Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seeing through a glass darkly

A reader asks, "How can we be close to people or things if we can't feel?" My response:
It's a good question. I don't think we can do it in normal ways, we just have to figure out what works for us. Have you ever read the Helen Keller story? Very fascinating. I remember being amazed when I first read it, just thinking about this girl who had no frame of reference for anything that we consider part of the "real world" other than touch. I found it so curious that she was smart, was able to spell words, but was just unable to understand that the words applied to different objects, that there was such thing as a word. I had first heard the story when I was young and i remember most of my young colleagues seemed less impressed by her. I felt that they didn't really understand that someone could have an entirely different existence than theirs, even in the same world, the same city, the same family even. I think I had my own Helen Keller epiphany-moment when I read her story. Before, I had thought of everyone as being essentially robots existing in a world solely for my interactions and my benefit. The story was such a detailed account of another person and I remember it making me think: different people exist, just like different animals exist, and people can be as different from each other as a fish from a llama or a cow from a parrot. Of course I still thought that most of the people around me were the same-ish, like dolphins (including me, when really i turned out to be a shark). But I think this was a good way to learn the lesson because when I did discover I was a shark, I wasn't horrified. I just thought i was a natural variant, had an entirely different world view from most, like Helen Keller.

I had already learned not to let who I was interfere with who I wanted to become. I had already made the decision not to be defined by my race or my height or my age or my gender or my intellect or anything else. That may sound funny because I refer to myself as a sociopath and have this blog all about what it is like to be a sociopath. I may use the term sociopath as shorthand for the type of person I am, the particular genus and species of human animal, but I do not let it define me. I do what I want to do. I realize that my world, my experiences, my relationships, my love is not the same as anyone else's love, but I have all of those things. Maybe other people want to say, "poor you" (or "you monster," depending on their inclinations), "you'll never have what I have." I just want to say to those people, "yeah, you're right. Thanks for pointing out the obvious." So let them sit at holiday tables eating roast beef while I am eating tofurkey, let them have their emotional dramas and outpourings while I remain blissfully unaffected. I have no shame in who I am, and frankly I find it offensive when people ask, "do you ever wish you were different?" Can you imagine asking that of someone of a different race? or a different gender? or even someone with a disability? I should answer, "yes I wish I was different, I wish I had the ability to completely ignore inane comments."

But to more specifically answer your earlier question, I don't suffer from depression, and I don't even really suffer from loneliness, thanks to a large circle of family and friends. I actually find some meaning and joy in playing my "part" in society. I just think of it as every day is someone else's birthday, so I have to be on my best behavior and be nice to them. I try to get lost in pleasing other people, making them happy, making their world better. It is actually rewarding, and reinforces and maintains personal ties (which I appreciate), and indulges my desire for power as well. I have tried living a lot of different ways, but I have been happiest and most stable when I have been trying to have an others-centered life rather than a self-centered life. I'm not saying that the latter is any sort of "wrong" or a "bad choice," that is just what has worked for me.

82 comments:

  1. Other people exist?

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  2. If you take a solipsistic approach, which I do, then no. Other people do not exist. One cannot even be certain that existence is a plausible thing.

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  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portia_%28genus%29

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  4. so ME, i am sorry i can't seem to get past this, but, ARE there different degrees of sociopathy in your opinion? because this last post seems to have been written by a perfectly well adjusted person. that is not to say you couldnt be a danger to society, but we all have that underlying potential.

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  5. I appreciate the author because you recognize what you are and you work on it. I don't believe all this bull that sociopaths can't change, it's the fact that they don't want to change which is the problem. I grew up having severe social anxiety, I am very heavily swayed by fear. I didn't give up. There were many times when I heard "this is genetic" "you have to take meds to overcome it". I refused to believe that. The best solution for me was addressing it through behavior modification. It wasn't easy but I have made tremendous strides. To me nothing is set in stone that anyone has to be any way. If a sociopath really decides like you have to discover who they are and look at all aspects of their inner self and then apply themselves in changes I have no doubt that they could do it and feel rewarded for it. That is if they can look beyond their ego and sense of senfishness and grandness to view a different perspective and change your reality for the better of yourself and others. I think that sociopaths are very short sighted in that they think that they have to use people in order to be happy and gain things.

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  6. If and when a sociopath wants to change their self, it isn't for the better of others but strictly a selfish move, done for THEIR interest in self preservation. The benefit to all those around them is a bonus, which can be manipulated if they find it in their best interest. Though, that of course might contradict their initial move to improve themselves.

