Saturday, February 28, 2015

Raised by wolves

I think this was an interesting situation, if true, from a comment:

Can someone tell me why a psychopath/sociopath wants to be in a relationship?

I was addicted to one before I realised my entire family, except me, are sociopaths. I treated them as I would treat any person, assumed they had different characters to me, and that they had issues. I worked around it, expected nothing back and encouraged them for the good they did.

Research on websites tells me sociopaths seek relationships as a mask for what they are. But I never saw my family giving a shit what people thought. I thought they did it because they actually loved (or in the correct terminology, approved of and enjoyed immensely) the company of their companion. I thought that the marriage was pretty good because they seemed like best friends. Who enjoyed fighting and drama, but ultimately, needed each other.

I am super super empathic and always saw good in them and they did their best for me.
The guy I fell for, I read him in the way that I had learned to read the only people around me. I saw love. He of course moved on quickly but if I see him now I know I still am important to him and not in the way that he wants to hurt me. It's almost like he's accepted the differences between us but I don't know if I imagine it but there is a deep longing inside each of us to be able to play that role, he as my man and me as his woman. When I am with him, I feel that is the role I am destined to play. It's the only one I know how to play.

I cut off my family because of the abuse and feel such a deep depression without them. I can't stand normal people because I've been raised not to act like a dramatic idiot. I only know the sociopath way. I love so much about it. But they always fall short because they are narcissists. They miss information or are not willing to do tasks that would achieve what they want. 

I God dammit have all of the same traits. Maybe that's why I love this guy. I feel like nobody will ever be able to understand me like him. Nobody will want to have kids with me when they know I have the sociopath gene. I've been targeted by other colleagues and wanted to die. I don't want my kids doing that to someone.

I guess I need closure.. I felt like although he didn't attach to me in the traditional way, he changed his behaviours around me. Surely that is his way of saying he wants me to be near? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

20 Rules for young sociopaths

A young self identifying sociopath wrote this list of rules for young sociopaths based on personal experience:

1.  Never be open about cheating for even the smallest of favors, like copying: Keep it occasional and involve as few people as possible. If other people want to cheat, put on a facial expression of slight disagreement (usually that means just look down, but keep head upright.) This is just based on other peoples reactions to me offering to cheat.

2.  Learn all the basic manners through books like Dale Carnegie's books. Also, basic manners too like washing hands in bathroom, not picking nose, saying bless you, saying thank you.

3.  Never disagree with anyone unless it is necessary. In fact, adopt those values. BUT DO NOT DO IT IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY DISCLOSE IT. It is much more impressive and much less suspicious if you wait to show them with your actions that you have adopted their values. Patience is key.

4.  When trying to seduce someone in opening stage, always have a REASON to talk to them. Then, get them to do a favor for you. While they do that favor for you, start asking them questions about themselves that lead to conversation.

5. Always expose yourself to other well-adjusted sociopaths to learn from them (I am very good at profiling people's personalities: includes identifying sociopaths). What I've been doing is just doing my best to befriend them, and watch how they interact with their friends. No better way than to learn from the master.

6. If possible, seek help from sociopathic relative. There has to be one if you're a sociopath. It's my dad in this case. Of course, remain discreet. My dad always knew i was a sociopath and I hinted to him that i was self-aware. so he gave me some pointers.

7. Watch your tone of voice: Keep it soft. I learned that from reading Devil in the White City (the sociopath was described as having a very soft voice that appealed to people).

8. When smiling, mirror them. Smile when they do. The exception is greeting people. The smile should not be a big cheeky one unless they have one on their face too. I happen to be able to consciously control most muscles on my face that most people can't (I can make a Duchenne smile, raise the inner corners of my eyebrows without moving my entire eyebrow to indicate the universal expression of sadness, etc.) Sorry, I digress.

9. Never brag like I did in this post many times earlier (feel free to remove those parts. I'm too lazy to delete and too eager to impress). If complimented, which happens occasionally, show no reaction, especially embarrassment. When i see people respond with embarrassment to my compliments, I see them as weak.

10. When other people wrong you, don't react with criticism. They will see you as a good, tolerant person. Don't tell them it's okay either, that encourages the behavior. Just nod or show no reaction. Move the conversation forward-most people will feel guilty on their own. Criticism just makes them defensive and they rationalize instead. Act forgiving, but do not vocalize it. Do this by just ignoring the transgression completely. This will intrigue them even more.

