Thursday, May 30, 2013

Benefiting from sociopaths

I have gotten a lot of pushback from a statement that I make in the book: "I believe that most people who interact with sociopaths are better off than they otherwise would be." I don't necessarily mean it in the sense that the sociopath has directly benefited the person in a specific way, although I don't think that's an entirely outrageous statement either. When I think of the percentages of people I have harmed (even unintentionally) with the number of people that I have benefited in some small way, from things as small as holding a door open for them (people love good manners) to getting them a job (I love it when people owe me favors even more than I like them repaying those favors), the scale tips drastically in the direction of positive -- maybe 99.9% of people I interact with benefit in some small way?

Yes, true, those that are harmed tend to be harmed in larger ways than the corresponding benefit of having someone open a door for you. But even the people who get harmed benefit from their interactions with a sociopath in a way. They have the choice of either wallowing in the role of a victim or of taking the opportunity to learn from the experience (and who better to teach you about yourself than a sociopath). It's a little bit like how surviving cancer can give someone a healthier outlook on life. Life is filled with challenges and suffering. We will never eliminate it, and there are a lot of unintended negative consequences when we try (see Taleb's Antifragile). Even when we do successfully eliminate bad things from our lives, we invent new reasons to be upset -- so-called "first world problems". When we overcome challenges, even when they come in the form of a sociopath, we come out stronger. If there was never any opposition to your worldview or no one around to exploit the sloppiest of your mental shortcuts or delusions about the way the world works, then your mind (and our society, think Rome) would atrophy the same way your muscles do when they're not used. Hitting the gym is hard and can even be painful, but the result is a stronger you.

A reader said something similar:

I just finished reading your book... And wow.  I'm not a sociopath - I have very definite negative feelings.  

Several years ago, I was "ruined" by someone I believe is a sociopath.  A lot of what you described in the book fits her quite well, though she's never had (to my knowledge, at least) a professional diagnosis.  Her manipulation and seduction of my (at the time) fiance wound up destroying my relationship with him shortly before we were supposed to get married.  Now...well, if I still knew how to get in touch with her, I might thank her for what she did.  She didn't do it out of the kindness of her heart, obviously, but I'm now in a much better and happier relationship with a new man, and while I've had difficulty trusting some people after that incident, my life is better than it had been before I met this sociopath.

It's hard being an empath, honestly.  I'm a bit on the cold side of people without sociopathic tendencies; I can analyze cost/benefit and act on that.  It's my preferred method of engaging with the world.  But emotions can come into play, especially guilt and poor self-image.  I live with a young woman who lets her emotions so fully control her actions that she has no life direction, no job, no ability to stay focused on any one thing for more than a couple months at a time (in the past year she's decided she wants to be a vet, a pediatrician, a pathologist, and now a specialist in herpetology so that she could work at zoos).  Her ability to feel emotions is damaging to her ultimate well-being.

It's terrifying for us, to think about sociopaths who are good at manipulating and enjoy manipulating, because we lie to ourselves and pretend that we don't manipulate others and others aren't actively manipulating us.  But that's not true.  I know how to manipulate my husband into doing what I want. I don't always, but I have that power.  And he knows how to manipulate me into doing what he wants.  He doesn't always choose to do so.  The difference is that in our viewpoint, sociopaths don't feel obligated to buy into and perpetuate that lie.  

Reading your book was a very uncomfortable thing for me because you were so honest.  But I learned a long time ago that the discomfort I'm feeling is because I learned to view the world in a slightly different way.  I can't just sit back and pretend that sociopaths are nameless, faceless people out in the world.  By putting your own voice out there, I was able to engage with you, the author of the book, and understand your unique self at least a little bit.  I received a wealth of understanding from reading this book, and now I need to take the time to ponder.

Reading your book was a terrific, frightening, wonderful experience.  I cannot think about sociopaths in the same way anymore.  So thank you.

96 comments:

  1. "I live with a young woman who lets her emotions so fully control her actions that she has no life direction, no job, no ability to stay focused on any one thing for more than a couple months at a time (in the past year she's decided she wants to be a vet, a pediatrician, a pathologist, and now a specialist in herpetology so that she could work at zoos). Her ability to feel emotions is damaging to her ultimate well-being."

    What's the alternative? Do we not all choose careers based on our emotions - what we want, what we enjoy, trial and error. Are we meant to pick something then stick rigidly to it even in the face of evidence that it makes us unhappy.

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    1. There's a reason that the word excessive carries a negative connotation. The alternative is to make room for some measure of rationality in the decisions we make. M.E. is saying that the people she's "harmed" have had their eyes opened to the fact that their excessive emotions blinded them to the poor decisions they make. These people come away with a measure of skepticism and less trust, and this perspective will help them to make better decisions about relationships in the future.

      The woman who wrote the review nearly married some spineless fool who couldn't keep his dick in his pants, which could have led to a very destructive and fruitless marriage. Because of the sociopath seductress, she has a keener eye for the character of people she meets, and has found someone with a backbone and self-control.

      Everything in moderation, rationality and emotions included.

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    2. Andy- I am sorry about the bullying that you referenced in the last thread.
      I've researched/written a lot about it and I know what it does to people. The only advice I can offer you (not that you asked- if I am overly intrusive by offering it then don't read it) is : Figure out how to live boldly so the ones who hurt you don't get the last word. After all- "Living well is the best revenge."

