Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On responsibility and change

A reader asks, among other things:

I think I know why I wrote to you now. You seem very intelligent. I like engaging with intelligent people even though I don't see myself as exceptionally intelligent. I like asking intelligent people questions especially someone like you who has a gift for articulation. I think at this point I want to ask your opinion: do you think it is possible that your disorder doesn't exist? What I mean is that sociopathy has a distinct set of criteria. Do you think that maybe these criteria have merely served to elucidate your identity rather than actually describing the phenomenon of a so-called mental disorder? sorry if I not making sense and you do not understand my question. It just seems as if your sense of self became infinitely more clear when you were diagnosed. Is it possible that we are all by and large sociopaths (and by the same logic- depressives, anti-socialists, aspergers and attentionally deficient individuals. All "disorders" that don't have a definite and distinct biological origin). I think you said something to the effect of: not all sociopaths exhibit the same set of behaviours but they can still be considered sociopaths if they exhibit enough of these. Would you say that the label of sociopath has given you some, if not all, of your identity and has served as a basis for all your beliefs about the world and yourself? And following the above questions: Don't you think that applying the label of sociopath to a proportion of individuals who exhibit these traits could potentially lead to a situation whereby individuals need not take responsibility for their actions? I have seen this in people with depression. In a sense the label absolves them from any effort to change their mindset. 

In this regard I wish to question whether creating a forum for sociopaths could perhaps do more harm than good. Obviously you have found resolve in the label and it seems as if it has helped you in your life. But do you think that there will be many individuals who could apply this label "sociopath" to themselves so as to validate their bad behaviours and absolve themselves of social responsibility?

I hope you can shed some light on this issue which I feel does not apply in isolation to sociopathy but rather to psychology at large. Again thank you for the read Ms. Thomas. 

My reply:

You asked "Would you say that the label of sociopath has given you some, if not all, of your identity and has served as a basis for all your beliefs about the world and yourself?" If anything, I think it was the opposite. My beliefs about the world and myself led me to be sociopathic. I'll give a quick example. I have long known that I am manipulative. But even knowing that I could not stop because there was nothing to replace it with. How could I decide what to do and not to do without considering the effect that it would have on others? And if I was considering the effect, then I was being manipulative, sort of by definition, every single choice that I made and action that I took because it always done for the purposes of getting the best result for me -- getting people to choose the thing that benefited me most.

How did I learn to stop manipulating? I had to realize that I actually did have a self, that without considering anybody else in the world I had natural preferences. And as long as I ignored everyone else's existence and just acted on my natural preference, there was no way that I could be manipulating. And so I am now capable of not doing one of the classic behaviors that sociopaths are supposedly stuck with for life.

Your question about using the diagnosis as a cop out seems sort of right, but if anything sociopaths are punished for having the label as opposed to people without it or with other labels. So even if it is a cop out for certain disorders, I don't see it happening any time soon with sociopathy.

33 comments:

  1. I hate to see people suffer unnecessiasrily so I've decided to tell people the
    purpose of life. That way, you will know that life is more then a meaningless
    interruption to pleseant non existence.
    The answer, in the most simple terms possible, is that God is replicating Himself and extending His reach through Human Beings. The Bible first
    mentions this when it says: "Ye are Gods, you children of the Most High."
    The Human Being, is a prospective "God" in training. God adds to Himself
    through Human Beings. God doesn't wish to immeadiately transform Human
    Beings into God's right at this time. The Human Being must have a probabtionary period of flesh and blood existence, for the development of
    character. He must utalize his ability to choose, so he can shun harmful activites and willingly accept "good" activites. This is obviously difficult for a
    sociopath to do. God will have to assist sociopaths to have a more "normal"
    nature, so they will have a legitimate chance to change. God sometimes
    creates wicked people and/or spirits, IF it serves His long range plans. Don't
    expect Human's to understand it. His ways are NOT our ways. But, the Bible
    does say that God repents of "evil." Sin and evil or not always the same thing.
    God cannot sin on account of who He is. God's creation cannot help BUT sin
    on account, of who THEY are.
    We have God's promise that He will one day "repent' of the evil He has imposed
    on mankind.

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  3. One of my biggest ponderings regarding people who lack a conscience is the ethics surrounding their responsibility for the things they do. Yes, I'm fully aware that things are different for them as opposed to, say, a schizophrenic, because socios are still generally grounded in reality. They know what they're doing when they do something that's considered "wrong", but they also lack the conscience that norms have inherently that tend to keep them from doing wrong without even having to work at it. It's not like they had an option to have a conscience and decided to turn it down, they just don't have it and they can't go out and buy one at Target or find one on a hunting trip.