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  7. To Sobriquet, I understand that this is what is understood about sociopaths that they will only do things in their own interest and not for the better of others unless it suits them in some way. My problem is that I cannot believe that it is set in stone. I mean I don't see why it is against my nature to hurt someone or act like a sociopath yet I know that if I put my mind to think only of myself I could train myself to do it. So why can't a sociopath train themselves to think of others without it being so black and white? From what I have seen of the sociopaths I know it looks like they lead completely miserable, paranoid, failing lives which have resulted from their own greed and self serving. It's quite sad.

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  8. First, overall good post ME. Nicely done, for the most part.

    j, get over yourself. I keep trying to figure out why on earth anyone should try really hard to be anything other than who/what they are. Even if a guy’s behavior modification is successful there are indeed some traits that aren’t going anywhere. Homosexuals are a perfect example of this. Sure, sure, a guy can stop having sex with other guys, and sure, sure, he can get married to a woman, but that doesn’t mean his natural sexual attraction to those of the same gender has gone away. Likewise, there are certain personality traits that, barring major brain damage, aren’t likely to be altered, no matter how much you modify your behavior. Reality sucks that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

    Fool, you’re comparing apples to oranges. In your comment, you say that you know that you can train yourself to harm others even though it’s against your nature, so you wonder why so called sociopaths can’t train themselves to think of others first. Your example compares your behavior with the sociopaths instinctive thought processes. Do you see the difference? Of course behavior can be modified, but innate patterns of thought that stem from genetically inherited traits are not themselves likely to be drastically changed. In other words, ditto from the above paragraph. Personality traits may or may not be set in stone, but that doesn’t mean they are written on water either. As far as your pity for the "sad" fate of sociopaths, well you said it yourself: your opinion is based on what you've seen. You should get out more. It'll expand your horizons. There is more than one way to be ok in this life.

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  9. Daniel Birdick, I think that you have helped me to understand the sociopaths point of view on it but what you people cannot seem to grasp for some reason is that sometimes we work hard to change a behavior and it benefits not only ourselves but others. I wish you would see that there really is something amazingly good to be gained on the other side. Does it not ring true to you that you could help others and gain from it tremendously more than you ever could expending so much energy in trying to use and manipulate people? I don't get the thought process because it doesn't make sense. When I had social anxiety I had a whole list of ideas and behaviors which I thought were instinct and set in stone. They can always change when you challenge yourself and change the pattern that you have programmed in your mind to act out. Maybe the sociopath just does not have the comprehension or the focus control to challenge themselves in that way easily. And not only do I believe that if I truly wanted to I could do evil but that I could destroy my conscience and become the sociopath if I put my mind to it. I think that anyone has the ability to be anything even the homosexual becoming straight. Humans are very adaptable. We get use to our patterns but if we are forced into a certain sitation we will find out how not set in stone some of those "instincts" are.

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  10. Dear Foolish:

    You threw away any credibility you may have had when you said this: “I think that anyone has the ability to be anything even the homosexual becoming straight.” Humans are adaptable, but not that adaptable. The truth is, we really can’t be whatever we want to be. I know, I know. That goes against everything “Can Do Americans” and other irrationally optimistic types believe in, but the idea that people can permanently change themselves at the level of thought/emotion/instinct is a myth, along with other such popular fairytales like justice and equality. The social anxiety you refer to is not the same thing as the innate personality traits that one is born with. The former is the kind of thing people sometimes pick up along the road of life as a means of responding to particularly stressful stimuli; the latter is something you’re born with. One is temporary, the other continuous. You can indeed choose to stop using a specific neurotic behavior pattern, but you can’t choose to drop a personality trait. Do a quick Google of “personality traits” and “The Five Factor Model” for more information.

    As for the other comment about the “amazing goodness” that can be found on the “other side”… Look, there are two points. First, I don’t doubt that some people do indeed experience loads of wonderful emotions helping people. Notice I highlighted some because that’s the part you don’t seem to grasp. Finding satisfaction in this life has to be an individual thing, meaning we all have to find it in our own way. Just because helping others might make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t mean that’s true for everyone else, let alone moi. It does not ring true to me that I would “tremendously gain more” by helping others. That’s just not how I’m wired. Second, you present a false dichotomy. It’s not a choice between helping others or using them. As your comment implies, you help others because you gain, not in spite of it. Your gain takes the form of warm fuzzies, or emotional uplift, or being able to pat yourself on the back for being a "good person". I could even theorize that people like you may need other people to suffer in order to be able to help them, so that you in turn can feel good. After all, who would Mother Teresa have been without her poor and leprous Indians? So in a sense, you might say that the altruistic use the targets of their charity as much as a sociopath uses the targets of his manipulations. Both parties seek their own gain, only one is socially sanctioned and approved of and the other officially frowned upon.