      Cheers,
      Mach

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    3. Mach, there's nothing to be done about it now. If I ever have kids, though, I'll encourage them to befriend the marginalized children. Nobody should grow up feeling that everyone is against them. As for living well, I'm objectively more successful than all my peers from school. I get no small sense of satisfaction knowing that they're all tied to my hometown working menial jobs.

      I saw your other post, and I'll give you as clear a picture as you've given me later today. Fair's fair.

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    4. This makes me sad Andy. My nephew (now aged 15) had a similar experience when he was say 6 - 11 at school. He is now shy and withdrawn around kids and has no friends. He is a lovely guy and I worry about him, that he is lonely and missing out (an only child). Is there anything I can do to help him? Is there anything that could have helped you at that age?

      Also I don't accept this in relation to you: 'there's nothing to be done about it now'. You have what it takes to be the life and soul of the party IMO.

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    5. I hope this doesn't make it worse. When I was young, I played tee ball and little league baseball. I was in a group that did skits and challenges, now called Destination Imagination. I was in band from 7th grade through high school. I did track and field in high school. I had friends that were weird like me and shared common interests.

      When I started college, all the connections that I had made died. I didn't make any effort to maintain them. I had to be forced into social situations in order to be sociable, but I never got used to it, I never liked it. I'm competent, I can talk naturally with people, have only limited awkwardness, and people like to have me around. I hate it though. I never feel like I belong, like I'm always out of place.

      Your nephew should be socializing with people, even if he doesn't like it. I had a normal experience, outside of being isolated when I was in grade school, and I still ended up like this, friendless and alone.

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    6. Thanks Andy. My sis thinks he'll grow out of it or something, that as long as he is happy at home, he'll be fine. I'll encourage her to up the socializing.

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    7. I think in my case, it wasn't all necessarily external. My sister is also very reclusive, refuses to learn to drive, and basically wants to live with my parents. I managed to get out, go to college, and get a higher degree that led to independence. If he's only happy at home, he might not ever be able to leave. Maybe that's ok with your sister, but he's going to miss out on a lot of life if that's all he can do.

      I feel like I'm stepping into something that's none of my business, so I apologize for that, but that's my projection of what will happen.

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  2. I think ME has started writing her own book reviews ;)

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    1. Is there some particular reason you are asking Andy for advice?
      Does he seem wise to you? LOL
      Seems a bit funny to me. An empty glass.

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  3. I like this review. I have to finish. My garden got me sidetracked as I planted all sorts of new amazing things :D

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  4. I consider the sociopaths I have escaped from to be the mechanism through which my talent for survival was cultivated. In general, the Machiavellian perspective is one our culture largely regards as evil. If you live only by Machiavellian principles there is a problem because they short circuit whatever mysterious second wind comes after the experience of mercy.
    But Machiavellian wisdom that comes to empathic types after being mind/body/soul fucked by a sociopath or a malignant narcissist is an amazing gift. It's radar, and it's like learning to play chess. Sociopaths respond to being given the benefit of the doubt by gutting you. Until an empath understands this, they are crippled in the big wide world. If you understand the Machiavellian perspective it allows you to anticipate the behaviors of someone who is wired very differently than you are. It's similarly valuable to being gifted with a sixth sense. But just because you perceive someone's capacity for viciousness doesn't mean that you need to respond in kind. Instead, this perspective teaches you how to practice non violent self defense by helping you anticipate the next move of a predator so they never get the chance to checkmate you.
    After being wounded once, many empaths become reclusive and judgmental in an effort to never feel the pain of being "ruined" again. What a mistake- you are missing the "gift"- the initiation into Machiavellian understanding. For those who say it's evil to even think like a sociopath I will counter with the words of Jesus- "Therefore I send you out as sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." What I take away from this is that Jesus says "Take off your rose colored glasses and see sociopaths for what they are- have the wisdom of the serpent yet- be innocent in that you do not return evil for evil."
    The biggest mental error sociopaths make (in my opinion) is discounting the transformative energy of love. They are too afraid to take off their Machiavellian glasses to ever trust another person. That is the definition of a broken heart, in my book. The only way out of despair is to find the capacity to trust.

    ME's theory that sociopaths improve our lives feels mostly true. If you survive being ruined, you are the better for it. Where she is wrong is that some empaths are driven to suicide or worse. Some become evil raging narcissists who are hyperreactive and destructive if they can't move past that sense of utter violation.
    In order to coexist constructively with sociopaths, all empaths should have a "ruining" experience. Otherwise they are sitting ducks. But the key for the empath is to not shut down and become cold and narcissistic to protect yourself from more pain. Otherwise you become just as "evil" as the one who ruined you, but possibly even more destructive because your formidable emotions have short circuited and turned you into a menace.

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    1. You are difficult to boil down, and consistently so. I like it when people respond to me, so I may as well obey the golden rule.

      Nope, wait, I think I see a picture forming. You're a good and virtuous person, but no fool. People took advantage of your innocence, but your religious background lent you the strength to weather the storm of pain. You call yourself machiavellian, someone who uses cunning and duplicity to achieve their goals. You don't hurt people, though. Mercy is part of your strength, and you have little tolerance for the bullshit games sociopaths play. Your love is neither a hard to win prize, nor an hors d'oeuvre to be freely taken by any hand that reaches out to you. It's an expression of mutual admiration, respect, excitement, and enduring trust.

