Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mind-blindness and empathy

Sociopaths can be very mind-blind about certain things, especially the inner emotional worlds of others.  Sociopaths are not the only ones who can be mind-blind, though. Despite normal people's professed empathy, I have noticed before and particularly since the publication of the book that many empaths can't seem to get into the mindset of a sociopath. I think a lot of it also has to do to a tendency that we all have to project our own feelings and thoughts about a situation onto another person.

I talk about this a little bit in the book, about how I used to think that people were just like me until basically my late teens and early 20's. And now that I am a little more aware, I realize that I make frequently incorrect assumptions about the inner worlds of others, but I'm happy to be corrected when appropriate. I notice it in others as well but some people aren't open to correcting their misperceptions. This particular brand of mind-blindness is often mixed with a touch of xenophobia, and a dash of hypocrisy, seeing the apparent flaws in someone else's worldview without acknowledging the limitations of one's own perception. The evolutionary plus of this blend of mind-blindness+xenophobia+hypocrisy is that it promotes social conformity. It makes people feel so sure of themselves that they don't think twice about forcing others to conform, even if it means something so drastic as killing them (witch hunts, Inquisition, modern religious states where we stone people, etc.) And conformity leads to a greater sense of cohesion amongst the rest of the group, which can be socially beneficial, particularly in times of war.

Although I acknowledge that humans being able to unscrupulously enforce their will on other people can sometimes benefit society, I don't really like being the target of this sort of social influence and scrutiny. It's why I sometimes don't like being around other white women -- they feel like we're similar enough that they know all about me, even sometimes believing they know me better than I know myself. They also feel invested enough in me and how I reflect on them and greater womanhood that if I step out of line, I could face severe consequences (Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons?).

I've been thinking a lot about mind-blindness with the publication of the book and subsequent promotional activities. I've been thinking about my own mind-blindness, including the ways that I have not been able to predict the spectrum/proportion of people's different reactions (In the past few weeks I've learned more about why exactly people hate sociopaths than I did in the past few years of the blog). I've also been a little amazed at other people's mind-blindness, as evidenced by the all-over-the-map reactions to the book and promotional activities -- seemingly contradictory things like thinking that I am both the epitome of evil (a clear and an imminent threat to society) and that I'm also a fraud.

I wonder about the nature of the fraud accusations. When people say "fraud," does it only mean that they believe the word "sociopath" does not accurately apply to me? Because I'm pretty upfront that maybe it doesn't and maybe I've been misdiagnosed and who knows what that word means anyway and the diagnostic criterion are notoriously subjective, but isn't that itself an interesting thing to note about sociopathy? That if someone like me can be diagnosed a sociopath, then maybe it doesn't mean much when other people are involuntarily diagnosed sociopaths and kept in prisons because of it? If they think I am a fraud because I am lying about what's happened to me in my life, I am surprised because I don't find my experiences to be particularly outrageous or extraordinary. But I guess when you say "diagnosed sociopath" people expect to see a particular thing and when they don't see that thing, instead of thinking to themselves -- maybe my idea of a sociopath is not accurate, maybe I am not an expert at identifying sociopaths -- they instead conclude, this woman is a fraud. Maybe because they would rather live in a world in which they can rely on their own gut assessments about people, and me not being what they expected me to look/act/sound like is a direct challenge to that worldview? Interestingly, I've gotten a lot less pushback about who I say I am from non-Americans and from men, presumably because they're projecting less of their own characteristics and worldview on me?

Maybe people are unimpressed or disgusted by sociopath behavior, but I'm recently not that impressed by empath behavior. If empathy only applies to people who look and act just like you (and even then, is largely based on inaccurate projections of one's own worldview on another), then what is so special about empathy?

63 comments:

  1. You seem to fit my perception of a sociopath. I would have to say, your behavior as a introspective socio, is not that different from a lot of empaths.

    I am not calling your "ruining" of people as cruel. Or your lack of relationship perspective , as so different, from many people who just put up "wall"s. A lot of times, they grew up in less than supportive environment. I know i did.

    I am very empathic in a rather callous FOO.

    I would think a lack of judgement would be very handy as a lawyer. I mean, look at public defenders!

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  2. Great post. Most people are just so freaking hypocritical it just amazes me.

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  3. Very nice post, M.E., I appreciate when you pour a little more of your mind into it.

    I think you would have gotten a lot less people deciding that you are a total fraud had you not appeared on Dr. Phil. It's ironic and a little bit hilarious that Dr. Phil's casual dismissal of your diagnosis as a sociopath could potentially hurt your book sales. The publicity likely balances it out, though, and the herd of sheep that feed from his bounteous food hamper of knowledge probably don't do much reading of any sort, anyways. The others, the ones with a spark of curiosity and intelligence, might pick it up.

    You're the only newly established author I've seen that in all her promotions, hasn't asked, "Will you please buy my book?" Sure, you've brought it to our attention, talked about it, and posted excerpts and reviews, but you haven't asked us to buy and read it. If you ask us to, I will. I'm just curious to see if you can swallow your pride.

