Sunday, October 20, 2013

Being seen

I've written before about how sociopaths have an uncanny ability to see, understand, and predict people's likes and behaviors. I've also suggested that if people are trying to throw a sociopath off their scent, they poison the well of information. But even if there isn't a sociopath specifically targeting things, people have mentioned that there is something unsettling about being seen for what you truly are. A reader writes:

I read a blog entry from July 2011 from a reader who is married to a sociopath and is herself an 'uber-empath'.  Her comments and your response resonated with me a great deal.  You said:

I think it's really interesting that him being able to see you to your core is a plus in your eyes. Do you think that is atypical for empaths? Don't they like to hide certain parts of them. Isn't that what I sometimes hear marriage self-help types preach? That there should be mystery in marriages? I have sometimes wondered whether that ended some of my relationships. I am always fine seeing people in all their imperfection, but sometimes I think the people I was with were not fine -- did not feel comfortable being laid bare like that.

I don't think 'regular' people do want to be seen so clearly at all, but that it's not something they consciously contemplate or contrive.  Life is mostly about being accepted and I think there is a great deal of fear-driven, unconscious shaping of personality in order to avoid rejection.  If someone is truly balanced, they will let others 'in' over time and with trust, which is a healthy protective mechanism.  They don't have a need to hide parts of themselves but nor do they need to be exposed unnecessarily.  People 'just know' when the boundaries of thought processes they are willing to share with others are being intruded upon and will move away from that.  

Why don't people want to be seen?  I'd guess at vulnerability.  For the same reason people don't reveal all their personal information and thoughts to say coworkers or people they've just met, they don't want someone to come along and just 'take' that information from them.  I'm just guessing but that may be how people feel if they sense that you know a lot about them that they haven't revealed at will.  I'd probably feel that way if I felt that someone who could be a threat to me did it.  Someone I shared an apartment with who has many sociopathic traits once told me that "he knew a lot more about me than I thought".  At the time, I didn't really know what to make of it and didn't worry too much because I didn't see him doing anything harmful.  But when I have thought back to that comment, I find it revealing that he felt the need to let me know that.  Only someone wanting to assert power would make such a comment.  It was a fairly innocuous attempt at letting me know that he was in charge of things... but some subsequent behaviour revealed that he had a pretty serious sense of grandiosity.  Perhaps people feel a loss of control if they feel that you know things about them?  

As a uber-empath myself, I do want to be seen in my entirety, flaws and all.  Otherwise my relationships are unfulfilling; not complete.   

I thrive in emotional environments like funerals and heated arguments, when others don't know what to do.  When I saw a friend last week and asked if she was ok (she clearly looked upset to me), she was surprised that I could tell that she was upset and said that no one else seemed to notice. I've heard this before . I can clearly see people's strengths and weaknesses, why they have a certain perspective, and what piece of the puzzle they are missing.  But I have no desire to use this against them and feel a much greater degree of responsibility to others than the average person.  

I don't know whether my interactions with sociopaths have helped me gain a sense of people. I'd say they've encouraged me to want to understand more and to seek out knowledge about the variety in the emotional lives of others and how they think.  As long as I can remember, I always wanted to understand my own mind, because I knew my perspective of things was different from those around me from a young age.  This has a lot to do with the family and community I happened to grow up in, which was very bourgeois.  I believe my parents are narcissists and that I learned to cater to their emotional needs, so there was training there. Then the efforts to understand my own resulting feelings.  But I'd say it also has a lot to do with nature too.  

I'd say that in the past, sociopaths have been attracted to me because of my openness, flexibility, willingness to be seen and vulnerability.  I was attracted to the intensity I felt and what seemed like deep connections.  And to 'being seen'.  But the on and off nature of those connections is what can be damaging to empaths, and was to me.  


  1. The less that people know about me, the easier it is to mirror their values and gain information on them. There is definitely power in anonymity.

    1. Dont find that when you show your underbelly ....maybe sthg which disarms a person so theyll give back sthg you find very valuable, a strategy?