      You have become strong, but what you want, or what you already have, is a paradoxical feeling of being safely vulnerable, open and exposed with no fear that a knife will pierce your heart again.

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    3. You sound like a very together, mom. Cool.

      I just think you should not be allowing yourself financially at the mercy of any individual, not just 'disordered' individual, and I have a feeling you know that, you didn't just mean disordered people.

      Once I read a far too sympathetic view of Machiavellian raising of family from a female author, I sure am curious if you are that one. None of what she was saying was only true under Machiavellianism, many rational thinking was classified as if it only fits under Machiavellianism. That was sad to see, meaning to ignore the shitty side of Machiavellianism and think of it as only rational thinking. The worst is when one has some knowledge about what they are talking about. Do you understand the evil side of Machiavellianism? Are you preaching those too? Because if not, stop calling what you're doing Machiavellianistic.

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    4. I have a reasonably good memory, but given the fact that you deleted your comment, I'll only respond if you want me to.

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    5. @ Sceli- cool? Uh- my teenagers might tell you otherwise. Practical might be a better description. I am not the writer you speak of. While I definitely encourage my kids to think for themselves I am decidedly not Machiavellian because I actively discourage ruthless behavior. But I do encourage understanding things from a Machiavellian perspective when my kids have faced bullying situations. How does this play out? Teaching my (then) 48 pound son who is not neurotypical how to punch because he was getting targeted by some older girls who outweighed him by 40 lbs. I taught him that he couldn't back down after he was teased over and over again and we talked about what punch would give him the leverage to flatten her because he probably only would get one shot in, so he'd better get it right. It never came to that and I did say getting physical was a last resort, but I have always agreed with the saying, "Don't start a fight. But always be the one to finish it."
      @Andy-
      feel free to post back- in fact please do, I am curious -just thought I was a little TMI and made the call to spare the SW community my ramblings

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    6. That's a pity Mach, I didn't get to read it and I enjoy your ramblings.

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    7. Ok, Mach. I'm going from memory here, so I can respond only to the impressions I got from reading your comment.

      I posted what I did because it was what I saw, and I am left with the impression that I got close to the truth. Your response suggested that you expect people to hear that you have four kids and run away screaming. The ones that don't run away are those that want to take advantage of you, and leech off of you. You have hope, but you don't put yourself 'out there' for two reasons.

      1. You don't think there's a sensitive, intelligent, stable, self-sufficient out there who would want to be with someone taking care of kids.

      2. If there were such a person, you wouldn't want to burden them with the immense responsibility of being a surrogate parent to your children.

      I don't expect to meet anyone here (or anywhere for that matter), but I can say that I love kids. I don't think I could relate sufficiently to someone over 35, but if they had kids it wouldn't bother me. Also, from what I've seen of your heart and mind, anyone would be lucky to have the pleasure of your company. I think you're fascinating, and you shouldn't wait for your kids to be in college to cast your line. What you have to offer is greater than any burden you could possibly impose on another person.

      Talking about my wife is one of my absolute least favorite things to do, but people here seem to like it when I talk about things I'd rather keep to myself. I was madly in love with her, and got married young. For a time, we were happy. I finished college, got into a PhD program, and we lived off of my stipend. I sped through my program, clearing some impressive speedbumps but never going so far off the road that I couldn't recover.

      In that time, she never had a job, or had any interest in getting an education. After about 4 years of marriage, her spirits picked up and she found herself wanting to hang out with her friends, get drunk, and go out to eat. Meanwhile I skipped meals, grabbed free lunch from wherever I could, and skimped by. I started offering her rewards, I would give her extra money if she would take some classes, or cook and keep the apartment clean, or apply for jobs. She refused to do anything but live for herself, even though some small help from her would have been substantial, and I was close to finishing my program and making more money.

      I wanted her to do something, anything to help support us, but the most she would do was lie about applying to jobs. I gave up. I sat her down and told her that when the lease was up in about 7 months, I wouldn't live with her anymore. She'd be on her own. She immediately applied for a job and got hired. It was clear then that all she cared about was her own happiness and well-being, and she told me as much. She moved in with some friends and started sleeping with one of them, even though we were still married. She said they had a real connection. They were soulmates. A couple months later he moved many states away.

      I was happy with her, for a time. I'm still legally married so she can stay on my health insurance. She'll probably never get a job that provides it. She does nothing to help me, pleads for handouts constantly, and threatens me if I don't give her what she wants. I'm far from perfect, but I feel that for all the support I gave her, for what I'm still doing for her, I deserve better than that.

      I'm moving into a new apartment in a couple months. She still has some of her things in my current apartment, and still has keys, so I'll give her until after I move to file for divorce. I don't make decisions lightly or hastily. Sometimes I regret having made the decision I did, to push her out of my life, but that's just the loneliness talking.

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    8. Andy, you are an idiot.

      Signed a real woman who does whatever the fuck she wants.

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    9. I'm not going to disagree with you, but why am I an idiot?

