nonexistent crescent fishes that live off the coast of nonexistent islands, describing their mating habits and hunting grounds as if he'd known their etymology his whole life. He is fantastically amusing, and his whim's inventions are hard to tell from his factual knowledge. Those instances are endearing, but this same talent is used to regularly manipulate you with ruthless grace. He lies so masterfully that one cannot help but be awed.

But really-I really love that he is a sadist, sure, and I like that he kicks me hard and pretends it's a nervous tic, or when we kiss he bites my lip so hard I feel it hurting the next day. But really I love that something about him seems perfectly innocuous and shameless, like a child. A selfish lust most are too tame to seize. There is nobody, nobody like him, nobody with fire like his, with such savagery and yet such an artistic wondering mind, craving beauty even whilst destroying many a beautiful thing.

I'm an empath hands down. I have a heart like jelly, I cry easily, I feel deeply, I'm empathetic to a fault. If a character in a movie is embarrassed, I cringe and look away on his behalf. Cheesy abandoned animal commercials make me extremely sad. I can see the world from any perspective and make it my own. But when I can manipulate people, I do. I'm very good at it. I play mind games. When I'm not into a person and I know their into me, I make a game out of trying to get them to fall in love with me. And they do, and then I'm bored. And I don't want them, not one bit. But I can't win with sociopath boy. The game just keeps going. It changes every day, it is always some new puzzle piece that he hands me, but really none of the pieces fit together so I just have to keep puzzling.

The people on your site are always saying what idiots empaths are, to fall in love with sociopaths. But I'm not stupid. I know he will never be mine, I will never ever have him like I want. he will hurt me because it excites him. And I will be hurt, but then and again it will excite me to be hurt, so am I stupid and pathetic for feeling? It is part of your natures to be the way you are. It is part of our natures as empaths to fall, from time to time, head over heels in love. And if you already know that he is a sociopath, that he will hurt you, but you want him all the same....does that make me a very stupid empath? I am an existentialist, m.e., I'm not very judgmental, I forgive too easily. I have a strong moral inclination against murder and rape, but I feel that right and wrong still bear only contextual meaning.

If we live once, why not live for the deepest and most enthralling sorts of pleasures and passions? So yes, it is harmful, dysfunctional. Even if he cannot feel love for me like mine for him, it is still worth it, to keep his presence in my life.

Emerson: "Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is not capacious? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back for more (part 2)

As to how I knew he was lurking the Facebook world,
I was watching his little chat availability icon. When green, the little dot means a person has been actively using the site within the last five minutes. So I was sitting there, noticing that it was 4:30 in the morning and he was online...and I yearned to talk to him. It had been two months, two of the most painful months I'd ever experienced. I thought it but a fluke he hadn't de-friended me. I was sure that if I made my Facebook presence too conspicuous, he might do just that.

But I grew more confident that he knew I was still his Facebook friend at least and hadn't deleted me yet, so...I published status updates, vague stuff like movies I'd enjoyed. Or maybe it was just my commenting on a picture a mutual friend had posted on my wall...basically, I was just more Facebook active than usual.

Once, he posted that he wanted to start an organization for ending unnecessary anger and bitterness. Who would join him? He got like 19 likes on that, but it made me laugh.

After he messaged me that one night and I went over, he referenced parts of the stuff I'd been posting, and I suppose that was what tipped me off to the notion he'd been following me to some extent, with which some hidden sense of mine I'd suspected all along. Despite his cruel, absolute silence.

He confided in me today.
"I'm just a dick all the time, but I don't understand it," he says earnestly. "I don't even know I'm being a dick-well, yeah, I do know. Cuz I'm a dick all the time, it's true."
And, "Normal people, they don't have to learn how to talk, you know? I mean obviously I can talk, I just can't...."
"communicate?" I pipe in helpfully.

He has this thing, tells me I think too hard all the time. Which doesn't make sense to me really, but it is easier just to let him talk. "in order to understand me, you have to stop thinking about it. Once you start thinking about trying to understand me, you've already got it wrong. Just stop trying."

Hmm. He's so strange. A few nights ago I was at his house. I'd smoked this stuff called spice with him and was not enjoying myself, it was too strange for me, I squirmed. His attempt to comfort me was possibly well intentioned...but backhanded.
He said some things that were a bit insulting, but as if they were nice things to say. And all the while I am not sure if he is mocking me, or trying to be mean, or failing at being nice....
I feel weird about it and so I ask him about it the next day, expecting him to get angry as he has dealing with confrontation in the past.

