Sunday, March 30, 2014

Conned

A reader recently suggested a reason why people are so upset to learn that someone they know is a sociopath: "The normal person figures out they have been dealing with a sociopath only after they have been screwed and they see that the person they thought they were dealing with never existed. The distaste is both for the deception and also recognition that they were "had"- never pleasant."

It reminded me of this Radio Lab episode "What's Left When You're Right," which starts off with a segment on the game show Golden Balls. The end segment to each episode ends with a classic game theory prisoner's dilemma. So the deal is that if they both choose split, they split the money. If one chooses steal, the other split, the person who steals gets the money. If they both choose steal, no one gets the money. This clip is one of the craziest versions of it:



To me, this seems like an easy choice. I would split, because unlike most prisoner's dilemmas where it is much worse to cooperate/split when the other person defects/steals (20 years in prison for you) than to both defect/steal (10 years in prison for both of you), you end up with nothing if both of you split. The game show gets to keep its money. To me, that seems like the bigger waste. I would rather ensure that someone besides the show got the money, even if it meant giving it all to another person. And I don't actually get upset when someone gets one over on me. People manipulate me all of the time. I've been led into some pretty terrible situations (seen or heard a couple of my worst media appearances?), been conned, cheated, or whatever, but it doesn't really bother me. If anything, I'm often impressed, or at least try to learn something from the situation. (Although if it was less of a one time thing and more of a continuing power struggle, I'd probably try to figure out some way to hit them back).

I don't think most people think this way, in fact the Radio Lab episode tries to explain why so many people choose split (apart from the obvious greed) by interviewing previous contestants. The interviewees seemed to suggest that their main motivation in stealing was to avoid the feeling of being conned, tricked, or otherwise taken advantage of.

The problem with that is extreme efforts to avoid being "conned" often end up hurting yourself and others. The whole Cold War was basically built on this fear. From a New Yorker review of a book about nuclear almost disasters, "Nukes of Hazard":

On  January 25, 1995, at 9:28 a.m. Moscow time, an aide handed a briefcase to Boris Yeltsin, the President of Russia. A small light near the handle was on, and inside was a screen displaying information indicating that a missile had been launched four minutes earlier from somewhere in the vicinity of the Norwegian Sea, and that it appeared to be headed toward Moscow. Below the screen was a row of buttons. This was the Russian “nuclear football.” By pressing the buttons, Yeltsin could launch an immediate nuclear strike against targets around the world. Russian nuclear missiles, submarines, and bombers were on full alert. Yeltsin had forty-seven hundred nuclear warheads ready to go.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Mikhail Kolesnikov, had a football, too, and he was monitoring the flight of the missile. Radar showed that stages of the rocket were falling away as it ascended, which suggested that it was an intermediate-range missile similar to the Pershing II, the missile deployed by nato across Western Europe. The launch site was also in the most likely corridor for an attack on Moscow by American submarines. Kolesnikov was put on a hot line with Yeltsin, whose prerogative it was to launch a nuclear response. Yeltsin had less than six minutes to make a decision.

The Cold War had been over for four years. Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned on December 25, 1991, and had handed over the football and the launch codes to Yeltsin. The next day, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence. By 1995, though, Yeltsin’s popularity in the West was in decline; there was tension over plans to expand nato; and Russia was bogged down in a war in Chechnya. In the context of nuclear war, these were minor troubles, but there was also the fact, very much alive in Russian memory, that seven and a half years earlier, in May, 1987, a slightly kooky eighteen-year-old German named Mathias Rust had flown a rented Cessna, an airplane about the size of a Piper Cub, from Helsinki to Moscow and landed it a hundred yards from Red Square. The humiliation had led to a mini-purge of the air-defense leadership. Those people did not want to get burned twice.

After tracking the flight for several minutes, the Russians concluded that its trajectory would not take the missile into Russian territory. The briefcases were closed. It turned out that Yeltsin and his generals had been watching a weather rocket launched from Norway to study the aurora borealis. Peter Pry, who reported the story in his book “War Scare” (1999), called it “the single most dangerous moment of the nuclear missile age.” Whether it was the most dangerous moment or not, the weather-rocket scare was one of hundreds of incidents after 1945 when accident, miscommunication, human error, mechanical malfunction, or some combination of glitches nearly resulted in the detonation of nuclear weapons. 