    As for empathy, I really only have cognitive empathy. The people that I can't read are usually very intelligent and carry on conversations based on logic, rather than emotion. What really throws me off are the people that begin very conversational, and switch to logical arguments with ease. For me, it requires a total cognitive switch, to go from reading and responding to social and emotional cues to following and responding to a logical argument. That transition is never seamless for me. And then there are those who start off logical, and switch to asking personal questions on the fly, asking me how I feel!

    My current boss is like that, and it drives me nuts! I come across as both unintelligent and heartless because the two thinking patterns are so different for me. It's like talking to someone in one language, and the other person casually switches to a commonly shared foreign language on the fly. That switch and the delay are where I'm caught. Maybe that's the price of being highly introverted. I have about 10% of the social interactions of a normal person, and I almost never just sit down and talk with one other person. I never have any real conversations.

    No, I'm not mind-blind. It's like I have two eyes that see the world completely differently, and I can only have one of them open at a time.

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    1. "I almost never just sit down and talk with one other person. I never have any real conversations."

      That good be terrible for me. I need real conversations often to feel I am grounded. I abominate small talk.

      I don't know how to apprehend your seamless switch between emotional cues and logic. Is it just because you are in the conversations with your boss the receiver? I presume you can switch between them quickly when you are manipulating and the emotional questions are part of your tactics.

      We are all mind-blind. But I don't think it has to do with emotionality or sociopathy, it has to do, IMHO, with our limitations at perceiving reality. To reflect gives us more chances to understand. That's all. But everybody can reflect if they choose to. For some people is not a need or not an interest so they are worse at it. But I think it is a blind spot to think that they are different or less apt. It's like a ballet dancer looking at a boxer and thinking he is less apt globally speaking. He is less apt at what he didn't train which is the same for all of us.

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    2. "We are all mind-blind. But I don't think it has to do with emotionality or sociopathy, it has to do, IMHO, with our limitations at perceiving reality. To reflect gives us more chances to understand. That's all. But everybody can reflect if they choose to. For some people is not a need or not an interest so they are worse at it. But I think it is a blind spot to think that they are different or less apt. It's like a ballet dancer looking at a boxer and thinking he is less apt globally speaking. He is less apt at what he didn't train which is the same for all of us."

      This is (IMO) the sound bite that encapsulates the best of this debate.

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    3. I think Jessi thinks I'm some kind of sociopath :(

      I don't manipulate people using nefarious 'tactics'. Do you know what I want in any conversation? I want the other person to like me! The way I do that is I act like the person they most want to be talking to. Usually, I do a very good job at it, and people end up liking me. The only thing is, being what people want me to be is as natural to me as 'being yourself' is to you. I can't do anything different, it's who I am!

      One thing that's been pointed out to me, and that I've also realized, is that I'm exceptional at communicating with people whose primary language is not English. Emotions and gestures are natural and nearly universal, so I can glean meaning from people even if the words aren't quite right. Also, people that speak English as a foreign language prefer if you speak simply, clearly, and succinctly. Even if they don't speak proper English, I speak their improper English when talking to them, because I know that's how they understand it.

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    4. You are right, I think you are some kind of sociopath. But I also think that to be some kind of sociopath doesn’t mean that you are that different from the rest. I still support the hypothesis, that we have some genetic and environmental tendencies but that we decide on what we put the stress on, and therefore that we are the result of what we have chosen to be. This doesn’t exclude that in this choice perception of reality plays an important role.

      “Do you know what I want in any conversation? I want the other person to like me! The way I do that is I act like the person they most want to be talking to.”

      Again, horror! Nobody ends up liking you, they end up liking the role you play! This is like Mel Gibson playing William Wallace and believing everybody thinks he is brave. Or Al Pacino believing he is an evil bastard by playing Michael Corleone. You are you, and the role you play is a fiction character. They like the fiction character. I liked my spath's fiction character, I despise HIM for performing it.

      The fact that you got used to interpret doesn’t mean it reflects who you are, besides that you have a taste for acting.

      I have no allegations against adapting the communication protocol though it might not help their (our) English ;)

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  4. The concept of mind-blindness is interesting to me as i am typically able to predict how another person is going to respond to whatever stimulus is in the environment or is provided by myself.

    I'm not infallible obviously and i am occasionally surprised by anothers response, its at these times i sometimes accidentally off put them by asking why they responded in the way that they did.

    But even absolute strangers rarely surprise me, the exception mainly being when someone im unfamiliar with behaves logically rather then emotionally. That can set me off for a couple moments before i shift expectations and then im back on track.

    The most notable moments of mind-blindness for me do not come with predicting how another will act or knowing how they feel or why they feel that way. Rather i am regularly surprised by others preconceived notions of the world and their place in it.

