Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Home School a Sociopath

From a reader (and let's play a game where we guess what gender the sociopathic reader is then I tell you at the end):


First, I do want to express my sincere appreciation for your having written your book.  There are so many expressions of your perspective that absolutely take my breath away with their accuracy.  I really thought I was the only one who thought the same things.

Let me start by saying that I am a miserably bad sociopath.  I have all the intellect, the lack of emotion, the ruthlessness, the egoism and swagger, the charm, the wit, the lack of absolute moral code, etc.  I rate fairly high but not the highest on every sociopath "test" I've taken so far, mostly because many tests unfairly include causing harm to others a requisite.  However, I often fail when it comes to using these advantages in the workplace or in my personal life.  When I do succeed (and I definitely have), it's often due more to raw talent and intelligence than any utilization of my skill set.

You see, for a long time, I was (and still am in some ways) completely and unfairly crippled by the fact that I was home schooled from 4th through 7th grade.  Being thrown into the lion's den of junior high school with no context or social capabilities would be bad enough for an empath, but is obviously a nightmare for someone like me.  To have those years back and be able to observe and participate in the most essential social development years would be invaluable to me.

As a result of this, I stumbled my way through my teen years, always a few degrees off kilter from everyone else and unable to understand that they most decidedly did not think or feel like me.  In fact, not even knowing there was any other way to think or feel.  I would often enter social situations and groups, dazzling them with the native charm but fairly quickly become the most hated member of the circle without ever knowing why.  They just knew somehow that I was not like them, that I didn't relate to anything they were saying or feeling.

This background has turned me into a different sort of sociopath, I think.  I have developed an abhorrence for harming others; you see, everyone I could harm during my social development years was someone essential to my survival or personal enjoyment.  This left me completely defenseless when dumped unceremoniously into the public world.  Also as a result of this, I've probably also suffered more harm than they typical sociopath might, as i developed an extreme hesitation to strike back and have typically been utterly naive to possible threats to my person.

I could go on, but you're no stranger to the aspects of wearing this strange mantle.  Suffice it to say that, although it's rather late, I'm glad to finally feel free to know and be who I am. 



  1. One does not have to have an intellect to be a socio, many are daft. And charm & wit are related to "white collar" specimens, many blue collar-types cannot play that game. But they are no less socios than the mentioned posh type.

  2. It's true. Empath or Sociopath, you have to have consistent social
    interplay to know how to put your best foot forward, and relate to people
    in the most positive way possible. You cannot learn genuine life experience
    from a textbook. You have to have REAL interaction with your fellow Human Beings. Otherwise, you are apprehensive and ackward, and
    become the butt of all jokes.
    You NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression. People probe for weaknesses they can exploit. The marginalization and abuse
    can get so great that mass murder can result. Because of social ignorance, you can't board the escalator that everyone MUST board to
    even have an elemental quality of life.
    If you're agressive and anti-social you end up having a confrontation
    with a dangerous person and get killed. If you're timerous and asocial,
    you are dependant on "caretakers" who cannot be around forever. You
    will end up like a stray dog. What will ultimately happen to you, is to
    terrifying to contemplate.

  3. My family lived in a European country where I didn't speak the language during some of my prime developmental years (age 7-10.) I went to an English language school and was able to interact with classmates, but the rest of the time I was essentially cut off from communicating with anyone outside of my family.

    When we moved back to the US when I was 10, it took me several years to figure out how to appropriately interact with other kids. I think it was a learning experience in how to adapt my personality to other people. And since we moved to a new state every few years for my whole life, I had to learn how to adapt to every new locale. It is a pattern that seems overlaid on my life as an adult.

    1. I've long wondered about the way that home schooling can play out in the long run - for all sorts of kids. There's a fine line between nurturing them and setting them up for failure because they simply don't understand the nuances of the world at large.

      As the first child of parents who emigrated from Eastern Europe shortly before I was born, I've long wondered to what degree that sense of "being different" came from living in one culture at home (language and all) and another when I went out the front door versus something else (biology?).