Finally, Radio Lab discusses a contestant who comes up with a strategy that successfully avoids people's fear of being conned:



So I guess this explains why the people I've told myself about my diagnosis take it drastically better than the people that hear it from other sources? They feel like I've conned them? Here's the trick, though. You start indiscriminately telling people you're a sociopath and see if they still treat you well. 

30 comments:

  1. "The single most dangerous moment of the cold war," was
    when sociopath J.F.K. almost blundered into WWIII, because of
    numerous attempts to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
    Kennedy was in hock to his mafiaso masters, who wanted Cuba
    back. They installed him in power by helping him steal the 1960
    presidental election.
    Sociopaths have been at the high eleshalon of power throughout
    American history. They are the "kingmakers" (Mafasio kingpins.)
    And the "king destroyers" ("Lone," three-named, assassins.)
    Sociopaths make the world go around.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Speaking of prisoners using game theory, I got the book "Games Prisoners Play" by M. Kaminski a couple of days ago. It's about when the author got sent to a Soviet prison in the 80's and how the inmates use game theory to make decisions. I've only skimmed it but it looks pretty good.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i knew the girl wa gonna do that
    i wonder if she got police protection
    and if the guy is (was) in a depression

    2nd clip rocks

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've told two people through various means and both shunned me, so that's not really an option for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've told one person and he treats me like he always has. When it comes to other people I let them figure it out on their own and see if they go running for the hills. Its funnier that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do they figure it out?

      Delete
    2. Different ways one friend said she googled it and it described me perfectly. Other people just put two and two together. Some people never figure out which is kinda funny. Etcetera etcetera.

      Delete
    3. What kind of behaviors do you display though that leads them to figure it out?

      Delete
  6. I'm 'treading carefully' with my unique friend. I have gotten my friend back, almost as much as was done to me. Although I'm not a sociopath, she knows I'm tough too (she's told me so.) I think that's why she has some respect for me. We're both intelligent and strong. However, I won't play like that anymore, games over for me.We have to find a new way to work our relationship if it's going to continue. We both know that, and we both work hard at improving ourselves, so we'll see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, the older I get the more I realize that life is just too short to contend with people who would treat me badly or effect me negatively. Where as when I was younger I would struggle to "work it out" or thought that relationships were a "work in progress", I now realize I can gracefully say good-bye and return to being happy more quickly. While I have a deep belief in reincarnation, we have more than one lifetime "here", the time we have in each incarnation is precious, I'm not going to spend it unhappy and struggling with others that behave badly.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    2. I agree with that. Life is short and it's o.k. to end relationships that are painful, and continue and seek relationships that are nurturing and mutually respectful. ... I'm learning how to let go and say good-bye. It's o.k. Something even better will fill it's place.

      Delete
    3. MelissaR,

      I have read some of your posts, and you really seem like a very kind person. But if you believe life is too short and that you have no time to deal with people who behave badly, what are you doing on a sociopath’s site? It does not look like you are trying to understand how to deal with people with the condition. You are rejecting them and advising others to do the same. M.E. had the guts to tell the world what it is like to be a sociopath (up to a point), knowing full well “it ain’t pretty”. Her book is helping both sociopaths and normal people, myself included. Yes sociopaths are scary, and they hurt “normal” people. In particular (and unfortunately) they usually pick the nicest, most giving, most energetic people... Perhaps you can relate to this more than you’d like.

      My angle is that they are less frightening if you take the time to understand them and don’t get freaked out by the fact that they cannot reciprocate feelings the way normal people are used to. They reciprocate using their intellect and on their own time. They can bring a new perspective, new energy, even a new “life time” as you call it (without necessarily changing who you are at your core) if you take the time to tame them (and be tamed by them, since they will invariably pick you, not the other way round).

      What is your angle?

      OldAndWise

      Delete
    4. OldAndWise,

      How come you think I have an angle?

      MelissaR

      Delete
    5. OldAndWise,
      I'm trying to understand how to deal with this condition.I recognize you use your intellect and your own timing. I respect that. My concern is do I risk being mistreated again. I don't think I should or I will, but my friend and I did have a bond and share several interests. I guess I proceed cautiously, and will know if it won't work.(my intuition is good.) Any advice? You say ME's book helped you. Are you interested in having relationships with empaths without causing a lot of damage, or am I very nieve and hopeless to be thinking like this?

      Delete
    6. MelissaR,

      What I am asking is what are your reasons for participating on this site? Not that you shouldn't. I think it is great that people from so many different walks of life and different values can meet here.