But instead he apologizes profusely and says he thought he was saying only nice things (really? Is he lying? Still not sure) and he is so fucked up and mean and sorry. And, he says, last night he finally felt "sane and clearheaded"...he asks,
what am I? But I don't offer any opinions on the matter...poor boy, he is so confused.

He has this trail of girls that he leaves behind him. Many of them are excellent friends of mine. Actually, he picks the most fascinating people as friends. Truly, we are an odd tangle of social incestuous-ness, and he is at the center. A week ago, an old friend of mine stopped talking to me because after those two months of his silence and her consoling me, I went back to hanging out with him (to be fair though, I never lied about that to her)

"he is the Villain in my life, and you are supposed to be my Sidekick," she laments.

"that's so black and white," I say "there's grey in the world. Things aren't just useful or worthless, good or bad. Yes, he is an ass, he is crazy, but it's all a balancing game. If I didn't get something out of it, we wouldn't still be friends."

But she is stone cold, immovable on this. I think sociopath boy is quite complex, and rare, and fantastic. She thinks he is evil and why consort with evil things? It is not black and white, but there are people you'll never be able to explain this to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back for more (part 1)

Along the same lines of the last post, a reader writes an update about reconnecting with a sociopath after being discarded:
Somewhat of an update. Two months later, sociopath boy contacts me after skulking around Facebook for an hour. I was extremely surprised as at this point I was never expecting to see him again. It's four in the morning and he basically tells me that he's horny and do I want to come over and have sex with him and make up and talk and such. I am shocked and also horny and elated at the thought of seeing him again so I say yes.

I drive over although I am somewhat a little drunkish. When I get there he confides in me that he has no idea how to talk to people. He feels socially inept. Strange, because if you see this guy among a group of friends he steals the spotlight like a shiny lion. Everyone around is constantly hanging on his every word.
"how long have you felt this way?"

He says, "I don't know. Six months, two years, two days-forever, honestly. I've always felt this way."

I was wondering. Recently he's been into doing this stuff called bath salts. They are a form of amphetamine, similar to meth. Since using it, I feel like I notice that his sociopathy has become a bit more obvious. That is, he's always managed to be social very very well when not on these drugs, but as he's been abusing them his social ability seems a bit more...well, finicky. It's becoming apparent to more people who don't know him as well as some that something is off. Of course, naturally these drugs tend to bring out some insanity in even those who are perfectly normal. But I was wondering if you knew anything about the effect of amphetamines on the sociopathic mind.

I ask him, "what did I do to make our friendship dead?"

"I don't think you did anything," he says. "I'm just a freak."

As per our friendship's "deadness", he remarks that, "I meant dead as in it would never be the same again. Like it died to be reborn, now it's something else." so our friendship is a Phoenix, I suppose? What a funny creature he is. But he is very sexy. So what if he does many different girls all the time? I've already fallen in love with him. Being able to be close to him is wonderful, just an indulgence on my part. Nobody will ever own or tame him. He is wild and wonderfully free.

He had been following me on Facebook for some time before contacting me. He let me wonder if he'd blocked my number but did as much as admit that he had been reading my text messages, even though he never replied and let me believe otherwise. He let me completely break down and I let him proceed with our friendship as if nothing had ever happened. What else can I do? He is fascinating. I suppose he is worth it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keeping your sociopath interested

At the risk of this blog becoming even more like a woman's magazine, from a reader:
I have a question:

I know a person with (admitted) sociopathic qualities. I've know this man for many years and I've been completely in love with him all of that time. I do whatever he wants, and I work hard at keeping myself within his accepted types of behaviour. I avoid, for the most part, challenging him with emotional stuff. I present a challenge which he succeeds at, in bending me to his will. I do this in full knowledge of the probable extent of his attachment to me. He has put trust in me though, and tells me more now than he used to.

My question is, in this state, where I present him with anything he wishes coupled with a challenge in some part of controlling me, is he likely to get bored? Will my acceptance of how he is make him more likely to make use of me for longer? Is there anything I can do that might keep his interest?