      I cansider jyself somewhat machiavellian and I find justva bit of revealing secrets of yourselfk you get lots of open arms. I dont considermy self a sociopath tho.

      With my nasty ex, I went vulnerable a few times and he showed himself a shitload after that. Since then I learned what power I give myself when I do it. I had power over a gigantic man, a real tyrant. He didnt give it to me, I took it upon myself to steal it from him.

      There is so much more power in being bit vulnerable to the outside.
      Is that a pity play? Idk and I dont care. It works.

  2. Here's a secret to life that sociopaths and a few choice empaths
    know. you don't have to be psychic or a magition, the secret is:
    Pay attention! That's all you need do.
    Most people are involved in their own "dramas." They walk through
    life on auto pilot. They miss so many obvious clues that the cunning
    sociopath sees. He is watching you from a distance. If he is
    sufficently educated he knows the empath mind 8 ways to Sunday.
    He's waiting by the mouse hole like a poised cat ready to strike.
    The empath usually subscribes to the law of cause and effect.
    Play by the rules, and you'll reap results. Not the sociopath. He makes
    up his own rules as he goes along. The intelligent sociopath is the
    ultimate pragmatist. He won't anything to undercut his long range
    advantage when the majority is comprised of sheep just waiting to be
    fleeced. Therefore, education benifits the sociopath as much (if not
    more) then the niave "rule playing" empath.
    My father was once taken in by a cunning used car salesman.
    He thought he was getting a fantastic deal, and was incelind to
    purchase two lemons from the rat. It turned out that the man was
    a carrer criminal under government investigation. When we brought
    the car back for inevidable repairs, a mechanic pointed out a small
    squib in the newspaper, chronicaling the information on the man.
    "People don't read the paper," he said. That was an ocassion when I
    wished I had.

  3. Personally, I like ME's choice of pseudonym: Thomas.

    Somewhat connected for me: I would be very interested in seeing her "uncanny" ability in action, or her ability to read my mind in real life. I can see that this could be the basis for manipulating me, among other things. What I doubt though is, anyone can make me do anything against my will. Some tried.

    I found the interview with the self-diagnosed high functioning sociopath husband interesting. Link is at the end of the earlier article. Since I generally find people interesting that make it in spite of troubles, or against all odds. I think most people do, otherwise it wouldn't be a standard in character developments in e.g. movie plots.

    I also can empathize with people that struggle with authoritarian systems, as his prison story seems to indicate. Would have been much more easy to feign compliance. But wouldn't a "highly performing sociopath" play the system?

    What I found interesting was, how in tune he was with both ME on one hand and the love-fraud therapist, if I got it correctly, on the other in the end.

    Concerning "being seen" as who you are, may well be a core issue in a valid relationship. How could it work if you are not willing to open up and show yourself? I have noticed it too that some marriage therapists offer "mystery"/"secrecy" as the most important element. Feels romantic in a misguided way.

    Interestingly if you google "being seen" you get a huge amount of entries by people that want or love to be seen naked. But there also was one only available in a cached version, By, Hmm? Another marriage coach.

    Why don't people want to be seen?

    Is that so? Or is that a sign of a neurotic or a "normal" with minor traits of it? I think basically all people like to be seen and "seeing" others, perceived and perceiving. It no doubt is selective, and just as selectively we want people to know us inside out. Work environments, well I never say never, I but I would say rarely.

    What does uber-empath mean? More empathic then the majority, empathic all the time, towards anyone? Especially funerals? No matter whose? Professional mourner?

    1. I know someone who claims she is has problems with empathy. She is a giver not a taker, gets overwhelmed too much to be around too much doom and gloom. I dont think shed enjoy being around funerals..if anything she soaks up positive enegy . She has depression. I think its too m6ch for her to absorb too much sadness. You can see her getting antsy whilst giving generously, then shevneeds to go abruptly. I think its too much for her and theres onky room for so much empathy. Shes an alcoholic and a battered woman.

      Dont think shevfrequents funerals lol.