    See what I mean? It’s complicated. You sound awfully naïve and/or ill informed. Don't take that as an insult. It's merely an observation. Here’s hoping you expand both your knowledge base and intellectual horizons in the months and years to come! Cheers and happy holidays!

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  12. Good O' Saint Birdrick—patron saint of rational assessment and emotional removal.

    The following is a prayer I imagine the naive might whisper…

    “O blessed it be thy complications of common sense, forgive those who do not see beyond their selves and cherish those who are in tune. Remind those who stray far from the path of sense and reward those who walk it everyday, but do not reward those who walk it for selfish reasons, as one day they will all fucking pay! In the name of schizophrenia, the concussion, and the holy tumor that presses against the spongy substance that cause impulse…amen.”

    That comment was a prime example of why I respect Daniel's opinion, no matter how cold hearted he comes off as.

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  13. I see being able to adapt as a part of my life. But changing certain intrinistic character details is impossible. They are just etched into me forever. Yes I can mold myself to be what I need to be at any moment. But no I cannot and will not change what was and always has been a part of me. I accept that I am self centered, not something I see as negative. Change comes when I need it to for whatever reason my suit me at that moment. The reality is though when the time passes whether I hide who I am or not, I am not the person I pretend to be. I will not accept myself as flawed. Anyone who sees themselves in a negative light is foolish and allows others to take advantage of that very weakness. I don't know if this will even make sense to everyone but that's my opinion on the topic being discussed

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  14. Do you ever yearn though, for what all the big fuss is about? I am curious about what it must feel like, to be on the outside looking in. I have been one of those neighbors who lives next to the party house. I am never bothered so much by the noise as I am that I am not a part of it.

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    1. This is a striking analogy. I used to be jealous of parties like those. Then i began running with a party group. After the initial disection was over i was left with the same empty feeling. Lonely in a crowd indeed...

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  15. What stroke me in this analysis, is that it is almost indentical with what I've came to understand after many years of trying to understand who I am.
    You said that you choose to please others, as it is most beneficial to you (tru various ways). I've had a course on my studies (oh irony, sociopath studying political science on Political Leadership specialisation), which was centred around the Psychological understanding of leadership. We had a pretty well written article to read, about open limbic loop, which in short basicly affects our body and emotions, by interacting with other people. So for example, if someone is being happy around us, he'll most likely affect our limbic loop to produce similar feeling inside us. That what's making empaths feel what others feel.
    I had my little theory, that sociopaths understand that, know what it is like, but "from afar". Like standing outside this proccess, seing how it affects others, and noticing clear benefits of that. It's like the reason of sociopaths is not defiled by the limbic loop - rather, it informs sociopaths reason of what is beneficial for him, what makes him feel good, what will affect his life the best way.
    I am always confused how it worked for me in the past. I remember being very emotional about myself when I was a kid, but still remember alot of sociopathic traits showing up (lack of ability to mantain lon term relationships, natural charm, fearlessness etc.). Now that I know much more about the "condition", I wonder if it's possible that I grew out of being narcisst, to being high functioning sociopath. I can clearly see the proccess of discovering my "self", what it is, how it works.
    At my Uni one of the Professors, who I like to think as my guide to society, said that "we are all like Nomads in our life: choosing who we want to be, observing the surrounding world, makinch diferent choices every day". He always looked into eyes of certain people in the lecture room, very specific ones. I always had that strange feeling, at least. Suprisingly, I was one of them. He is said to be a real razor when it comes to exams - not letting 80% of the year pass. I always felt excited when talking to him. Like we both lied about ourselves, like we both understood that it is game that we play. He rewarded me with an 5 (best possible note), and second exam 4 (second best possible). Enough to say, I wasn't really any better prepared material-wise than most of the students. I just were better at "selling myself".
    The msot important thing though, is that I always had positive mindset. Being very polite, helpful, charming. As opposed to "being right". I have noticed being right is not really all that beneficial. Even one of the basic rules of ommiting a mistake in negotiations is: unconditional apology. Make people feel relieved of their guilt, and poof, youre much better viewed.

    So what is limbic loop working like for sociopaths? I'd say we use it as a tool: it works more like an informational channel for us and our enviroment, while for empaths it works more like influential channel. They act based on the limbic loop signals, we act upon reason analysing limbic loop sygnals. Detached, you would say.

    PS: I apologize for any spelling or strange sounding expressions, english is not my first language.

