A reader engages in self-introspection:
I grew up with an overwhelming sense of being separate from other people. It’s still something I feel to this day. I studied psychological conditions from the time I was a teenager in an attempt to put a label on what made me not like everybody else. I always dismissed antisocial personality disorder because I’ve never done anything criminal, I don’t torture animals (in fact I generally like them), and I’m definitely not promiscuous. In fact, most of the time I can’t be bothered enough with other people to get into anything that leads to a romantic or sexual situation.
For a long time I thought I must have Asperger’s. My brother had it, so I figured I must as well, and I’d somehow stayed below the radar. But that wasn’t right because unlike my brother who has difficulty relating to other people and getting them to trust him, I’ve always been good at gaging other people’s emotions and figuring out what makes them tick. Whenever I take emotional quotient tests I score at the far end of the bell curve. So it’s not that I don’t see other people’s emotions, it’s just that most of the time I think they’re ridiculously stupid.
I can’t stand interpersonal emotional drama because most of the time it’s highly avoidable, and the results are always so predictable. I just don’t have the patience for it. I also detest social niceties and only use them when I have to, to put others at ease. I’ve been called manipulative my whole life by my mother. I guess I am. As a child I used to practice saying things to people and predicting exactly what their response would be, just to see if I could get it right. I usually did. It was a game. Say or do A and watch people react with B. I’d deliberately say something to plant an idea in my friends’ heads, and watch them carry it out. I still do both things. It’s pretty automatic now. I also have a knack for becoming a different person for different people based on their likes, dislikes, personality etc. Whatever their personality is I mimic and reflect it back at them.
Sometimes this gets me into trouble. Most recently I chased someone for almost six months until they liked me back. As soon as I had them I completely lost interest. No longer felt any attraction. In fact they repulsed me, everything about them irritated me. When they finally called me out on my distance and lack of desire for a meaningful relationship I was so irritated by the fact that they’d actually called me out on my behavior. I absolutely hate it when people see through my outer nice girl persona. It’s probably the thing that makes me the angriest. So I called it off. It just takes so much energy. And if I’m honest, I’m sometimes disturbed by my lack of a sense of self. No baseline personality, beliefs, dislikes, likes etc that I can discern. No ability to truly believe in anything.
My emotions have always felt cold and somewhat muted. I feel like I must have them. I get happy, I get sad, I get annoyed etc. But I feel like my responses are so much less powerful than everybody else’s. I used to think that everybody must be faking their exaggerated emotional responses to things. Part of me still thinks they must be. I just can’t fathom being that emotionally engaged in something that doesn’t directly affect me. In high school, when the tsunami happened in Thailand I remember shocking a friend. She was going on about how sad it was, and without thinking I told her that while I could see that it was a sad event, I personally didn’t really care because it had absolutely no bearing on my day to day existence. Maybe I’m just pragmatic, but I’ve never felt particularly moved by distant tragedy. But I am fascinated by it. I like watching traumatic situations unfold. I don’t know why I just do.
But I do care about certain people. Namely immediate family with the exception of my father who is useful insomuch as he provides financial security. If my mother and siblings died I’d be devastated. They’re the only people who raise that sort of emotional response in me. Friends and acquaintances I’ve dropped without problem. I’ve deliberately played people against each other, though not with the intention of hurting them. I’ve actively tried to sabotage work relationships between people I don’t like. And I have actively fantasized about killing people who cross me. I wouldn’t go through with it though. I also try to live by the rule of do unto others as you would have done unto you. I think it’s a good one for judging what you should and shouldn’t do to people. But I think these are things that all people do. I think I just do them with more self-awareness. Whether that’s a byproduct of intelligence or emotional detachment I couldn’t say.
I’m still not convinced I’m a sociopath. I always just chalked my issues up to a somewhat dysfunctional upbringing stunting my emotional development. Maybe that is a sociopath though. But how could I be a sociopath and be able to have strong emotional attachments to my family?