11. Learn to fake empathy. To do that, realize what empathy is and what it is not. I used to have trouble making people feel better because i was sympathizing with them. I don't know what it feels like, but apparently just telling them somehow that you feel their pain is enough.

12. When approaching someone you don't already know, approaching from the side and come prepared with an opener question, usually related to the situation. And whatever they say they are doing, say you are doing the exact same thing (doesn't work in some cases, duh). This kind of creates an initial bond, which is just small enough to launch more personal questions.

13. Keep observing people's reactions to things and adjust accordingly. Some reactions are almost universal, so should become a part of your repertoire. 

14. When someone makes a joke, just laugh. Don't come up with another joke that springs off theirs if u don't genuinely find their joke funny.

15. Never, ever stare too long a people's faces. Learned this one the hard way. Occasionally, look up to gauge their reactions if u see through your peripheral vision that their expression has changed. I usually can see out of the sides of my eyes that their expression has changed, but I can't see how it has changed.

16. Always practice a new expression you are learning to fake in front of a mirror. I spent a few hours practicing my smile and timing it correctly after I failed the first time. The timing and depth of the expression must be appropriate. If you sense awkwardness, its your fault. 

17. I observed at first that people who laughed were more charismatic, so I started doing it a lot too. However, i got a lot of weird looks. Always wait from them to laugh first and then mirror them. Otherwise, risk laughing inappropriately. Once in class movie, a boy got shot in the knee and i started laughing because the boy did stupid things to deserve it. Apparently, no one else found it funny. 

18. Some young sociopaths have a tendency to be too nice, so they come off as obsequious. Don't keep offering to help them. It needs to be strategic and meaningful to them. So wait for them to ask you or if you observe cues in their body language that might signal their needs. Wait until they are down and help them up, but always pretend to empathize with them first.

19. Learn strategic complimenting. Young sociopaths are way too flattering. When you gather intel about someone and you observe that they have a trait they are proud of, don't compliment too much on it immediately. Just ask questions to seem interest and also act interested. However, later through your interactions, solicit advice related to their particular strength or just casually mix the compliment in with something else

20. Eliminate all "awkward sounds" from your repertoire. These are sounds coming out of your mouth that serve no purpose in communicating your ideas and make you look like an unsocialized person (and therefore not charming). This takes some work to do. Silence is preferable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mask of Sanity: Homosexuality and Sex

I realized that I referenced this Hervey Cleckley Mask of Sanity story in the book, but never posted it here. It's hilarious, one of my favorite, particularly because of the old-timey narration. I'm sure many will recognize some of their tendencies here:

In psychopaths and in many other people who cannot be correctly placed with the well-defined homosexual group, there are varying degrees of susceptibility or inclination to immature or deviated sex practices. In contrast with others, the psychopath requires impulses of scarcely more than whimlike intensity to bring about unacceptable behavior in the sexual field or in any other. Even the faintest or most fleeting notion or inclination to forge a check, to steal his uncle's watch, to see if he can seduce his best friend's wife, or to have a little fling at fellatio, is by no means unlikely to emerge as the deed. The sort of repugnance or other inhibiting force that would prevent any or all such impulses from being followed (or perhaps from even becoming conscious impulses) in another person is not a factor that can be counted on to play much part in the psychopath's decisions

The activities of a typical patient of this sort whom I once studied are highly illustrative. This 27-year-old man, honor graduate of a college despite great irregularity in his studies, had for a number of years followed a career so similar to those of the other patients cited that there is no point in going into detail. He showed no indications of ordinary homosexuality in manner, dress, physique, or in personality features. He had been rather active in heterosexual relations since about fifteen, his partners being professionals, girls of respectable family, and married women.

