Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The lure of seduction/rape

I discovered why/when i get the urge to seduce. There are two necessary elements for me: (1) the target is susceptible to seduction, and (2) the target has power over me. If those two requirements are met, I will nearly always feel the urge to seduce. If just one of those elements is present, I might think about it once or twice, but the seduction never holds my interest.

Perhaps this is somewhat related: I think I also discovered why someone might rape (I didn't rape anyone, just a dream). The lure of rape is fuzzier to me than the lure of seduction, but there is also an issue of power. The victim is actively rejecting you. The act of rape negates this rejection, denies the victim even that small control over you.

The downside to rape, though, is that the focus is all on the rejection. In fact, rejection is necessary for rape -- if there was no element of rejection, there would be no reason or opportunity to rape. To be a habitual rapist then, you would have to either be rejected all the time (real rejection), or be so insecure and paranoid to think that people would reject you all the time (perceived rejection). Neither way sounds appealing, or even easy to accomplish. Do habitual rapists seek out rejection or provoke it, just to create the opportunity? I'm much too narcissistic to be courting rejection all the time like that. I don't see why anyone else would do it either unless they had a masochistic streak. In any case, I would never do it myself, it's black magic. But now I can sort of see why others do.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Love and happiness

A reader asks: "I have a few burning questions I would love to ask; such as how you get on with your friends? Are you unhappy like I've read most sociopaths are?"
I get on well with my friends, for the most part. Depending on who they are and what they mean to me, they get to see various versions of me, and my natural ability to adapt and flexible personality means that I can tailor make myself to the type of friend that they need most -- exciting and adventurous, sensitive and supportive, talkative, good listener, whatever. So it is kind of a trade off. I do think it sort of disturbs them that I do it, those that notice at least, but the thing that is most disturbing to people seems to be the amount of effort I put into it. they think that i must be up to something no good because I am shape-shifting so well for them. But I tell them it's no problem, I have to pick something to be anyway, it might as well be something they like.

I'm not unhappy, for the most part, although I do think there is a certain emptiness and meaningless that I feel, sort of like a homesickness. People feel homesick when they are not surrounded by familiar things, when they are being seen out of context, when things change too quickly. They are faced with the transitory and delicate nature of life (i.e. their mortality), and with the fact that their secure little existence is basically a lie constructed to soothe their uneasiness about facing the world head on, with all of its unknowns. People don't like looking into the abyss, and for good reason. But a sociopath life means always being aware of the abyss. The film Lost in Translation is a good example of how it feels -- like living in a country that is not yours and never quite getting used to it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Song: Handlebars




I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be
ALIVE
and I'm a famous rapper
even when the paths're all crookedy
I can show you how to do-si-do
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to "De Colores"
And "I'm Proud to be an American"
Me and my friend saw a platypus
Me and my friend made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want cuz, look:

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome

I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me
Look at me
Just called to say that it's good to be
ALIVE
In such a small world
All curled up with a book to read
I can make money open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine sixty four
Miles to a gallon of gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems
I can do anything with no assistance
I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone
I can split the atoms of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let'em all die in exasperation
Have'em all healed of their lacerations
Have'em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don't like'em and
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command
I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
and I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope
and I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handle bars
No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Psychology In Seattle Podcast: Psychopathy

I thought this was good sort of intro/overview:



He had an interesting analogy about psychopathy being on a spectrum, personalities having different shades and colors. Your personality is blue, but is it dark or light blue? If you are a psychopath and a serial killer maybe you are dark blue, and back up to a lighter blue you would have the same traits but not as strong.

"Psychopaths are people too."

"Yes, they are."

The comments for the video are pretty entertaining too: "you also have to account for external programming, extensive trauma in childhood and possession. most of the psychopathic killers are actually specifically programmed and possessed by reptilian or demonic entities. Heal those things and they would be quite different."

So true.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Diagnose me: socio or victim?

From a reader:


Recently, with my lifestyle this past year living with complete fuck ups, alcoholics, drama driven bastards, I've come to notice that I easily start putting myself above them. I'm very intelligent. Graduated cum laude, have awesome friends and an absolute spontaneous lucrative lifestyle. Although, with the roommate situation (considering these 2 are the only ones I tend to attack) idk if I'm picking up sociopathic traits or I'm just coming out of my shell and saying fuck it I'm just being honest! I've done my research on sociopathic traits and I fit a LOT of them but I am also honest to myself in every way and feel completely justified in my actions and control. I've even had outside opinions and a consensus on how I've expressed my opinion towards these people as a strong validated one! But the further I look into it. I see that other characteristics of a sociopath fit me. I HAVE moved around a lot. I had a problem keeping close friends due to me putting myself above them at every chance I could because most of the time they were liars or posers putting off this front when I've worked so hard to get where I am! So I began looking at them as the weaker species if u may. Then finding weaknesses and attacking them for it because I was so pissed about their denial of who they are! I WAS financially irresponsible big time. I wasted probably 35 grand last year on bikes, a car, stupid clothes, drinks, passes, tickets, dining out, picking up tabs and just literally giving money away and also helping my girlfriend. I do have a hard time feeling true hurting emotion but then I jump back to my justifications of having been in jail before, I know that NO feeling in the world can be as bad as that so nothing on the outside world really hurts me much because its better than jail, I'm alive and free and everything has always been okay in my life and I know where I'm going and it's better than most people I've encountered and I feel superior to them not only because of my suspected sociopathy but because I've been through so much shit in my life and came out on top being smarter, with an amazing girlfriend and a lucrative career now. Another trait of sociopathy is talking in circles lol which I do a lot only because my mind moves so fast I just can't stop. It's like the avg human can speak 600 wpm, can listen to up to 1500 wpm and THINK at like 3000 wpm due to shortening of words, grouping and imaging. ME? I'm above that in every way and it's a fucking curse.

Anyway, I was considering to go see a doctor and idk if I would be DIAGNOSED with sociopathy or what lol. I have a lot of the TRAITS but my reasonings are justified! Am I a sociopath or a person who doesn't put up with shit and likes to feel better than others who were worse off than me but can't admit that they're just fuck ups and DO something about it.!? Ill be the first to admit my wrong doings, I do not lie and in fact I'm one of the most honest people my friends have ever known and my friends come to me all the time about advice, suggestions and guidance. I've never lied TO ANYONE about my life and where I'm going, what i think etc etc but if I'm in a rough spot I WILL lie to myself to pull myself through it and I have this saying to myself, well 2 actually. "Fake it 'til you make it!" And "Let Go, Let God"

I'm only writing u due to a question I typed into bing "what's the best comeback if someone calls you a sociopath" .. I was never considered a sociopath until the other night when my roommate, who I've just been being BRUTALLY honest with because I'm tired of his shit, said that a bartender thinks I could be a sociopath. So I looked it up and was thinking .. You know what's cool about being a sociopath? WE KNOW WE ARE AND QUITE FRANKLY DONT GIVE A FUCK!