    So often it feels to me as though the vast majority of the world remains in willful ignorance. I am never certain of an individuals particular brand of ignorance until after some discussion has taken place and they have told me some of themselves

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  5. Maybe the self esteem movement that seems to have produced a staggering percentage of millennial narcissists has something to do with why empath mind blindness is such a problem. Why? Because in the past kids were taught to "get a thicker skin" or to see their own flaws and how they contribute to a conflict. Now the feelings of little empaths are sacrosanct. As in "if I FEEL it, it must be true because it is the worlds job to cater to precious ME!"
    As an admitted empath I readily admit that feelings can be a liability to constructive action. They are a nightmare if they are the only impetus a person uses when negotiating conflict.
    There's this phrase I love- "self sensitive" that sums this up so well. It works like this: If you are self sensitive your emotions are your only reality. Others only exist to soothe you. If they behave in a manner that agitates you somehow, the world should see the hurt look on your face and intuit how to restore order and goodness to the world by healing your precious heart. You should be protected from the idea that not everybody likes you and you are not the best and the smartest.
    Two of my kids are uber- empaths and my biggest concern for their character is that they develop along the self sensitive track. It's not a good thing for the world they will exasperate or for their own mental health. Why? Because if your internal experience is the only reality and you can not integrate other perspectives you can't self correct when you receive negative feedback- you just stay stuck.
    At the same time, both of my little empaths can be extraordinarily unselfish if their perspective aligns with someone else, so I don't want their strong feelings to disappear entirely.

    I'm obsessed with Machiavelli because I think he is a far better student of human nature that any modern psychologist. It amazes me that so many people see the word "Machiavellian" and think "evil". That's ridiculous. He is simply describing a way of operating effectively in the world without engaging in peripheral moralizing by describing how people's emotions can be exploited. The best thing an empath can do is to read "The Prince" and keep it as a lens to interpret why people behave as they do. That way they can ratchet down extreme emotional reactions by realizing "it's not personal" when their particular life strategies do not yield the hearts and flowers they were hoping for. If there is a set of general principles that governs human nature, it is a great road map for not letting your emotions get the better of you when you encounter conflict.

    To be "Machiavellian" is not to be evil- you can apply the information in evil ways or good ways. "The Prince" is better than any modern day self help book in addressing mind blindness. I think it should be required reading for all empaths.

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    1. “Maybe the self-esteem movement that seems to have produced a staggering percentage of millennial narcissists”

      Khan! Come quick! She has said that narcissists are being produced by modern world!! ;)

      I completely subscribe your remark, Mach. The self-esteem movement has terrible consequences. Not just the “I feel, therefore it has to be right” but also the substitution of self-criticism by “This is how I am.”

      I like the "self sensitive" term as a more vivid and updated image of selfishness.

      “Two of my kids are uber- empaths and my biggest concern for their character is that they develop along the self sensitive track.”

      Oh! No! Horror! The mum is coming out! How on hell could anyone be an uber-empath and develop along the self-sensitive track? I think that’s mummy’s blind spot...

      “my little empaths can be extraordinarily unselfish if their perspective aligns with someone else”

      Hahaha, that could have been written by a sociopath in the first person singular.

      Machiavello was an authoritarian nationalist. I also see the premise attributed to his thinking, though he never wrote it that way, of the “ends justify the means” as a common way to justify the unethical.

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    2. @Jessi-
      There are a couple of schools of thought on "The Prince"- I tend to prefer the theory that it was meant as a satire. As much as it is about politics, it's less about agendas and more about human nature in the context of power relationships. It's done with a light touch rather than as a moral treatise, which is why I think it stands the test of time.

      As I say I have two uber empaths I perhaps am being a bit dramatic. What I mean is- I have 2 kids that are wired to be thinkers (and who would likely be the sort who'd enjoy commenting here) and 2 that are feelers (who would only visit a site like this to rant about a bad breakup). Interestingly, gender is not determining this. It's wiring that was present from birth.

      My female empath is a sweet kid, but I must confess she makes me batty at times and now I understood how I annoyed partners when I was younger, and less willing to filter my feelings through rational behavior. She is also a "girly girl" which I find hard because i have always been a woman who enjoyed a more male communication style. Interestingly, my male empath can be hard for me too when he gets mopey. I appreciate the relentless optimism of his brother even as I inwardly wince at his lack of social skills.

      I'd like to respond to "Oh! No! Horror! The mum is coming out! How on hell could anyone be an uber-empath and develop along the self-sensitive track? I think that’s mummy’s blind spot..."

      It may prove to be my biggest failure, but I don't have a blind spot here. I am working just as hard to develop critical thinking and the capacity to compartmentalize for these two as I work to encourage empathy in my "thinkers". The one thing I think you have wrong is that unselfishness in a little empath is pretty special. It's not cloyingly sweet suck up behavior. It's offering to give all of his Christmas presents away to a family he found out was just beginning the divorce process. That's pretty cool when you consider it was his own idea. This is the same kid who appointed himself protector of a little girl whose mom had just died and was getting made fun of in a sexual way. He suffered some ugly social consequences for putting himself in the line of fire. I don't think I would've been capable of acts like that at his age (he was 7 for both)

      That being said- feelings are good when they provide energy towards constructive action. Feelings are a liability when they cross over into self sensitive territory.

