Thursday, December 11, 2014

Growing up to be a sociopath?

This was an interesting new comment to an old post, "Sociopath child, to teen, to adult":

It's stunning how accurately this describes my life. I get so frustrated when I hear people say sociopaths are the same person from fetus into adulthood. That sociopaths were heartless, self absorbed little monsters when they were children or they aren't really sociopaths.

But I recall a time of feeling normal and having emotions. Or at least feeling as though I had emotions. Feeling love and crying over things, even if they were actually fake. I don't think sociopathy blossoms until your 20's. It's like a seed of darkness that slowly shallows you as you mature.

My childhood followed the same trend of fitting in to hitting an abrupt wall where I was a weird, socially awkward outcast. Always getting picked on and having a very tight circle of friends, going about life like a dog trying to play piano. It wasn't until my mid to late teens that I started studying psychology and social interaction, picking up books on how to manipulate and pick up women, etc.

Sooner or later I became good at getting what I want (control over men, sex from women). It was then I stumbled upon books about psychopathy, and was slowly starting to manifest all the telltale traits. I'm 27 now, and can't remember the last time I really felt all that much about anything. I think I went through a "mean streak" in my early 20's, but now I'm starting to mellow. I don't feel love, but I don't feel contempt either. 

I think I went through that deep soul searching period to reach this point, and I feel I've done a 180 away from the callous, cynical, reckless ways of the dysfunctional sociopath. I don't feel compassionate, but maybe a little benign. Like the world is undeserving, but I happen to be merciful. I don't see a reason to do harm, so why not try to be civil and let the sheep adore me? 

It was really challenging to write the childhood chapters of the book. I wasn't sure whether to write them in the mindset that I have now about things that I used to think were perfectly normal or innocent (manipulations, certain antisocial behavior, etc.) or whether to write it with the mindset that I had then, with all of the megalomania or delusional thinking that I was heavily subject to until my late teens and early twenties. Like everything with the book, my choice ended up being to basically filter out only the most sociopathic seeming things -- often whatever sounded most sociopathic or interesting to my editor at the time. In a way, doing that unwittingly catered to this idea that we are static individuals -- have always been and acted the same. 

The truth is I don't trust my memories of particularly my early childhood before about 8 or 9 years old. They're too hazy and they seem too dream-like to feel like they really happened to me. Maybe I was more normal than I seemed. Or maybe I was more different than I seemed. I do remember having a sense at the time that I was seemed more ruthless and coldhearted than my peers, but I also have a lot of memories of feeling pretty normal -- upset about regular things that children get upset about and megalomaniacal and selfish but perhaps no more than all children tend to be. I don't know, is it possible to have been normal and feeling emotions and then later grow into a sociopath?

40 comments:

  1. It's possible you're just a cute little baby!

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  2. The hub of experience for teens and people in their early 20s naturally gravitates toward the self -- it's a time of discovering who you are, what you're made of, and consequently, of rebellion to family and social traditions. No generation wishes to emulate its forebears, for that would go against the grain of evolution and the spirit of pioneering youth. Nature made us this way because this period coincides with middle to late brain development, when we are robust in body but still very adaptive in mind to a world in constant flux. (Which is not as easy to do as we grow older, unless we continue to be receptive to the new and strange.) So megalomania, neural plasticity and selfishness are, I think, normal during this time. Being self-absorbed and wanting instant gratification of one's desires and ideals, acting on the impulse of the self's most basic drives and needs, are common fodder for humans between the ages of 12 and 25.

    I think environment can, combined with a fleet of conflicting emotions, further growth along the spectrum of either sociopathy or empathy. Depending on the conditions. The environment leaves an indelible mark, its imprint in the genes. The bodymind is flexible and can change at any time, if we so will it.

    Grendel

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  3. Psychology Today magazine proposes that a condition called "Young Adult
    Syndrome" exists. This state can be from 18 to 25. The person needs to be
    "free" and sow their wild oats.
    For example, the Doctor's who examined Casey Anthony found no signs of
    pathology in her. Only the T.V. talking heads speculated about her, having never
    really examined her. She killed her child NOT because she was a sociopath-she
    wasn't-but because of her natural need to party and have a good time.

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    1. Her father abused her, and trained her his ways. Suck my cock like a good girl, then get up and go to school like nothing happened.

      Delete
  4. The simple, documented answer is yes. Traumatic Brain Injury can have that effect - or an effect like it. A dramatic example is Phineas Gage. But I think your question is more subtle than that.

    I haven't found a paper yet that talks about this for ASPD (and related), but I did find a paper that suggested that genetically pre-disposed children will begin exhibiting OCD behavior following a "strep" infection.

