Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More on flexible sense of self (part 1)

I used to be terrible at writing. I got terrible marks on it in school, but I never understood what I was doing wrong. In high school I got by having my mother read my papers and edit them. Sometimes she would ask, "you're actually learning something from this, aren't you? I'm not just doing your work for you?" And I would say yes, but I wasn't. It wasn't trying to shirk, I just honestly didn't understand or value it enough to learn. In college I just got bad grades in paper classes, so I avoided them. I stayed terrible into law school, where I learned a highly technical version of writing that finally made some sense to me. I even became an editor, but I still struggled. Only recently have felt like I finally understand writing to the point where I can recognize how/when my writing is flawed. It's been really crazy to have the book published. It feels sort of like maybe having a stutter all of my life and then becoming an opera singer out of the blue. Now I sometimes edit my brother's papers that he is trying to get published. His writing is terrible in all of the same ways that mine still inclines and so I often have the chance to reflect on how much my writing has changed.

I've had other similar experiences. Becoming self-aware of who I am (manipulative, ruthless, unempathetic, etc.) was a watershed moment. I even used to be terrible at music, particularly jazz improvisation, until one day it just clicked and I can play solos over any sort of chord changes. Again, both of these changes were huge. It's as if one day I woke up being able to slam dunk a basketball or run a five minute mile. And I worked for all of it, but there was some sort of cognitive block keeping me from really internalizing the concepts until suddenly there wasn't.

In some ways I guess this is why I am so bullish on the possibility of living my life one way and then finally discovering a new way to live. It's one of the hidden benefits from having a weak sense of self --  there's not that much of an attachment to who I currently am. Maybe one day I will have changed so much that I no longer identify as a sociopath? Because even that identification did not really come from within, but from seeing the way people reacted to me -- their expectations of me and the way that I met, failed, or exceeded those expectations. I liked this quote from Annemarie Roeper about this from her book "The 'I' of the Beholder":

We don’t really understand our Selves or what life is. It is a mystery, and this fact is hard to accept. Humankind has developed many theories about you and believes they are facts, but in the end, all we can see is your behavior, your reactions to the world around you, and the world’s reaction to you.

So not only are we constantly changing (and have such an incredible ability to change), but our sense of self changes as the world changes, and consequently our reactions to the world and the world's reaction to us. I wonder what most sociopaths would look like if the world's reaction to us were more positive.

74 comments:

  1. I remember when sociopathy clicked for me well after my diagnosis. The metacognition was palpable.

    It is an interesting proposal to consider. Even if it were not positive but just mundane, much like how homosexuality is becoming. In some aspects it may be disadvantageous in how others would be aware of it - factoring it in with interactions. However, outside of that it would certainly be safer. It would certainly reduce the (ironically) violent and extreme reactions.

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  2. It is interesting to me how sociopathy falls under the diagnosis of a personality disorder. If there are actual differences in the brain of some sociopaths/psychopaths it should have a different diagnosis like other disorders such as bipolar, depression, schizoaffective disorder.

    I would think if it were mainly based on environmental upbringing, it could be treated with therapy to some extent, if the patient were willing. They prescribe therapy to borderlines, narcissists, etc. Even if it only has limited success, i would think it could help some sociopaths at least become more self-aware, like ME is.

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    1. That is a common misconception. In reality, it is equal parts genetic and environmental. It is not mainly environmental.

      As for therapy it is almost useless. The only therapy that remotely works is CBT, and even then it is only useful for individuals to realize that there are advantages to being successful in society. You can no more beat the sociopath out of someone than beat the poor african-american out of them.

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    2. Clear statement

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  3. My own experience is not so dissimilar to yours.
    Despite the fact that I have learned to read before the age of four, it wasn't until I was about 13, when my writing became coherent enough in order to be able to write independently, without the help of my mother.
    Oftentimes writing an essay would frustrate me to the point of outright rage.
    I've never had trouble understanding, expressing and using my imagination in science oriented subjects though.
    I was able to overcome my dyslexic debilitation through hard work, patience and my mother's perseverance.
    I even learned to enjoy writing poetry, whereas being a young lad I found the idea to be unseemingly pointless.
    We constantly change and grow. It is when we seem to stop doing so, that we are in danger of loosing our sense of self.

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  4. This is a nice book on the nature of the self.