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    10. @ Andy-

      I know where you are in the uncoupling process. It sucks. (there's no nicer way to put it)
      On top of everything you seem to have a parasite attached to you. You remind me a lot of a friend of mine from college who is now supporting two ex wives. He's a piece of work but he's a high functioning but slightly nutty ER attending and has a knack for falling in love with superhot women who happen to have been diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder.... not a good scene.
      We spent a week in Italy unpacking our various romantic clusterfuck situations after we both were reeling from our latest break ups (this could only happen bc all 4 of my kids were at sleepover camp). After listening to his stories, my take away was that both men and women who tend to over function in relationships (by this I mean they contribute a signifigantly larger portion of resources- financial, emotional, time, life opportunity) inevitably get taken advantage of. The takers move on to exploit more people, and the givers get increasingly sad, resentful, and burned out on love but compulsively seek a reparative experience but keep winding up with assholes.
      Recognizing my own romantic death spiral in his stories I came to the conclusion that I was dating takers and it was no one's fault but my own. So I've been in therapy this last year with a therapist that I chose specifically because he is very smart and analytical and not super touchy feel-ey. He understands my analytical nature and is willing to deal with my problem of winding up with takers logically rather than subjecting me to endless bullshit questions about what I FEEEEEEEEEL. (that always bugs me. If you're in therapy you either have a court order compelling you to to be there- not me- or you feel really fucking bad about something so duhhhh- you already know what you feel. )
      It's been helpful. There are a lot of anti therapy comments on this website but I think that the people that hate therapy got bad therapy. Good therapy is having a smart person who sees through your bullshit and weigh in objectively on the ways you are fucking up your own life. Therapy that tells you what you want to hear is useless or worse.

      So- given that I am not a trained professional I am not going to say anything more than this: your story reminds me of my friend's story. And it seems like you are willing to keep giving to someone who sucks. Ask yourself why. Then stop it.

      If you are like me the stopping it part is easier said than done, so that's why therapy is a good option. But please, for the love of God (or the Easter Bunny or whatever)- don't get a dumb therapist. Because then you will be sucked into an endless cycle of having someone elicit feelings you didn't even know you had FOR NO REASON. And that is lunacy.

      I am sorry that people in your life have sucked royally. It happens to smart people who lack ruthlessness bc they tend to accumulate resources but lack the savvy/ruthlessness to eliminate dead weight. Parasites love people like you and if you don't address this the next woman in your life could be same song different verse of what you are currently experiencing. I'm glad you're not ruthless, but only you can develop the life skill of learning to identify dead weight and then cut it loose in a way that is humane.

      From everything you write, Andy, I get a good sense about you. You are not the type who is destined to die alone. I suspect that your general life satisfaction will improve quite a bit once you resolve the problem of ending your marriage. I was divorced at 32 and am 38 now. Every year has improved despite some seriously crazy curveballs. The people life gets worse for are the takers- the ones who have coasted by on looks and arrogance. They are the ones who long for glory days. Your best days are yet to come. Chin up.

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    11. I like to think that I'm now cynical enough not to make the same mistake twice. I was only 21 when I got married. I'm not even sure I'm capable of being blinded by 'love' again. How is it that all the contributors aren't saturated by takers, though? Surely all the good ones are already 'taken'.

      As for stopping, well, I've only made the mistake once, and I tend to learn from my mistakes. The only reason I haven't completely gone through with the divorce is because she still has access to my apartment, and I think she's entirely capable of either destroying my stuff in a rage or taking and selling it. So, I'm biding my time with a smile on my face, and not giving into her pleas for money which will surely go to more drugs, alcohol, and trips eating out.

      My wife I encountered through blind luck. She was blunt enough to say outright that she liked me and wanted me, which is essentially the only thing that will get through to me. I can twist even the least subtle cues into something that pushes me away. Nobody is blunt enough to smash down my walls. Maybe once I'm totally rid of her, I'll work at taking them down from my end.

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    12. "My wife I encountered through blind luck. She was blunt enough to say outright that she liked me and wanted me, which is essentially the only thing that will get through to me. I can twist even the least subtle cues into something that pushes me away."

      hmmm. "blind luck" for you, identified feeding source for her. Accidental is not so accidental. You are showered with shocking doses of narcissistic supply bc only a hammer will suffice when normally a feather suffices. OK- I get all of that. But---- WHY?

      Until you understand that you might continue your streak of "blind luck".

      No judgment here. Takes one to know one. (25k plus poorer-not counting therapy haha)

      PS I got married when I was twenty. Divorced 12 years later. Sociopaths came AFTER. If you can avoid my tendency to need to do things the hard way, I highly recommend doing the self awareness thing sooner rather than later.

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    13. andy, the healthiest thing for you to do is just to completely cut her out of your life, change your address and phone number if you have to. she sounds like a diseised limb, for the health of the body the limb must be severed

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    14. I'm much more calculating now. If I make the same mistake twice, I deserve the consequences. I'm not awfully worried, though. I don't NEED to be in a relationship with someone, if I could just make some friends I'd probably feel less alone. That's what I'm working on now, at least.

      Sevvack, she gets very little from me now, except that I have to take a little money out of my paycheck to keep her on health insurance. It's a small price to pay for civility, and a decent bargaining chip.

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    15. The bargaining chip- good strategic thinking.

