Friday, March 7, 2014

Sociopathy as treatment?

From a reader:

As a 'neurotypical', I found your book both fascinating and inspiring. In fact, it may have been life-saving, if that description does not sound too melodramatic. 

I was diagnosed with an eating disorder (EDNOS) about three years ago, and the disordered habits in turn triggered a very self-destructive form of depression. That depression came with its own score of disordered behaviors, steadily growing into masochism. I was, essentially, drowning myself in emotion. I lost sight of what was important for me and my life, and instead spent my energies either helping others or antagonizing them until they used me as an emotional punching bag.

And then I came across your blog, and the perspective you presented captured my attention. It was the opposite of where I was mentally, and thus intrigued me as I struggled to imagine what it would be like to be a sociopath. Several weeks later, I hit rock-bottom in all aspects of my life. I was either half starved or full to bursting, suffered frequent panic attacks, and couldn't find the strength or motivation to complete my classwork. For a period of about two weeks I was incapable of anything that wasn't self-destructive, and I was in a constant emotional state of pain and guilt.

When your book came out I purchased it immediately. I latched on to the personal perspective and tried to imitate it, just to see if I could get relief from my own situation long enough to recover my grades. It slid on like a second skin, and I couldn't shake it. I did not magically become a sociopath, of course; but I do think something in my subconscious clung to the behaviors I had tried to imitate. For a period of about a month I lost all of my programed emotional responses. I no longer felt pangs of empathy, nor could I consciously recreate those feelings. All my self-destruction evaporated as I was suddenly able to see how completely idiotic such behaviors were, even as coping mechanisms or addictions. I no longer had intense emotional reactions to food, and I no longer cared empathetically for my friends or family. In essence I became a creature of complete selfishness. Boredom was my arch-enemy, for I had no emotional issues to occupy my thoughts (except anger; interestingly, I felt anger with a bright passion I hadn't ever felt before), so I launched myself into projects of my own creation. I wanted to see what I could do. I found I had huge influence over the emotional states of the people around me, and I convinced my teachers to extend due dates and give me opportunities to gain back the points I'd missed with very little effort. I enjoyed pushing people and watching their reactions with a fascinated sort of distance. Of course, I also lost the love of a few friends, simply because I didn't have the motivation to sustain a relationship if it wasn't giving me anything. But the gains I made were outstanding. I could eat normally and was able to lose weight healthily. I participated in sports without having fainting spells. 

After my exams were over, I slowly fell out of that state and returned to a pre-eating disorder, pre-depression mentality, with a much healthier body and mind. And I began to wonder if sociopathy is not a programmed survival mechanism. Perhaps we all have the capacity to abandon empathy and embrace an a-moralistic and self-centered world view. Perhaps it is an adaptation which allows those who do not have the luxury of being pro-social to survive. Of course, I do not pretend to have become sociopathic. But I was able to step into a similar pattern of thinking and behavior which likely saved my life. It certainly improved it. Maybe the sociopathic mind is designed to surmount obstacles the empathetic mind cannot. 

Either way, you have given me a new perspective and a very good book, and I thank you!

This was a particularly interesting email for me to receive because one of my friends also has an eating disorder and found it to be very empowering, which is not the typical response that most people have to the book. I wonder if there are other disorders or issues that people have that would benefit from trying to put themselves more in the sociopathic mindset, at least temporarily?


  1. Anyone being exploited sure can find lots of answers in studying psychopaths. In todays world most traditional advice from old parents/school etc are worthless. Meek poor folks are starting to face the same problems on the streets as arise in prison if being too kind. Zodiac sign Scorprio can also teach many valuable lessons when it comes to the art of not being transformed into a mark. "-What´s in it for me?"

    1. There is a time and place for everything.
      Funny how you mention the archetype of Scorpio which is synonymous with sociopathic tendencies.
      What one must remember though the adaptation of sociopathic characteristics as a way of life, must be shed as well once outlived its purpose.

    2. I am a gemini and a sociopath. This is why I doont believe in horoscopes

  2. There's a difference between "empathy" and self-pity.
    The letter writer is describing a self-pitying "woe-is-me state."
    She set this mindset aside, temporarily and reaped social
    rewards. She had "youth" and sufficent physical attraction on her
    There IS a point of no return. Suppose she had continued on this
    self abusive track for decades? Perminate bodily damages would
    have occured. She might have developed Adult Onset Diabetus,
    which is a SYSTEMIC disease. The breath begins to smell, ALL
    bodily functions are affected.
    If a person takes out their agression against their own body, it
    withers away. Then the body ALWAYS emits odor no mater what
    the hygeine habits. Good-bye carrer prospects. Good-bye love
    and marriage prospects. Hello social alienation, perpetual misery
    and decay! That's what a Zombie is, insn't it?

  3. I'm a non and I've been helped with the content on your blog. I was diagnosed with BPD and things would get to me, I valued people way too damn much, and I saw that I could train my mind into a different perspective. I didn't go all out like the girl that wrote to you, but just enough that apparently since I began, they got rid of the BPD diagnosis. I still have the strong emotions, I'm just asymptomatic. It's a survival mechanism that works, albeit not the friendliest nor prettiest of them.