All of these relations had apparently been to him more or less equivalent and entirely without personal significance. He admitted having once or twice, and more or less experimentally, submitted to the wishes of a homosexual and also to a couple of blundering ventures into deviated activity while drinking with others apparently more like himself. These did not seem to give him any particular satisfaction, and there is reason to believe that he distinctly preferred what he did with women. To the patient, any idea that he might be a homosexual seemed absurd

In the absence of any persistent or powerful urge in this specific direction, the patient, apparently without much previous thought, hit upon the notion of picking up four Negro men who worked in the fields not far from his residence. In a locality where the Ku Klux Klan (and its well-known attitudes) at the time enjoyed a good deal of popularity, this intelligent and in some respects distinguished young man showed no compunction about taking from the field these unwashed laborers, whom he concealed in the back of a pickup truck, with him into a well-known place of amorous rendezvous. At the place he chose, "tourists' cabins" were discreetly set up in such a way that women brought by men to them for familiar purposes could enter without the possible embarrassment of being identified by the management. Despite these facilities suspicion arose, and the patient was surprised by the man in charge of the resort while in the process of carrying out fellatio on his four companions. He had chosen to take the oral role

When seen not long after this event, the young man was courteous but a trifle impatient about how long he might have to be hospitalized. He showed some concern with what use psychiatric examination might be in helping him avoid the term of imprisonment that would, according to the law, befall him if he should be convicted of the charges made by the proprietor and which he did not deny. This possibility did not, however, greatly alarm him

He had often evaded penalties for antisocial acts in the past, and he had a good deal of easy confidence. Although he expressed regret and said his prank was quite a mistake, he seemed totally devoid of deep embarrassment. On the whole, his attitude might be suggested by such phrases as "Well, boys will be boys," or "Now wasn't that a foolish damn thing for me to do." These were not his literal words, but they are congruent with his behavior. By some legal step, his family, whose members were wealthy and influential, succeeded in having him avoid trial. Finding himself free, he left against medical advice within a few days

As might be expected, in view of their incapacity for object love, the sexual aims of psychopaths do not seem to include any important personality relations or any recognizable desire or ability to explore or possess or significantly ravish the partner in a shared experience. Their positive activities are consistently and parsimoniously limited to literal physical contact and relatively free of the enormous emotional concomitants and the complex potentialities that make adult love relations an experience so thrilling and indescribable. Consequently they seem to regard sexual activity very casually, sometimes apparently finding it less shocking and enthralling than a sensitive normal man would find even the glance of his beloved. 

None of the psychopaths personally observed have impressed me as having particularly strong sex cravings even in this uncomplicated and poverty stricken sense. Indeed, they have nearly all seemed definitely less moved to obtain genital pleasure than the ordinary run of people. The impression one gets is that their amativeness is little more than a simple itch and that even the itch is seldom, if ever, particularly intense.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Along came Polly

More stories of Polly from our ADHD friend (there remind me of the Hervey Cleckley tales):

I have a million stories about that girl though.

I remember one time, my first year of college, we met this guy at the gym. I don't remember his name. We didn't even remember his name that night, just that he was a frat boy and he was a senior and he was cute and he liked us, particularly her but he was a flirt. She claimed him pretty immediately afterward, and that was fine. But one day he called her and said he wanted to see us, all three of us (he wanted Alex and me to come downstairs with her) so we did. He was obviously drunk, but he asked us to get in the car, and she just GOT IN. Even though he OBVIOUSLY had no business driving anywhere. Alex and I didn't want to get in, but Polly talked us into it somehow, I don't remember what she said, but we got in. As soon as we were in the car, he locked the doors. All three of us thought that was pretty creepy, so we asked him to let us out. He said no. We unlocked the doors. He locked them again and took off. 

He was doing at least 40, 50 mph down these little neighborhood streets, and we couldn't get out. He took us back to his house and finally let us out. He told his friends who were there that he'd brought us "for them." We told him, more or less, to fuck off and that we were going home. All three of us started to leave, but then he offered us beer, and Polly decided it was worth staying for a beer. A man forcibly drove away with us in his car, and all it took was a beer to convince her to stay. Then we asked he to leave and she said no, that she could handle it (she couldn't handle it, she was 120 lbs soaking wet and there were three large men in the house, but she was pretty sure she could handle it.) We went in because we were pretty sure she couldn't really handle it. Then they made us watch Robin Williams Live at the Met. it was a really surreal experience. I honestly expected something horrible to happen in that house, but no, we watched Robin Williams. They offered us Doritos and beer and made us watch Robin Williams (and yes it was MADE. One of us, I forget who, suggested we watch something else and they freaked out. One of the guys threw the remote across the room and they started screaming at us to sit down and watch the TV). 