    The self doesn't exist the way most people think it does.

    The self is a bit like the illusion of your visual field. You think you see the world all at once. But you don't: ou have a very small focused area. The rest is a blur. You habitually ignore the out-of-focus area.

    You think you self is what you see in the mirror? Another illustion - that's just what your eyes show you, and even then, you see a reflected image in the mirror, not what a stranger sees when he looks at you.

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    1. Exploring YOURSELF everyday feeds and enforces your narcisstic trait. Maybe it helps keeping down the other traits. BTW: Controlling impulses were much easier, if you wouldnt feel superiour to others. Go and find a realistic view of your "superiority" .

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    2. There is no self to be found. If you can see it, it isn't you. So yeah, mirror-gazing doesn't make sense. If you think it, the thought isn't you. If you feel it, the feeling isn't you. If it is an abstract concept - your mind creates those - again, it isn't you.

      As a practical matter, sociopaths and the people around them benefit when the sociopath realizes he is impulsive and has lousy judgment. The alternative is to have something like a guy that wakes up every day, hung over, sometimes next to a dead hooker (whom he knows how to "get rid of"), who never thinks to ask what he's doing and if he ought to change.

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  5. Our personalities are NOT chisiled in stone. They are
    acquired over time.
    Apart from a universal fear of death, our worldly viewpoints have
    been PLACED in us by outside influences.
    Where does religious and national identity come from? Some
    authourity figure tell us what we are, and we take it for our
    reality.
    Of course, I'm not speaking of physical causes of behavior.
    Over the course of a lifetime, there can be many PHYSICAL
    causes for behavior both genetic and accidental.

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    1. It is important to differentiate between accidental and environmental. Environmental factors are compounding factors that include both short-term and long-term influences during childhood. Epigenetics has shown that these environmental factors actually compliment the genetic factors by causing specific genes to express themselves where they would otherwise be dormant. Both genetics and environment mutually promote each other.

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  6. Most of us, socio or not, get a smoothed or rough surface over time, for the sake of ourselves and others.
    Problems evolve (also, or especially for empaths) if you do not really appreciate the other person. Its a kind of effort to act. It makes me avoid this contact. So I dont envy your misantropia.

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  7. Can sociopathy can be cured by finding a new way to live? Or is there a core personality that will always be there?

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    1. There are core factors that prevent any sort of "cure". It would be like trying to cure the gay out of someone.

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    2. Mainstream shrinks mostly say no.

      Sociopaths scare them. A lot of "caring" people turn on a dime when they get scared; their concern for the other person evaporates.

      If an honest sociopath goes to a shrink, he'll scare the shrink. Because he might even matter-of-factly explain how he manipulates people - even the shrink - for thrills.

      Shrinks don't do well treating sociopaths with their current methods. Rather than admit their methods are lacking - which would be painful, because their sense of self is tied up in their image as "caring" special people that can transform others - they say sociopaths can't be reformed.

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    3. Almost but not quite. There are core factors that actually prevents any sort of progressive treatment or cure, so to speak. As for the stigma against sociopathy, it is true that it does influence the psychiatrist in trying to pursue an unbiased and detached approach. Therapists are still human despite what the stereotypes of therapists may make you think. It is actually a far more pervasive problem than most people know. This is because, unlike traditional medicine, much of psychology is actually subjective, not only for the recipient but also for the therapist. Once the therapist gets locked in on an idea of one impression, it becomes extremely difficult to break out of it. Like most personal opinions they become intractible.

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    4. Yet they say some sociopaths get mellower with age. So I wonder if testosterone or other hormones have something to do with it as well?

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    5. Bob, if you were an empath, how would you deal with a more or less high functioning sociopath, who gives you english lessons twice a week?

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    6. Was that a snide remark addressed to myself, or an actual hypothetical?

      Either way, the important thing to note is that most of the time, the sociopath is speaking literally. Every word chosen is used in its literal context, based more on its dictionary definition than any potential "between the lines" ulterior use. Whatever they say, take it exactly for what it says on the surface. Also note that if something sounds offensive - as if it has a hostile undertone - to not take it as such. Language use in sociopaths can come across as "blunt" or as an attack. In reality, it's not.