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  5. Andy, I saw Hangover III today and thought of you and your chance of finding the right disordered woman for your needs one day like the guy in the movie did.

    I hope this is not offensive to you, I surely mean no offense, just the opposite.

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    1. I think if I nearly laughed out loud, it means I'm not offended. Zach Galifiniakis is one of my favorite people. Maybe I'll go see it.

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    2. I lik eyou, Andy, in case you couldn't tell so far. You are just too bright and realistic for your own good.

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    3. I like people who like me.

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    4. i think andy has become a favorite on SW, alot of us seem to like him

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    5. Ha, the anons hate me, and I was one of them once.

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    6. I like you :)

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    7. hey Andy, why don't you like people who don't like you?

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    8. I especially like people who don't like me. Bullshit detectors are rare treasures.

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    9. cant they like you and also be bullshit detector to you?

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    10. The only people I don't like are people who are both stupid and mean. Either or is fine.

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    11. lol @Andy

      I like you. See I'm even doing CAPS for you, though not with my pinky.

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    12. so mean is okay, as long as it's not paired with stupid? that doesn't seem right. shouldn't the stupid be excused for being mean since they are, you know, stupid? they likely can't help it.

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    13. Do you toggle the caps lock key? Do you have six fingers, and you don't call the furthest one out a pinky? Do you type on your cellphone like I do when I'm not at home?

      Maybe stupid mean people should be excused for their actions, but I don't have to like them :)

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    14. what do you think it would be like to play piano with six fingers?

      i use my ring finger. is that weird? some years ago i was told by co-workers that i type weird. they surrounded my desk to watch. i'm not a secretary so who cares.

      anyway, my blackberry does the caps for me. i feel my laptop should too, stupid thing.

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    15. Short answer, yes, it is weird to hit the shift key with your ring finger. Your joints care! You have to twist your hand to hit the key with that finger. But yeah, if you're not at a desk typing for 8 hours a day it probably isn't that important :P

      They call them smartphones for a reason. We don't have smartlaptops yet.

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    16. Maybe stupid mean people should be excused for their actions, but I don't have to like them :)

      their self assurance is amusing. i guess the less you know the less there is to doubt.

      they get all worked up over stupid stuff. you can get them all worked up then suddenly be their best friend and they don't know what the hell happened. i wonder if there is a link between stupidity and taking things too seriously? there has to be.

      on we go plodding through the mental landscapes....

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    17. Online, stupid people don't bother me. In person, I can't stand them. All I can think of is how they managed to get so old, being dumb as a box of rocks. Is natural selection not a thing anymore? If only they could keep their stupid mouths shut. A quiet stupid person is a good stupid person.

      I hardly take anything seriously, at least things that don't have a great and direct impact on my well-being and quality of life. I don't take that as a claim to intelligence though, I consider it simple apathy.

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    18. do you really men apathy? apathy implies a thing is worth your time. it's always better not to waste time - mentally as well as physically.

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    19. It's hard to say. I have little real interest in politics, world events, and national tragedies. I feel I don't have a hand in any of them. Pragmatically, I should keep up with those things, though, as people tend to talk about such events, and want their opinions reinforced. Then again, I can usually concoct an opinion that fits what people want.

      I guess it's probably not apathy. I have a path, a trajectory, and the slope is positive. I don't really care about where I am, though, and where I'll end up professionally. I just want to be comfortable and happy, and my career is a means to those ends.

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  6. I've been reconnecting with my family after several years of no contact. I'm stunned at the extent to which the cycle of crime and violence has escalated. Even in the extended family on what is left of my father's side. Crime, murder, mental illness all over.

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    1. maybe you should reconsider reconnecting?

      they say family is family, meaning blood relatives. i really don't agree with that. just because you're related to someone doesn't make them family.

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    1. Thanks, Monica.

      How have you been?

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    2. Depends on what moment you ask
      At this moment, I am fine :D

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    3. Ellicit- sounds like NC was a good choice. Sorry to hear it. I'm glad you escaped. It's not easy to leave a system like that bc the trauma bonds are potent.

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  8. Could someone who is reading the book please give us an example of what we're talking about when ME says she's harmed people? What has she reaaly done that a neurotypical has not done?

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  9. "dance with potential devils" - Machavellianempath
    I like that. That is certainly what has brought me here. People fear what they do not understand because they lack a knowledge of fear itself and of that which they do not understand. They are doubly blind and unaware of it.

    Would it be okay if I were to break-dance in front of the devils, apes and angels alike? I promise I wont slow dance with just any one of them.

    Scouring a blog like this is a refreshing reprieve from my studies in race relations and sociology. As I first read the blogs and comments I saw a pattern of "hell hath no fury" burn-out dames (empaths) bemoan the wickedly natural behavior of psychological hipsters (sociopaths). While that pattern seems to resonate a fairly accurate representation of those that visit this blog I employ colorful and unabashedly rude language and a generalization that can stand up to scrutiny no more then any common troll spiel might. I do so because it is entertaining. I have seen a few self proclaimed sociopaths here state "empaths" are boring. Later in other comments boring was used to describe sociopaths. It really does feel as if many but certainly not all of those that are attracted to this site yearn to bicker for the sake of bickering.