      I know you're not a big kid person so I don't expect you to applaud any of this- just to recognize that ME's book is really good when it reaches neurotypical suburban moms. She has impacted my parenting in that she has made me hyper-aware that while sociopaths get the negative PR, they are a neutral. She helps me understand that it's the narcissists who are self sensitive that are the ones who truly f*** everything up.

      I predict that this book will be important for years to come- it may affect parole hearings, legislation, educational funding- it's the first book that really delineates the sociopathic point of view in a compelling (even sympathetic) fashion instead of regurgitating the party line that sociopaths are evil.


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  6. It would be interesting to compare results on a sociopath test along gender lines.I would think that men would score higher on the sociopath spectrum, at least in our western culture.That is why you receive less critisism from men.
    Great post by the way - the witch hunts could be seen as a sociological manifestation of sociopathological behavior.
    Is a person conforming to mob mentality ,resulting in the deaths of many, more moral than an individual that consciously sets to ruin or murder someone? I don't think so although society tends to protect the "mob" ,especially if they are large, established and organized.Think 60,000 deaths from viox and the pharma company getting a slap on the wrist or the drone strikes and resulting deaths on how many civilians now?
    Gandhi was once asked what he thought of western civilization, he replied,"that would be a good idea".
    I think your book could be read as a mirror reflection of the values of western "civilization" and the individuals comprising it.Of coure people would rather project their shadow than recognize it as an aspect of themselves.I doubt very much that sociopaths in general are as highly self aware as you are.
    This book should read in all the high schools .

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  7. Not bad, Jaime is seeing the light. She is realizing that the presumed empaths are not that different, but then she disappointed me with: “And conformity leads to a greater sense of cohesion amongst the rest of the group, which can be socially beneficial, particularly in times of war.” Which is “beneficial in times of war”…. It is not the first time someone here looks like having using some kind of the commonly-mistaken view of Darwinism to explain something backwards. Terrible.

    I think human beings, as all animals, are very ruled by selfishness and lazyness. And social conformity successfully guaranties both behaviors. Point.

    To think is fraud is just a normal reaction to something that can’t be authenticated, whether good or bad. On the other hand, to be a fraud by saying you are heartless implies some level of wickedness, so I don’t think there is a contradiction in being evil and a fraud. Then of course there is the case of those who believe in what you said which increases their perceived evilness.

    In my case, when I said “wannabe sociopath” I would not necessarily level it with fraud, since for me it is not clear how you really perceive yourself.

    I don’t think misdiagnosis of sociopathy makes it an interesting thing about sociopathy, it only points out how far disorder terms are from validation.

    “when other people are involuntarily diagnosed sociopaths and kept in prisons because of it”

    The important of that diagnosis in that scenario is to determine if the person is a future danger for society, it is not that important to give the right term. It is funny because this remark is definitely due to the DNA era. Imagine the mistakes in the old times. Now people can make a mistake in a mental diagnosis in the old times many proves were circumstantial.

    “But I guess when you say "diagnosed sociopath" people expect to see a particular thing and when they don't see that thing, instead of thinking to themselves -- maybe my idea of a sociopath is not accurate, maybe I am not an expert at identifying sociopaths -- they instead conclude, this woman is a fraud”

    People have some times their own criteria, which fortunately sometimes is not too compliant. So, welcome this remark because otherwise you could be saying that people just try to conform... Gut assessments; moreover, have been proven to be very accurate.

    “I've gotten a lot less pushback about who I say I am from non-Americans and from men, presumably because they're projecting less of their own characteristics and worldview on me”

    Jamie, darling, I think, men don’t care as much of how you are as far as you are hot. I am in the non-American list, for your statistics.

    “Maybe people are unimpressed or disgusted by sociopath behavior, but I'm recently not that impressed by empath behavior.”
    That’s the way to go ;) Empathy is very special but it is not very present. Who knows... maybe evolution will change that... or maybe it will bring the zombie apocalypse...

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    1. You are so annoying, Jessi. You better not hang around sociopaths too much or one will kill you and get off on the defense of extreme aggravation.

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    2. Come on Monica, you know that to annoy sociopaths is the best way of getting rid of them. They will leave by themselves.

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    3. You're trying to get rid of sociopaths on a sociopath website?

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    4. LOL Anon
      This place is so logical.

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    5. Anon, as you can imagine here socios are not a problem.

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    6. You can't get rid of them in real life either since you can't spot them. ;)

      Except if your plan is to annoy everyone around you so sociopaths will avoid you, that could work, but empaths would avoid you too.