Yes, I really do want to keep rather than get rid of him. He is rather fantastic for me, as I am rather unusual.
M.E.: I don't think there's ever one thing people can do to keep a sociopath interested. I actually think that most relationships with sociopaths end because the empath gets fed up with the arrangement. Even if they don't realize it, they start becoming more difficult, and not in the fun challenge-y sort of way that sociopaths like. They no longer are willing to suspend disbelief and allow the sociopath's charm to work on them. If they're not willing to play the game the way the sociopath likes it to be played, the sociopath just moves on to find someone who will. I think that's the right answer. Thoughts?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Preattentive processing

This was an interesting article discussing the progression of recent research that focused first on fearlessness as an explanation for much of psychopath's behaviors, then to attentional deficiencies (psychopaths don't direct their attention to scary things as much as neurotypicals), and most recently deficits in pre-attentive processing. From the Huffington Post and the author of "On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits":
Patrick Sylvers, of the University of Washington, working with Patricia Brennan and Scott Lilienfeld of Emory, suspected that psychopaths may suffer from a deficit in "preattentive processing" -- the constant, automatic scanning of one's surroundings that takes place outside of conscious awareness. Theoretically, if children lack this basic cognitive machinery, they would never learn to decode normal signs of danger, and without this acquired fear, they would fail to socialize into adults with conscience.
The scientists gave the boys a visual test that measures unconscious emotional processing. Specifically, they wanted to see if the test subjects, compared with normal boys of the same age, were slower to become aware of fearful faces that were flashed rapidly -- so rapidly that they were not registered by the conscious mind. If so, this would be evidence that the troubled boys are not automatically assimilating threatening cues in their world. They also flashed happy, disgusted and neutral faces for comparison.

The results, reported online in the journal Psychological Science, were clear and provocative. Indeed, they comprise the first evidence ever that kids with psychopathic traits have a significant deficiency in their automatic, unconscious processing of certain cues -- especially fear cues, but also cues for disgust. Fear and disgust are closely related in the primitive mind, and the findings suggest that these troubled kids have a fundamental impairment in recognizing -- "in the blink of an eye" -- any kind of social danger. So perhaps the childhood roots of Hannibal Lecter's murderous personality lay not in fearlessness itself, nor even in his conscious thought processes, but rather in his general social cluelessness.
I hadn't heard the term pre-attentive processing, so I looked at the Wikipedia article for it and wasn't surprised to see that it is also associated with those on the autism spectrum. Apart from that, I still am not quite sure why the lack of preattentive processing would cause attentional problems. Presumably it's because certain things never even show up on the sociopath's radar, so of course they would never consciously/attentively register them?

The subject area is ripe for exploration. If this is a primary causal factor in sociopathic behavior, can this be treated? For instance, the wiki article suggests that by consciously focusing on particular tasks, preattentive processing will improve for information related to those specific tasks. How do preattentive processing defects relate (if at all) to sociopath/autistic supersensitivities or the concept of hyperfocus? Is it like how paraplegic people have super strong arms to compensate for the lost use of their legs? And on a more personal level, could this explain why my learning curve is shaped like an exponential function instead of a gradual increase, i.e. extremely flat at the beginning then sloping steeply up?

As I've said before, I really relate to the attentional theories for sociopathy, I'm very curious to see where this new research leads us.

A quick word on the who wrote the blurb -- this is the guy who advocates in his book that people force more thoughts out of their subconscious and into the conscious mind, something that I have always done both naturally and explicitly. You almost wonder if this guy is not a sociopath himself, or at least has trained himself to see the world more sociopathically. By the way, if you're interested in becoming similarly more sociopathic, Amazon tells me there are a slew of reading options including (according to one reviewer): THE ART OF CHOOSING, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA, THE HIDDEN BRAIN, PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL, or MISTAKES WERE MADE (BUT NOT BY ME)

The abstract for the paper is here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why I started the blog, and why I continue

The percentage of my personality that my disorder represents is not actually that significant (does anyone walk around thinking "I'm a sociopath" besides fictional character Dexter?). Maybe it's 15%? What do I mean by that? Well, if I was a jigsaw puzzle, let's say, and the puzzle was a small deserted island, the kind that you always see in political style cartoons with two guys stranded on a desert island with a lone palm tree, then maybe the sociopathy is the lone palm tree. It is not the defining feature of the puzzle, although it is part of the defining feature. And how many pieces are devoted to the palm tree? Maybe about 15%. Some of those pieces are completely palm tree, and some of those pieces are mainly island and just a little bit of palm tree, or mostly sky and just a small sliver of palm frond. Add up all those percentages of palm tree against the total picture, though, and you have approximately 15% palm tree.

When I write on this particular blog I almost always write about the palm tree. Sometimes the piece is entirely palm tree. Sometimes there is just a sliver of palm tree, mostly something else. And every one in a while I will talk about the island and sky, inasmuch as I think they inform qualities about the palm tree.