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  16. Been reading these stories, thoughts, and such for the past few days and what amazes me the most you people find extraordinary in the ordinary. Things most people talk about as epihanies I thought was common knowledge. Of course everyone is different. Me and my brother were night and day and our sister fell somewhere in between. Doing things for other people is how you get what you need without breaking legs or fingers or stealing. These things being discussed seem like things people would have understood by the age of 15. That said I do like seeing all these different ideas and thoughts on some of life's basics.

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    1. Isn't it like that with everything? Poets find extraordinary in ordinarry landscape, philosophers find extraordinary in ordinary chair, heck, even chemists find extraordinary in ordinary glass of water.

      Its when you find mechanics, the deep "how it works" of ordinary then it becomes extraordinary.

      What is so extraordinary about gravity? It's basic of life. Yet, how extraordinary was the discovery of how it works?

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    2. You talk like you are much deeper than me. How gravity works doesn't make a hill a beans to me. Gravity is basic and that's that. You put this in the light of the poet and I have to say I always thought of the artistic types as children trapped in grown bodies. They get to see the beauty in the basics but most can't seem to enjoy the beauty they see. They end up tormented souls actively seeking a slow suicide to me.

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    3. It may be common knowledge Will, but a lot of the regulars who visit this site are anything but common.

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    4. If you say so. I've read some of your stuff and I'm not so sure you know what you are talking about Marine.

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    5. Will.
      "Doing things for other people is how you get what you need without breaking legs or fingers or stealing."

      What you have said is interesting. I found it funny because a socio friend I have is very helpful to people. As a result he has some of the nicest clothes and jacket suits and a lot too. Those who he selected to help would bring him back nice stuff when they travel abroad.

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    6. Look. There are lots of ways to get what you want out of life and other people. Being a hooligan is but one of those ways. It might be fun but eventually you run into a bigger hooligan. Sounds like the man you know understands the more subtle means to ends. Smart friend.

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  17. I have come to the same conclusion about an other centered life. True joy seems to come from offering something of value to others, and giving it as free from expectations of return, as you can. That can give you a joy that seeking for your own gratification could never.

    You write so beautifully, M.E. Tofu turkey lol

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    1. I never did buy into that better to give than to recieve horse manure. By that thinking you end up with nothing. Me giving someone a gift had never felt as good as treating myself to a nice dinner. Then again we all are different now ain't we.

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  18. Theme Series--Which SW Regular Has the Most Themes? Stay tuned...........

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    1. TNP has the most Themes of any SW Regular




      Theme for TNP

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    2. More Christian Music? Oy vey.

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  19. It's like being addicted to a machine that stimulates us, to the point that we begin to attach sentiments. Except the machine does not reciprocate nor need our sentiments.

    Theoretically, you would get the most reliable empathy from a robot as it's performance would never be compromised by any form of self fulfillment or doubt.

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    1. My first reaction is to say "That's one of the dumbest things I have ever heard". Aren't you shown sympathy and empathy something you feel yourself? How can someone show you empathy and how can a robot feel anything? Then again I don't get technology these days. Amazing is what it is.

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  20. "Seeing a through glass darkly"

    Is it just me, or does this not sit well with anyone else. Darkly seeing through glass... what is that? A dark world view from the outside looking in? What is so "dark" about this way of seeing things?

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    1. **"Seeing through a glass darkly"

      Brain is going a million miles a minute~

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    2. It sounds like an emo after school special.

      I don't think there's anything necessarily dark about this perspective. It's just different. It may be considered "dark" from the perspective of someone with a "normal" perspective, but I think that's a failure of their own limits.

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    3. Its like being asleep.

      On narcotics, in a lucid state, in an Operating Theatre...

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    4. "Its like being asleep.

      On narcotics, in a lucid state, in an Operating Theatre..."

      LOLOL Sounds like my entire life!!!! Well, most of it anyway :)

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  21. "See through a glass darkly" is from the Bible. It means there will, always, be unseen things and unknown things, which we can never see and understand, due to the limitations of our finite human minds.

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    1. Thank you Monica. I don't recall that passage, but I do recall the message. It's messages like these though I always saw as excuses to stop looking for the answers... just saying.

      How are you today?

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    2. Monica
      Please, get this straight, "you do not know the mind of God."

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    3. 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things...'

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    4. Now, tell me post 103 you didn't write the 138? Geeze

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  22. The Bible IS the mind of God. If you study it, you can know the mind of God. It is not brain surgery~

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    1. Why don't you go write another chapter of "Up from the sofa?" Now, that's what you can understand.

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    2. what a comedian ~

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    3. I do have a great sense of humor but dead serious on my 9:54 post.