Guess I've just been through a lot in my life from a pretty hectic arrest record for being caught doing things that any normal person has done like fighting but hurting the other guys so much they called the cops, or a DUI which I did jail for to get it dropped, and the rest of the stuff is traffic violations. Been to jail, but stuck it out and battled back to graduate even tho it took my 6 years and an extra $80,000, and have even been attacked by personal demons and seen both spectrums of the spiritual world if u believe in all that shit like I do now only because I've felt and seen some things in my life. (Talking in circles again) anyway.

I'm assuming you're a sociopath? Fuk idk. Can I get an opinion based on my rambling here? Or am I about to be victim of a sociopath? Lol I haven't a clue..

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Everybody needs somebody sometime

A reader asks: "Do sociopaths feel lonely? Sure, you can make yourself loved and adored by all, you have that brilliant gift. But what does it all feel like when that is stripped away? And also, is it common to have just a couple of close friends who know you as well as you can be known, and then just hundreds of people who barely know you at all?" My response:
Karl Marx says that religion is the opiate of the masses. That may be, but it's not the only drug in their cocktail. They have a lot of things that sociopaths don't have, one of which is the feeling of interconnectedness that comes from allowing considerations for other people to dominate their decision-making. It makes them feel that they are part of a web that is society. But even though sociopaths' decision-making isn't dominated by considerations for others, they still need people.

Our hard-wiring makes us social creatures, even sociopaths. How do you punish a criminal? Put them in prison apart from the rest of society. How do you punish someone who is already a prisoner? Further isolate them in solitary confinement. People go crazy without social interaction. Sociopaths aren't immune to this, despite being labeled "antisocial."

Sociopaths, like everyone else, get satisfaction from sharing our world, which is probably one reason why most of us have or strive for at least a few intimate associates in whom we confide. Even the Wizard of Oz seemed relieved to finally be discovered and be able to share the truth with someone. I am always charmed when someone sees through me. Obviously not everyone can or would want to share our worldview. For those that do not or cannot, it seems best for all concerned that they continue to be deceived.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Self-reference

Via exp.lore.com:

"In the end… We are self-perceiving, self-creating, locked-in mirages. We are miracles of self-reference."



Based on the ideas in Douglas Hofstadter’s 1979 classic G√∂del, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beliefs (and Mormonism)

A blog reader recently asked me if I really believe "that ridiculous story that came with the Book of Mormon." Here's what I replied:


Someone else was asking me recently about my beliefs. I thought of an analogy that might help explain. I was in New York and wanted to meet up with an old school friend. We were trying to figure out a good activity given the weather constraints -- 40% chance of rain. She explained to me that in that part of the country, 40% chance of rain doesn't really mean that there is a 40% chance of any precipitation, rather it refers more accurately to the amount of rain you could expect that day -- 40% of what would be considered a good downpour (100%).

My beliefs are very similar to this. I don't expect to have absolute certainty about anything in my life, in fact I don't think I do have absolute certainty about anything in my life (including my own existence, despite Descartes' brave assertions). So I assess all "facts" in my life in terms of not just likelihood that they are true, but also the amount of what they are that is true. And then there is the uncertainty in the assessment itself. I may guess that there is a 40% chance of rain (or 40% of "rain"), but what if I am only 40% certain of it? Or maybe I only feel like I understand 40% of it, so what does that mean in terms of how much or whether I believe? Add that to the fact that I have never really felt the need to define myself, not by my beliefs, not by my what I "like" on facebook, not by my profession, or my religion, or my gender, or my race -- and that even if I were to try to define myself I am constantly changing, more like smoke and mirrors even to my own eyes than anything more tangible -- and I really don't spend hardly any time thinking about what exactly I believe.

Despite all of this uncertainty about what I may or may not believe, there are patterns in my behavior that suggest that certain things are more important to me than others. I keep showing up to church Sunday after Sunday. I pay 10% of my money to my church. Every time someone asks me for something church related I say yes. Does that mean that I have some underlying belief about things? It must, or maybe I just like doing those things for whatever reason. Or am afraid to not do them. And how tied up are those feelings of like and fear with whatever my beliefs are? I don't know.

It's not like I think my beliefs are any more or less ridiculous than others. And if I had been raised with a different set of beliefs and shared that different set of beliefs with my family and a support system, maybe I would "believe" those things instead. Although the Mormon religion is sort of uniquely suited to my mindset -- we're all gods in embryo and will continue to progress until we have unimaginable power? Yeah, that appeals to me. I like that combined with the Mormon story of Moses, who is shown a vision of just a fraction of time and expanse of the universe and faints. Upon waking Moses says about his experience: "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." So I like that too, this idea that we all have a universe of potential but that we don't come even close to expressing a fraction of that potential yet. It makes me feel like there is a lot to look forward to still.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quote: self-importance

From Brain Pickings:

Think of it: zillions and zillions of organisms running around, each under the hypnotic spell of a single truth, all these truths identical, and all logically incompatible with one another: ‘My hereditary material is the most important material on earth; its survival justifies your frustration, pain, even death’. And you are one of those organisms, living your life in the thrall of a logical absurdity. 

Robert Wright in The Moral Animal

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Emotional palette

A reader writes about his "emotional palette":
Being this way, I feel like I’m an expert in identifying emotion because I rarely express any real ones, creating the majority of my daily ones from scratch. Like oil painting, I use mix of small amounts of mental garbage and physical movements that take on the form of a variation of the only three genuine emotions: anger, happiness, or sadness. Those are sort of like the red, blue, and yellow of emotions that can be used to make all the other various shades.

At least, that’s how I would break it down for the average emotional someone who doesn’t get that a lot of them are simply wasted energy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Q&As (part 4)

(last one)

You believe that ambiguous sexuality is one of the best identifying traits of a sociopath, relying on it more than any other one trait to form your own opinion about who is and isn’t a sociopath. Why?

For whatever reason there are sociopath “wannabes” out there. They tell their stories to highlight how cold they are. I frequently use ambiguous sexuality as a litmus test with these types to determine whether or not they are legitimate. If they freak out at the mere suggestion, as so many “normal” men do, I usually conclude they’re poseurs. A sociopath would not find their ego threatened by the suggestion that they are gay; in fact, that might be one of the least offensive things a true sociopath would ever be accused of in his life! They don’t have a strong identity of being straight, and don’t share the common moral assumption that homosexuality is sin.

What do you believe is the most important message of your book?

Sociopaths should not have to justify their very existence amongst other equally flawed examples of humanity, but if they did, there are some legitimate reasons to think they’re not as bad as they are made out to be. Also, child sociopaths perhaps best illustrate the fact that people don’t ask to be sociopaths. Sociopaths are not going away, so it is in society’s best interest to find a way to live with and benefit from them.

Are sociopaths capable of having healthy relationships with non-sociopaths?

Yes. I have relationships with non-sociopaths. It’s not for everyone, and particularly not for the faint hearted. A relationship with a sociopath seems to work best if you are either not sensitive or are extremely sensitive, enough to empathize enough with even a self-centered sociopath. As a friend put it, “it’s like owning an exotic pet.”

People often ask you if you think certain celebrities are sociopaths. Why do you consider it unlikely that they are?

Celebrities are much more likely to be narcissistic rather than sociopathic. Sociopaths don’t like to be center stage. They’re much more likely to be the producer than the actor, the vice-president or chief of staff than the President. Sociopaths prefer to operate undetected, pulling the strings from behind the curtain. Center stage would bring too much scrutiny, which is dangerous when you’re trying to hide so much.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q&As (part 3)

(cont.)