      Critique and/or argument are wielded by sociopaths to express a literal difference. While sometimes there can be a measure of competition in a response, it is more often just a straight-forward answer to a problem. Addressing what they see is wrong is as emotional as addressing an error. "You are wrong. The answer is 4, not 5." Nothing more, nothing less.

      As an empath, your best response would be to accept it ("Ok.") and continue. The sociopath hasn't gotten a rise out of it - they've simply moved on. To them, it was like correcting a crooked painting. Often if you bring up the subject later, their response would be in line of "What of it?" Getting worked up about it would make as much sense as getting angry at a spell-checker.

      The key thing to remember with sociopaths is their propensity and mindset towards ambivalence. They have nothing for you, but they have nothing against you too. 2 + 2 = 4 is as emotional to them as it is to you.

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    8. sorry, typos...

      Sociopaths will always act in their own self interest. But it is definitely possible to become prosocial instead of antisocial in terms of a general pattern of relating to others.
      I suspect that sociopaths mellow with age because they get wiser and they realize that burning bridges (with hateful and violent acts) tends to be a self sabotaging M.O. Older sociopaths remain self focused (to the extreme) but learn to curb their impulses to experience short term gratification. Why? Because it is in their self interest to take the longer view of things (i.e.- the person I screw may know a lot of people and poison the well for me if I completely screw him) and pursue selfish ends in a more strategic fashion for the long term bigger payoff.

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    9. Thanks Mach. In terms of "traditional" men, my father was very high testosterone and was not a pleasant man when I was growing up. Now that I am much older, and so is he, I call him on every single piece of bullshit or aggression he throws my way.

      He pushes, I push back. We are much more "friendly" and civil now. We are only at each other's throats once or twice a year. :)

      bipolar empath

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    10. Bob,
      The person I know who is on the spectrum, is very literal as an autistic would be. I actually thought he was autistic.
      His words are precise and sound very dictionary specific.

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    11. The disorders have some overlapping components, like a venn diagram.

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    12. @Bob
      Thanks. What you have said is consistent to my experience in hindsight.

      (Neither snide remark nor hypothetical, I find myself in this type of situation)

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    13. If that is the case, then being observant of certain traits unique with those with aspergers or elsewhere on the autism spectrum would help narrow down any layman's diagnosis. Signs such as fixation, or anger/frustration at breaking non-standard conventions or boundaries (ie. touching something that leads to an unexpected or exaggerated outburst) would most likely rule out sociopathy. Structure, and persistent conformity to that structure, is a significant indicator. For sociopaths, it is considered non-essential to the point of irrelevant - a sociopath will be far more flexible and adaptive in the same situation.

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    14. The discrepancy beetween a charming, relaxed, sociable and seemingly hilarious person, who never shows any signs of embarrasment - and an underlying relentless ruthless coldness (as a logical consequence: scarying and never felt before) combined with behaviours percieved as longtime play-acting in rotation with unplugged behaviours without amplitude neither up nor down.
      These were my perceptions before reading anything about sociopathy.

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    15. I must add, that I dont dislike this unplugged, blank state of mind, at least this trait of character doesnt crowd me. I like the charme, charme is a promise, which cant be kept anyway, manipulation range from trivial offense, annoying, arrogance to deception and I like persons, who are able to control this. I struggle most with the ruthless coldness: I'm afraid that means he is NOT my friend?

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    16. However, lets go ahead.

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    17. You can be friends, or if not then amicable acquaintances. There is a chance they don't hold anything against you, that you are not a burden. If so, just go with it. As long as you don't impose and just take your experiences with him at face value, you won't have issues. If he is a sociopath, then outing him would be of no benefit to you or him. It might satisfy a curiousity, but outside of that it is very tricky to maintain a semblence of amicability on your end. Sometimes it really is to your benefit to not look a gift horse in the mouth.

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    18. If you view sociopathy as a conglomeration of actions, then perhaps it can be "cured" with the application of personal discipline and self-control. But the core personality traits which define psychopathy- including callousness, irresponsibility, glibness, charm, a propensity for deception, trouble resisting temptation, impulsivity, fearlessness, an unusually high need for stimulation, low empathy, shamelessness, and anger- represent the ways in which a sociopath's personality will naturally deviate, unless he makes an effort to change these attributes willfully. Similarly, someone who is by nature reserved, anxious, and sensitive will manifest these traits unless he modifies them.

