It's not even always the obviously positive or pro-social aspects of my personality that people are attracted to. I think sometimes they like the sort of negative or dangerous aspects of my personality -- the risk or excitement I bring to their life. Some of them are masochistic and like the pain. Some even like the ruining, perhaps because they want parts of them broken -- like breaking a jaw to reset it in better alignment. And I can see why too, so much of our personality is an accident of the way we were raised or the culture we were born into. Maybe we don't necessarily like those parts of ourselves and need a little help getting over them. You could see a therapist, or you could just enlist the help of your friendly neighborhood sociopath. That's why I found this recent email from a reader to be so interesting:
In high school I had a friend who was almost certainly a sociopath. He took pleasure in ruining people. I let him ruin me to a point. He tried to warn me in various ways. I paid no heed. But why not? I had something to gain by being 'ruined.' I was a painfully uptight young man. There were things I just wouldn't do. Under his influence, I did many of them and to my surprise, survived. He helped me with my scruples. (In Catholicism, 'scruples' refers to "An unfounded apprehension and consequently unwarranted fear that something is a sin which, as a matter of fact, is not.") I'm much more relaxed now, though still basically uptight.
I'm drawn to sociopaths. They have something I need. The smart ones, the ones who don't end up in jail, have a delicate moral sense. They know where the lines are. They find my scruples amusing, as if to say "Oh you poor thing, that thing your afraid to do isn't a sin in anyone's book. Someone should let you out of your little cage."
I've often wondered why he tried to warn me. Wouldn't a totally evil person keep his bad intentions to himself? Yes. So again, why the warnings? Mainly, he wanted to be understood. Everyone needs to be understood. In my opinion, the effort to understand a sociopath, though fraught, is worth the trouble many times over.
When I read that, I thought maybe the sociopath respected his friend enough to get a sort of informed consent? Or found the friendship worth enough that he didn't want to necessarily lose the friend by making him a target, so wanted to make sure that the friend was at least aware of what was going to happen? What do people think?