  4. Hi ME, I just saw your segment on Dr Phil, I think you did a good job of getting some facts across. He was pretty rude, especially when he just said 'I dont know what that means' when you presented the fact that a lot of research is taken from prisoners. I've been a follower for a long time and enjoy lurking your blog as you post so often with cool information on the fascinating world of sociopathy.

  5. i pay better attention to others and they are seposed to be the once that have empathy what good is it than?

  6. Something that contributes to the sociopathic ability to "see" others so clearly is their lack of emotional dependence. Sociopaths don't become addicted to people. They have powers of observation that are not hindered by a need to interpret actions in a certain light. They simply plug in the "what you see if what you get" data without having to "tell the truth but tell it slant" (Emily Dickinson)

    This is a huge asset in their interpersonal relationships, because most people have some emotional ties to relationships that do not serve our best interests. The place that this hurts a sociopath is that they tend to interpret entire relationships based on the data available in a particular moment, and are too willing to let good relationships slip away.

    I don't think sociopaths are particularly insightful about the human spirit, but they are clearheaded in a way the rest of us aren't in that they will never "drink the kool aid" for the sake of any relationship. They are also not afraid of anyone's dark side because they're not judgmental. The "clearheadedness" is what makes them seem so uniquely insightful. But they're not. They're just good at keeping a logical, utilitarian perspective when the rest of us get mired down in sentiment.

    1. But i do as you describe and I am in tune with human spirit, and I am not a sociopath. All I am is utilitarian, a reader of people, and I can damned well take advantage of others. I can do it very easily. 7 dont like
      to becseen as a taker, but things are often just handed to me.

    2. Will you explain how they have powers Thats are not hindered by.....

      I dont understand the difference . Can you pls give an example showingbthecdifference

    3. Perhaps an illustration will make my point clearer. (@ anon 1:50)

      Everybody has powers of observation about human behavior. When we see our friends make asses of themselves in a relationship with someone who does not value them, we are screaming for them to look at the handwriting on the wall. But if we empaths are the person madly in love with the douchebag, we interpret the douchi-ness as "wounded inner child that my love can heal". That is why we are so easy to manipulate.

      A sociopath is different. They have no need to construct bizarre reasons the person they have an attachment to is disrespecting them. They simply switch to cold fury, and turn off all circuits directing emotional energy in the direction of the person who is now a former object of affection.

    4. @ 1:45-
      You may be more sociopathic than you realize. That in and of itself is not a bad thing if you stick to prosocial manifestations of your detached experience of what it means to be in a relationship with another person. It's only when your actions become actively destructive that you become a menace to society.

    5. Thank you
      I inderstand now why I am confused abt the feelings when there is "betrayal"

  7. Do borderlines change into sociopaths after
    they get over the fear of abandonment?

    1. Or- are sociopaths actually borderlines underneath?
      Is the sociopathic personality structure a narcissistic defense against shame and abandonment?

      The common thread with both is the impulsivity and intensity of destructive impulses. Both types are also quite egocentric. The difference? Borderlines tend to be miserable, and sociopaths have no conscious awareness of their misery. But both types relate to other individuals more as objects capable of delivering a particular experience.

      It's possible that some people (men in particular) get labeled sociopathic because of criminal behaviors may not be sociopaths after all. They just want to feel "tough" to defend against borderline despair.

    2. I hate borderlines. I truly do.

    3. Giving so much power away.

      Mesmerizing how one itty bitty person caused such powerful emotions in another.

      One of your parents was one?

    4. who can say what anyone "is"? Given that there are no letters following my name it would be speculative at best for me to label anyone I know with a pejorative label like sociopath.
      What I can do, however, is study a behavior pattern and determine that someone is acting sociopathically and if I'd like to avoid becoming dinner it would be best for me to adjust my own behaviors accordingly.

      or perhaps it's best to simply say...

      If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's best not to hold out hope that the soul of a llama lives inside.