      We are not defined by our personalities if we manage to change them. What makes meaningful change difficult for sociopaths to achieve is that they tend to repeat the same destructive patterns over and over again, due to their particular personality traits, and lack of "normal" response to punishing stimuli.

      On a personal note, I have only managed to change very superficially. I try to exercise self-control, but I slip up chronically. Sometimes I resent the fact that I am supposed to want to change everything about myself, even though I understand that my sociopathic traits cause most of the trouble I experience in life. Then again, they are also responsible for many of my achievements, and constitute a source of strength. Ultimately, I wouldn't change them, or get rid of them, even if I had that option. They are an integral part of who I am, and I have learned to accept, and even embrace this.

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    19. In this case you are not changing or "curing" it. What you are doing is using ruthless pragmatism to resist at certain times. You are pushing against gravity.

      Seeking a "cure" for sociopathy is a fundamentally flawed approach. It should be instead "adapted" to be compatible with society. It's not a disease. It's a state of being. The only real dysfunction that some sociopaths need addressed are their efficacy in successfully functioning with society. Once you get past that hurdle, it is no more an issue than compared to every other non-sociopath.

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  8. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Maya Angelou

    MelissaR

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  9. "Becoming self-aware of who I am (manipulative, ruthless, unempathetic, etc.)" This blog cracks me up.

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  10. That's interesting because I always thought ME's writing was really good, and wondered if it is because she is a sociopath :):) I have a doctorate, and I still can't write. I can do the technical stuff, and my writing has improved, especially from bachelors and masters level, but I definitely express myself better through speaking.

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  11. My writing has improved greatly these past few years. As silly as it seems, I have difficulties in writing emails to people (or generally confronting people). I tend to come off as rude or impolite (some people have replied offensively) so I take longer than usual just to compose the "appropriate email". If I sugarcoat what I say or if I say it "rudely", isn't it still the same message? I guess I don't have enough manners to fake nice when I really just want to be blunt. Anyways, if I need something I usually ask it in person, which is also difficult, but people tend to react more effectively.

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  12. This you, Jamie Lund? By way of deception? Feel like illuminating your "gig" for to the masses yet?

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

    http://abovethelaw.com/2013/05/sources-and-dr-phil-offer-insights-author-of-confessions-of-a-sociopath-who-might-be-this-law-professor/jamie-lund-bio-capture/

    http://rolemodellawyers.blogspot.ca/2013/08/video-and-update-on-m-e-thomas-lawyer.html

    http://rolemodellawyers.blogspot.ca/2013/08/a-lawyer-who-admits-to-practicing-fine.html

    And I most especially, I LOVE THIS PUBLICATION that you authored...Pssst, for testing out "Social Control" and the limits of "Social Norms" online - or whatever you're being PAID TO DO...

    http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=ipt

    But do, continue on with the charade. Really. Quite hilarious. And of course by following each of the brutal fabrication that composes the DSM (whichever confabulated version).

    Point blank:
    Why have you lied about everything here?
    Why are you lying about being a "sociopath"?
    And how long do you plan to keep up with your experiment?
    And why do you have Sock-Puppets, Shills and even posts being authored by PAID people and even yourself at times? Oh - And students too.

    Shakespeare Sonnet 147: "...Who art as black as hell, as dark as night." Well not really. Just those funding you...Oh you're a liar. No doubt. But so is this entire website and your nonsense book.

    We are Anonymous.
    We are Legion.
    We do not forgive.
    We do not forget.
    Expect Us.

    You'll especially enjoy the Legion part. It's directed only at your employers...The universal soulless trash who fell to earth. A play on words. Much like your pseudonym.

    The Gospel of Mark, 5:9, describes the following in the country of the Gadarenes:

    And He (Jesus) asked him (the man), "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many."

    You're just as Anonymous as everyone else. Even by the standards of usury and economic debt you accept. >;{>

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    1. Lund is a dumbass. "word into flesh" kinda dumbass. LOIC it. Shut it down. Government scumbags. Usury slave-masters. Pedophiles. Trash. Eugenicist/Darwin butt-fuckers. All of 'em. Leak it all, now.

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    2. I was wondering where the periodic dosage of trolling had gone.

      Congratulations, you have proven to the world that you know how to use Google. It would be impressive if you were not the 6,000th person to report the same information, again.