Do all sociopaths have criminal tendencies?

There is a higher proportion of sociopaths in prison than there are normal people, but most sociopaths are not criminals by profession. Still, there are several traits that may dispose a sociopath to crime: impulsivity, lack of guilty feelings, and risk-seeking, among others.

Research shows that one in twenty-five people is a sociopath, yet most of us believe we’ve never met one. Are we just kidding ourselves? Are you able to spot them?

Statistically, everyone has met at least one sociopath; further, most people will have a closer encounter with a sociopath at some point in their lives, either as a friend, family member, or lover. Sometimes I can tell who they are. I find that many successful sociopaths will leave breadcrumbs for you to discover who they are, the thought being that only other sociopaths would recognize them. I think sociopaths, like serial killers, often have a yearning to be acknowledged for who they are. They want people to admire their exploits and that is hard to do when they are completely hidden, so they make small compromises.

You are a lawyer, and a professor at a law school. How has being a sociopath made you good at those jobs?

Some clients can be despicable people, but even they deserve adequate legal representation. The best lawyers are the ones who are able to detach themselves from emotionally or morally reacting to their clients’ stories. That has never been a problem for me. As for teaching, the best teachers present material in an even, unbiased way that will be the most palatable to the audience. My professors would often try to hide their own personal ideologies or incorporate other, foreign learning styles into their lecture plans. I do these things very naturally.

Do sociopaths have emotions? 

Sociopaths have emotions, but they do not give their emotions the same meaning that most people do. Many people believe that their emotions are expressions of “Truth”-- that if they feel hurt, it is because someone hurt them. Sociopaths experience their emotions largely without context. Except perhaps for anger, sociopaths do not experience a strong cause-and-effect relationship between reality and their emotions. For sociopaths, emotions have a disjointed, dreamlike quality. So a sociopath is not likely to make emotional decisions based on anything besides anger.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Q&As (part 2)

(cont.)


Do you think that sociopaths are born or created? 

Most researchers think that there is both a genetic and environmental component to sociopathy. I think I received my genetic component from my father’s birth father, who abandoned his  family, lost the family fortune on a vanity project, and had prominent facial scarring from all of the risky behavior he engaged in over the years. The environmental component was my unstable childhood home with an unpredictable and often-violent father and a sometimes hysterical mother.

You were raised Mormon, graduated from Brigham Young University, and teach Sunday school. How do you reconcile that with being a sociopath?

Being raised Mormon is probably the reason why I am not in prison. More than anything else, the church taught me that actions have consequences. I learned certain choices might look like they would make me happy but ultimately would leave me worse off. The Mormon church and its members were also a stabilizing force in my family life. When my parents weren’t around, we had our teachers, leaders, and friends’ parents to pick up the slack. I can honestly say my life has been better for being a church member, and so I remain.

You believe that sociopaths have a natural competitive advantage. Why?

Sociopaths have several skills that lend themselves to success in areas such as politics and business: charm, an ability to see and exploit weaknesses/flaws (which in politics is called “power-broking,” and in business, “arbitrage”), confidence, unflagging optimism, an ability to think outside the box and come up with original ideas, and a lack of squeamishness about doing what it takes to get ahead.

If you don’t have a sense of morality, or feel the emotions that most people do, how are you able to operate in the world without being detected?

I think everyone learns to lie about his or her emotions to a certain extent; I just take it a step farther. People ask, “How are you?” and you respond, “fine,” even though you had a fight with your spouse that morning, have a sick child, or any multitude of things that make it hard for you to feel fine about almost anything in your life. You could honestly answer the question, but you don’t because overt displays of strong emotion in ordinary social interactions are not accepted. Most of the time I don’t need to show any emotion at all, and I try to limit the times that I do by begging off attending funerals, weddings, etc. When I do show up to these functions, I try to mimic the other attendees. If I’m dealing with a person one-on-one, I just try to reflect their emotions; usually they’re distracted enough by their own overflowing emotions not to notice my lack of them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Q&As (part 1)

I did these Q&As for book promotion and thought I'd share them here as well:


Were you always aware that you were different? 

Yes, though when I was young, I thought maybe it was just because I was smarter than everyone else. I saw things that other children did not see, was aware of the adult world in a way that even my smart siblings were not—awkward interactions from the end of an affair, why my grandpa treated my Dad differently from his other children (he was adopted), and so on. I knew other people did not see these things because I would reference them and get blank stares in return. I learned to keep things to myself, even to pretend I didn’t see them. Those were probably some of my first attempts to wear a mask of normalcy.

What are the common characteristics/behaviors shared by most sociopaths? Do they describe you, too?

Lack of remorse or concern for hurting or stealing; being deceitful, manipulative, impulsive, irritable, aggressive, and consistently irresponsible; failure to conform to social norms; and being unconcerned about people’s safety, including their own. You need to have at least three of these to be sociopath. I have them all, to varying degrees.

Why did you write CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATH under a pen name?

I understood that being completely anonymous would hurt the authenticity of the book, yet I have no desire to be famous for being a sociopath. I also have relatives and friends who asked me to respect their privacy. But I still wanted people to know that I am a real person, and these things really did happen.

The book’s publication will likely out you as a sociopath. Why were you willing to take that risk?

I’m a risk-seeker and writing the book is probably one of the riskiest things I have done. I’m also a novelty seeker. I say “yes” to more things than I say no to. Writing the book gave me something interesting and exciting to divert my energies in a productive manner, rather than indulging any urges to stir up trouble in destructive ways.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Famous sociopaths: Ada Lovelace?

I know just a little about Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron, famous female 19th century scientist), but I was pleased to read this ruthlessly flattering assessment of herself, written to her mother at the age of 26:


Dearest Mama,

I must tell you what my opinion of my own mind and powers is exactly—the result of a most accurate study of myself with a view to my future plans during many months. I believe myself to possess a most singular combination of qualities exactly fitted to make me preeminently a discoverer of the hidden realities of nature.
***
Firstly: owing to some peculiarity in my nervous system, I have perceptions of some things, which no one else has—or at least very few, if any. This faculty may be designated in me as a singular tact, or some might say an intuitive perception of hidden things—that is of things hidden from eyes, ears, and the ordinary senses…This alone would advantage me little, in the discovery line, but there is, secondly, my immense reasoning faculties. Thirdly: my concentrative faculty, by which I mean the power not only of throwing my whole energy and existence into whatever I choose, but also bringing to bear on any one subject or idea a vast apparatus from all sorts of apparently irrelevant and extraneous sources. I can throw rays from every quarter of the universe into one vast focus.

Now these three powers (I cannot resist the wickedness of calling them my discovering or scientific trinity) are a vast apparatus put into my power by Providence; and it rests with me by a proper course during the next twenty years to make the engine what I please. But haste, or a restless ambition, would quite ruin the whole.

I also find myself not able to resist wickedness sometimes. And they do say that sociopathy is genetic.