Polly gave the guy a hand job while we were sitting on the couch, the guy and the three of us girls. Then we insisted we go home. The guy said he'd drive us, but only if Polly stayed behind. She tried to FIGHT him. He was this big guy and she punched him and bit him. He pulled her down a flight of stairs by her hair, put her in the car, and said he'd changed his mind. She KEPT trying to fight him from inside the car! She was pretty drunk at that point, granted. She'd only had one beer, but she was the biggest lightweight I've ever met in my life. During the course of our time in school we watched her get blackout drunk, pass out, from like three or four. But still, she was fairly certain, after one beer, that she could fight off three large men. She was comfortable enough to drink their beer, even though it was fairly clear that none of us had any control over the situation. We were locked in their house and it was their beer and they were bringing it out in glasses, not cans or bottles, so there's no way of knowing what they'd done to it. I did not expect to live through that night but when we got home, she was just like "Well that was sorta freaky, huh? Never seen anybody get so worked up about Robin Williams." I don't tell my parents very many of the stories about things that happened when I was with her. My dad REALLY likes her though. He says she's nice and funny.

Friday, February 20, 2015

ADHD and neurodiversity

From a reader on her ADHD and friendship with a sociopath:

I wanted to let you know that I read your book a couple of months ago, and I wanted to email you for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I wanted to thank you. I'm definitely an empath, but I'm not really neurotypical either. I've had four or five doctors so far tell me that I have the worst ADHD they've ever seen, but I wasn't diagnosed until I was 21 because I was really, really good at compensating and hiding. I used to feel a lot of shame about a lot of that compensating though, like I should function like everybody else. After reading your book though, I think my view on that has changed a lot. I think that neuro-diversity is important, and I care a lot less now what other people think about it or about the way I function. I do just fine for myself, and I like my life and it doesn't matter if other people do or not, and thinking about things that way really started after I'd read your book. There also were a few parts of what you discussed that I really could relate to, like not having a long-term life plan. I have never had a long-term life plan, and I think that has always frightened my family a little, but you seem to have done fine without one, so I think that I probably will too.

The other thing is that even though I could relate to a couple of the things you discussed personally, I saw a lot more of them in a friend of mine. We've grown apart recently (nothing happened, just life) but we used to be close. I met Polly my first day of college. She literally just knocked on the door of my dorm room, said "Ferris Bueller is on, but my roommate has the remote and won't give it up," walked in without being invited, sat on the floor, grabbed the remote, and watched Ferris Bueller. She never left. She really didn't. She'd leave to go to class or to get food but she started more or less living in my dorm room.

I'm trying to remember some of the things from your book that really reminded me of her, but like I said, it's been a couple of months (that would be the ADHD. I was very excited about emailing you, then before I did so I was very excited about doing something else and forgot). I know you mentioned sexuality as being a big thing. Polly identified herself as heterosexual, but all of her friends called her "the noodle" because she was "straight until you got her wet." I think she preferred men, but I know that Alex (my actual roommate) and I both woke up several times to her sticking her hands up our shirts or down our pants. She said she was curious. She also used to walk through large crowds and see how many boobs and penises she could grab without people saying or doing anything, acting like it was an accident or slipping away into the crowd. She would always then report the number to me VERY proudly. I remember once she insisted that she had to see my breasts. She kind of cornered me and put me on the spot about it, and being every bit as impulsive as she is, I showed her. She was angry because they were bigger than hers, even though that was blatantly obvious when we were wearing clothes. She didn't like that I had something that was better than hers.

She did love me in her own way, but it was never the way that other friends connected with me. She was perfectly happy to take advantage of me in any way she could, but she was protective of me when it came to other people doing the same. Basically, she always wanted me to be the second prettiest, smartest, most charming girl in the room, and she would do absolutely anything to put me there: to make sure that i was the best i could be as long as that didn't mean i outshone her. She could be really sweet. For example, there was a program I really wanted to get into in school. It was fairly exclusive and only about 5% of students who applied got in. Polly and I had completely different majors, so in this case there was no competition between us. My doing well wouldn't hurt her at all. I made it to the final interview but after that interview I was cut. She was furious. She was almost more upset about it than I was. She kept telling me that I was obviously the best candidate and that it was completely wrong for them to not accept me. She didn't have any problem with hurting me herself though, if it benefited her. Alex and I both lost friends that Polly didn't know at about the same time, and we bonded over the experience. We were going through the same thing. Polly didn't understand at all. She was completely unable to relate, even though I know she's had people she cared about die too. Alex and I started spending more time together and less time with Polly. In response, Polly manipulated both of us. She told us really subtle little lies about each other, then played off of the anxiety she created and tried to make us mistrust each other. It very nearly destroyed my friendship with Alex. We hardly talked for almost a year, and we both started spending more time with Polly, because both of us thought she was on our side.