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  8. When I met my Socio at work, he did everything to make me think that he thought and "felt" as I did about the world and people in order to get me to trust and fall for him. He kept that up for almost 3 years (and YES - NOW I realize that he had played me well & because of my own mindset/issues at the time, I let the game go on for far too long). About every 3 month his mask would slip and I would "see" the real him. It was very confusing and hurtful to me as he would start the devalue and discard phase, then all the sudden he would come back all sweet and caring and interested again. He would try to cover it all up with tales of being depressed or confused over our adulterous affair - which kind of made sense to me as he did present as a sensitive, caring man that could be in the midst of an emotional struggle(LOL!).
    Now, realizing what he is and after reading through all our old emails, this blog, your book and as many other things about sociopaths as I can get my hands on - I do think that I understand as well as any Empath can about how a Socio thinks/feels. I don't consider you "Monsters" or "Evil" - although some of you could easily go that way and I hope that I NEVER run into a Socio of that ilk. I have no animosity towards Socios. I hope that now when I meet a Socio, I will be able to recognize and self protect, but also relate to my fellow human being in manner that enriches both of our lives. "You don't know what you don't know" and every interaction should be a learning experience.

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    1. Why is all this painful to you? What did he do?

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    2. It happens to be painful that people play with your feelings to have sporadic sex and entertainment for 3 years, I guess.

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    3. It was the thinking/believing that I had met a kindred soul that enjoyed the same things that I did, that was concerned for my well being and that of others, shared a similar sense of humor, was smart, could hold stimulating conversations about anything and was the most adventurous, exciting lover that I ever had. He led me to believe that he wanted the same things in life that I did and that we could share our secrets with each other. That we were both each other's escape from our "real worlds". The pain and hurt came from trying to live through the difference in his words vs his actions, always feeling off kilter.
      Then in the end, there's the realizing that most of our time together was a complete and total lie - that chances were good that the real him didn't really care about or for me any more than he would a disposable razor and that the man/mask that I fell in love with never existed. It was sad to lose someone that I felt so close to and enjoyed being with. It was crushing to know that they never really existed at all.

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    4. Did it end badly? Did he treat you poorly or hurt you? I only ask because I have a socio "friend" and he's always been nice, kind, helpful and good to me. I also know that all the "experts" say to stay away from them because of the harm they can cause due to the fact that they do only see you as an object with no emotional connection. That sociopaths will be super nice, caring, etc., just to "get what they want". I wonder if what my sociopathic friend "wants" is to be associated with me or maybe he just likes the insight I give him into the minds of people like me? Or am I giving myself (or him) too much credit? Anyway, back to my point, if you were happy and enjoyed the "mask" he wore, was it that bad? I am kind of asking this tongue-in-cheek because obviously, a fake love affair is hurtful, but wanted to gets others' thoughts. . . .

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    5. @ Anon 219 - yes it is. If he just wanted sex every now and then - that would have been fine. As a matter of fact, I suggested that to him several time. Socio sex is very good. But it was him that was always acting like he wanted more of a relationship, wanting to be more a part of my life - he was playing me and unbeknownst to me at the time, I let him.

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    6. Correction - duh, of course my sociopath probably "likes" me because he can play with me and trick me, not because I give him any insight - ha! I almost forgot what I was dealing with.

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    7. @ 113 - no, I believe that I did that for him too. He always commented on, and was curious as to why/how I always seemed happy no matter what was going on around me. I do believe that he did actually enjoyed me and my quirky way of life. I didn't mean to downplay that part. Please forgive.

      @100 - I'm sure you can read the blogs here or go onto the forum and post your questions to get better answers than I could possibly give you.

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    8. I'm sorry what you went through. I had a similar experience. It messed me up for a long time, but I didn't discover what he was until I had long since moved on. Here's hoping that knowing what you were dealing with makes it easier to accept and move on. Now I have to determine if I can possibly be friends with another. (I'm anon 100 and 113).

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    9. Hi Anon, how did you get rid of your work Socio or is he still plaguing you? They never seem to go away do they.

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    10. I read "How to break up with a Sociopath" (you'll find it on the right hand side of this page) and I followed it to a T. Took a while, but it worked. Haven't heard or seen anything from him since.

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    11. Anonymous person who broke up with the sociopath, maybe you can give me some advice.

      Whenever I'm talking to someone, regardless of whether I have a romantic interest in them or not, I always act in a manner that will make them like me the most. Male, female, colleague, stranger, it doesn't matter. I don't do it to be intentionally deceitful, it's just the only way I can communicate. I want people to like me. Sometimes, though, people like me too much, because I do such an excellent job of being what they want in a conversation partner. I'm painfully shy when it comes to relationships, though, so I never get even one-night stands, much less string someone along for 3 years.

      My question is, should I just continue to be alone? Who I am is either real for everybody, or fake for everybody, there is no inbetween. Your sociopath in particular seemed rather unstable, breaking down every 3 months. I was in a relationship for 8 years, and only took my mask off in the end because I realized she was not only more selfish than me, but would never be willing to contribute to our marriage. Had she been a partner to me, I'd have stuck by her side. I was never cruel or unfaithful, but I was also never 'real'.

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    12. Andy - In the 8 years you were together, you never broke? She had no idea of what you are? That's amazing. From what I've read you must have really "cared" for her to put that much effort into keeping the mask on. Did you ever desire to show her your "real" self?
      As for what is "real" - to be honest, I'm not so sure what that is anymore. Socios put on masks to create a persona that will be the most alluring to their Empaths. Empaths wear masks created by all sorts of subconscious garbage and that seems to be alluring to Socios..LOL!
      As for what to do - I will tell you the same thing my Grammy would say to me -"every pot has it's lid". Find the one that fits you best and treats you well.