  8. Are psychos really such stellar "readers" of others? The condition is supposed to make the psycho "unsensitive" to subtle signals from others, often the main reason why the sociopaths stumbles & fall in the end & why not the whole world is governed by hollow-men. Zodiac signs resembling sociopaths, without the disturbed bit, such as Scorpio are usually mind readers excelsior; they combine ruthless, cold behaviour with fine-tuned senses for moods & changing atmosphere..

    1. Are you really that whipped by theczodiac signs? How can the stars know what kind of upbringing you got?

    2. So if that is true, that the socios cannotvtell subtlties than a machiavellian super empath kind of has thd best of both worlds, huh.

    3. **it should read COMMA an then

      *"then" not "thAn

    4. The planets "bake" folks, mostly they bake plain pies & other times they bake creepy Scorp-cookies. And some folks like the latter stuff. A little bit like french wine: may take some time to appreciate..

    5. My chihese horoscope is scarily accurate.

  9. Being able to read people to an irregularly deep degree isn't exclusively the province of sociopaths and headcases, they're just the poster children because there's something about the juxtaposition of understanding and predatory apathy that appeals to sheep. Sort of like why people are fascinated by the myth of the vampire, as long as it can be tamed and made 'comfortable' to their understanding of the world(*coughTwilightcough*).

    But no. In my experience, people dislike being understood because there's always a chasm of difference separating the person they project themselves as being from the person they really are. A man I know, to pull an example from my hat, wants to be seen as suave, genius in his chosen field of study, worldly but still passionate about geeky things, a great gentleman with regards to women, etc. He doesn't want to be regularly acquainted with someone who sees him for the flaws he so desperately ignores or explains away underneath the exterior projection. They always want to project those flaws on you if they're afraid you understand them: I've had problems in the past with one specific group of my friends who has known me a long time and also is aware of at least some of my aptitude for reading people's patterns to an uncomfortably accurate degree. I've only ever had this problem with this one group, but reliably, whenever I would be seen as getting close to a member of the group, certain individuals would go out of their way to 'poison the well' so to speak and cast doubt on me, belittle me, or do whatever it took to keep that person away from me. Had I ever displayed malicious intent towards any of my close friends? Nah. I hadn't used them and discarded them, screwed them over, or done anything socially or morally unacceptable to them. But nonetheless they would cast me as a coward, deceiver, 'weird', and so forth as a means of isolating me because they feared me, and that I would bring their whole game crashing down if I got too involved. That's the conundrum I found myself in, with them: I made certain that they respected me, but as Machiavelli so famously made into an axiom, the only way to do that reliably is fear if you can't elicit love.

    I think it ties into that primal instinct of 'us and them', where 'us' is the people playing the game 'by the rules', so to speak. The rules are that people want to feel good, enjoy humor and having their ego scratched, and make memories with other people that they can point to, whenever they want to reminisce about how awesome they are. Anyone who doesn't play the game, or who plays it differently, is 'them'. That includes people who see that most of the game is bullshit posturing, If you expose yourself as someone who doesn't observe a particular set of rules, the traditional social response is persecution and isolation. That's how groups maintain themselves, from street gangs (where the persecution usually comes in nine millimeters) to the social elite.


    1. So you feel thar you must hide inoorder to be accepted? This started for me first social exprriences i had bec I wanted to avoid further mistreatment and feeling ostracized at school for being different.

      I wanted to compliment you on your writing but I dont know how to do it.

    2. Horror movies: For whatever reason, Frank Zappa lyrics always come to mind in this context:

      I love monster movies, I simply adore monster movies, And the cheaper they are, the better they are. And cheepnis in the case of a monster movie has nothing to do with the budget of the film, although it helps. ...

      Ladies and gentlemen,
      The monster,
      Which the peasants in this area call FRUNOBULAX
      (Apparently a very large poodle dog)
      Has just been seen approaching The Power Plant
      Bullets can't stop it
      Rockets can't stop it
      We may have to use NUCLEAR FORCE!

    3. just what will you give me for your titties and beer? I suppose you noticed this little Contract here...


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