When we finally figured it out, I wasn't surprised. Polly is a lot of fun. She's impulsive and sometimes silly and funny, and she always, always can think of something to do. She can be a really good friend, too. She's not particularly trustworthy though, and she can always, ALWAYS be counted on to put herself first. If Polly is a sociopath, or even has some sociopathic tendencies, it wouldn't change how I feel about her. I love her for who she is. It would explain a lot of the really, really weird things that have gone on, though, so I thought I'd get your opinion. Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Schizophrenia and sociopathy

From a reader:

I've been reading your blog for about 7 or 8 months now, and I've found it quite interesting reading the posts from fellow readers who have reached out to you to describe their lives and the unusual way they look at the world, often wondering and asking if they are sociopaths themselves. 
I've been reading your book and blog and have commented on a few blog entries myself, and I thought it would be interesting to gain your perspective on my current state. 

I'm a 23 year old female currently an undergraduate at university studying psychology. I'm not a sociopath, and I don't believe there is any chance I am one. I've been speaking to doctors, mental health assessment teams and a clinical psychologist for the last couple of months, and while I haven't yet received a clear diagnoses, my condition seems to lean towards some form of schizophrenia, possibly the paranoid or disorganized sub-type, or a combination of them. 
I write because I've been thinking a lot about what may be called "Abnormal Psychology", and I've been considering some of the similarities and differences between sociopathy and my own mental state (I'll refer to it as schizophrenia for simple convenience).  

You recently posted a blog entry from an interesting young woman who was wondering if she was a sociopath, and I commented on the post explaining that I could relate to some of her feelings of violence and murder. Like many sociopaths, I don't feel any guilt, empathy or remorse with the idea of killing another human being that deserves it, and I've been experiencing frequent strong impulses to murder certain individuals (ex-friends) who have made life more inconvenient for me by spreading around a lot of negative stigma, insults and rumours concerning my mental state and odd behaviour. The only thing that has stopped me from carrying out my plans of killing these persecutors is the threat of legal consequences and the cost to my freedom that a prison sentence would entail. The doctors I have spoken to seemed a little worried that empathy and guilt wasn't playing any role in deterring my violent impulses, only a practical argument was stopping me. 
One of your readers replied to my comment explaining that this risk vs reward reasoning was characteristic of many higher functioning sociopaths, which is probably one of the things that inspired my thoughts about sociopathy and my own possible schizophrenia. 
Empathy and understanding others in generally something I have a lot of trouble with, although I'm very fond of animals. 

I've had a fairly good fufilling childhood, with no neglect or abuse of any kind. My mental health issues only began to surface severely when I was round the age of 16, although I think I was always a bit odd and different throughout my life in ways I still can't explain. 
Unlike many sociopaths, I have suffered in the past from many depressive episodes and I currently suffer from a great deal of paranoia, anxiety and fear of other people, which I guess is where my condition differs from sociopathy a fair bit. I have had many thoughts of suicide, but the thought of hurting my family with my own death does not occur to me or really bother me. The reason I haven't killed myself is a functional one (like the ones holding me back from killing), I don't believe in an afterlife, so if I was dead I wouldn't be able to do things that I enjoy anymore, like going for enjoyable walks or eating nice food. That's all. 

Some other readers and commenters have mentioned things like fluid sexuality or gender identity with regards to sociopathy. Like them, gender often feels like a meaningless concept to me. People appear to me as if they walking around in "people suits" of flesh and skin and muscle, and it's only the person underneath the skin that has any real bearing. So therefore I guess I could be considered bisexual as Male and Female doesn't make much of a difference to me. People are either aesthetically pleasing, or they are not. 
I've had friends in the past, but they never last too long and I've became very anti-social at this point. Sexuality doesn't play an important role for me, and I've never had any romantic or sexual interactions with anyone in my life, nor do I have any deep desire or intention to do so. I still find some men and women physically attractive, hence the bisexuality instead of asexuality. 