Taking the analogy just a little further, if I think of my life as the process of assembling this jigsaw puzzle (understanding who I am), I tend to focus on one area until I reach an impasse, then focus on another. Or I focus one one part until another part compels my attention. When I first started this blog, I had just been fired from a very high profile and lucrative job for behavior that I believe stems from my more sociopathic characteristics. I had just had several relationships end on very poor terms, isolating me from many more sub relationships. I was having problems with my family, with my personal life, my work life had just gone to hell. I started looking for answers, so became re-interested in a casual diagnosis a friend had made of me years before as a sociopath. As I started doing some browsing of what was out there in terms of basic information, I was appalled that all of it reeked of a particular bias. I saw an opportunity for offering a different perspective that coincided with my own interests at the time, so I started the blog.

This was the not the only time of deep self-introspection for me. My first prolonged one was at University the first time my life really went completely to hell. I didn't have the label sociopath at the time to identify with, but after a long period of unflinching honesty and self-analysis I knew that I was a very manipulative, cunning person, who was unable to connect to anyone on more than a superficial level, obsessed with power, and willing to do anything to get ahead, among other things. To the extent that those things were negatively impacting my life, I tried to tame and control them.

The pattern here is this: I am doing fine, great actually, I get carried away and my life goes to hell, I take a step back and look at who I am, I gradually get better until I am doing fine, then great. Right now I am right at the point of doing great. I've had a couple of recent professional coups and all other parts of my life are growing and expanding. I'm less interested in the palm tree because that's not where the action is. Then again, part of me believes that the reason why I am doing so well is that the blog forces me to constantly consider those potentially destructive aspects of my personality -- to not get caught up in the here and now that I lose sight of the big picture. In an effort to stay focused on that, I'm both going to continue to write new material that I find interesting, but will also repost some older posts that I like and think deserve more attention.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sociopath(ic) (part 2)

From a reader (cont.):
I may not be neurologically atypical when it comes to having a conscience, but we are (at least in part) the product of our environment, and I was raised around a group of men obsessed with regaining their youth, as well as their potential "go" at fame, and that impression has stuck with me. My mother associated with my father initally because of his unpredictability as well his ability to make everyday life seem exciting, despite its disfunctionality. Don't get me wrong... I'm not blaming my desires on my anyone. I comprehend them fully, and I see where they're going, but when my personal relationships are going well, I detach because I'm incredibly bored. If things are going well in ANY of my personal relationships, romantic or otherwise, I disentangle. At this point, it's a game to me. How long can I keep people interested in me without personally investing in them? 
I learned to manipulate before I could walk. From my perspective, this is sick. There's an Onion article that really resonates with me, despite its obvious jab at overanalysis... ... I don't think that I'm neurologically atypical, but I do think that I've learned techniques from people whose world view doesn't resonate with mine. 
Back to my actual question, though... How often do you see strong socipathic traits in people clearly in possession of a conscience? Have you noticed these tendencies and learned bahaviors to be more prevalant in those related to socipaths? I'd love to hear back.
M.E.: It's an interesting question. I think there are a lot of people in my family who have sociopathic traits and tend to think like sociopaths, but do seem to have empathy. Sometimes I think I make the mistake of just assuming that they are sociopaths, but then they say something that doesn't make sense, like talking about how important love is. And I think sometimes they assume that I am normal but just like them, but then I say something that they think is horrifying, like telling them some sketchy thing I did. I've gotten emails from a few other people who had sociopathic parents and adopted some of their sociopathic traits. I guess you could say that they are bilingual in sociopath and empath. Although I don't think anyone can ever be completely empathic if they have seen the world through sociopathic eyes, do you?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sociopath(ic) (part 1)

From a reader:
I've been reading your blog for well over a year now and a lot of my questions about sociopaths and their tendencies have been answered, but there's one topic I've not seen discussed in any real depth.

I'm an "empath". I'm the sort that feels so intensely that it's often physically painful. I've been that way for my entire life, so I'm fully aware that I'm not a sociopath, but I have a few sociopathic characteristics.

The main sociopathic characteristic that I identify with is mimicry. I've been doing it for most of my life, and I've called it mirroring. I, like you, have a difficult time navigating social situations naturally; every move has to be planned in order for me to seem normal. Like you, I've been picking and choosing parts of my personality for decades, and every single one of those parts is meant to add up to what other people appreciate in their peers. People really aren't very difficult to read; their cards are out on the table the moment they open their mouths. As soon as I can size them up and assess their likes and dislikes, I pour myself into a mold resembling their ideal companion.