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    13. @ Andy-
      maybe you were never able to let yourself be "real" because you grasped on some level that she was capable of betraying you, and that if that occurred after opening your whole soul to her, you would've been crushed beyond repair.
      I don't think you lack the capacity for love. But your painful past led you to become involved with a "user" because she was the only one persistent enough to tear down your walls. Perhaps you thought- if she loves me, that's enough, and I'll grow into it. But you never fully did. You castigate yourself (it seems) for that, but maybe there's another way to look at it. Your unconscious but wise self understood that you should hold out for something better. Like you, I married young (20 for me). There was the same sort of holding back on my end, although I definitely put up with a lot, and was the giver. 12 years later, we had run our course and despite a complicated divorce followed by a cordial friendship, I can honestly say I've never longed for him. I knew that the one I was waiting for was still out there.
      Here's the tricky part of my story- I was in a relationship with the one I knew gut level was my other half. We were together a bit over a year. The passion was there- too much passion perhaps. It's been over a year and it's over. But I don't regret it and don't regret him. I regret that our circumstances brought us to a place where the fact I have four kids that did not work with his changing goals and I broke it off. Hardest thing I've ever done. But I think it was the right thing, at least at this stage because I have 4 people I have to get launched before I can be "me first". That door has been closed, but I think of him still, and hope he is well. I am now in a relationship with someone I care for very much who is not a user. But I can't say I love him yet. It was an eight month friendship first after the pain of losing love (I have never taken longer than a month to get over a boyfriend). I think this new guy and I are good for each other in that we are helping heal each others broken hearts. It's still too early to say what will come of this. It is different than the deep love I had, and lost.
      I was 36 when it happened for me for the first time- and I am guessing you are early thirties. Don't give up hope. The cliche is true- "you will know when it happens"
      Love is real, Andy. And even if your time together ends, you will be changed. BHC was the catalyst to my coming alive inside, which had basically given up hope on life beyond being a good mom. He was worth the wait, and even the pain of loss.
      I wish the same for you...

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    14. I am not without morals, I'm just not emotionally invested in them. If being alone was the best thing, the right thing to do for everyone, then I could harden my resolve and make it an integral part of who I am. It seems the other direction, then, is an option for me. What seems to jar people, to throw them off balance is that when sociopaths end a relationship, they do it by taking off the mask. I've been told I'm not a sociopath, and I believe that. I have the capacity to feel, but that part of me has been mostly silent for a very long time.

      For your sakes, if I do need to extricate myself from a relationship in the future, I'll try to do it with the mask on. What people don't know won't hurt them, and I don't want to make any enemies.

      Oh, 30, I'm creeping up on her from behind. I hope when I meet her she looks kindly upon me.

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    15. "Here's the tricky part of my story- I was in a relationship with the one I knew gut level was my other half. We were together a bit over a year. The passion was there- too much passion perhaps. It's been over a year and it's over."

      Ditto. I was in a relationship with the one I knew gut level was my other half but he turned out to be a psychopath. A total user. I know he didn't love me but I can't fully get my head around it. I broke up with him more than a year ago - cold turkey - and he's still trying to make contact. It's confusing but like you, I have no regrets. Except maybe that I didn't dump him sooner.

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    16. Andy, “was never cruel or unfaithful, but I was also never 'real'.”

      What is your problem with being real? I am seriously asking it. Have you ever tried to actually be yourself? I understand that to play the role of the person everybody wants to meet gives you more traction, but this doesn’t mean that it is necessary.

      My spath has now a complete fake relationship. It is impossible for me to address the issue openly with him, he would just deny it all. Though from his reactions it is very clear now that he has seen with me what happens when some type of empaths see him how he is. But not everybody needs a very emotional person. That he is not very affectionate doesn’t mean that he cannot find someone who likes him how he is; there will be less people who would like his real self but this is valid for everyone.

      Mach, I don’t believe that circumstances can have such a power against love. One year is short to really know a person. Even a decent spath could play the role pretty well.

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    17. The circumstances are this: I am the mother of four children. They come first. A relationship demands similar devotion on both sides. Loving a complicated man is quite draining and I saw my own mental health unraveling (I became uncharacteristically weepy at the end) and simply could not meet the demands of an "all in relationship" and be the best single mom I can be.
      In the bible it says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also." My treasure is my family. Getting them to adulthood with a minimum of psychic baggage is my life's work (at least so far).
      The individual I loved brought the sort of passion to my world that would've taken my eye off the ball as far as my children went. I don't blame him for not loving my children the way I do because I am wired to invest in my own genetic offspring in a way that he never could be.
      A relationship that probably would've worked well long term had we both had less moving pieces became a liability to both of us being the people we needed to be. It was sad, but ultimately a loving act on both sides to not continue a relationship that would've compromised both of us on some level. Compromise for a relationship in the realm of desires is arguably a good thing. But this was not that. This individual and I had reached a stalemate where we could not meet in the middle and be truly satisfied on a level of personal integrity.