    I feel there is a lot more common ground between these so called empaths and sociopaths then the bickering would suggest. A Western World empath knows no more of true empathy and compassion then their sociopath counterparts do. Not when one studies the fascinating symbioses "detachment" and "compassion" hold from many Eastern philosophical viewpoints. To live is to suffer and suffering often comes from attachment. When this is wholly and honestly confronted it tends to make sense. I feel that sociopaths can love by proxy of others to themselves. Meaning they can easily fall in love with a "moment" or circumstance of their life and those that were present in those moments or circumstances that reaffirms their own self love. If an empath were more honest to themselves they would see clearly much and many of whom they claim is quit similar and intrinsically tied to their own selfish natures. Perhaps the discomfort I feel from the "idea" of these people is as others feel: A mirror to our deeper selves.

    I have seen an idea mentioned a few times on here that sociopaths may be the product of evolutionary adaptation. If evolution is responding to how we have built civilization that may suggest we may be weaning off the need for emotions altogether. If you follow a science-fiction-isque train of thought it would seem impossible we could ever reach an altruistic Utopian future without shedding a few primal elements of our so called humanity. On the other hand I am scared of the "sociopath". Not in the sense I am intimidated by encountering them in day to day life but that it would seem the impulsive, materialistic, war mongering, resource depleting directives of the worlds leaders mirror the nature of these people. With that said the complicity of empaths rivals the selfish velocity of sociopaths that coupled have created a very ugly world for us all.

    In any case I appreciate this blog as a forum to delve into these questions so that we can start to change the paradigms that would have us at odds.

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    1. Certainly any genetic influenced trait that exists at 4% of the population has to have an evolutionary value, (the only caveats being that like autism it might be a genetic condition that needs an environmental influence like a modern toxin to be expressed the way it is being expressed now, OR that the people with less of the trait, the "carriers" have an advantage that those with the full expression don't).

      But evolution is too slow to be occurring due to recent cultural influences except in extreme cases like sickle cell. The modest advantage a sociopath might have over ordinary calculating people willing to cast out their consciences must have been present in even hunter gatherer societies. And it would be a trait we all have by now unless the selection is frequency dependent, which it therefore must be. That means there is an advantage to having the gene(s) but only if most people don't have it.

      As best I can guess, the sociopaths have to think of the things that need to be done that go against conscience, and most of the rest of us are followers who will discard their conscience when led.

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  11. sorry- I hate catching spelling errors after the fact. Let me cut and paste back in-

    @ Steve-
    Have you read any Karl Jung? His idea of the "shadow" side of all of our personalities dovetails nicely with what you are saying when you reference "A mirror to our deeper selves" .

    I am more scared of malignant narcissists/borderlines than sociopaths. Sociopaths are ruthless, but the ones that are "hidden in plain sight" are for the most part, quite intelligent. Malignant narcissists/borderlines live in an emotionally driven fantasy land and woe is the one who gets in the way of their emotional "needs". People who violate restraining orders and commit crimes of passion are wired like this. The general public seems to sympathize more with hot blooded destructive behavior because they can understand/empathize. That strikes me as dumb. Who cares what the motivation was? The victim was harmed. The perpetrator is not less guilty of destructive behavior simply because they we went batshit crazy in the moment. A sociopath is predictable because their behavior is driven by Machivellian logic, and therefore less of a threat if you can identify where their self interest lies. Off the grid narcissists/borderlines act according to internal drama so they are like hand grenades who could explode over the smallest thing. Yikes.

    Stupid sociopaths die young or in prison. Smart sociopaths see all relationships as transactions. Master that, and interact in a constructive fashion (while watching your back, of course) and you can maintain a "Professional" relationship. ME strikes me as someone who fits this model and I don't think she is a menace to society the way a raging narcissist is.

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    1. Spellin error- CARL not Karl

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    2. i personally find the emotionally driven behaviors of empaths simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. if i were to wrong a fellow socio i know generally what to expect but wronging an empath can get anything from a sulk to a violent rage depending on individual and ive done to them

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  12. I may have read Jung in my 20's during a weed/beer bender while blasting Public Enemy in over sized headphones but I must have blacked it all out. Devilish grin. (I didnt read on such benders -wink). I kind of hold psychology in disdain. I even mildly resent all these "conditions" and "disorders" coming out of the woodwork. It all seems so convenient to our corrupt pharmaceutical industries. I question everything, all the time, including myself. I question why I question. My life is an obsessive journey fueled by why. I never get any concrete answers but get the constant reward of exhilaration.

    I like to smash all mirrors. In my youth I would refrain from looking directly into the mirror for months. Then sometimes I would stare into it for hours. Then at other times I would meditate on how fascinating my hands were. All weird mentioning to try to arrive to an agreement that self reflection is the most terrifying thing ANY human can ever experience. Once the terror fades it rocks!