    I don't know. I guess it seems a bit unfair that they're automatically looked upon with such distain for something they never even had a say in to begin with. I realize they're still responsible for their behavior, but there's something about that that rubs me the wrong way. Socios are held to the same standards as norms, even though they were born without the advantage of having the norms' brain function that pretty much acts as an internal parent with a paddle; that would help keep them out of social/legal trouble; that norms have at birth and don't have to work at. They're expected to act and conduct themselves the same as those who were essentially lucky enough to be born with that internal restraint that keeps them out of trouble for free. It's almost like the norms get the proverbial silver spoon of conscience without doing a damned thing to earn it and then they get to disparage the conscience-poor.

    N

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    1. Only the Paranoid SurviveOctober 17, 2014 at 12:25 AM

      Consciousness is not an advantage in a dog-eat-dog competitive environment, and that's why machiavellians, psychopaths and narcissists are ruling this planet.

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    2. It was in the context of the legal system and what they're held responsible for, not politics or corporate environments.

      N

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  4. Everyone is manipulative. Everyone wants something and devises ways to get it. The "sociopaths" are the ones who recognize this behavior in themselves and call it like it is. The "norms" like to see themselves as good guys and would never use the word "manipulative" to describe themselves; they don't recognize, or wouldn't admit, that they use certain words to get what they want. They think that when *they're* doing it, they're just being clever--like the mom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding making her husband think that something is his idea because she knows that's the only way he'll agree to it. Do she consider herself a sociopath? No. Does the audience? No.

    If you don't manipulate people, you're stupid. Telling someone you want something and you want it now is a very unmanipulative thing to do. But it's usually not going to get you what you want, and most people know that. So we--all of us--perform. We seduce. We don't come right out and say what we want, unless we're dumb or inexperienced. But even then there's something about young people being forthright and earnest that's charming, and they may know it (I knew it when I was young). So maybe even then it's still a case of manipulation.

    People who describe themselves as "sociopaths" *are* different, though, because most people want to be seen, and to think of themselves, as good guys. What is it about sociopaths that they don't mind being labelled "manipulative" or "two-faced," even though everyone is manipulative and five-faced?

    Jenn

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    1. Only five-faced? You've been talking to some remarkably straightforward people... But I understand what you're saying. 'Normals', 'empaths', whatever your chosen term is, they always like to present themselves as the good guys - sociopaths don't. Ironically, sociopaths display an impressive degree of self-honesty; mostly, they accept that they're not the good guys, whereas 'ordinary' people have trouble doing so. Not quite as much trouble as narcissists, but still trouble. Personally? I don't mind being labelled manipulative and lying because I recognise that I am manipulative and lying. When people realise this, it only annoys me that it took them so long to notice.

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  5. I am a troll named Stephen. Not a troll who lives under bridges and eats gruff billy goats. A troll who destroys web sites by posting long, boring pointless comments, the psychological equivalent of ebola viruses. I am in the process of destroying this web site. I thought a web site where no one cares if I say fuck and shit and nigger and honky; a web site filled with people (perhaps real) who might be murderers and rapists and torturers, and at the very least are liars and cheats and whores, would not be vulnerable to a senile seventy year old man on an obscure island, but before my eyes I see this web site dwindling down to nothing. I am impressed with my own power. I am a narcissist. You do not exist. By the end of this year I will be dead. By the end of this year, this web site will no longer exist. By the end of this year you will no longer exist. By the end of this century, the human race will no longer exist.

    Have a nice day, everyone.

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  6. N:

    "It's not like they had an option to have a conscience and decided to turn it down, they just don't have it and they can't go out and buy one at Target or find one on a hunting trip. "

    I agree. the problem people have with socios is not that they manipulate per se, cause everyone does to some degree and it can be helpful in many situations to both parties involved. The problem is failure to conform to social norms that causes harm to others as well as the socio themselves at times.

    It's not only socios that fail to conform to social norms and hurt others, but they are more likely to do so and more likely to continue doing so in the face of seeing the harm, or even being punished for it. Narcs also fall into this category of lacking empathy that gives them a free ride to be social cooperative.

    I do have a question about narcs vs. socios. It can often be hard to tell the difference. I read that one tell tale difference is that some narcs are extremely sensitive to any perceived slight, whereas socios are immune and non reactive, unless they are putting on and act, but it isn't internatized as a threat to their ego.

    Can anyone comment on this?

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    1. Hi Doc,

      I was looking at the nifty affinity diagram (at least that what it looks like to me) on your web site and I keep coming back to this notion that most of the "dramatic" PD's are feeding/protecting one or more core emotional needs: love/belonging, control/power, ego/vanity, and attention (and I might argue safety in the case of avoidant types and possibly bloodlust/sadism as it's own bunch of folks).