I feel very detached from the people around me when I'm in public. I often feel detached from my own skin and body too. If I'm not feeling the effects of anxiety or paranoia, I can simply observe these masses of flesh and bone move around me and interact with each other as if I am watching a TV show. Some sociopaths seem to mention this kind of thing too, as it lets them observe things like power, influence and seduction from an objective viewpoint. I also view things objectively, but unlike sociopaths my understanding of human interactions is pretty poor. I find it very difficult to correctly pick up on social cues and facial expressions, so it's like I'm looking at a confusing puzzle with no answer when I observe people. Simply put, I struggle to understand people. 

Finally, you and others have commented on the sociopaths ability to blend into a crowd and copy the behaviours and customs of empaths in a very convincing way. I found this to be one of the most interesting aspects of your book (and sociopathy in general) becuase it's where the greatest difference lies between me and sociopaths. I can't blend in anywhere. As soon as I enter a room or a group conversation, everyone can immediately tell that I'm not normal. I stick out in ways I can't seem to fix. My mannerisms and social interactions seem off and unsettle people. Apparently I stare too much or too little, or the things I say in conversation are perceived as odd. I have no ability to charm others as sociopaths do. While sociopaths can be like a wolf in sheep's clothing hidden in the herd, I stand out immediately like a deformed goat with leprosy. There's nothing wrong with my appearance. I'm quite feminine and I believe I'm fairly or moderately attractive with regards to body shape and facial structure. I think it's all behaviour, mannerisms and social cues that give me away. 

Anyway I've rambled incoherently for far too long. I'll just finish by saying that I'm interested in the similarities and differences between mental conditions like schizophrenia and sociopathy and how it makes individuals feel like outsiders in a world they have to try and fit into, like playing a role for the sake of social convention. It's a hard topic to wrap my head around since schizophrenia can take many different shapes and forms, and sociopathy doesn't seem to be very well understood by most. 
I don't particularly expect a reply, but it was nice to try and put these thoughts down on paper, and if you do happen to have any thoughts on the subject, I'd love to hear it. 

Sorry for the essay and thank you for everything, 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tips for dealing with someone with a personality disorder

For those that missed it, I liked this comment on the last post about how to interrelate with someone with a personality disorder:

Let's start a list of recommendations for dealing with a PD.

1. Call them on their shit. The more they get away with, the more they will try. 
Give them an inch, they will try to take 3 miles. Then bitch that you never give them an inch...
Firm boundaries are your friend.

2. Don't be a pussy. 
No passive aggression. It's annoying. They are not mind readers and being passive aggressive will only make them see you as a weak bitch. Especially if you are a man. 
I don't think it's possible to respect a man who acts like a weak bitch.

3. Be honest. 
Don't try to outplay them. They will most likely see through it. Then they will make you cry for it later.

4. Make yourself valuable to them. 
If you are valuable, they are much more likely to behave better towards you.

I'm going to try to elaborate on and provide synonyms for each of these in turn, at least as they would apply to more my end of the spectrum.

1. Have firm boundaries. People with personality disorders don't have their own personal boundaries (yes, it actually is possible to influence them in ways that you wouldn't be able to influence others or get them to do crazy stuff because they don't have the same sense of off-limits that everyone else seems to have) or great sense of other people's boundaries. If the PD person wants to maintain a relationship with you for any reason, best thing you can do to help them out is give them firm boundaries and reinforce them as necessary on the small stuff instead of letting it get to the big stuff and then flipping out on them.

2. Use direct, not implied communication. This is probably a good rule for all healthy relationships -- rather than forcing someone to dig out your true meaning from context clues, just own your expectations and tell them straight up what it is that you want/need from them. Sociopaths seem to be especially clueless as to discerning some of these "say one thing mean another" types of communication because they rely on a shared sense of expectations in order to be able to discern that the expected did not happen as it should have -- e.g. not calling within 24-48 hours of seeing each other is fine? Or reprehensible? Not clear. A sociopath may not even be able to pick up on even basic passive aggressive tactics like the silent treatment. I often have assumed that people are just preoccupied with other pursuits.

3. Don't do anything with them that you would normally consider reprehensible behavior in yourself but somehow justify it because it's towards or because of them. The sociopath *will* often use it against you. The sociopath is not even necessarily being a hypocrite. It's not even as if he is fine with lying if it's him but now fine with lying if it's you. Rather, if you feel even ambiguously badly about something that you've done, anything remotely approximating guilt or even just consider the behavior something you'd rather not have the entire world know, the sociopath will be able to turn that knife back on you. You've seen that on television shows? Where the scared office drone gets a gun and has it used against him by the very attackers that it was meant to protect against? If you aren't completely comfortable with all of the ins and outs and implications of the weapon you're using, don't, because someone else does.