    I often play a thinking game with myself to question my own morality. I have lived a crazy, rich, strange, boring, vibrant, dark, AWESOME life so far. I think I have gone through so many phases that if I were diagnosed regularly I would have earned every mental disorder title known to man. Perhaps that is just grandiose or even narcissistic reverie? Anyway the thinking game I place is that I put myself in a large room with chairs and a table and several shadowy men of absolute power and wealth. I imagine myself to part of an unknown secret society that controls the world. I pretend my associate pose questions of countries, wars, resources, the kind of haves- the haves and the have nots, the tools of racism, sexism, classism----We all talk on these things that invariably affects people lives and deaths calmly and rationally. We have no empathy and never visualize of mothers trying to take care of their kids, of the oppression and suffering of others. We dont even see ourselves as oppressors. We are merely tenders to the human race. They would be even more lost and evil without our cold rationale. We don't think of hypocrisies we inspire in lower chambers of power and institution. I play this whole thing out in my head and ask myself: Are you capable of such perceived atrocities and such ultimate power? Do men like these exist? Are the conspiracy theorists right even in some guessed at or indirect way? To be honest some days I passionately rile against this idea - Other days I am not so sure. This keeps me honest as a human being. At least for myself.

    Anyway I just ranted and I apologize. I am very excited by this site. I feel I can throw no balls too curved here. Would it be so bizzare a very emotional, very passionate man could find pleasure in the company of those where certain emotions and passions are alien? Perhaps. Or perhaps a just a baroque little man who thinks he can comprehend and relate to things out of his depth.

    Machavellianempath - How did you come to understand the distinction between narcissistic/borderlines and sociopaths? Was it via means of the contemporary study of psychology, the perceiving of neuroscience data or a more holistic way whereas your aforementioned life experiences come to inform you?

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    1. the second led me to seek out answers from the first option - which did not bring any conclusive understanding. and why would it- look at the difference between the DSM IV vs DSM V. They don't know what they hell they think- how can we?

      But the distinctions that make the most sense to me are:

      Sociopaths are purely logical and feel no ethical constraints
      Narcissists are highly illogical and self justify ethical violations at the expense of everything that would contradict their self justification (in extreme cases, by taking human life if the voice can't be quieted otherwise)

      I don't like other people's emotions and morality to infringe upon my personal freedom and/or safety. I will take the emotions into account but when an N starts trying to be the unequivocal boss apart from all reason, that's when my patience runs out. I may not like the potential ruthlessness of a sociopath, but at least they are somewhat predictable bc logic underlies their more malevolent thoughts.

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    2. its not bizzare to take for an empath or neurotypical to take pleasure in the company of socios at all. we are very capable of making them very happy... until they bore us. at least thats the case for me

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  13. I live on the edge of a Hitler inspire thought to round up all "malignant narcissist/borderlines and commit genocide against them on the counter thought that perhaps that very thought or the feelings that interact with that thought are the very core of malignant narcissism. Is it not ironic that I would violently dispatch selfish "criminals" because they threaten MY sensibilities/worldview/comfort level/false feeling of safety?

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    1. I don't think it's ironic. But I think it reminds me of religious fundamentalists who want to kill abortion doctors.
      Don't get me wrong, I find malignant narcissists abhorrent. But there is this part of me that believes that if we play God and artificially end someone's existence we short circuit one of two desirable endings. #1- the pattern of their life catches up with them and they die miserable. I have seen this in action multiple times. Not pretty. Killing a narcissist before they experience the fruits of their life choices allows them to "go out on top". My schadenfreude gets not satisfaction. #2 - the possibility of redemption manifested by the impulse to make amends. I realize #2 sounds dumb to you, but if I didn't believe that the free will we all possessed didn't allow for this, it wouldn't be free will. I am a huge believer that our will controls our destiny. Perhaps we get sucker punched by fate, but ultimately it is always our choice to respond to the sucker punch. And in the response our fundamental dignity (or lack thereof) lies.

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  14. "She was generally known as the IP law professor with big tits (she only taught trademarks and copyrights because she had no science background) and there were A LOT of guys (and girls) that were infatuated with her. The sociopathic part that people were able to pick up on was the stare – that blank, empty, uncaring stare. I met with her in office hours once. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to f**k me or eat me. I’m assuming now that it was likely both."

    good job, ME.

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  15. http://www.jlundlaw.com/p/about.html

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  17. Does the author remove the universal trash? I always want to see that which is censored.

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    1. My way of torturing you.

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    2. No evidence of a parasitic lifestyle there.

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  18. So sociopaths are like cancer.

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    1. not at all, we are predators. we cull the weak from the herds and the survivors are stronger for the experiance

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    2. Sociopaths are like late stage rabies sufferers. The only mercy for themselves and others is to destroy them. Sociopaths are the enemy of humankind.

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  19. I think sociopaths get a bum rap because the society in which produces them raps bullshit from the start. I don't see enough rational questioning of psychological institution by so called sociopaths. Psychology does not adhere to true science. Psychology conviently dishes out titles from questionable data produced by assumptions of normality. I so want sociopaths to be the scapegoat to mankinds faults but that isn't "right" is it? I'm an observer and I have changed things. The void of empathy and the process of manipulating others is a device to trying to understand ones place in this whole state of affairs: reality. There is much to learn from these folks! Today I'm an advocate for just another labeled group of "mentally ill" folks. Tomorrow I may their opponents. The next day I may find balance and just assimilate their presence as a norm. The next day I may revolt against everyone one of y'all

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  20. Sociopaths and their kin and such limited understanding of emotion versus the clear understanding of human selfishness without apology : it's all an epoch: I refuse to be called an empath and I care too much to be considered a sociopath. As a mind hybrid birthed from all the good and bad humankind has spewed forth from this flying rock of a planet: I say we all refute and rebel against any title. We are. We just are. Dont get made when someone else just is without providing you the emotional language which would allow you to accept then as human beings.