    Also, there are scores of anecdotes like that of Henry Rollins, where a "nervous kid" is picked on to a breaking point and they turn aggressive.

    And, I like the notion that Grendel is putting forward about the brain and body development being no accident - I hadn't considered that perspective. It's a compelling idea -

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    1. What do you mean by Traumatic Brain Injury?

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    2. ...it's where a part of the brain is damaged as a result of outside forces (e.g. a blow to the head)...

      I think Phineas Gaga is a fairly good example - Google the name (seriously - there's a lot written out there on this guy and it should make things fairly clear...

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    3. Much of what is written about this fellow is pure myth. The wikipedia article mentions this in part here:

      "Despite this celebrity the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (before or after his injury) is small,[c] which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory [desired] to the small number of facts we have"‍[M]:290—​Gage having been cited, over the years, in support of various theories of the brain entirely contradictory to one another. Historically, published accounts (including scientific ones) have almost always severely distorted and exaggerated Gage's behavioral changes, frequently contradicting the known facts."

      I think Oliver Sacks in his books has got more substantive examples.

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    4. Thanks Doc!

      I stand corrected and I will have to check out the book. 8)~

      Delete
    5. I'm the Anon from Dec 11th. I have cerebral palsy but I'm not a grave case. Can a person with that disease be a sociopath?

      Delete
  5. Idiocy. That's all there is to it.

    It's contagious.

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  6. I mostly agree with what Grendel said except for "Nature made us this way" though that's petty of me.

    However I'd like to add a comparison regarding the genetic makeup.

    If you're born color-blind and later on lose most of your sight, you will probably feel like there once was a time you were able to see the colorful world.
    Still, you were never truly able to see colors, what will lead you to *think* you know what colors are, even though you were never able to actually see them and therefore your inner concept of colors might be totally off which can but doesn't have to end in 'trouble'.

    I think it's the same with emotions, if you are physiologically not able to feel all emotions you could end up totally wrecked of course, but best you can become is still far from normal, even under the best circumstances given.

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    1. NM, Nice analogy.

      " . . . but (at) best you can become is still far from normal, even under the best of circumstances given."

      I can dig that, despite that 'normal' on an emotional level is clearly not written in stone. I honestly don't know the definition of what normal feelings are, because so many people hide their negative feelings very deep.

      There's also the matter of free will to consider. The choices we make along the way that either foster social harmony or not. I don't mean choosing to 'feel' like other, so-called normals, which would be impossible for socios. I mean we can choose to experience things and act from within the intellectual grasp that others are different from us, have different preferences, ways of being and perceptions. To flip it around: An empath can't help but feel and emote, but that doesn't mean they can't choose to detach in order to make a more rational decision. They have to work harder at being calculating, but they can do it if they train themselves. Now I know most socios would say that all they are capable of is mimicking emotions. I'm sure that's true. But they can still choose to consider the feelings of others, whether or not they understand what emotions actually feel like. And, I do know a couple people fairly high on the spectrum who do seem to get 'infected' with rudimentary emotions via osmosis. They aren't as cold-hearted as once they were. Perhaps faking it does eventually lead some people to make it on some obscure, intangible level.

      Grendel

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  7. Is there anyone out there who believes deep down at psychopathy/sociopathy isn't a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors? After decades of "nature versus nurture" competition, it is abundantly clear that both are factors in damn near everything.

    Everything evolves. People learn and grow, metal melts or corrodes, fruit grows and rots. Of course children are not just miniature versions of their adult selves. Of course demonstrated indicators of ASPD are different at different stages of life. Of course increased access to information, finances, and locations change how sociopaths fulfill their needs. OF COURSE.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. It's not a good idea for animals to become self aware. There are septillions of stars (at the very least) in our galaxy and perhaps septillions of universes, though that might be hyperbole. As far as we know, there is only one semi-intelligent species in the universe.

    It consists of me. The rest of you are imaginary. As soon as I figure out how to cure myself of my mental illness -- as soon as I figure out what it is called -- I will go back to my day job of being the only creature in the universe -- and don't you dare call me a Nar-Go (which either means Narco God or Narcis God) and destroy all of you. You are living on borrowed time. As figments of my imagination, you have to follow the Scheherazade plan and tell me amusing stories each day to keep me from killing you. Start being interesting, amusing, moving. Remember, I am a sociopathic deity. Your time is running out. Tick, tick . . .


    http://compositionawebb.pbworks.com/f/%5C'Repent,+Harlequin!%5C'+Said+the+Ticktockman+by+Harlan+Ellison.pdf

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    Replies
    1. "The rest of you are imaginary."

      LOL. While you're at it, would you please imagine my life being filled with more raw meat? As a mythic creature, I could use a bit of beefing up. To tell juicy stories requires fresh blood and a whole hind quarter.