In all seriousness, I am often told that one of my most prominent sociopathic traits is megalomania. But I can't help the feeling that at least some of it is actually justified...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath

Willem H.J. Martens* has published his book, heavily featuring some of the readers of this website and participants of the forum.  Martens says: "The money (8 dollars) is for our Kahn Institute os Theoretical Psychiatry and Neuroscience."

About the book:

This book provides new insight in the nature of psychopathy. On basis of analysis anonymous self-reports and case reports of members of an internet forum for psychopaths it was concluded that psychopaths are suffering too and demonstrate a different psychodynamic mechanism as was proposed untill now. Dr. Martens is a forensic psychiatrist/psychoanalyst who published in many international journas.


It is for behavioral scientists, forensic psychiatrists/psychotherapists, criminologists and staff members of forensic psychiatric hospitals extremely important to know how persons with psychopathy experience their disorder and how do they think about their behavior, tendencies and attitude. Until now this is not clarified. 

Psychopaths might regard their features, attitude and behavior quite differently than their non-psychopathic counterparts and researchers do. This distinction might be the result of a) ignorance of non-psychopaths about the true nature of this complex disorder, b) a very different perspective of psychopaths and non-psychopaths in analyzing this phenomenon, c) the fact that most empirical data is gathered from incarnated, criminal populations who are very able to manipulate tests (most of them know much about the PCL-R), asessments, researchers, and therapists (just for fun, revenge, hatred, or disgust) and d) a lack of utilization of and unavailability of reliable and voluntary self-reports of psychopaths in informal settings, and so on. Informal, non-academic and non-clinical settings are important because the psychopaths I investigated hate formal academic and clinical settings because they consider them as bulwarks of repressing authority which are harmful for them. They consider current theories and concepts of psychopathy as inadequate, incomplete, incorrect, stereotype which bring about stigmatization. 

I revealed that reliable self-reports of psychopaths (which would not have negative consequences) were posted on the anonymous internet forum discussion for psychopaths (www.SociopathWorld.com). I discovered that Internet Forums of Psychopaths were true goldmines of information which form the missing link in current research, treatment and theorizing. On the internet forum the participants can tell their stories, concerns and discuss their items freely and anonymously. They trust the fellow psychopaths and their stories are really revealing and provide profound analysis of their behavior and many unknown details. Their otherwise defensive attitude appeared to be vanished and it seems that they are able to help and support each other. Potentially persons with very violent tendencies are guided and supported by other forum participants in a rather “social” way in order to stay out of problems and avoid harmfulness. Many visitors of the forum tell that the discussions and the chance to tell their true stories caused relief for them and there were many we were thankful to be part of a sort of community which gave their life structure and new insights.


*Willem H. J. Martens - MD, PhD - Composer and Chair of W. Kahn Institute of Theoretical Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Advisor appointed by the European Commission (Leonardo da Vinci). Address: Henk van Tienhovenstraat 67, 6543JB Nijmegen (Gelderland), The Netherlands.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Caring

People sometimes ask me if I like not having to care about anything. This question is absurd. Being a sociopath doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want with no consequences, e.g. to your world view, the way your mind works, your vision of your self, your tastes and appetites, to say nothing of all of the societal consequences. If I start killing people, it will change me. Even if I steal from someone, it will change me. Every time I do something I ask myself, what are all the ramifications of this? How will this effect me or my life? Do I even know how yet? Is this something that I want?

Imagine that you were raised in a strictly religious household that followed basic Judeo-Christian theories of morality. After you leave and denounce your god, on your way to the tattoo shop, do you stop by your enemy's house to kill him? No? But you no longer believe there is a god! Wasn't the only reason that you weren't killing because God told you not to? What about if you suddenly woke up without a conscience? Now you would start killing?

There are legitimate reasons why things are considered socially reprehensible, apart from them also being morally "wrong" -- not always, but frequently. Living by the rules is an easy way to make sure you don't have to face unintended consequences -- the same reason that people might not want to eat street food, or even food from an off-brand label, or buy their prescription drugs out of the back of a van for cheap. If you are willing to take risks for something, there is a lot to be gained by being a social arbitrageur, walking the untread path, making your own rules, etc. But understand that it will entail risks. And people are unsympathetic if your risk taking involved something considered morally wrong, like seducing somebody's wife, and you end up with a bullet in your head.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why we need psychopaths (part 4)

Last one, the distinction between morality and laws:

The psychological explanation that separates the group of respected professionals from the sadistic psychopaths lies in the existence of a conscience. The explanation of a conscience varies greatly but, in general, it is regarded as a built-in moral judgment that distinguishes right from wrong. When a person does something that violates their moral code, the conscience activates feelings of guilt and shame to alert them of this breach in ethics. Social norms require expressed remorse for the infraction, which often includes making restitution. Problems arise because morality is relative to individual societies, cultures and people. In other words, what is considered wrong by one individual may be encouraged and celebrated by another. To regulate the conduct of people in a society, written rules, with corresponding punishments, are put into place. The end result is that laws can be imposed but morality cannot. It stands to reason that if morality cannot be forcibly applied to a person, then the existence of a conscience should be irrelevant because “right” and “wrong” are subjective. As long as an individual respects the laws they are governed by, what difference does it make how one feels when they commit an offense? Furthermore, if they do feel bad is it because they harmed someone, or only because they got caught? The focus then is primarily on the emotional aspect while the behavior itself is secondary. This completely contradicts the way business, medical professionals and military troops operate in that their behaviors in the field are more important than the emotion behind it.

Although there is a distinction between morals and laws, the importance society places upon morality is best illustrated in a courtroom. When a criminal expresses remorse for their crime they are often given a lesser punishment. Conversely if a criminal shows pride in their deviance they face the harshest of consequences and are the subject of the judge’s contempt. Essentially, it is throwing the book (of laws) at their bad behavior (immorality). The punishment generally corresponds with the degree of decidedly bad behavior. Morality is measured in a court of law by the intention that spurs the action in question. A psychopath would be considered amoral, because they are unaware of, or indifferent toward, moral principles. Is a psychopath incompetent to stand trial because they cannot empathize with their victims? Ignorance of the law is no excuse but judging a person’s morality when they don’t have the ability to form it is akin to punishing a blind man for not having the ability to see. It comes back to the question of a conscience. Is it responsible for using emotions such as empathy and guilt to direct behavior or does one’s pattern of behavior indicate the existence of a conscience? Perhaps behavior operates independently of a conscience. Further, the absence of a conscience may not be as significant as it appears to be.

Not being guided by a ‘moral compass’ means that judgments of good vs. bad and rights vs. wrong are determined using a different mechanism. Psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. While such a simplistic method of decision-making leaves plenty of room for error, it also explains why they are sometimes unaware of the trouble they cause or outright do not care. If they choose to do what social norms and laws determine to be “good” and someone is unintentionally hurt in the process who assumes the burden of guilt? Their intention was good, indicating morality in that they chose to follow socially acceptable rules, but the behavior violated another person’s moral code and no remorse is being expressed on cue. It is in this space that the mask of sanity begins to slip and people are often shockingly aware that this person possesses very little real emotion. The psychopath, however, feels no guilt or empathy by default and can’t understand why the other person is so upset. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’ Why should a psychopath fake emotion just to appease the other person? His behavior is within the framework of the laws but his emotion is not fueling the behavior. They do not see a need for emotion to be involved so pervasively in life and regular people cannot fathom how it is possible to function without emotional connections to other people. Psychopaths seem to intellectually understand that losing a close friend brings about pain which leads to crying as a way to release overwhelming emotion in normal people. But to cry because your feelings were hurt is a foreign concept. Therefore, the psychopath sees no logical reason for either party to display emotion in this situation; rather, his good intentions and avoidance of malice are enough to justify his action. Just because it did not go according to plan does not make him responsible for the other person’s feelings. Furthermore, the slighted person doesn’t deserve an apology because it is they who are handicapped by irrational emotions.