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  21. ....Our definition of ourselves means nothing without other species much less with intellectually superior species. It's about context and contrast. We treat other species horribly. Lol I can imagine an ancient sociopath being more sincere over the killing an animal tht would serve as food for him and his tribe then any so called empath being sincere about anything. " empaths wage war over feeling: "sociopaths wage war over data". Spock we dig for a reason - bitches-

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    1. That was funny.

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    2. Spock we dig for a reason - bitches-


      best line all week. and am in full agreement

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  22. It would be fruitful if a real sociopath were to comment on my though experiment:

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    1. Maybe UKan will comment on it sometime. There are no other real sociopaths here.

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    2. UKan has always read to me as more of a posturing narcissist/troll then any real socio, hes always made me laugh

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  23. "yall dont hear me though". LOL

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    1. Sociopaths are so goddammed talky. No one cares about your boring thoughts.

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  24. Andy, about your wife. The woman seems to have been left behind intellectually and financially, in a pretty depressing position, experiencing a parasitic life. It's a chicken and egg thing. People in a setup like that typically cheat on their spouses because they are power hungry, and sex makes them feel better than who they are. You should stop pitying her and accept what she is or has become, a parasitic loser slut. Get her out of your life without losing much money, preferably before finishing up your PhD.

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    1. It's a little late for that, already done and started my higher-paying job. Soon, though, once she no longer has access to any of my things and I have nothing of hers. I'll survive, I always do :)

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  25. How absurd! "Benefiting from sociopaths"

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  26. OMG! The soul-less ones are finally crawling out of their closets!
    Good for the rest of us.
    What good can there possibly in interacting with a sociopath?!
    Left to me, they should all be diagnosed in childhood and put away permanently. The scum of the earth! The vipers and cockroaches of humanity.
    Is this blog an attempt to sanitize sociopathy? spare me! why don't you all bite cyanide capsules and die off!
    And I see a lot of references here to empaths; so is it now about sociopaths vs empaths? Why not sociopaths vs the rest of humanity.
    If I have to be born all over again, I'd choose to still be a normal feeling person rather than a sociopath/psycopath or narcissist. The sociopaths I know are envious of me because they know I'm what they could never be and they remain inherently restless, troubled and dissatisfied on the inside no matter how much material or worldly success they attain.
    "Benefiting from sociopaths" my arse!

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  27. I benefit from everyone!! I might not be totally aware, that I can benefit from all experience, but why do people show up in our lives? Why do we suffer? So we can learn how not to. If I am poor, i am holding opinions that keep me that way. The universe does NOT care about helping people!! The universe only cares about one being 100% responsible. Nothing is ever our 'fault'. We are responsible though. 100%

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  28. Have to disagree with the benefit, why do you think sociopaths are so disturbed when they can't get in a bag of chips, because they can't have just one, more the merrier.
    But if that is what it takes too make them happy, then they should feel benefited from one big chip and be happy, unchanged and no complaints, meaning they can be all they aspired to be, along with their disciples.
    I am talking about (sociopaths).
    Have a toothpick with a little flag for all their hate that they like, that says love for their attention needs.
    Of course just like other people, they are different, but they do bring out the lazy, cowardly and greedy "disciples".

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  29. My Name is Paul. I will love to share my testimony to all the people in the forum cos i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me 4 weeks to our wedding for another man..,When i called her she never picked my calls,She deleted me on her facebook and she changed her facebook status from engage to Single…when i went to her place of work she told her boss she never want to see me..I lost my job as a result of this cos i cant get myself anymore,my life was upside down and everything did not go smooth with my life…I tried all i could do to have her back to all did not work out until i met a Man when i Travel to Africa to execute some business have been developing some years back..I told him my problem and all have passed through in getting her back and how i lost my job…he told me he gonna help me…i don’t believe that in the first place.but he swore he will help me out and he told me the reason why my girlfriend left me and also told me some hidden secrets.i was amazed when i heard that from him..he said he will cast a spell for me and i will see the results in the next couple of days..then i travel back to Germany the following day and i called him when i got home and he said he’s busy casting those spells and he has bought all the materials needed for the spells,he said am gonna see positive results in the next 2 days that is Thursday.My girlfriend called me at exactly 12:35pm on Thursday and apologies for all she had done ..she said,she never knew what she’s doing and her sudden behavior was not intentional and she promised not to do that again.it was like am dreaming when i heard that from her and when we ended the call,i called the man and told him my my girl friend called and he said i haven’t seen anything yet… he said i will also get my job back in 3 days time..and when its Sunday,they called me at my place of work that i should resume work on Monday and they gonna compensate me for the time limit i have spent at home without working..My life is back into shape,i have my girlfriend back and we are happily married now with a baby boy and i have my job back too.This man is really powerful..if we have up to 20 people like him in the world,the world would have been a better place..he has also helped many of my friends to solve many problems and they are all happy now..Am posting this to the forum for anybody that is interested in meeting the man for help.you can mail him to priest_gbenga.magic_temple@priest.com, I cant give out his number cos he told me he don’t want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay. You can also visit him on his website www.priestgbengamagicpalace.webs.com
    PAUL MULLER

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