      Grendel

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    2. Not sorry. I am busy petting my lambs and telling them they are being raised for wool and not to feed you. They keep saying, "Bah. Bah." I guess they don't believe me.

      Believe me, the sheep is on the way. I gave it a gps unit and told it to follow directions to the nice friendly wolf who will care for it. Tenderly.

      Delete
  10. I like this comment. I kind of feel the same way, like I became more coldhearted as I get older. Maybe it is just that everyone is self-involved as an adolescent, and sociopaths never grow out of it.

    I too have experienced emotions throughout my life, it is just that as I get older I realize that all of them are self-directed. I can feel sad or happy about stuff that happens to me, but not at all about things that happen to other people.

    I don't trust my childhood memories very much either- honestly anything that happened more than 5 years ago seems like it happened to someone else.

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  11. Is Australia an island or a continent? I realize you don't care. I don't give a shit if you care or not. After all, I am only wasting pixels and the universe has an almost unlimited supply of pixels. Even in black holes.

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  12. OK, here's a serious question. As far as I can tell from reading the stupid comments posted here, some people (for reasons unknown to me) are trying to quit the habit of being a path. People are addicted to various things. If I understand the currently accepted "wisdom," psychopaths are nature and sociopaths are nurture and all are addicted to keeping their system free of empathy. Except some want to kick the habit.

    "A twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles (accepted by members as 'spiritual principles,' based on the approved literature) outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems." (Wikipedia).

    Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first twelve-step fellowship, was founded in Akron, Ohio on August 11, 1938 (although some speculate the date as being June 10, 1935, the date on which Dr. Bob had his last drink) by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, known to AA members as "Bill W." and "Dr. Bob". They established the tradition within the "anonymous" twelve-step programs of using only first names "at the level of press, radio and film".

    [One obvious link is that half the people here (at least) post as "Anonymous" and everybody who posts here is lying about everything they say.]

    "Demographic preferences related to the addicts' drug of choice has led to the creation of Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Pills Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous and Nicotine Anonymous. Behavioral issues such as compulsion for, and/or addiction to, gambling, crime, food, sex, hoarding, debting and work are addressed in fellowships such as Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Clutterers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous and Workaholics Anonymous"

    Why is there no "'paths' anonymous?

    "Psychopaths Anonymous"
    "Sociopaths Anonymous"
    "Empaths" Anonymous
    Don't forget Nihilists "Anonymous" while we are at it.

    The wind is rising. A "hurrican" (which at the moment is 3 hours behind schedule) is supposed to hit our island. My computer may go out at any time. A tree may fall on our house and kill me at any moment. Is this exciting?

    Not really.

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    1. Hi RA,

      Assholes Anonymous - that's my vote. I've even ginned up the 12 steps (posted them a couple of times already).

      Delete
  13. Although I am not anymore than a 'path wannabee, I think it appropriate to start a 12-step program for paths. On our island, people (especially people who want to communicate anonymously), post flyers on billboards. All of the flyers are stupid (some religiously stupid, some superstitiously stupid, some empathically stupid). There are very few stupidly addressing paths.

    As I am 70 and stupid, I decided to start a 12-path program for 'paths. You can join.

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  14. Here on my island, somewhere off the continental United States, I posted the following invitation using a relatively safe (maybe) blind email service. If you want to join my 12-step group, or if you just want to fuck around with me (no matter where in the world or that matter the solar system you are), you can join also.

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. The poster I posted tonight (in the midst of a hurricane that has not arrived yet but is due maybe in a few minutes):

    SOCIOPATHS AND PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS
    [ANONYMOUS ISLAND BRANCH]
    1. The location, date, and time of our meetings are secret. If you can't figure that information out on your own, you really do not want to come to our meetings. Ask yourself, "Is this a safe thing for me to do?"

    2. Probably 98% of human beings possess empathy. You are warned again!!!!!

    You can contact us yvrvt+32rlvtkggrq8@sharklasers.com

    There is about a 10% chance that we wil receive your email at the cyberspace location is so secret and the email you send self-deletes in an hour.

    If we manage to set up a meeting despite these obstacles, I will warn you, for your own protection, that no one who attends can trust anyone else who attends.

    Do you really want to go there?

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  17. I checked the inbox (which I could barely figure out, being senile, but three spam messages had arrived, 1 in Chinese, 1 in Russian, and 1 in Martian or something equally incomprehensible. None smelled like a sociopath, though it's a reasonable question to ask if all spammers are paths. Is there any way to "booby trap" the world wide web so that the very act of posting a spam message delivers a painful poison into the blood stream of the spammer? Would such a mechanism be moral?