I abuse substances quite frequently, also. I realize that this is something more characteristic of "low-functioning" sociopaths due to poor impulse control, and I own how pathetic it is, but, as an empath, I do it to make myself feel less. I find that I fit in better when under the influence of opiates, or, in a pinch, any "downer" in general. Not heroin, mind you; heroin scares me. I have an addictive personality already. I'm more partial to hydrocodone. It's easy to come by, and cheap when you find the right people to buy from. I have a difficult time being insincere when I'm sober, but once I have about five 10 mg hydrocodone tablets in me, I don't feel bad about insincerely telling people what they want to hear.

Weirdly, I've noticed that the males in my family have a stronger tendency toward sociopathy. The possibility exists that they do, in fact, FEEL, but it actually seems more likely to me that they've become incredibly good at reading women in (especially those in my family) and acting accordingly. My dad is a very low-functioning sociopath. He propositioned every single friend I had in my youth and blamed it on alcohol, and now he's facing his tenth year of probation due to poor impulse control. Despite the fact that I've recognized and researched his neurological leanings (he's the main reason for my interest in the subject of socipaths), I find myself feeling sorry for the man, like he's some sort of bumbling idiot , as opposed to a cold and calculating monster. He's used me since the day that I was born, and he's done it well. I feel like a terrible person every time this man feigns innocence when I find out about him molesting my friends. He denies it and I, as an empath, desperately want to believe him. I fancy myself logical, but guilt trips me up, and when he plays the idiot as well as he does, I feel like an abusive monster. Fear and guilt trump reason. Consciousness is a bitch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting what you pay for

I don't know how much we really trick people into doing things they don't want to do or being in relationships they don't want to be in. I think the most we can be blamed for is getting people to want things they otherwise wouldn't want. A good example is when I was growing up, a vacuum cleaner salesman came to my house. My mother sat with him for hours, watching his demonstration and trying out the vacuum. The vacuum was absurdly expensive, the price of a cheap used automobile. She is a little bit of a germaphobe, though, with mild allergies. To her, the hope and promise of the vacuum cleaner as panacea was enough so she bought it. That vacuum cleaner worked ok, I guess, but only for a few years before it was relegated to a closet. Was she manipulated into buying it? Yes, but I also think in a way that she got her money's worth.

Now that I write this with my adult mind I wonder if there was something else going on with the vacuum salesman...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sociopaths = introverts?

This is an interesting op ed from The Atlantic about introverts. I identified with a lot of the descriptions. I know a lot of sociopathic leaning folk seem to be extroverts. Maybe it's possible to have both extroverted and introverted sociopaths, and they just differ in how they spend their off time?
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? . . . .
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands . . . .
[A]fter an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."
There are some allusions to sociopathic ways of being ("many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors"), although introverts deny being misanthropic. But do you know who has even more in common with introverts? Aspies. I thought this Aspie take on introversion was especially entertaining in light of recent events:
Admittedly, if you take enough abuse and feel slighted enough times by colleagues and peers, it is a challenge not to become cynical and misanthropic. I personally find I dislike trying to deal with people more each year. The majority of people might be okay, but it seems that one lousy person will find a way to abuse or insult me given the opportunity. Why would I want to deal with a large group knowing even one jerk is present? Unlike other people, I have a difficult time, a nearly impossible time, forgetting such abuse. 
But I'm not shy. I'm not introverted. In fact, my problem is that I will try to defend myself when I perceive an attack. (I don't always perceive an attack, sadly, until it is too late to undo damage.) So, my "introversion" is really an attempt to avoid people and conflicts. It's not a desire to be alone because I like being alone, it is a desire to avoid being miserable later. 
Many people with ASDs start to seem introverted because that's an easy way to cope with life. If I stay at home, there is less risk of sensory overload, emotional overload, or general social conflicts. Alone is safe. And, thankfully, I don't feel "lonely" or "isolated" -- when I feel "trapped" it is not because I want to be around people, but because I want out of the city. 
Sure, I realize I was isolated from peers and colleagues. But my desire for connections was practical; I realize social connections do matter at school, in the workplace, and within organizations. Unfortunately, I lack the social skills to develop the relationships that might help my career(s).

Quote: pleasure and pain

"Pleasure cannot be shared; like Pain, it can only be experienced or inflicted, and when we give pleasure to our Lovers or bestow Charity upon the Needy, we do so, not to gratify the objects of our Benevolence, but only ourselves. For the Truth is that we are kind for the same reasons as we are cruel, in order that we may enhance the sense of our own Power." -Aldous Huxley

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Diamond Rule

This is a really interesting explanation of the application of game theory principles to ethics. I found this to be particularly useful in categorizing my own behavior and those of others:
The first strategy is called “The Golden Rule.” This strategy basically represents the idea to “Do to others, what you would have them do to you.” So if you were to apply this to the prisoners dilemma, you would remain silent every time the game was played.