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    3. I wonder where I'd fall on the DSM.

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    4. Fear not the trolls.

      So far, I've mostly spotted Uruks in these parts.

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  13. DDoS it. LOIC. Crash it. Destroy it all. Burn down the castle.

    "Remember remember the fifth of November
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
    Should ever be forgot..."

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  14. Very rarely do I ever pass comment on here, but I came across this line and could not help myself... "Maybe one day I will have changed to much that I no longer identify as a sociopath?"... That is by far the best line I have came across in reading these blogs the past couple of years.

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    1. STFU. Liar. Shill. Propagandist. Sock-Puppet. Leak it. Givr'. Hit up with TYLER. Pedo-SCUM.

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    2. Go back to your God of Saturn. EL. See if he will listen to your critique on faux-sociopathy of this crap. Don't you fucking get it? Amazing. The lengths of propaganda here.

      Go for it. Clinton and all. Leak it. Right now.

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    3. PRISM shit-bag. Scum of the earth. Liar, liar pants on mother-fucking FIRE!

      I agree. Tell Gandalf. The shit people have to be abused with here...Unbelievable. Throw it up. ALL of it. Think there's at least 5 Terabytes of Docs.

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    4. Wait, who's Gandalf?

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    5. ME sure does take a lot of abuse on this thing. Wonder if it ever affects her.

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  15. Wow. ME. I relate. It's like I wake up and it all makes perfect sense. And i know how to cognitively implement a situation and apply it. Where as before..... it just never fit..i never saw it for whatever reason. I look a few yrs back...even months back... And i can clearly see the errors of my ways. Growth feels good. Me yr blog has helped me to stop and think more rationally...logically. So yes I believe that a personality disorder gets better as we age. These are all normal traits that are exasperated to some degree. So maybe one day you will not meet criteria. Supposedly I don't meet bpd criteria anymore. But i do fall back. It's part of my personalty. But i try to take the positive traits from the disorder and squash the negative ones.. its daily work that becomes more automatic. Good blog post.

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  16. I don't know much about the 'self' and really had never dwelled on the issue very mch until I read ME's discussion of it in her book, and how she felt like she didn't have a 'self.' I don'tknow if I would put it that way, but to me my 'self' has always felt like something you can't perceive. You only know it's there by other evidence, like dark matter or a black hole. I've always had trouble responding to the type of questions you get in college essays or job interviews, where they want you to describe yourself. I can rattle off some facts about the stuff I like or the things I've done, but I've always felt like I miss the mark with my responses. I feel like they want some kind of statement that is deeper than I am capable of giving.

    As for writing, it has always come naturally to me, but probably because my mother was constantly correcting our grammar. She would even correct us mid-sentence as we spoke. Legal writing is much easier than creative writing to me, because there is a logical structure to it.

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  17. Our beliefs dictate our actions, and actions (repeated) become habit and habit becomes character. If we want to change our character we have to start at the level of belief- otherwise there's a forced, manufactured quality to whatever changes are occurring.

    A belief that every sociopath I know seems to hold central is "Every man (woman) for themselves" - this belief is behind actions the general public would judge to be selfish in a way that implies bad character. But selfishness in and of itself doesn't have to be bad unless every interaction has to be viewed as win/lose (with the sociopath on top of course).

    But here's where things get interesting- what if a sociopath were to perceive it to be in their self interest to engage in win/win interactions as much as possible? That's when a sociopath becomes higher functioning. I think this happens organically if the sociopath is a decent observer of relationship dynamics that exist within his/her environment.

    Obviously crime would be greatly reduced if lower functioning sociopaths could be persuaded that it is in their self interest to act cooperatively most of the time. Perhaps CBT with antisocial individuals would be more effective if it could accept that sociopaths will always be self interested and that others distress will never move them so all guilt producing schema shifts are destined for failure.

    Instead, self interest should be focused on as the motivation for changed behavior. Helping the sociopath see that within every interaction there are actually 2 transactions taking place may help clarify this. There's the "game" the sociopath is trying to win. But there's also the hidden currency of relationship networking that often is overlooked. Obviously it's affected when you screw someone, but the sociopath discounts the social capital gained by repeatedly engaging in a positive manner where the other side feels like they got a good deal too. The more times (both with an individual and also with multiple individuals) this happens and people within a community don't get screwed, the more likely they are to extend trust and/or forgiveness to a sociopath should the seedier side of his/her nature emerge.