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    18. Why do you prefer the children? I guess they also have a dad. Is he not wired to invest that way? I also wonder... that guy know you had four children, which were his expectations? To have a year of passion and leave?

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    19. who can judge another's heart?
      the experienced mattered to me and changed me for the better.
      That is all that I know.

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    20. I prefer the children because I brought them into a complicated world. In my own mind I have a moral obligation to help them grow, not decay. Making self centered choices to elevate present satisfaction over fulfilling obligations I incurred by choosing to be a mother would make me hate myself long term. More importantly, it would break my children's hearts and cripple them going forward.

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    21. I am not judging his heart - I don't know him at all- I was wondering about who he was according to his actions.
      If you were changed for the better it was positive, of course. I am just trying to understand it since for me it's strange.

      I don't relate to the children choice as an obligation. I try to avoid the past to own my future. But I understand that if you think it would make you hate yourself long term you have no other option. I don't think children are that sensitive, rather that adults tend to find excuses in their childhood since it's the only moment they can blame others.

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  9. I think it is ridiculous when people say that you (author of Confessions of a Sociopath) must be a fraud; presumably because you are successful and have a certain amount of respect for rules. Most experts agree that there are sociopaths in all walks of life and some say they are particularly attracted to law and business management.

    Maybe the people who don't believe you are hung up on the "impulsivity" issue. 'Sociopaths are supposed to be impulsive so how could one make such long-term plans?' they might ask. But everything is a matter of degree. Everyone is impulsive, non-empathetic, arrogant or manipulative sometimes in some contexts. In sociopaths, these traits are much stronger than in the general population, but human nature is such that many people learn to work their way around potentially limiting mental attributes and conditions. Some introverts can enjoy parties. Some sufferers from anxiety disorders can learn to relax.

    If at least some sociopaths can control themselves enough to work hard to get what they want (and we must admit that many do if we want to keep talking about sociopathic stock brokers and politicians), and many are able to stay within lawful behavior as well (just about any book on sociopathy will note that they are not all criminals or violent), it seems plausible that there could be some who develop attachments to others or a sense of values. These would not have to be based on empathy. A person might see that following rules increases their chances of getting what they want out of life. They might have an asthetic preference for order. The company of certain people might make them feel good. The idea of a functional sociopath is fascinating and I think the book and blog are great.

    I am not a sociopath myself, but have a high level of empathy and the very un-sociopathic traits of self doubt, worry and guilt (and have been in treatment for a variety of anxiety and depression-related problems for a long time). I have a hard time imagining life without empathy, but I kind of envy sociopaths for their boldness and it is fun to imagine what it would be like to be uninhibited like they are.

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  10. To not hang around other white women because you think they're the only ones who force you into a box is a miscalculation. If you've ever studied sociology for any amount of time it becomes clear that everybody in the whole of society views others through the subjective lens of gender/race/class/ability. It's your subjective interpretation that women put you into that box when in fact men put you into a female box too. They simply have less invested in enforcing that box as they do not identify with you and you are not a direct threat to them at this point in time.

    You mentioned the witch trials. The witch trials are the greatest example of social policing and of men enforcing the box. Men held the monopoly of power in that era and they enforced subjective policies that called for the execution of women who acted slightly differently from the social norm. Women could be accused for living independently, knowing how to swim, going out into the woods by themselves, etc. It was social policing and it's still happening globally. You can't avoid it simply by avoiding a certain group.

    It's your subjective generalization that "white women" do that when in fact I think the more accurate classification would be "unconscious people". Although, it's clear from this blog that no one here has ever met a conscious person in their life.

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  11. M.E. - if it helps- it's not just sociopathic women that white women don't like- it's anyone who deviates from mainstream values. You could be the most empathetic stripper on the planet and I can guarantee no one would sit with you at the PTA meetings if you happened to tell the whole truth about who you were.

    I think conventional individuals who like conforming because they feel safe will always be the least willing to see the good in you or any other person who marches to the beat of their own drummer. Why? It's not evil that they have no tolerance for- it's free thinking. To listen to you is to have sympathy for the devil. They would rather "keep things simple" and bypass all cognitive dissonance, which your very existence as a well spoken law abiding Sunday School teacher sociopath is, by definition.

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    1. You must be talking about America, are you? This is not a universal phenomenon.

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    2. yes- in all its glory. I am reporting from the front lines of suburbia ;)

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  12. After a few chapters into the book I started having a little best girl crush on M.E. Not sexually mind you. Just a stupid fantasy of the two of us getting pedi's together and shopping. And her teaching me how to not sweat the small stuff and me teaching her how to calm down her sociopath stare..... :/ Anyway, my dream was crushed today when I read she doesn't like to be around other white women. Heart broken.