      So from this perspective, a pure narcissist would be feeding their ego/vanity at the expense of others. A pure ASPD, on the other hand, would be concerned with acquiring control/power. Pure BPD's (Emotionally Intense sounds better to me) would be seeking love/belonging. And you can have more than one in play, making things a bit more confusing. But in all cases, there is an unapologetic parasitic aspect to their needs - that's what connects them.

      There is likely a better way to parse it, but that is how I'm making sense of it these days. I'm sure Dr. Ginger would have a (does?) very different, and more informed, perspective.

      I too am curious to hear other ideas -

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    2. HL, I like your definition of the PDs. It makes sense that these conditions spring from a deficit of core emotional needs. Thanks for putting it simply and in context of emotions. I wonder how, then, one feeds the parasitic aspect of their needs without being devoured alive. Given the wide spectrum of human hurts that could be hiding inside one person, how do we go about feeding someone's love/belonging, control/power, ego-vanity? I find that generally it takes a LOT of listening and sympathy to get anyone to open their mouths in silence, to take a bite of real soul food, so to speak. It's as if the people who suffer these disorders are starving but can't eat -- they eat kindness but find it hard to pay it forward without expecting something back. Anyway, I'll stop now because I realize I have nothing to add but questions. Dr. Ginger is definitely needed.

      June

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  7. I mean I am still manipulative. We all are, for me its not a conscious effort, its something I have been programmed to do. I have to make a conscious effort to NOT manipulate. It's letting go, versus holding on and I like the feeling.

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  8. Anon at 10:22, can you describe the conscious effort you make to not manipulate? I didn't understand at all what ME posted about not manipulating any more, because i don't have insight into the state of mind.

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  9. Doctor SciFi, what I mean is I have to notice when I see that what I'm doing is a manipulation (when I'm trying to persuade people, when I'm trying to get people to side with me or believe my opinion, when im being too dominant and the other feels oppressed, when I realize I'm being abusive etc.)... and then what I do is I just try to correct myself by like letting go.

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    Replies
    1. Another way to say it is I am trying to give up being controlling.

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    2. Can you say a bit about where this need or desire for control comes from?

      Delete
  10. Some low-end psychos lie all the time as "kick". Quiet docile socios don´t. This threatens their "integrity". Low end-psychos has no integrity. That´s why they fall in the end, even if the fall is spectacular..

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    1. Anon, your comment is interesting. There are two definitions of integrity. It's interesting that they both pertain to the same word in english:

      1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

      2. the state of being whole and undivided.

      I guess in order to have integrity according to definition number 1, you have to have it according to the second definition as well. Clearly low end psychos don't have moral integrity based on honesty but they still can have integrity based on wholeness. Or perhaps not?

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    2. Nr 2 defintion is what docile socios build their quiet truimphs on, nr 1 is for empaths. Lying without "being cornered" will sour even the bright psychopaths life in the end. Its lacks that rational quality..

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    3. Anon, not being a socio I can only guess. From what I have read socios have to lie in many cases simply to fit in and not be judged abhorrent for how they actually look at the world. This is part and parcel of the mask.

      Lying can go beyond that self-protective necessity and enter the antisocial realm. I do think it is kind of a slippery slope there and perhaps affects not only def 1 of integrity but also def 2.

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  11. My efforts to destroy this web site by loving it are not succeeding. So I will tell the story of the scorpion and the frog, which everyone knows. (As a child, I saw scorpions but did not attempt to make pets out of them. As a high school teacher, a student in a hall way asked me , "Do you want to hold my tarantula?" Nobody likes spiders, but somehow big tarantulaly spiders are easier to love. I held out my hand.. The student placed his beloved tarantula on my hand. I looked at the tarantula. It felt like any tarantula sitting on your palm looks like. It looked at me, thinking deep, profound spider thoughts. After I felt I had embraced the tarantula long enough to prove my high school teacher of youthful sociopaths cojones, I said, "Thank you." I handed him back his tarantula. I never met his tarantula again, and I have no idea if it went on to live a long, content big spider life. One day while I was teaching a class, I noticed the head of a rat looking at me from between the buttons of the young man's shirt. Again, high school sociopaths like to test their teachers, so I responded, "Oh, I see you brought your pet rat to class with you. Is it house trained? What is it's name." I don't recall the name, but I am pretty sure the student's name was not Willard and the rat's name was not Socrates or Ben.

    Anyway, the story of the frog and the scorpion. Well, everyone knows that story. Everyone knows that it is one of the most famous Aesop's Fables. So look it up. And please stop posting comments. Everyone knows that there are no sociopaths, psychopaths, or anti-social people. Not only that, by so many people posting, you are ruining my plans for trolling this web site out of existence.