    Sociopaths underestimate the value of repeated interactions that are mildly pleasant where nobody wins. Most sociopaths aren't big fans of "connecting" with others so they avoid these sorts of interactions because they are perceived as useless. Paying attention to them as a way to generate social capital is definitely Then again- focusing on this dynamic may simply weaponize the dumb sociopaths who could be contained in a prison setting, so this may not be a valuable use of CBT. But one thing is clear. It will lead to less "blow ups" where the sociopath self sabotages and will greatly enhance all efforts to live a "normal" life.

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    1. You have hit the crux between a low-functioning sociopath and a high-functioning one. Sociopaths such as ME, myself, and thousands of others have found the advantages in avoiding universally negative actions such as crime or violence. Some on the blog have doubted these claims, that in claiming this, we are somehow lying and deceiving people.

      There are reasons for sociopaths to be "productive members of society". Crime is disadvantageous because you lose significant freedoms for a long period of time (ie. imprisonment, for years). Violating these norms, while allowing to provide short-term benefits (eg. theft for money), have long-term costs. Cost-benefit analysis, which is perhaps a de-facto gold standard for making decisions, does not hold this in favor. The same goes for violence, which directly connects to crime, for the sames costs and benefits. Even something such as lying follows the same system - is the benefit of telling a lie outweigh the risk of getting caught by it? These are the rationales used to stay out of trouble.

      ME has spoken of this in greater detail, to what she refers to as having adopted a prosthetic moral compass. Take a look at the post category "moral compass" to hear more. To put it simply, while sociopaths may not feel regret, remorse, or guilt, some have sufficient survival instincts, rational power, and impulse control to keep clean.

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    2. Bob,

      Maybe it would be helpful for the therapeutic community to take a harm reduction approach to "treating" personality disorders. Perhaps helping a low-functioning sociopath who commits crimes and acts of violence transform into a high-functioning sociopath who could avoid these behaviors would be helpful to the individual and the community. I believe it would be a struggle though because the substance abuse treatment community in the U.S. has a hard time accepting harm reduction theory as opposed to Europe where it is widely accepted.

      MelissaR

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    3. Harm reduction doesn't make money. Incarceration and pharmaceuticals do.

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    4. This is the approach I've adopted in my life, even if I wasn't directly aware of it until recently. Cost-benefit easily guides the majority of my decision making. It's not that I avoid criminal acts because of some conviction about their wrongness, but because the consequences for criminal or otherwise antisocial activities appeal to me significanly less. I was amused to see her describe this as a prosthetic; I've always thought of it as a kind of moral crutch. And it extends beyond simply avoiding criminal activities, but to behaving in ways that are generally socially benefical. Being charitable and friendly gets me more than acting like a jerk does. It may not be sincere, but it works.

      The only flaw in behaving this way is that when there don't appear to be significant downside consequences, why choose one action over another? Sometimes the fact that I know intellectually what is considered the appropriate action is enough, sometimes it's not.

      How do you handle these situations?

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    5. You force yourself to analyze it in greater detail in a detached manner and act appropriately. The Seneca quote ME gave on Sunday applies. Real power comes not just from applying it on others, but also yourself. Force it into practice - don't just think it, do it. And do it repeatedly. Any time you have an impulse that is not beneficial, you crush it. Oppress it like a self-dictator. Be ruthless against your own weaknesses. I *am* going to not have a second slice of pie.

      The empathetic version is called discipline. Either way you call it, it is still the same. Both entail forcing what is good for you, by you. Rationalizing it doesn't motivate, it only justifies having to do something different. Motivation to do that difference starts with self-enforcement.

      After a while what us wholly unnatural becomes more comfortable. It won't completely transition to natural - to say otherwise would be a well-intentioned lie - but it does reach a middle ground where you no longer need to bull-whip yourself. You become able to maintain a more controlled state eventually through maintenance. It is a form of self-conditioning.

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    6. "Harm reduction doesn't make money. Incarceration and pharmaceuticals do."

      Good point Bob.

      MelissaR

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    7. But if you are just adhering to some notion of what is right or wrong, it stops being a cost-benefit analysis at that point.