      I did my first real personal work when I went off to university, where many of my peers were first generation and there were (are?) some overlaps of experience. We did seem to share some similar feelings of "not getting it." Most of us, but not all, were in STEM fields, so there may be some use in controlling for that -

      I wonder if the reader/poster has spoken with many other home schooling alumni? I would be interested to hear more about her reflections on that -

    2. Hey, yeah, that is the same approximate scenario for me. Was home schooled during grade 1, then went on into a few different schools, then into "gifted" programs, then into JH and finally high school.

      What a messed up decade or so of my life. None of it ever made any sense, but I bet it is the same way with people who attended public school. I think they just never got a chance during their youth to realise how messed up and confusing their whole social order was.

  4. Why were you home schooled? The most common reason I have encountered is religious indoctrination, especially (in U.S. culture) to indoctrinate children with religious nonsense. For example, in the mainstream culture, it's widely accepted that the theory of evolution explains how animals gradually changed from primitive forms to more complex forms. For example, from one celled plants, to one celled animals the complex plants and one complex plants. Many Christians regard the idea that human beings are evolved from monkeys and primates with horror and dismay. By raising their children in isolation from the general society, they hope to indoctrinate them with the idea that we are not animals who survive like animals, fuck like animals, die like animals. By the time these children enter the general society these conservative Christians hope they will carry on the same illusions and self deceptions their parents hold.

    Not all home schoolers engage in the practice for religious reasons. My brother (an atheist similar to me) home schooled his children. He let them decide when they wanted to "merge" with the larger society by going to school.

  5. this sentence:

    "I have developed an abhorrence for harming others; you see, everyone I could harm during my social development years was someone essential to my survival or personal enjoyment. This left me completely defenseless when dumped unceremoniously into the public world."

    Great sentence right? There's a lot going on in this post, and though I don't feel completely satisfied with the author's claim and wonder if they aren't perhaps being conclusive about certain aspects of their personality too abruptly, like i think they might benefit allowing a bit of flexibility in their introspection because they are obviously sharp and complex, there's so many ways to frame and re-frame our narratives it seems sort of a shame to not experiment at least as a thought experiment.

    The gender reveal here IS really fascinating, I sort of read the "guess gender" preface quickly and forgot it while reading and trying to feel out where author was coming from. (And yea, i'm an empath and cry when people drop babies). Does the author get how way crazy fascinating that is? I hope so, because she really needs to work that shit, unicorns are better muses than islands, rare should share. Like, I have a fairly low tolerance for boring people, boring people with boring problems even less, and I'm reflexively weary when anyone "blames" something that they feel is an inadequacy in their personality on an event(s) or an abnormal family or educational circumstance from their developmental years, (i.e. unusual, but innocuous) so I'd otherwise read a post like this and fall asleep halfway through, or not and go back to candy crushing my 30's away. There's a nuance here, a logic being applied in a laconic, rational, controlled way that in both confuses and frustrates your analysis, its so dry it toes the line of insincerity, and yet simultaneously its this strangeness and lack of sentimentality in expressing such personal experiences and there effect that almost ingeniously conveys and corroborates the social insecurity shes explaining. Which makes it fascinating. perk up author, youre obviously self aware and you're obviously a unicorn of some sort, focus on what skills you know you have down pat, and if theres any you may need to learn, they'll come along and you'll master what you need. you know youre a unicorn, find some followers and bedazzle them, youre clearly cool enough to be super in check with yourself, don't fall into the adddictively obsessive self analysis k-hole. write a lot instead.

    1. son of a. sorry, i forgot to spell check or read over or edit the above comment. its messy, but so's tha truth.

    2. That was an awesome post anon! What gives the gender away?

  6. Oh, and I forgot to note that there's a really informative Documentary about this topic called Mean Girls.

  7. "Never Home School a Sociopath". Well, maybe, maybe not.

    Here is a young sociopath who does not do harm to others. She attributes that in part to home schooling, or an environment where everyone she could harm was important to her during a developmental period. Isn't this a good outcome?