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  12. still not to familiar with this website, is there a way to start a thread?
    whatever...
    Anyways i'm reading the book now and i'm actually feeling sort of jealous of Thomas. I mean i very likely fall under the category of empath and I find all the emotions that i have to deal with on a regular basis downright exhausting. Especially guilt.
    If someone gave me the option to remove all of my guilt yet demanded that i give up my ability to empathize in return i don't know what i would do...
    I also wonder if the author considers her father to be a sociopath. He certainly was an asshole. I suppose it depends on the definition of sociopathy. He seemed to use his capacity for feeling as a manipulative tool, and i wonder if he experienced any real empathy or love in his lifetime.
    One of the reasons why i feel interested in this arena is my own upbringing. my own parents did not really believe in emotions like shame, anger or lust. When i exhibited emotions such as these growing up my parents would tell me that i was disgusting and sick. I guess in some sort of rebellion of this sentiment i have developed a sensitivity to my emotions and in talking about them. Especially the dark and dirty ones my own parents did not condone.
    I guess that this post is me saying that i can relate in some sort of way.

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    1. It appears two sociopaths can conceive an empath.

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    2. Roman, Guilt sucks and is basically useless. If guilt motivates me to do something now, I rebel. Out of principle.

      I know whereof I speak. All who know me describe me as being way too sympathetic, way too gullible, ready to lend a helping hand. I love all life and that love at times feels like stupidity: why love spiders? But I do. I have also always admired saints, and as a child wanted to be one. So did my mother; she shot herself when I was fourteen.

      Thank god I've grown up.

      Whilst I still want to be and do good, I no longer believe in sainthood -- least not as a condition being remotely possible for me. I have way too much disgust and contempt for what humanity has done and is doing, including, of course, St. Paul, a woman hater par excellence.

      However, I value my empathy more than any other quality in my possession. As an artist, a counselor, a mother, a friend, an animal lover, it's priceless. What I've done to minimize being a sucker, being overwhelmed, is got a job working with low functioning socios. Their games and joyful callousness have cured me of guilt, of saying NO, you can't have my lunch. You ate yours. This one is MINE.

      Believe me when I say that years ago I could never have even written MINE in all caps without wincing. Far as I was concerned, if you wanted what I have (except family) you can have it. Just ask.

      Crazy.

      Anyway, I'm much better being a bitch when the occasion arises than I ever dreamed possible in my youth.

      Even Jesus lost his cool at the money-changers. One of the lost gospels says he shoved a young kid off a roof when he was twelve. I believe even saints feel rage, think of murder. They just don't usually act on it.

      June

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    3. Roman, One more thing. Remember, you'll outlive your parents and their antiquated ideas of what it means to be human. You've already outgrown them. Your posting here is proof of that.

      June

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    4. "I still want to be and do good"

      such an easy target.

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  13. Welcome, Roman. Only spiders start threads. Once the spider grabs you, you are stuck. Get out while you can.

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  14. Not all forms of manipulation are equal. Sometimes we manipulate because social conditions demand it. I think the distinction should be made that to manipulate for things to turn out the way you want, versus things turning out for the best all concerned, is important. A real empath (or sucker as many here would say) would almost always put the happiness of others before their own, because their own personal/material needs are so paltry. Wealth, fame, all that jazz, mean nothing. What matters is making the whole of creation work in a way that harms the least and benefits the most, including 'other' species. A real empath is someone who purposely tries to live with a low eco-footprint, so to speak. They don't want to take, they want to give. To them, they win when everyone wins. Impractical, I know. But that's the way empathy works: it wants to make others happy. It dwells in the heart of giving. Not taking, winning or getting the best deal for oneself. Because one's self is hopelessly entangled with the suffering or happiness of others. Empathy is as much a curse as a blessing.

    June

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  15. After for about 3years, I started to think I may be having some infertility issues. I began taking different medical prescription for me to get pregnant and to ensure i produce a healthy baby, but all i do did not work out for me. i thought i may never get pregnant again, so i came out for help online, on how to get solution to my problem. my husband, family, and friends, i think you will be fine they were telling me. i could not stop thinking my life will end like without having a baby, so one day i saw some people online saying things about this sorceress woman called Mama jaja, on how she can help people get pregnant. i contacted her, i told her what my problem is. she did a spell for me to get pregnant, also she told after two weeks i should go for check up, which i did, i took a pregnancy test and sure enough it was positive wow! I was so excited. all thanks to the Mama Jaja, pls keep on the good work, for i know there are people out there that still need your help just like me. if you ever need the help of the spiritual woman, you can reach on her email address (mamajajasorceress@yahoo.com)


    ReplyDelete

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