      If you could do something unethical that would benefit you greatly and with little or no negative consequences, under cost-benefit analysis you weigh the pros and the cons and go with the most efficient solution. It seems to me like you are saying that CBA isn't the right tool to use.

      If you find $10,000 on the sidewalk, and no one is around to see you pick it up, what do you do? Pocket it, or return it to the police? You'll see variations of this story on the news every now and then, and it absolutely bewilders me that people don't keep free money that no one knows they found.

      I'm not particularly impulsive or irresponsible, at least not anymore- because I do try to brutally CBA the consequences of my actions. But how to you motivate yourself to act in a socially normative way when there is no reason to?

      Have you ever seen that quote that says "Character is how you behave when no one else is looking?" By that definition, I have really terrible character.

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    8. That is because your CBA is incomplete. Cost factors such as long-term social implications like reputation are important to add to any analysis. It's not just about what you see, but what everyone else sees as well. Don't make the mistake of forgetting that when you are reading someone and using them, they are reading you too. Reputation is built not only by what you do, but also what you don't do. Restraint can be just as visible.

      Using the $10,000 as an example, there are social benefits to handing it into the police. The act, as a goid samaritan, is significant. Similar real life examples have even resulted in media publication of universal praise. The opportunity cost - losing out on $10,000 to personally spend - is something to be weighed against. If you choose to do "the right thing", it is for purely selfish reasons. You would be universally praised, which acts as a siginificant buffer against perceived reproach, leading to long-term benefits an opportunities on a much larger, macro level. You can't be faulted for it. Afterall, how can you possibly be a sociopath if you did that?

      You're making an investment for your non-financial future. It shields you from the extreme hostilities - the substantial risk - of social catastrophe. And that is something money can not buy you after the fact, only before.

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    9. Believe me when I say that I take my reputation very seriously. I am self-employed in a profession in which reputation is critical. It is one of the biggest factors in my CBA. I participate in a lot of activities, including charitable work, that have no immediate benefit to me but may have long-term benefits.

      But I think you have to analyze the costs and benefits realistically. Is a judge sentencing me going to care about a completely unrelated act of good samaritianism? Not likely. Is someone I've toyed with going to forgive me, just because I "did the right thing" with found money? Also unlikely. I just don't think you can chase the CBA down an infinite rabbit hole of statistically improbable maybes. If you are going to engage in CBA, sometimes the socially normative act is going to lose out.

      A system in which the socially normative act always prevails because "what if" it benefits you in the long term seems to me like self-delusion in which you just pretend to be doing CBA.

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    10. That's not the investment. The investment is *general* reputation. It's not a get out of jail free card. As for $10,000 off the street, there are risks to life and limb due to its origination. People simply don't leave money out there with good intentions.

      Be careful when you expand the data to fit your model. That's is polar opposite to how it works - your model of how you should act needs to fit the observable data, not the other way around. This isn't about ego, it's about how significant decisions are made. You can either spend the money for material gain, or reputational/social. Since you are limited with the material choices - you can not spend $10,000 cash as is without legal questions or ramifications, unless the cash is trickle-spent at street level - there are benefits to "spending" it elsewhere.

      Survival needs to trump luxury, or else you put yourself in unnecessary additional risk of persecution. Since the opposite of persecution can be obtained with handing it in, you are realistically benefiting in a non-material fashion. And, by the way, that one act - with its police report and testimony by police - goes towards character as ammunition in dispelling a monstrous "psychopathic" portrayal from the plaintiff. It isn't a mulligan, but it is invaluable even if you disregard all of the social benefits by other people around you who hear of the act. It carries its own weight that can not be bought. It is irrefutable in its truth, as altruism for selfish purposes. A selfishness that can never be proven either in the legal courts or the court of public opinion, because the act grants an undeniable financial loss to you which "only a better man could give up".

      Which isn't really a big loss for you, since you haven't spent a dime of your own money for it.

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    11. Well, the money was just an illustration, and perhaps not the best one for the point I was trying to make. Can you conceive of any situation in which the socio-normative act loses in a CBA?

      If your general answer is that social normativity is the well-trod path of least resistance, I totally agree. But sometimes (and more-so in interpersonal relationships than criminal/legal contexts) the consequences just don't matter, or at least I can't bring myself to care. What's the worst that could happen, I alienate someone? As if that hasn't happened a dozen times before.