4. Don't expect emotional ties to bind the PD sufferer to you the same way that normal people are. Everyone is influenced by cost benefit equations. PDs just seem more so, perhaps, because that's one of the few things they are reliably influenced by, when you take out the emotional ties.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Staying with a socio

This was an interesting blog post tweeted to me about why someone might stick with a sociopath even when no one else can understand it. I can understand that, but should people feel obligated to stick with a sociopath?

I have no choice but to deduce his behavior to his environment, both past and present. Has he really been able to change his destructive behavior and simply chosen not to? It's no more of a choice for him to remain sociopathic than it is for me to remain compelled. We are what remains. Are we to just walk away from one another because of our flaws? I am a little crazy. I sure am glad no one's really walked away from me for that. My father walked away from my crazy mother and it cost her her life. Why does all the literature to date advise a no contact declaration in terms of sociopathic personality disorder, when perhaps those of us who love them, our parents, our children, our friends, our partners should rather be advised of the proper tools in handling a loved one with a specific medical condition.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Strict upbringing

From a reader:

I just finished reading your book. I picked it up at the bookstore with the general interest in understanding different aspects of the mind and mental illness. While I greatly enjoyed the book, I was also able to put pieces of my own life together that I found absolutely astounding. Before reading it I never would have even began to label myself as a possible sociopath. I know this isn't necessarily something that you want to come to the conclusion of but I feel like you summed up my life in a chaotic nutshell. I am 21 years old and I have always known that there was something different about me. I have always been an incredibly independent person ever since I was a little girl. My mom had me quite young and my dad was never in the picture but I would say that I grew up in a supportive household. Still to this day. I have memories of 5 year old me stealing newspapers from my neighbors doorsteps each morning and tormenting the neighborhood kids. Going around during the holidays and taking people's Christmas decorations and stabbing their giant blowup inflatables... I know this is childish banter but I did manage to rein in that sort of crazy side as I got older. I was always incredibly self sufficient and like you said, even when I was caught I didn't feel bad, it just made life a little more of a challenge for me. I think that the love from my family is what kept me from really going down a darker path. I was taught what was right and wrong in societies eyes and I knew what I had to do to stay in good graces.

      As far as my family goes, I care for them but it always seemed odd for me to use a word such as love to explain my connection with them. Not that they don't mean a lot to me, the word love just doesn't seem like the right word to describe it. I have always felt that way about any sort of emotion though. I know when someone dies or something horrific happens to someone you know you're supposed to feel a certain sort of sadness. I have never reacted any particular way to any situation. I've been to a few funerals and have never felt the overwhelming need to be burdened by salty tears or negative emotions. I feel about death, tragedy, disease, murder, and rape the same way a person would feel about killing a fly with a swatter. I always felt that it was strange that I could stand in a room full of crying people and feel nothing. Like I was watching a bad sitcom on the outside of the television. I do know how to behave though because of the way I was raised. I tell the person who's experiencing the negativity that I'm so sorry blah blah blah. It's really just to ease the other person and make me not look like an insensitive asshole. Ultimately, situations like those just make me very uncomfortable and I retreat as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

      I have the ability to be extremely social. I grew up in the [American southeast] and kind of grew out of it as well. I tried to form relationships with people throughout middle and high school but was ultimately bored and disappointed with the friendships/relationships I tried to cultivate. I burned a lot of bridges and stayed to myself simply because I just didn't care anymore. I battled with depression and thoughts of suicide throughout high school. I didn't know what was going on, and up until recently I still didn't know what was going on. While seclusion was nice and the easier route for the past few years, it wasn't benefiting me anymore and I chose to use a different poa. 3 months ago I moved to Missouri for a life change and to meet new people that didn't know me from my first failed life attempt. When I put my mind to it I can mesh into any friend group you introduce me to. People love me here though and it is quite empowering. I always hear that there is just something about me, followed by a look of curiosity like they just can't put there finger on it. It's never been a question of can I make friends. I know good and well that people fall in love with me quite easily if I play my cards right.... I still feel like it's a playing field though. Like I'm watching everything from the sidelines or the outside of the bubble. I see things differently. I read vibes and I am constantly analyzing people and situations. It can be frustrating at times because you can see the stupidity in everything as well and it becomes quite boring and tiresome.