Another strategy available is called “The Silver Rule” which is to “Do not do to them, what you would not have them do to you” which is a variation of the golden rule, but in the case of the prisoner’s dilemma, would also mean that you would remain silent every time the game was played.

Another strategy available is called “The Bronze Rule” which is to “Do to them, as they do to you” or as some would say “an eye for an eye” which, in the case of the prisoner’s dilemma, would mean that you would remain silent, if the other prisoner remained silent the last time the game was played, or if they were to testify against you, then you would do the same to them the next time around.

Another strategy available is called “The Iron Rule” which is to “Do it to them, before they do it to you” which, in the case of the prisoner’s dilemma, would mean that you would testify against the other prisoner every time the game was played.

These different strategies were all tested in multiple computer simulated and in real world experiments, and it was found that actually none of these strategies were superior for the long term benefit of both players.

It was found that a completely different strategy was found to be superior, which has been called the “Tit for Tat” strategy, and which I have labeled as “The Diamond Rule.”

This strategy basically states that both players should start out with the Golden Rule/Silver Rule strategy of cooperation with the other player, or in other words, to remain silent each time the game is played. If at any time the other player is to defect, or to testify against you, you are then to “punish” them, by also testifying against them the next round of the game, but then after that round, to forgive them, and to return to the Golden/Silver Rule strategy of cooperation.

In effect, the Diamond Rule states that you should cooperate with others, but if at any time another person is to hurt you, then you must withdraw your cooperation and get justice until justice has been fully dealt, and to then “forgive and forget” and be open to cooperating with them once again.

So that is how the Nash Equilibrium and Game Theory is most readily and easily applied to ethics. In effect, the Nash Equilibrium of Game Theory is a mathematical proof for why things like ethics, altruism, justice and forgiveness are actually most beneficial for every member of the group in which they exist. A mathematical justification for moral and ethical behavior.
I'm not surprised that the Diamond Rule was the most efficient. And longtime readers of the blog shouldn't be surprised to see me assert that I think sociopaths are probably the most able to pull the Diamond Rule. First, you have to be able to punish someone, harsh enough to make an impact and fast enough so you can both quickly move on to the forgiveness stage. Sociopaths are impulsive and ruthless, they would easily be able to pull this part off. Second, you would have to completely forgive them and go back to the way things were before. Normal people hold grudges, but for sociopaths something like this isn't personal, just business. Once you have knocked them around for their misbehavior, if they have any use to the sociopath it would be right back to being chummy. In fact, the Diamond Rule is pretty much my default. I hate the Golden Rule, I think it's idiotic and narcissistically inefficient. I do the Silver Rule, but will take them down if necessary (Diamond Rule). The Bronze Rule is petty and others centered. The Iron Rule is just too inflexible for modern society.

In other news, I'm sort of fascinated and flummoxed by the author of the blog (linked above), "Broderick Boyd" of "The Broderick Boyd University." I can't tell whether he is trying to become a motivational speaker, is a raging narcissist, or what, but I'm curious enough to follow him on Twitter.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saying sorry

"Sorry means you'll never do it again." That's what I always used to hear as a child in reply to my rote recitations of the words "I'm sorry."

I grew up with a narcissistic father. He could be such a hard ass sometimes, but he could weep uncontrollably at the most ridiculous things. I learned not to trust signs of emotion from him; they were just farcical manipulations trying to fit whatever image he was trying to project, not sincere responses to normal stimuli. He was so erratically hot and cold about everything. I hated how unpredictable that made my life. And he always kept score, even for some of the bad stuff about himself. I think he actually spent his whole life resentfully trying to put more hashmarks under the "good" column than the "bad," just so he wouldn't have to hate himself. I say all of these unrelated things just as context for this next point:

Whenever I wanted to enact justice, he was always opposed. The situation could have nothing to do with him. I could be having a dispute with a friend or even an enemy and if I did the slightest bit of retaliation, he would disapprove or actively fight me on it. I was never molested by priests or anything, but I have had enough things happen to me or my siblings that screamed for justice to know that if I was, he would have said something like, "Just let it be." He had the most ridiculous reactions, and it wasn't any religious turn the other cheek thing either.