It is here in this moral collide that the true function of psychopaths comes to light. Here we have Conflict Theory in that the powerful seek to impose constraints on their subordinates in order to retain control. The psychopath, seeing themselves as superior because they are not weakened by senseless emotions, seeks to impose laws that make logical sense. The non-psychopath, seeing themselves as more fully human because they possess a conscience, seeks to compel the psychopath with their admirable morality. Emile Durkheim’s (1893) theory on deviance comes to life as the parties war over what is “right” and “good.” The moral party will defend their principles and encourage other like-minded people to join together and build strength in numbers. The psychopath sees unrestrained emotion, which is confusing and frightening thereby perceiving a threat. The proceeding deregulation serves as Durkheim’s (1893) definition of anomie.

To label a person “bad” is a disservice to their inherent qualities that are necessary to sustain the delicate balance in which we exist. Psychopaths do not wish to possess the incomprehensible idea of a conscience but they are sorely aware something is missing. Normal people would not give up their ability to connect with others in a way only empathy can achieve, but in the midst of emotional or psychological trauma the temptation to trade morality for “an unburdened mind” is tremendous. As to which side came out the winner, the answer is decidedly both. They lost the battle but won the war. For that reason, psychopaths are a necessary component of society because they offer a unique perspective unlike that of normally functioning personalities.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why we need psychopaths (part 3)

Suitable careers for sociopaths (I'm particularly amused by the reference to morticians, as one of my sociopath friends has just started mortuary school):

There are a variety of careers that require such emotional detachment and mimicry, in addition to the corporate world. Funeral directors are not deeply saddened by every single funeral, but they pretend to be as part of the ritual of mourning and to show respect to the families they serve. People expect this treatment and would be very offended if they were not treated in such a manner. Prior to this sacred event the deceased person’s naked body is placed on a table, formaldehyde is pumped into their arteries, their blood is removed, more embalming chemicals are added to their internal body cavity and, finally, cosmetics are applied. An alternative to preservation is cremation. This occurs by burning a human body at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and then grinding up the remaining skeleton. When funeral home employees shake your hand and offer their seemingly sincere condolences it is after one of these processes has taken place. And this is repeated hundreds of times per year, often to babies and children. It has been said that the funeral services are to benefit those left behind as an avenue to mourn, to see their loved ones one last time and to say their final farewells to provide needed closure. Essentially, a human being is put through these horrifying postmortem processes because the remaining family and friends want them to.

In a separate but similar profession as embalmers, doctors and surgeons must see their patients as scientific puzzles to solve and, at the same time, express tender concern and support to their patients and their families. This sympathetic, emotional interaction even has a name: bedside manner. An oncologist who sees hundreds of cancer-ridden patients in their lifetime may show compassion for the patient while simultaneously prescribing treatments that are nothing short of agonizing. A medical examiner, or coroner, performs autopsies on deceased persons to provide closure to the families, to solve mysteries and to provide justice for those who lost their life at the hands of another. To do this means to cut open a corpse, expose organs, remove tissues, cut through bones and sometimes extract the brain from the skull. Autopsies are routinely performed on infants suspected of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Most people could not cut open an infant body without experiencing severe and long-term emotional distress.

Another disturbing experience often resulting in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and even suicide is the wartime horrors our military is currently experiencing. Soldiers leave their families behind, not knowing if they will survive the battlefields they are sent into. Witnessing mass pain and inflicting death onto other human beings is often a soldier’s very first experience with such intense violence. Veterans often report nightmares, flash backs and haunting memories of the people they killed, all in the name of defending our freedom. There is seldom a desensitization process to lessen the psychological impact of being thrust into bloody violence. And upon discharge soldiers are expected to return home and resume a normal life with only a plane ride to separate the experiences. Although the military has taken steps to rehabilitate the mental health of veterans the sad truth is, sometimes that is not enough. After spending, at a minimum, eighteen years building empathy it is expected that it be shut off and back on again like flipping a switch. Rather than learning to reduce and increase empathic feeling on demand, a more attractive option would be eliminating the need for a transition from the beginning.

The motivation for nearly all of these professions is to provide a service to people in a respectful, dignified manner but impression management hides the underlying psychological processes. Many professionals intentionally become hardened over time so as to not cause themselves distress. They do this by gradually removing their capacity for empathy. It is replaced by shallow, but visibly identical, sympathy. Their patients cannot be seen as fathers, daughters, sisters or even human beings. This is achieved through depersonalization and dehumanization. They learn to compartmentalize their work, which allows them to perform their job duties to the best of their abilities and then go home and have dinner with their families. While this is admired by the people who benefit from these highly esteemed professionals, these are the same processes found in sadistic serial killers.

In laymen’s terms this is called “cold hearted.” It would be nearly impossible to discern whether the doctor making strides in cancer research is altruistic and haunted by the patients he could not save, or whether he wants to achieve such accolades selfishly and by whatever means necessary. The family-owned funeral home may be upholding a sacred tradition honoring the deceased, or they may be solely seeking to profit off a never ending cycle. The highly educated coroner voted into position may be grateful to serve their community in a time of loss, or they may take great pleasure in desecrating dead bodies. Perhaps the disturbed loner who can’t quite get a grip on his desire to kill should be the forefront of a special operation cloaked in the name of liberty. If the end result is the same, does it make a difference to us what emotions are experienced in the process? More often than not the graphic processes themselves are explicitly ignored while we focus more on the results. It may be unfathomable to consider these respected, charismatic and driven individuals as ‘cold-hearted’ until you consider what their job descriptions truly consists of. In addition, it may be sickening to consider they repeat these processes daily for decades because they enjoy it; why else would they endure such intensive, difficult and expensive schooling if they don’t gain something positive as a result? They may come across as charming and genuinely altruistic but so did some of the most destructive serial killers in our nation’s history. What these people share is the chilling ability to inflict gruesome human torture for hours and then sit down at the dinner table before sleeping peacefully in bed.
***
This emotional detachment and presentation of a normal personality, just as previously described, is now not referred to as desensitization or “impression management.” Dr. Hervey Cleckley referred to this as the “mask of sanity.” Cleckley describes the psychopathic person as “outwardly a perfect mimic of a normally functioning person, able to mask or disguise the fundamental lack of internal personality structure, an internal chaos that results in repeatedly purposeful destructive behavior.” If the mask of sanity slips then how does one save face? Does the description “purposeful destructive behavior” describe incinerating human remains? Where is the line between an autopsy and mutilating a corpse? The distinction between murder and combat is in the fine print. Would the facilitators of those processes be exercising emotional detachment against their true nature or harnessing their true cold-hearted nature?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why we need psychopaths (part 2)