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  18. This is from the Harvard Business Review article "Executive Psychopaths"

    "Some of these people [psychopaths] are undoubtedly in your organization, and you certainly don’t want to promote them. How do you tell a true high-potential from the likely psychopath? Hare’s track record in the field suggests that the experimental screen he and Babiak are currently testing, the 360-degree B-Scan, could become the standard tool for exposing corporate psychopaths. But it will be some months before the preliminary data are in and the tool’s validity can be evaluated."

    and then a research article from 2013 "Factor structure of the B-Scan 360: a measure of corporate psychopathy."

    "Here we describe the B-Scan 360, an instrument that uses ratings of others to measure psychopathic features in workplace settings. In this study, large samples of participants used an online survey system to rate their supervisors on the B-Scan 360. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported a reliable 20-item, 4-factor model that is consistent with the PCL-R 4-factor model of psychopathy. Although more research is needed before the B-Scan 360 can be used in organizational settings, we believe that these results represent an important step forward in the study of corporate psychopathy."

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    1. I've often, but not always, advocated for "360 degree reviews." But, I was always looking for better feedback to improve my game.

      However, I have my doubts about the sorts of outcomes one would get from deploying such a tool in an organization. Where I work now, is a Machiavellian soap opera - everyone wants to be the boss so bad, the are distracted from little things like the jobs they were hired to do. These folks would game the hell out that -

      It might be an interesting research tool though. This is the sort of thing you might use network analysis to make sense of. Again, assuming the subjects didn't game it or you have designed a "game proof" tool...

      Delete
  19. The lights just flickered. I am assuming that Dr. SF is safe and will not be murdered by a corporate psychopath.I am expecting my power to go out any second. A tree may fall on my house. Fortunately, I test my generator on Monday and my chain saw today, and we have enough food stored to survive on for at least two weeks, though after that period we may have to eat our neighbors.

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  20. Do you fear death, RA? Sometimes I get the idea you are an author of children's books.

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    1. This is RA at the library. We have been without power for 3 days. I don't look forward to death, but as I get older the more relaxed I become about it. I did not exist before I was conceived. Did I care? Did I suffer? Did anyone care, even among the empaths? Hardly.

      Gotta run to our cold dare home without power. WE are gong to a dinner party in the powerless woods. What's a sociopath without power? What's a sociopath without someone to murder, torture, and rape?

      Delete
  21. “I don't know, is it possible to have been normal and feeling emotions and then later grow into a sociopath?”

    I probably won’t get a lot of sympathy telling a group of empathy compromised people my story, but I’ve been pondering something similar in regards to my own life. I have problems adhering to rules and norms, and everyday it is an act of discipline to do what is expected of me. Each little group I interact with I try to quickly figure out what the rules are so that I can try to abide by them, and work within their framework. If necessary, I will break the rules too, and the reasons vary from anything to just wanting to for entertainment or a my mischievous streak to feeling it is necessary to help others grow. I don’t think about my past very often, but I have been having to do some work with children lately, not by choice because kids aren’t really my thing, but it got me thinking about my childhood. It may be hard for some to believe, but I actually used to win little awards in school for perfect grades, and perfect behavior. I remember being genuinely empathetic as a kid, and would tear up seeing others cry. I was sensitive, I cared about things, had compassion, I was shy and introverted. Somehow I did a 180, and I don’t understand why. I was kicked out of my house by my mom at 13 because she thought my behavior was too out of control.

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    1. "I was kicked out of my house by my mom at 13 because she thought my behavior was too out of control."

      If your mom kicked you out at the tender age of 13 (onto the street? a group home?) her maternal instincts were probably topsy-turvy . . . maybe that contributed to your loss of compassion. Being rejected by a parent is horribly crushing for any child, even adult children.

      Grendel

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    2. She cared, I guess, in her own weird way, but on an interpersonal level she is definitely empathy compromised.

      Delete
    3. Hi Dr. G.,

      Not so much a show of "compassion," but rather, "yeah, I had something like that too" -

      My biological father used to say that the job of a parent is to feed and educate a kid...then kick them out. I got this speech starting at about 10yo. That is pretty much how he treated us - that and teach us "responsibility" by having us cater to his needs.

      Mom just rented my room out as soon as I got my stuff into my dorm room...she didn't tell me, I had to figure it out...that was a drag.

      I suspect that a lot of us - maybe not all - can relate. Sympathy - not so much. 8)~

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    4. My parents told me my whole life that they expected me to go to college, but that even if I didn't they expected me to get out of their house after high school.

      Delete
  22. hey i used to be a kid once
    i must be a psychopath2
    woot i'm special

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    Replies
    1. wow do people still say "woot"? I had a bf once years ago that used to say that. Drove me insane.

      Delete

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