You see, whenever he saw a perpetrator, he always identified with him. Every time I was out for blood, he thought about himself. He was afraid. He was afraid that someday someone would come after him for something he had done, just like I was going after other people. In his world he wanted actions to not mean anything. He wanted to think he was above any consequences, above any causal relationship between his actions and the results of those actions. I don't know if he actually believed that he was above them or maybe he just had to think that way in order to live with himself, but the gist of it was that he wanted to be able to do whatever he wanted and still think whatever he wanted about himself. I hated him for that. I interpreted it as more of his up is down, down is up delusional propaganda, a way to slip out of blame for anything. And he hated me for wanting the world to be one predictable flow of cause and effect.

Anyway, now I'm fine if that's how people want to live their lives, and I know that people who are like that are deaf to any attempts to reason with them, but I still get the most pleasurable sensation of schadenfreude when I see them getting exactly what's coming to them.

Sociopath quote: adaptation

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Misattributed to Charles Darwin

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

High on Life

I was watching an interview with Deepak Chopra and some other scientists and he mentioned bio-regulation of autonomic functions through heightened awareness. I was intrigued because I felt like I had personal experiences that confirmed what he was saying, thinking myself to more dopamine. I found this interview that references such a possibility:
I do think technology is a huge advantage, taking us into an exploration of the hidden dimensions of our own existence. And that includes consciousness, that includes the subtle levels of awareness, that includes the autonomic functions.

I see that in about five or 10 years, if we are successful, you could go to a doctor and say, “You know, I have migraine headaches” or even a narrowing of the coronary arteries, and the doctor will say, “Well, I can give you a prescription or you can play a video game. How's that?” And I think it will happen. You know the biofeedback responds to the autonomic nervous system, it responds to what is called the RR variability in your heart, it measures skin resistance, and soon brain waves. I know one of the things that is very likely in the future is that you could take drug addicts and train them through this technology to understand what happens in their nervous system when they're experiencing a drug high. And then through the appropriate bio-regulation, you can have them regulate their brain waves, so that they can have the same experience without taking the drug. And I think all that is wonderful. Technology can take you to a certain point. It can give you insights, just like in the 60s people had great insights taking LSD and mushrooms and all that. I think now we have enough biotechnology and bio-regulation that can do that perhaps even better.

But ultimately the exploration of consciousness has to go beyond technology. It takes time, it takes discipline, it takes intentionality, it takes sincerity, it takes a great of deal authenticity to be wanting to go there - not just for the experience, but because you know that that experience will take you from your personal self into your more interdependent collective and hopefully Universal self.
My bet is that if bioregulation of autonomic functions is possible, sociopaths would excel at this because of their ability to compartmentalize and hyperfocus. Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sociopath or BPD?

A reader writes:
Hello, I am a 18 year old female who wonders whether I am a sociopath or a borderline. Here's my story: I was always difficult baby who constantly cried and refused to sleep and eat certain foods. I was also never amused by the childish games that my peers seemed to delight in. As a child, I often forged and stole from teachers and students. It gave me a thrill, but I covered my tracks as I knew it was punishable behavior. One day, I was finally caught stealing, and my family gave me a long lecture about the severity of my crime. Since I was young, I decided to feign moral ignorance and claimed that I did not know stealing was wrong. I never stole again, though only for fear of getting caught. To this day, one of my favorite social tactics is "accessorizing" with mainstream morals and pretending to be outraged by "unacceptable" behavior. Feigning cluelessness is another favorite, though most people know me as a highly intelligent person.

I was raised in a strict family, and my parents would often physically punish me (and my two siblings) for bad behavior. However, I was the only one who reacted with violent vengeance. Years later, they are now terrified of me, and I rule the household. It is through this experience that I realized the power of intimidation and sheer violence, and I am shamelessly proud of this. However, my family viewed me as emotionally unbalanced because of my violent episodes and suicidal threats, and 2 years ago I was sent to a psychologist who diagnosed me with BPD. He believed I had difficulty controlling my emotions (hence the BPD), but the fact is my emotions are highly controllable; I exploit and indulge in them. In fact, I often practice facial expressions in the mirror, and whenever someone dies I have to egg on my tears. In fact I find myself craving tragic events, because then I have an excuse to practice my emotions (histrionic maybe?) Anyway, I was not completely honest with my psychologist, and in fact enjoyed manipulating our sessions by intimidating him and/or playing dumb and submissive.