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    12. In that case, then it depends on your evaluation on the importance of staying in favor with someone. Just remember that when you turn someone into an enemy out of ambivalence, it has a collateral effect. People talk, and what they talk far more about is who they hate than who they like. People aren't inanimate objects. Their sapient autonomy allows them to act outside of your zone of control independent of you.

      If you're going to blow someone off, do it politely. Don't stack the deck against you. You'll just be manufacturing ammunition to be used against yourself. If it is too much effort to get them to leave liking you, then just be sure they leave indifferent. That way they can't talk behind your back where you can't prevent it.

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  18. "I wonder what most sociopaths would look like if the world's reaction to us were more positive."
    I wonder what the world would react like if sociopaths behaved in ways less harmful to others.

    I mean come on. No ill will towards sociopaths from me, but it's hardly as if all they do is to innocently react to the world being mean and negative towards them.

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    1. Not all sociopaths are made equal. Treating them all with equal hate is more convenient for the psyche while simultaneously ignoring the fact that every individual is different and should be treated differently. Is a violent, criminal sociopath the same as a successful one who has committed no crimes or violence? Generalized profiling is a measure of psychological convenience - a mental trap that turns whole masses into objects. It anaesthetizes conscience and responsibility by turning people into inflexible categories. To accept otherwise would take too much moral effort.

      Which is saying something, coming from someone with a prosthetic conscience. However, maybe it is because of this that it is easy to see societal fraud.

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    2. I agree with you. Not all sociopaths are the same and I'm not suggesting any kind of generalization beyond what ME has already done here. "The world" and "sociopaths" seem to have been written as two separate camps in that sentence.

      From reading the blog it seems to me the behavior comes first, and the label after. ME herself has been a bit of a jerk to a lot of people. Sure, no lives were lost and maybe no one was even badly injured, but she's cheated, lied, conned, manipulated and hurt people in a number of ways. It's her tendency to not give a shit about any of that that makes her call herself a sociopath. In a nutshell. From her point of view it may not matter, but to those on the receiving end of her behavior it's hurtful and harmful. If anyone reacted negatively to her, it wasn't because they thought she was a sociopath, it was because they were harmed by her.

      The label carries a stigma with it, yes. But it's not like all the sociopaths of the world are born knowing they're under that label. Most of them seem to figure it out much later. So the "world's reaction" isn't to the label of sociopath, but to the way some people behave. Yes, once the label is applied to someone, they'll probably be exposed to some unfair judgement because it is mostly a negative label and poorly understood till now. It's not like THAT negative judgement then is what makes them act the way they do though. The label comes much later.

      So to say that she wonders what most sociopaths would look like if the world's reaction to them were more positive is like saying the world is negative to sociopaths for no reason. If you treat the world poorly, the world isn't obligated to be positive towards you. How or why is anyone supposed to react positively to poor treatment?

      I most certainly don't think all people are the same. Not sociopaths, not non-sociopaths. Jerks, however, will be disliked.

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    3. So if sociopaths abusing people is unacceptable, how are people abusing sociopaths being acceptable? That is a fallacy that justifies hate. There is no privilege in having it only work one way. Hate is as fair as a bomb exploding.

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    4. How Do people abuse sociopaths?

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    5. ...and what do want normotypicals to change?

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    6. To not be hypocrits and follow the same standards they impose on others. By not doing that, they are making themselves special and above their own demands. "You must be fair, but I don't have to." It doesn't work that way.

      I am continually amazed at the obliviousness in hypocracy by the masses. At least when a sociopath does it, they know they are lying about it in the first place.

      To address your other question, sociopaths are not robots. They dislike being abused just as much as you do. The difference is the emotional response inside.

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    7. I would not say that the sociopath is generally hated. Sure, every empath hurts (accidentally or loftily) the feeling of other empaths (or socio) at least once a day. Some hit back immediately, others wait and see because they give you some credit.
      It might be hard for the socio to give the empath some credit, if he lumps the empath together with all the other "socio-haters", which seemingly feel superiour. This Problem also exist at workplaces, even different "hierarchies" work together.
      These problems can be faced not only by respect, politness and so on, but also by sympathy, warmness, attachement and so forth. Since the socio does not have receptors (?), to compensate you should be treated with other sorts of devotion?!

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. I mean what would you demand of normotypicals??

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