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    4. The Bible is a book written by man there. It's no more the mind of God than a pomegranate or a junebug.

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    5. I have to agree with Will there. It may have started as the will of god, but like everything else man touches it has been changed to suit agendas.

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    6. Will sounds like a one of Monica's puppets. Right?

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    7. What do you mean by puppet? I hear this term thrown around this place but I am no man, woman, or childs plaything on a string if that's what you mean. Never have been don't plan on being something like that anytime in this world.

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    8. Monica creates fake people and everyone knows this.

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  23. just fake it you aspie robot

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  24. Unision or Mr 5th would have something to say about that..

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  25. “I felt that they didn't really understand that someone could have an entirely different existence than theirs, even in the same world, the same city, the same family even.”

    I run into this all the time with the loved ones of people with BPD. They just don’t understand that the way they perceive the world isn’t how other people see it, and it cripples their ability to connect constructively with the person they’re trying to reach. So who’s really the limited one?

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  26. Though still in early stages, Emilia Barakova, Tino Lourens and Yoko Yamaguchi have published some of their research work in social relations, robotics, programming, etc. They're pretty young too. For me, that underscores this generation's focus on the connectivity in how we process stuff and the capacity to simulate that in machines. It ain't rocket science to figure out the enormity of that, both real and potential.

    Unisionspeak;
    Empathy gains trust & loyalty. Trust and loyalty = security/survival.

    All that from humans, hardly reliable, preselective or ridden with faulty synapses. Think, trusted human caregivers; Parents,Priest, Partner,Patriots etc..

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  27. Replies
    1. This I don't understand here. What is Themes for Sw Regulars and I thought I already addressed my thoughts on being a puppet. Nobody pulls the strings on this young man.

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  28. Interesting blogpost topic and stimulating arguments and counter arguments by posters.

    In my view sociopaths and empaths are wired differently and thus they will not see eyes to eyes especially on the matters of emotions / feelings. It is said that sociopaths make up 1 - 4% of the society. Hence, it is an empaths world and socios would appear to be outsiders or ailens in a sense. The socios or a particular strain of sociopaths see themselves as powerful outsiders or aliens who, in a way, want to take over the empath's world because they see empaths as suckers and weaklings. The empaths are fightings back to prevent the control or invasion of their world from these human-like aliens. However, both socios and empaths must integrate and co-exist because ironically there isn't the scale of socios to co-habitate, form alliances or whatever with each other. Or they simply dislike their own kind for reasons understood only by them.

    The question now becomes: What are the common grounds/compromises of sociopaths and empaths to co-exist in life on the emotional and social realm of life or any other realm in life?

    For example: In a relationship of sort empaths want to have a connection and bond. On the flip the socios don't really care about emotional bond/spiritual connections because such feelings are shallow. Therefore the common ground or compromise for a working / functional relationship would be......... what?

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    1. sex, and if SOMEONE put shit in the crock pot for later that's cool.

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  29. What a crock..

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  30. Monica had a dream. She had a 2 week newborn baby. It was lying next to her on a very small bed with messy covers. She was trying to fix the covers so it would be more comfortable. The baby starting crying. Then the crying turned into talking, in an adults voice. It said, "I'm dying. I'm dying" The baby starting urinating a thick stream of urine. When, she looked closer, it had urinated out it's guts.

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    1. That's some powerful imagery there, Sofa. I'm really getting into reading these installments.

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    2. Thank you for being so gracious, Ellicit!

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    3. Ellicit are you the same Ellicit in the forum or a sock puppet? Your avatar is different

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    4. Yeah, her avatar is changed. Must be an impostor.~

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    5. It's the same me as in the forum. I just made a new Google account after using Open ID for a while. We'll see how long this one lasts ...

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  31. Ellicit was strong, but was not as strong as she seemed (or wanted to seem) It was a God awful mess, if you looked at it, stick by stick, like the child's game, where you pile the sticks high, one precarious stick after another. The winner places the sticks, into weird placements, but if they don't fall, he is the winner. Is it sticks or assorted colored blocks in different shapes? I can't remember but you make a fucking unsteady establishment stand. That is the larger fucking point.

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  32. For Ellicit, it mattered to hold her own. It mattered to retain her humanity, although she would not have called it, as such. Her life was the story of not going so far that she couldn't find her way back. Going too far was a scary, fucking mess because what if you couldn't find your way back. Then what? Do you stay there, forever, surrounded by some God awful greenery or moss. No Sir, Ellicit kept herself in the land of the living, even if it was by the skin of her chiny, chin, chin.

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