Regarding emotions and manipulation:


As psychopaths become less associated with demonic bloodlust a more accurate image is formed of just what this set of symptoms really looks like. They have “shallow emotions” which simply means their emotions are much less intense than non-psychopaths (DSM-IV-TR (2000) 4th ed., text. rev.). To demonstrate, imagine that a company is interviewing candidates to fill a vacant position. After several mediocre interviews, the recruiters are introduced to a charismatic, energetic, intelligent and striking woman whose credentials align perfectly with the job description. Obviously she is hired on the spot. Her low emotionality keeps her calm under pressure and cool-headed when resolving conflicts with co-workers. She’s able to make critical decisions for the company because “it’s not personal; it’s a business decision,” and has no problem sleeping at night while putting hundreds of employees out of work. Some of her co-workers go home emotionally exhausted after a day of rejected sales attempts, but not her. Little do they know her attractive outwardly appearance merely serves as a cover for the hollow shell within. Emotional detachment and regulation are important while in a business setting but for psychopaths their emotions are consistently “turned down.”

The flip side to this would be someone who is overemotional, which is often synonymous with “irrational.” This is why people are granted bereavement time from work. When mourning the loss of a loved one, they will be overcome by emotion and unable to concentrate effectively on their job duties. In some careers, such carelessness can be dangerous. It is this same extreme emotional state that sets the stage for crimes of passion because emotions have a tendency to distort reasoning - unbalanced emotions overwhelm balanced judgment (Hare 1999). For psychopaths, problems are evaluated in black and white terms with very little “gray area” distortion. Factor in the other leading characteristic, lack of empathy, and it is understandable why they describe having an “unburdened mind.” (Thomas 2013)

Psychopaths compensate for these deficits by learning to be experts on human behavior and honing their ability to mimic appropriate emotions. This overcompensation is often described as “deception” and “manipulation” in diagnostic criteria, but it is the same concept as “impression management” techniques regular people frequently utilize (DSM-IV-TR (2000) 4th ed., text. Rev). It is also called social masks in some literature. This is the idea that people slightly alter their personality depending on the situation they are in, thus “playing to the crowd” (Hare 1999). An example would be maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor while at work but “being yourself” at home. Adolescents or even young adults may use crude language in front of their friends but refrain in the presence of their families. Trying to show your best attributes during a first date and gradually “letting your guard down” describes the same concept. This could be “making a good impression” or being manipulative and deceptive depending upon perspective.

Regardless of one’s opinion of such practice, another important part of impression management and successful social interaction is learning to display proper emotion at certain times with appropriate intensity. Failing to display appropriate social cues can be off-putting and uncomfortable for the people who would describe this person as “hard to read.” So people learn to smile on cue, chuckle at a joke whether it is humorous or not, feign concern over a matter that doesn’t genuinely trouble anyone but the people involved, and so on. This process is generally automatic although errors occur occasionally, which is called “sending mixed signals.” It could be chalked up to having good manners and refined social skills but just how much feigned emotion people can handle is debatable. At what point is a person accused of “putting on a show” or being “fake?” When someone’s ego is at risk of injury they attempt to “save face” or avoid negative action. There is not a clearly defined manual for impression management and some pull it off better than others.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why we need psychopaths (part 1)

A reader studying psychology/criminology wrote a research paper about why we need psychopaths and wants our thoughts/feedback before she finalizes it:

Antisocial Personality Disorder is one of the most frightening, controversial and misunderstood terms in the realm of social sciences. This paper intends to dispel myths, explain alternative perspectives, offer insight into a characteristic impersonal section of society, and promote the sustenance of humanity using a combination of psychological and sociological theories to encourage a purposeful alliance between disparate groups: the empathic and those without a conscience.
***
Psychopaths are a subset of the population that, due to drastically different personality constructs, have the ability to perform unique societal functions.
***
Where a person falls on the spectrum of ASPD depends on a variety of factors. The Freudian framework describes this structure of psyche as being determined within the first five years of life. While Freud's reasoning of why this impairment occurs is questionable, his stance that it is broadly due to early childhood trauma rings true with most mental health professionals (Bowlby 1951). Regarding Freud’s research it is said that the defense mechanisms used to protect a psychopath are usually the cause of their downfall. Immature defenses include denial, acting out, projection, displacement and repression, which all tend to have immediate rewards but long term negative consequences. This would further illustrate a spectrum of behavior segmented within the context of ASPD. More mature and high functioning sociopaths would use corresponding mature defense mechanisms that would be more socially acceptable and consistent with maintaining a normally functioning personality. That also means that the traits of ASPD that require delayed gratification would also be more pronounced, such as excellent self-control, higher intelligence, manipulative and calculating behavior, as well as the ability to maintain a normal outwardly appearance.

It appears as though ASPD runs on this spectrum with highly intelligent, patient manipulators on one end and impulsive, violent criminals on the other. Because the tendency toward crime worsens with more severe forms of psychopathy, this spectrum serves as a “self-cleaning” mechanism for society. The dangerous psychopaths more often than not end up in prison fairly soon upon reaching adulthood which reduces the risk for substantial danger to others. As more of these criminally inclined are incarcerated, what remains is the other half of the spectrum. While it will always be difficult to obtain accurate statistics on mental health diagnosis because many are undiagnosed, untreated, or have several overlapping conditions, enough information has been gathered to provide an estimate. Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five— do not possess a conscience. Since approximately 75% of the prison population meets the criteria for ASPD (Hare 1999), most of the remaining psychopaths operating in society are high-functioning, highly intelligent and appears to be ordinary people.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Striking a balance (part 2)

(cont.):


Experience has led me to the conclusion that I have a complete disregard for relationship boundaries. Although boundaries in general are a serious challenge for me, committed, romantic relationship boundaries are laughable to a fault. Intellectually, I know this is not a good thing...it sounds and feels a bit evil. But it's truly how I feel. I consider sexuality fluid. I don't know if it's from a place of jealousy or downright disrespect that, when I'm attracted to someone, it sends my sociopathy into hyperdrive. I mean, I become obsessed with possessing that person -- by hook or crook. Because I know what I like and I know I can get it...if only there wasn't this arbitrary commitment getting in my way.

This isn't so much an issue when a person is single. Hell, if the person is single and no other boundary (i.e. professional or sexuality) exists, I don't really know how I would react because I never seem to be in that position. But it becomes a heckuva destracting and destructive dilemma when it does rear its ugly head. I'm just wondering if this is common (especially in light of your post on socio sexuality) and if you have any guidance on how to counter this and other distractions due to boredom and/or tedium with the daily grind. Because, no matter how stimulating my affairs can be, I am always looking for the next thing at which to try my hand or dip my toe. I read your post on managing impulse control through distractions and redirection, but my understanding of coping in such a manner would lead to the issue of staying on task that I have to find myself having to constantly battle.

So, I could use a little help. How do I achieve balance between my need to control my sociopathic tendencies and my desire for healthy human interaction? How do I define healthy human interaction (and attraction and romance) for myself instead of simply recognizing what I lack in others and going after that, only to be left alone and unfulfilled? And how do I not allow fear of the mundane and discomfort with and mistrust of the conventional to keep me from performing and living in the present?