Some other miscellaneous traits: I have disordered eating habits; I will binge (poor impulse control) and I will also starve myself (it makes me feel cleaner, superior). I'm also bisexual, hypersexual, and have had many romantic and sexual partners. I occasionally experiment with drugs and alcohol, though I find them to be overrated and simply minor sources of amusement. I also change friends like I change my underwear (frequently and without sentimental complications). I'm very socially adept and a real charmer. In fact, I recently read "The 48 Laws of Power) and was pleased to find that I already practiced most of them. Also, I have a mean streak and have made many people cry (which either irritates or highly amuses me). I also believe (and know) that I am superior to most people, which often leaves me bored with company. A final interesting tidbit: I have always been highly intrigued the morbid, grotesque, and/or deviant. These traits lead me to believe I may be a sociopath, though I was once diagnosed with BPD. I am careful not to assume I am a sociopath, especially since I had the displeasure of dealing with a particular wannabe who openly flaunted and fabricated their sociopathic tendencies. But after reading many of your posts (this blog is truly a treasure) and dealing with the wannabe-sociopath (I played the classic hunted-becomes-the-hunter card), I am very interested in your opinion and those of your readers. Thank you in advance!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A time and a purpose

Some people really get on my nerves. I had a needy sister growing up and I was never able to relate to her. I have a little relative who is also very whiny in that way, impulsive in irritating ways, selfish, an act first think later boy, which forces everyone around him to constantly clean up his messes. Just the other day, though, I was "watching" him and his two brothers while they were around a pool. I was busy with other things until they started yelling that their toddler brother was "drowning." I yelled at them to grab him. The oldest brother, mild-mannered, good-natured, did nothing. The impulsive whiny kid immediately reached out and pulled his younger brother up out of the water, even though he is not a strong swimmer himself. I thought -- even though I don't like this kid, he at least is good for some things and some situations.

Interestingly, I think that when I was growing up some of my siblings thought I was more trouble than I was worth. I got into fights all the time. I was impulsive and reckless and people were constantly having to clean up after me. I was selfish, always did what I wanted when I wanted. I bullied my siblings in a lot of ways. I would make them pay me money to play the games that they wanted to play, and then I would beat them at those games. I was told on several occasions that I was "evil" and that they hated me. I was also the person that people turned to when they needed special help taking care of a problem. My tactics weren't always things that people felt comfortable adopting, but you couldn't deny their effectiveness. I wasn't a general, all purpose tool, but for certain situations nothing and no one could do the job like I could. It only took a few clutch bailouts in late teens to early adulthood for my siblings to really appreciate how useful I could be, what a resource I would be to them throughout our lives.

In my healthiest relationships, people know what to expect from me -- outside the box thinking, efficient problem solving, ruthlessness, an eye for exploitation, impressive loyalty, which are all very useful tools in certain situations. They also know what not to expect from me -- empathy, commiseration, a deep emotional connection, hand holding, mercy, unconditional love. But not everybody needs everyone in their life to be those things, right?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Famous sociopaths (part 3)

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio:
About 17 o'clock [lunchtime] the accused, together with two other people, was eating in the Moor's restaurant at La Maddalena, where I work as a waiter. I brought them eight cooked artichokes, four cooked in butter and four fried in oil. The accused asked me which were cooked in butter and which fried in oil, and I told him to smell them, which would easily enable him to tell the difference.

He got angry and without saying anything more, grabbed an earthenware dish and hit me on the cheek at the level of my moustache, injuring me slightly... and then he got up and grabbed his friend's sword which was lying on the table, intending perhaps to strike me with it, but I got up and came here to the police station to make a formal complaint.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The empathy dealbreaker

A reader sent me a link to this article, "Student sues after university dumps him for ‘lack of empathy’":
A 44-year-old man is suing a Missouri university for $3 million after he was dumped from a graduate counselling program for lack of empathy.

David Schwartz received a “no credit” for his practical experience internship after receiving mostly A’s and one C in his course work, said the lawsuit against Webster University in St. Louis.

Dr. Stacy Henning, director of the counselling centre at the university, is alleged to have used three taped counselling sessions to show that Schwartz he “would not make a good counsellor because he lacked empathy,” the lawsuit claimed.

Judging empathy, Schwartz’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, told the Star, “is an extraordinarily subjective assessment.”

If empathy can be taught, Watkins said, the university had a duty to teach it to Schwartz. If it can’t be taught, his supervisors should have disqualified him from the graduate course before he paid $77,000 for tuition, books and fees.
I love this! There are so many weird implications. A court is going to decide whether or not empathy can be taught? In order to limit potential liability, counseling programs will test candidates ahead of time for empathy? Ah, the perversity of making empathy a job qualification.
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