    1. Hmm, yes. But you missed the part where the young sociopath is also damaged and socially handicapped. Is the intent to protect only non-sociopaths? Does the humanity and development of the sociopath not factor in? Do the sociopaths feelings, however difficult to access matter not at all?

    2. Anon, I'm not sure why you think I missed something. I was pointing out another side "maybe yes, maybe no..." Also, re being socially handicapped, well perhaps some people would see a persistent pattern of hurting and alienating others in their personal life as a type of social handicap too. Not everyone will see it that way and I'm not saying anyone should, but it is a possibility.

    3. DocSciFi

      Anon from @October 6, 2014 at 5:38 PM here:
      First, as to the author's sense that by missing some degree of socialization in which she was unable to harm others due to a dependency on those with whom the majority of her social interactions were developing, i kind of read that as the author's awareness of how the particular circumstances of this period of social development provided her no outlet to engage with other folks her age and teachers, etc, in a ways that, friendly or bullish or manipulative or whatever, her behavior in the schoolyard provided a space to experiment and understand herself and others and that experimentation, even if she were admonished for something by a school administrator or pack of angry peers, what she was critically dependent on, a home, a parent, etc - she may have to face a parent annoyed that a teacher called or another parent called but she had that home base. and experimentation is important, as is security, and being dependent on another person does require some degree of compromise by the dependent to appease the one in power.

      as to the gender issue: did no one else read male? biases are maybe reflexive, unconsciously i maybe attached a masculinity to the detached but conclusive statements and the total lack of sentimentality. there's also no explanations or personal examples provided to corroborate her claims, and there doesn't maybe need to be, but (and again, im speaking about sterotypes) men generally are not as concerned about adding additional clarification about or additional reasons supporting claims, whereas women tend to want to reassure a reader of their authority and validity of their conclusions. So that the author is a female and felt absolutely no need to confirm or corroborate with allegorical extras, it's awesome. there's a brilliance in knowing how to convey an idea that's fairly tenuous and yet not diminish or fumble around in parts to substantiate your authority. like i said, this author is a socio unicorn, and im into it.

    4. and FFFUUUUGGGG i forgot to edit again. sorry for yet another manic run on

    5. @Anonymous 3:17PM: Regarding the differences between men and women in writing: do you know of any scientific studies to back your assertion? I am a firm believer that you can't really tell the difference from writing alone and would be interested to see if anyone has looked at this more closely.

  8. Suppose we created artificial intelligence androids with no "real" feelings that could role play victims for sociopaths. If a sociopath is torturing something that imitates human but has no sentience or feelings, is such a situation immoral?

    Think of the Marquis de Sade, one of the most famous and imaginative sociopaths in history. If he had been given non-sentient android playthings to torture, would he now be considered a kind of "great artist" (as he obviously imagined himself to be)?

    1. Is being an asshole to your toaster oven immoral? No. It might be stupid, but it isn't immoral.

  9. If there were no 'real feelings' in the victim, then the victim is not a victim of emotional damage. Then I don't know if it would be pleasurable for a socio at all.

  10. You are correct, I suppose, Doctor. So, part of the "rules" for this thought experiment (sort of playing god), is that the socio would never be informed that it's all "unreal." Perhaps what i say next does not apply to you. Although I have had a variety of therapy experiences, and feel pretty sure that I am sane, and can't remember anyone ever telling me otherwise, I have often had the feeling that I am not sure I am real. And as I have never met (in person) any of the other "entities" posting comments on this forum, I am not sure any of you are real. Everyone is either posting as "anonymous," or using a "screen name," such as "Doctor SciFi"; something I can relate to as a life long consumer of science fiction, how do I know you are a "real" person.

    It strikes me as entirely possible that the "perhaps real" woman who calls herself "M.E." is entirely capable of putting on all the other personas who post here.

    Making this entire "charade" an elaborate -- what -- "lure" -- just for my benefit. Hardly worth the trouble. A thought which makes me seem narcissistic, and perhaps entirely out of touch with reality. Hmm . . . I am looking out my window and seeing a large fir tree, Monday, I went to my depression group. Perhaps it's all an elaborate hoax. Perhaps my entire life is all an elaborate hoax.