M.E.:

I identify with your problem a lot but I wonder at whether it is a problem in need of a solution. I understand exactly what you mean about wanting certain people and not really being able to stop myself from going after them. For me it has sometimes happened in compromising situations where I could possibly be sued or fired for going after that particular person. For whatever reason, the way I approach these conquests has not led to many social fallouts (it seems like that is your primary concern?). I don't think there is any way of getting around these compulsions and obsessions, at least not when they're this strong. And I don't know if I would want to get rid of them. They're often the times I feel most alive and engaged with my life. It sounds like you have trained yourself to live on porridge, honestly gotten, but still crave steak from time to time. Or perhaps more accurately, you want to believe that you choose to eat the porridge and not the steak, that no one is (or can) deny you the steak, and if you want it you shall have it. This may just be your practical reality, the same way that picking up men in airport bathrooms is the practical reality for an evangelical christian minister.





Monday, April 8, 2013

Striking a balance (part 1)

From a reader:

If you are the M.E. who has written a book that I saw on Amazon that will be out in May, kudos and I can't wait:-)

As for my story, I haven't read a story of a sociopath with which the outward narrative is identical, although the inner world is astonishingly familiar. I have always achieved (perhaps because I was around people who achieved and expected me to achieve) and was always considered attractive and successful until a few years ago when I switched off what I have always described as "auto-pilot" and started being conscious of my actions and (ultimately) my intentions. Now, just about everything I do is in an effort to downplay all of the characteristics that got me many things but left me feeling empty. I have achieved extremely rewarding levels of inner peace, but I'm lonely as hell and feel that I must achieve some balance or I will go mad. I have gone from being convinced that I was a borderline a few years ago when I was transitioning into self-awareness, to identifying as a narcissist, then as a psychopath. But I really, truly identify with your description of the sociopath. Everything you have documented on the website resonates, with the exception of some areas that I attribute to gender differences and perhaps a different stage of development.

At any rate, I am so very thankful for your work. But I do have a problem that poses an immediate concern for me. I hardly ever put myself in a situation in which I know I will encounter people to whom I will be attracted. And I am not typically attracted to very many people. But, when I do find myself in that space, all of the instincts that I work to isolate for their appropriate use take over -- especially when the person to whom I am attracted is in a committed relationship. To better articulate the force of my emotions, my journal entry from a recent encounter reads:

It probably is about control. It is surely about competition. I am competitive -- to a fault. But I've become quite masterful at not showing just how competitive I am. And, because it's not apparent and my veneer of choice is one of modesty, awkwardness, reservedness...in essence, vulnerability -- this usually results in my prey letting its guard down, allowing me the opportunity to come in like a thief who has been casing a joint for years. But I don't need years. When given the opportunity, I can do a lot of damage in a matter of days.

I have met my match. I have also been called out. But, inevitably, it all comes back to my feelings of superiority/inferiority. I'm better than this person you're with now. Or, even more to the point, I feel threatened in some way by the person you're with. And I like you. I want to show that you prefer me to your partner because, by doing so, I feel less threatened and inferior. I win.

It helps when I can justify my actions...when I feel I'm dealing with an asshole or an idiot or anything other than me...it helps me justify destroying something precious to define it as trash. To pick it apart...rip it to shreds. All for my own glory...for my vanity.

This is how I compete. I get on the playing field and commence to hiding the ball...stripping the game of its essence for the sake of competitive advantage. Of course, by the time I'm done, I'm the only one playing. So my "victory" is pyrrhic. And sad. I win big and lose even bigger. And the other players? They eventually catch on. And they either remain a team or join forces with others. But they cannot...will not...will NEVER commit to me. Because, no matter what I say, they know I'm committed to one thing and one thing only -- and that's to keep the ball hidden at all costs. Because as long as the ball is hidden and I'm the one doing the hiding, I'm in complete control. The minute that is no longer the case, the jig is up. The game is over. And I will walk away, defeated and deflated, because I never intended to play fair and can't risk a loss.


Experience has led me to the conclusion that I have a complete disregard for relationship boundaries. Although boundaries in general are a serious challenge for me, committed, romantic relationship boundaries are laughable to a fault. Intellectually, I know this is not a good thing...it sounds and feels a bit evil. But it's truly how I feel. I consider sexuality fluid. I don't know if it's from a place of jealousy or downright disrespect that, when I'm attracted to someone, it sends my sociopathy into hyperdrive. I mean, I become obsessed with possessing that person -- by hook or crook. Because I know what I like and I know I can get it...if only there wasn't this arbitrary commitment getting in my way.

This isn't so much an issue when a person is single. Hell, if the person is single and no other boundary (i.e. professional or sexuality) exists, I don't really know how I would react because I never seem to be in that position. But it becomes a heckuva destracting and destructive dilemma when it does rear its ugly head. I'm just wondering if this is common (especially in light of your post on socio sexuality) and if you have any guidance on how to counter this and other distractions due to boredom and/or tedium with the daily grind. Because, no matter how stimulating my affairs can be, I am always looking for the next thing at which to try my hand or dip my toe. I read your post on managing impulse control through distractions and redirection, but my understanding of coping in such a manner would lead to the issue of staying on task that I have to find myself having to constantly battle.

So, I could use a little help. How do I achieve balance between my need to control my sociopathic tendencies and my desire for healthy human interaction? How do I define healthy human interaction (and attraction and romance) for myself instead of simply recognizing what I lack in others and going after that, only to be left alone and unfulfilled? And how do I not allow fear of the mundane and discomfort with and mistrust of the conventional to keep me from performing and living in the present?


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sociopath quotes: guilt

"Guilt? It's this mechanism we use to control people. It's an illusion. It's a kind of social control mechanism -- and it's very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior than that rather extraordinary use of guilt."

-- Ted Bundy

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Narcissism = lack of self awareness

From The Mirror Effect by Drs. Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young:
The key to understanding the narcissism myth is not that he fell in love with himself, but that he failed to recognize himself in his own reflection. In other words, true narcissists are not self-aware.

A real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self; he feels haunted by chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and self-loathing and seeks to replace that disconnection with a sense of worth and importance fueled by others.

Narcissism is also marked by a profound lack of empathy, a fundamental inability to understand and connect with the feelings of others. Taken together, these are the traits psychologists measure in diagnosing what's known as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Narcissists in the news: cocaine and hookers

From a reader on narcissists in business schools, Lance Armstrong, and Jordan Belfort:

The author of the book on how to get ahead in business explains that there isn't necessarily anything wrong with business schools training narcissists to take over companies. His point: what's good for the business school (donations) isn't necessarily good for the shareholders (share price) - but c'est la vie.

Dr. Pfeffer has incredible amounts of equanimity. Very zen, very sociopath.