      But what do You get out of it?

      OldAndWise

      Delete
    7. OldAndWise,

      I like learning and reading about many subjects. I read two local newspapers every day and many others online.

      MelissaR

      Delete
    8. @Anon814PM

      Unfortunately, I cannot give you any answers, just advice, and the advice can only be here to help you think what is best for you and your circumstances.

      If you are talking about this relationship with your friend being your primary relationship, I would advise against it. I believe you need other very resilient emotional connections outside of your relationship with a sociopath to keep you grounded.

      You said you have already been hurt, and i think you mean by your current friend. Chances are you will again be hurt. Even if your friend has made up his mind not to hurt you again, think of it as a recovering alcoholic. You don't know for sure s/he will never have a drink again. It can be a daily struggle for them.

      More to the point, though. What is your friend doing with you? What is s/he gaining from being with you? Think outside of the emotional gain. That is not why s/he is here. Think of physical, social, material, professional, intellectual gains. S/he will stay with you for those reasons. If none of those reasons exists, s/he may be there just to play with you and will eventually hurt you. Be very careful, this type of hurt can put you in a psychiatric hospital.

      In terms of trusting your instincts, that is where it gets really difficult and confusing. You have to listen to your friend with your brain, not with your heart. It feels unnatural. They are the best at making you feel all kinds of emotions. They thrive on that, and it can be addicting for you. Do not underestimate the danger, and do not become complacent.

      And finally, if you have come to this site, you are not that naive. Use your intellect to understand your friend.

      Hopefully you will find this helpful. Good luck.

      OldAndWise

      Delete
    9. @ OldAndWise

      "They reciprocate using their intellect and on their own time. They can bring a new perspective, new energy. . ."

      In my experience, they never reciprocate, they are shameless takers. I agree they occasionally bring a new perspective but never new energy. They drain energy out of people and situations but I have yet to see them refuel the tank.

      Delete
    10. Very helpful OldAndWise. Thanks for your honesty.
      814

      Delete
  7. Trust everyone to be however they are, and rely on the fact that they will always do what they do.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The problem is not your diagnosis - or any label that you care to give yourself - the problem is your behavior. In general, people will treat you as well or as poorly as you treat them.

    I don't believe that ME is not bothered about being conned. Take the said car-crash media appearance: how can a person who professes to enjoy power be unperturbed by being presented as a complete tit? I don't buy it. That she walked herself into such a fiasco makes me doubt her sociopathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You people clearly have some unrealistic idea of what a sociopath actually is.

      Sure, they are narcissists, then why do you take them seriously?

      Delete
    2. I think you don't understand that like criminals, only the stupid ones get caught or reveal themselves. Understanding these brain damaged nuts is the key to understanding why the world works the way it does.

      P.S. at the very least, on a personal level, I take them seriously because they are a colossal waste of time and resources which could have been spent elsewhere.

      -Vance

      Delete
    3. The point is that they are delusional.

      And so are you, when you take their fantasies seriously.

      Delete
  9. It is called LYING. Friends don't like being lied to. I will take an honest wolf, over a lying sheep, any day.

    Bipolar Emapth

    ReplyDelete
  10. Based on how the game is set up, to me it seemed obvious what he was doing in the second video, and I may have even thought of doing it myself. It would ensure I win money instead of gambling, and taking a chance that the other would try to trick me like in the first video. The first video really was great though :):) Always love when a woman screws a man over :D:D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fuck you cunt.

      Delete
    2. She only proved herself to be a piece of garbage. I wouldn't call what she did to be anything along the lines of a proper screw over. I liked the second video though.

      Delete
  11. Wow, it's funny how over the years you've gone from a carefully scripted rationalist advocating your many benefits to society, to these current posts revealing little glimpses into how truly delusional and dangerous you really are. It always happens, I mean eventually you get so full of yourself that you let your guard down and the ones paying attention figure it out

    The point is this. You're defective. You have a form of brain damage. Some day perhaps we will be able to treat people like you, but until then, you should be labeled in a database and restricted from certain jobs and activities just like a child molester. (that's how it should be, in a perfect world)

    -Vance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only the Paranoid SurviveOctober 8, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      "you should be labeled in a database and restricted from certain jobs and activities just like a child molester."

      What a wonderful idea. Let's diminish individual rights and give more power to an authoritarian government filled with people like you who can't be trusted.

      Delete

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