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  13. White girl who wants away from two house MonicasJune 4, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    "It's why I don't like being around other white women -- they feel like we're similar enough that they know all about me, even sometimes believing they know me better than I know myself. They also feel invested enough in me and how I reflect on them and greater womanhood that if I step out of line,"

    oh, no, just when Monica was feeling so understanding of its namesake, Monica E-ME, you break her heart really bad, ME. Bad, white girl, you.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting site, many talented , intelligent people here, if but a little too verbose :)

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  14. In my opinion, the fraud thing is from the mind numbed sheeple who watch Dr Phil to see how to think. Dr Phil is a pompous self promoting ass. I noticed the fraud reviews started coming out after the Dr Phil show. It was a mistake for ME to go on there because the end game for Dr Phil is to look good and if the guest looks good, Dr Phil doesn't hold the center stage and that can't happen. I don't think ME knew what kind of person Dr Phil was or the kind of people who are fans( other than Rich)

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  15. I was surprised at how naive ME was about broadcast media.

    Also, she always puts a positive spin on psychopathy. I would like a realistic post from her about its downside.

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  16. There was nothing naive about her choice. It was an obvious calculated career move . No way in hell she rally respected that fool, he sucks with a capital S. it was just obvious exposure. She should go back on the show and drop kick him in his massive forehead.

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately for ME, his viewers don't think he's a fool - so if he had endorsed the book, they would have rushed out and bought it. But he didn't. She should have found out if he was on board before taking such a huge risk, outing herself for little return. TV exposure is not akin to waving a magic wand, it must be strategic. I'm surprised at ME's miscalculation.

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  17. A non-sequitur - I find it totally amazing that serial killer Ted Bundy had his groupie fans! What's wrong with people? I have no admiration for sociopaths - only curiosity. Knowledge IS power.

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    Replies
    1. Well, there are socios and there are the crazy. The guy was nice looking and charming. Some people are nuts.

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  18. Now that you have gone public, do you understand what you have done to the rest of us? You have put a mark on the rest of us, we will be hunted down like Jews or witches. Ironic how it was someone like me to shoot me in the foot then actually expect for you to feel bad about it. Oh what tangled web we weave. Now how will we find jobs or lovers when it will become standard to be assessed beforehand??? I FEEL LIKE A MUTANT XMEN.

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  19. Maybe people are unimpressed or disgusted by sociopath behavior, but I'm recently not that impressed by empath behavior. If empathy only applies to people who look and act just like you (and even then, is largely based on inaccurate projections of one's own worldview on another), then what is so special about empathy?

    You just DON'T GET IT! Because you are a socio, you never will. sigh

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  20. Why must your sociopath diagnosis and fraud allegations be mutually exclusive. Isn't lying and committing fraud to further a warped agenda part of the sociopath's raison d'etre? So...you may in fact be a sociopath, but then that makes you an unreliable narrator. Why should we take what you've written as being true? See, e.g., A Million Little Pieces. Perhaps you are way more warped and cruel than you've led us to believe...? Or perhaps you are a hum-drum sociopath and made stuff up to sell the book?

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  21. It's not a lack of empathy for sociopaths. If anything, empathizing with a sociopath allows an "empath" to recognize just how dangerous and scary that person is. We will still feel sorry for people like you if you're locked up or executed, but we'll also feel a hell of a lot safer.

    Another issue is that an "empath" generally views the sociopath as broken, or as less then human. Which in a way, is true. A sociopath is not an animal - not "other" than human - but is actually a human missing a key characteristic of what makes someone a whole person. Walking on your shoes is a terrifying proposition, and reading your articles and book makes a lot of us feel a little sick to our stomachs because we are living your thoughts and impulses.

    You are a fraud in many ways, because your emotions are largely fraudulent, as you yourself describe in many places. You are upfront, but to what degree? You are telling us that you are manipulative for various reasons, and then asking us to take what you say at face value. You are different, you lack something, and we don't know what the effect of that is just as we don't know what could set off a dangerous predator. Do you trust a wolf, or a tiger? Maybe you would, if you were a wolf or a tiger. But you're not, so you break those creatures down to the impulses and instincts that make them dangerous - predators, cunning, violent. Nevermind that they are also caring, sweet animals that can show affection and mercy.

    In essence as a society, it's difficult to accept that there are people like you walking around as a member of the human family; just as individually it would be hard to accept the knowledge that we lacked the ability to control harmful impulses.

    As children we learn, independent of any sophisticated theory of mind or morality, that fear, sadness, and pain are negative emotions. It follows very simply that a world where we inflict those things upon each is terrifying. You avoid this result as you avoid hunger.

    So next time that you are hungry, imagine that there is someone out there who cannot get hungry or understand that others feel hunger. They'll starve themselves to death, and they'll starve others to death for the thrill of it. Just a bit unsettling.

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  22. Umm, you wrote in great detail in "Confessions of a Sociopath" about how you coldly and calculatedly took a pool skimmer and drowned an animal -- because you wanted it out of there -- rather than just pulling it out and letting it live. Now you say you have less empathy for what you call "empaths " (your word for anyone who can feel empathy -- which is a misperception of the word "empath') because they have a hard time empathizing with you?

    Andrea Bennett -- not afraid to use my real name...

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Our-Sociopaths/607022762683369

    ReplyDelete

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