Here's a nice piece on Lance Armstrong. If you look at the blatant cheating Lance did - the sort where he was totally open with guys "in the circle" about it - I think it makes him seem like a malignant narcissist or psychopath. That is, he was completely OK with cheating in an organized, ambitious, aggressive way. The fact that it was "unfair" or against the rules was completely immaterial. That illustrates that ridiculous "compartmentalization" thing that empathy-challenged do:


Lance Armstrong and Jordan Belfort have a lot in common:

"A pioneer in promoting office bonding activities, Belfort thought it would improve morale if staff were encouraged to have sex with each other whenever they could, even under the desks. There were mid-afternoon "coffee breaks" with a troupe of hookers in the office car park. One office junior agreed to have her hair shaved off on the trading floor in return for $5,000 for a breast job."

That's typical malignant narcissist thinking, "I like cocaine and hookers, and my workers seem to like them too, so let's have a cocaine-and-hookers bonus program."


I especially like that last example. I once worked tangentially for a company that was a start-up, run by a narcissist, with an almost identical cocaine and hookers incentive program. Another narcissist example is Charlie Sheen.

Do sociopaths do this too? Cocaine and hookers? If not I wonder why not. Maybe because sociopaths are more interested in seducing minds than piling up more bodies? And my mind seems amped up and unstable enough as it is without messing around with it with something like cocaine. But to a narcissist it might make them narcissist feel more godlike? Validate their own feelings of superiority, at least while they're high? Are there any sociopaths out there that are into cocaine and hookers?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What am I?

From a reader:


Hey going through a sort of crisis: (I'm kind of all over the place in this. I wanted to just write fast without thinking)

I'm 22 and in college and don't know if I'm really emotional or not emotional at all. I'm not really social and usually only have a few close friends. I'm a male, straight, decent looking but have hard time making connections with others. I am extremely self conscious. I analyze everything I do and can read most people like a book. I can tell when people are faking and what they're thinking of most of the time. I can't stand when people get macho for small reasons.

 I don't know if I'm really confident or not confident at all. I'm better at things than most people and i know this but I still rather be myself. There are a bunch of hot girls who want me but I have no clue what to do. Whenever i do hookup with girls, it's usually within minutes of meeting them and usually i don't know their names and they don't know mine. 

I care what people think about me but i want them to think of me in a certain way. I can argue with the best of them but not really sure if I believe in the things i argue. I usually tell the truth about things I do but not about myself; I tend to keep emotions out of things. And again I don't know if it's because I don't have any or good at managing them. I feel like I'm in complete control of myself, to the point I never do anything spontaneous. But most people think I'm this crazy risk taker who never gets nervous. The weird thing is ideas and thoughts scare me more than actually doing things. I usually find when do things I get bored. If I'm on a roller coaster it doesn't phase in the least bit but the thought of having the roller coaster break off and me go flying a million miles per hour into the ground will scare me. I basically can scare myself better than other things can scare me. 

I talk to myself a lot. My mind is basically always going. I don't know if i care about people or just think i do. I don't if i care about people or just think I do. For the past 8 months I've been isolating myself and don't know how to come out of this slump. Nothing excites me anymore. I honestly don't know if anything ever excites me or if i have and just forgotten. I never feel compelled to do anything. I have fallen for girls before. I come off as really charming to a point i know in the back of my head I can't keep it up. But I don't if I actually can and just don't believe in myself enough. I have a really good sense of humor and when I'm feeling good can get people going. I can find humor in anything. I really admire people who make things that look good and flashiness. I know i said I'm self doubting but I'm cocky at the same time. Because when I try I'm usually the best at whatever I do. Most people know this. People poke fun at how lazy I am and my mind don't care attitude but they know not to mess with me because I can do whatever they do twice at good. 

I'm caught up between trying to be a saint or a badass. I really don't want to be either and just live my life but I think in extremes. That's why I can't tell if i'm highly emotional or not emotional. I want to fuck every girl i meet but don't know how to make it happen. I also want to be a walking therapist because I can come up with solutions to almost everyone else's problems but can't solve my own. 

I'm not crazy. i don't see things, don't hear any voices but my own. I basically see things exactly how they are. I find wholes in everyone's logic and way of living. Most people look at me like I'm doing something wrong but I literally keep to myself and don't bother people. Sometimes I can look at a girl for to long. But usually they look back in the same manner i look at them. I just don't know how to approach them. I'm really manly in my actions and usually don't back down from problems but a have a flamboyant energy. Guys hit on me sometimes and I usually don't catch until someone says something. I like nice people I guess.

I have friends say to me that we're the same person. I don't know if i'm really relate-able because i'm really honest or I mimic people without knowing. I kind feel like I don't really change who I am unless I'm around someone I admire or a pretty girl or if i want something, then i try to turn on the charm. I think I just have magnetic personality when I feel confident and people are drawn to it. But it comes and goes. Recently its been gone and I feel miserable. I don't like leaving my room, drinking, smoking, going to class. Everything's a choir at this point. I'm not sure if I'm depressed or just am now noticing my true nature.I really don't like people right now. I feel like all I can see is there worst characteristics. Can't tell if I've always felt like this. In high school I got most unique laugh. Don't know if i been laughing with people because they're funny or at because how stupid they are. The favorite times in my life is when I have friends. 

What do you think? Sociopath? Empath?Something else? Say fuck with everyone else and live for myself?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quote: being several people

"I am troubled by a sense of being several people (nobody you know). There is an ever more acute difference — and an intolerableness — between my inner self which I know is the real me, and various faces of the outside world."

Patricia Highsmith

Monday, April 1, 2013

How to become a (good?) sociopath

I was recently asked whether there are any famous good sociopaths:
Famous good sociopaths? I don't think you would ever say that a sociopath was "good," per se, the same way you might about Mother Theresa, etc. They're always complicated. They can be good in the fact that they aren't bad... they can also be great, without necessarily being good. Is Dick Cheney bad? What about Julius Caesar? Sociopaths often lust for power, which can put them at odds with the people that they rule, but they can also do a lot of good things like keeping governments stable, or fighting off the invading hordes, or being a spy, or whatever else. Does that make them good? I don't think sociopaths have any sort of urge to do good things, just scratch their power-hungry itch. A lot of sociopaths specifically choose to use their powers for good instead of evil, but they're end game is not doing good, it's power or whatever else the sociopaths is after.

I think that a good analogy would be a corporation. There are a lot of corporations that do things that you like, maybe even good things, but the primary motivation is to make a profit. But just because you are trying to make a profit doesn't mean you can't do it by doing things you like, or that you are good at, or that comport with the way you see the world or want the world to see you. I terrorize bullies. Is that good? I help out friends and neighbors for all sorts of reasons. Actually, coincidentally, one of my readers sent this to me recently -- it deals with the idea of not having the same sort of of emotional connections to your actions as empaths do: "a comprehensive beginner's guide to becoming a sociopath." When I read it, I thought all of the good things were things that I might actually do or have already done. My bad things were different, though -- I guess I just have different tastes. But I see what the point of the exercise is -- divorce your normal emotional reactions from certain behavior. I bet it would work. I bet there a lot of things people would want to be a little sociopathic about, like having no fear if you do a lot of public speaking, or not having an emotional connection to food (I would bet the percentage of obese sociopaths is 1%, for purely genetic reasons). But maybe it is difficult to do, like being a little bit pregnant. A little bit anorexic? Or alcoholic? Or blood thirsy?
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