  4. For the average neurotic, therapy is a process where the patient is encouraged to shed an overdeveloped conscience. So many compulsions and inaccurate perceptions of reality are grounded in this. The best thing I've ever heard from a therapist (said to my ex husband)- was "Take the word "should" out of your vocabulary. You can either do something or not - there is no "should". It helped him to see that no one was forcing him to live a life that he was miserable in. It strikes me as the sort of advice a sociopath would give. It had a remarkably clarifying effect.

    1. I was talking to a therapist about how I did something antisocial and was having recurrent regretful thoughts about it. It was unacceptable - I wanted to get stuff done, which requires concentration. I then reflected that it was inconceivable I'd make amends (I'd be risking incareration), so I might as well drop it completely.

      The therapist said this was me being shameless and having no conscience. But as I saw it, if I learn from the mistake, what else is there to do now, given that I have no intention to make amends? How long is one supposed to flagellate oneself? If it makes sense to do that for a minute, it makes sense to do that the rest of my life doing that - so it isn't logical to spend a moment on guilt. Learning, making amends - that's reasonabl - allocate some time to it. Flagellation and self hatred should get 0% of my time, 0% of your time, etc.

    2. Remorse for what you did is a form of emotional self-flaggelation. The fact that you felt it means you felt a kind of shame (hence not shameless). The fact that it eventually ended is natural - it fades normally, at varying rates.

      By your account alone, you saw a poor therapist. One of the major rules in therapy is never to judge the patient, only assess. In this, they made it personal. You should see another therapist.

  5. M.E. excellent post. The eating disorder I can relate with which is. ENDOS. which stands for (Eating disorder not otherwise specified.) A year of mechanical eating does stabilize the disorder quite nicely. Its basically an in-between diagnose. Not full blown to be diagnosed, but destructive enough to yourself nonetheless. This type of eating disorder goes unrecognized in the publics eye a lot. And many have it. So yes, having a sociopathic mindset for the over-empathetic like this reader is of value and key. Or like Dr. Ginger mentioned in a previous post (sounds more like disordered empathy for herself). Her priorities just fell out of line - and she became stuck in a self-destructiveness eating pattern cycle of binge/starve. Also with the high elevation of others - then splitting off to the other side of the coin.. the devaluing others. (Common theme for bpd’s.)
    The reader in this article displayed a portrait of self-care that worked well for her after reading your book, and she gained her self-identity back on target. She’s steadfast and gaining it back in strides-- getting back on the straddle of the horse, balancing her momentum of emotional stability. She may have stumbled, but she took the time to evaluate what was wrong with her thinking pattern and actions that manifested in a nasty eating disorder.

  6. It is interesting to see it practically used as a counter-weight. Adopting a more "sociopathic" way of thinking is actually a form of self-induced therapy, in this case CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Of course the key difference in this case is "self-induced", since CBT is typically performed by a third-party therapist.

  7. It is not; "you are and you are not," it is; "you are and who you become." I would guess the base of the definition you is still there, but what is this base but not something that can change under any circumstance? Psychological trauma, neurological trauma, permanent hormonal changes, and whoopsie, you are another person. Then who are YOU really but not a product by a set of variables that can change?

  8. "Our consciousness contains all these roles and more,
    the hero and the lover, the hermit, the dictator, the wise woman and the fool." Jack Cornfield

    Consciousness is continually shifting and changing. We will all be in a completely different place in 10, 20 years. The good news is we have choices along the way.

    Congratulations to this young woman for being wise and addressing her issues in a way that was helpful to her.

    1. I agree.
      As M.E once posted, "being callous and unemotional is what allows a kid to function if he has parents with BPD, NPD or ASPD or psychopathy."
      Sociopathy as a coping mechanism when faced with certain circumstances.
      One should be aware of what is lacking, what doesn't work, and adopt new mentalities and mindsets that more effectively suits there situation.

    2. With children it's not a coping mechanism, it's what they are learning from the parent. It's one ASPD creating another.


  9. I think all this example shows is that we have more choices and more control than we realize.


  10. (Shitty opinion goes here)

    1. (Condescending and disrespectful reply goes here)

      -- Queue

    2. (sarcastic glare followed by loud belch)

  11. "being callous and unemotional is what allows a kid to function if he has parents with BPD, NPD or ASPD or psychopathy."

    An endless cycle of traumagenic epiphanies. A biological cybernetic endeavour. As the number grows nothing else but eusocial madness can occur. We are blind, nonetheless we go forward, as gods terramorphing the earth, unbeknown by our predecessors.

  12. I love this article. I am an empath that was totally driven to self-destruction by two sociopaths. Its been two years and I love to troll this site. I want to be one of you so badly. The relief would be amazing. I envy your shallowness and feelings of remorselessness.
    When I pretend to act like a sociopath I get such a high. I love feeling powerful instead of powerless. The "stare" is a great trick.
    I'm tired of being someone's tool. It's time for me to be on top.
    Thank you Socios for teaching me how to be a bitch.

    1. You are more sick than socios, baby. You are going in a very, very dangerous way. Stupid as you are, I just can say that you deserve all this evil coming through you, bitch.

  13. So what? The fat one can not stop eating? Lol

  14. This sounds like a period of emotional numbness. Anyone that has taken a basic psychology of personality class knows that this can, and often does occur. Not to mention there is also the fact that this does not make one a sociopath, it merely makes them an empath that has been so emotionally harmed that their brain has put in place some of the strongest defenses an empath can have.




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