    So how about you? Prove you are real.

  11. Why should I 'prove I am real'. I don't feel like it. Your last post was amusing though, I know how that can feel like at times. Does that make me or you real?

  12. " is that the socio would never be informed that it's all "unreal." "

    my current working hypothesis is that socios have never been informed that it is all 'real'. What I mean by that is that the 'reality' of other people is different for someone who experiences empathy and remorse for instance than someone who doesn't.

  13. Dr. SF: Until telepathy is developed -- and in this century it seems possible that some variation on that idea may actually be possible -- no one -- empathic or socipathic -- can really know what it is like to be someone else. Even identical twins are not really the same.

    I did a quick search on the history in sf of the telepathy concept, The SF Encyclopeia points back to Campbell's ASTOUNDING in the 1940s, and in particular points at A. E. Van Vogt's SLAN. Which has a cute little personal twist for me. Apparently in the late 30s my father met A. E. Van Vogt at a cocktails party and expected (based on the writer's then popular writing) to meet a charming and interesting imaginative writer. My understanding is that my father was gravely disappointed.

    Doc, I am assuming that (aside from the wispy personal family connection) you are familiar with all this. If not, dear sir, I have just outed you as an impostor. So here's an sf question I don't know the answer to. Perhaps you know. Perhaps, based on your general knowledge and perception (which strikes me as pretty good), you can come up with a good response. If telepathy implies the transfer of thoughts from one person to another, is there a word that describes the sharing of feelings. A lot of science fiction tends to imply that telepathy refers to sharing of thoughts and feelings, but as I mull the matter, telepathy seems suited to sociopaths, who would be "tone deaf" to sharing of feelings. "Telempathy"? Would that be the term?

    1. RA, just to clarify, your statement "can really know what it is like to be someone else." does not contradict or is all that related to mine, which is that how people experience other people (the 'reality' of others from the observer's perspective) has got to depend on whether such a person experiences empathy or not. Reality is subjective not objective there.

      I think that for people who experience emotional empathy, sharing thoughts and sharing feelings get mixed in together over time in an engagement where one person is interacting with another. There can be cognitive empathy without emotional empathy, but it doesn't tend to go that far. I mean it's the longing to connect emotionally that gets some people to focus on others and get out of their own head...

    2. Thanks for your response. As I have nothing very intelligent to say at the moment (which seldom stops me), I will mull things over and try to polish my not very intelligent thoughts to a high sheen so you will be blinded by the sun shining off the intellectual gems when I dig them out of the mine.

  14. OK, I think I've got it. We communicated as much as it is impossible to communicate, like a dog and a cat that get along without really understanding the world through feline or canine "world views," but don't try to kill each other.

    Which is probably as about it gets for human beings. Until and if something better comes along.

  15. I am about to take the GMAT too and I know how hard the test can be. I have been preparing myself by taking an online GMAT prep course to help me get ready.

    GMAT Data Sufficiency

  16. First of: sociopath cannot, by the very definition, be naive. It's equivalent to saying "I'm a rational person, but I never stopped exiting buildings via windows".

    If anyone is able to adapt to society after isolation in childhood it's a person with no affect. With normal people isolation by paranoid (which is usually the case) parents will fuck them up royally - anxiety will prohibit such individual from getting needed knowledge/experience. Socio on the other hand will simply learn consciously and unconsciously (which is what we call getting experience) and eventually will have sufficient data to become the leader of any group, if needed. If it's a normal person isolated by trickster-type parents, he'll already know everything he needs to excel.

  17. This is an interesting website. I'll have to do more research here.

  18. I feel that too. Since a very young age, I feel myself different from others, Im cunning and manipulative and have most of the categories of sociopathy.
    I had faced a problem like you, when the majority of people know that you are different or weird, you are not accepted, avoided and you have no chance to gain power of them, you feel inferior and that's when it sucks.

    It sucks when people can't be deceived with your own power. It sucks to have no higher position than other ordinary people.



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