     In your book you mentioned that a trait of a sociopath can be accepting both genders sexually. In societies eyes, I would be considered a bisexual. But the thing is that I've never really given it much thought. I've just never really cared what gender a person was. It never bothered me and I didn't feel weird or violated when these thoughts arose. I just took it for what it was and have had both male and female partners in the past. Whatever suits my needs in that moment. As far as sexually I must admit that I like it rough. I love being choked and slapped and tied up. If given the opportunity I love to do those things to my partner as well. My friends thing it's strange sometimes how open I am about sex but it doesn't bother me. They are even more surprised when I show them my box of toys and I get to enjoy the puzzled/confused looks on their faces. Like what I'm revealing is too much... Or is it because I don't reveal much to them in the first place that it moves from 0-60 way too fast. Who knows?

       I have never really been a violent person. I think that my family upbringing helped keep those emotions in check. That's not saying that those thoughts don't go through my head. The thought of murder and whatnot really doesn't bother me, so sure in a fit of rage I've imagined brutally murdering someone and loving it, but it's never actually happened. The situation has never fit for me to beat the shit out of someone and usually it's the consequences of those actions that keep me in check. I do get that heady feeling of grinding my teeth together and my saliva begins to taste almost metallic. I love it though. Those feelings make my heart rate increase and my eyes dilate like a wild animal just wanting to slaughter its prey.

      I do believe that the way I was raised has benefited me in the long run. Cuss words like hell and crap weren't even aloud in my house so extremely bad behavior was never tolerated. Who knows where I would be if my upbringing was less than favorable.

       I was so happy to hear that you actually talk to your readers. While this is only a small piece of my life and what I go through, I would love to have your input. You are an incredibly brave person for putting your life out in the open. Your book has really opened my eyes and I don't feel so alone anymore. I was fascinated how much I could relate to your book and I feel like I used up a whole yellow highlighter marking my copy with notes and similarities that I found. While most would be scared to even consider the thought of being a sociopath, if that's what I am then it's something I'm willing to embrace. This is me. I really hope to hear back from you, and again thank you so much!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Empath hypocrisy?

This was an interesting recent comment on an old post:

as an almost permanent tourist in western society, i notice that this particular civilisation is clearly built by and for ppl referred to as sociopaths. Most of the DSM defined traits are essential in the practice of business, law etc as defined by the western cultural model.

Clearly the western media/propaganda machine is either responding to or encouraging widespread worship and admiration of ppl who can kill, fight and act without the accepted social and moral restraints.

in fact, the main difference that i can see between western 'empaths' and 'sociopaths' is that the latter are not inclined to the (mostly) hypocritical displays of 'caring' that the former use as evidence of their so-called humanity.

i know empaths who will readily cry when watching poverty porn, and will discuss starving children with other similarly emotive empaths....but have absolutely no problem chowing down on, say, chocolate produced on plantations that exploit slave children. The majority of westerners buy and wear clothing made by enslaved children in sweatshops, because the pleasure of a killer discount and convenience outweighs any bad feelings over tortured children.

i hear that sociopaths use compartmentalisation to deal with contradiction, but it seems that empaths use cognitive dissonance...and i think the latter may actually be more effective.

So-called empaths can cry about little kittens and cute doggies being hurt, and can weep as heart-rendingly for a fictional, cartoon being as they would for one in real life. Perhaps more so, because they are often without any discernible discomfort when consuming, say, meat that has been produced by basically torturing hundreds and thousands of animals as a matter of course. The inhumane conditions of factory farmed animals well documented, but the western business model is concerned purely with monetary profit and loss.

in fact, the most extreme empaths, called 'sensitives', would rather be shielded from the truth of their hypocrisy, rather than endure the material inconveniences involved in facing most moral dilemmas in this culture.

Being seen as 'nice' and seeing themselves as 'nice' seems to be more important to them than taking actions that actualise this 'niceness' they seem to feel is part of their nature.

i notice the glaring hypocrisy most when i think about the holocaust the nazis created and the western democracies' historical responses.
Americans, for instance, complained about the cruelty of the nazis, the heartless torture and genocide endured by jewish ppl (those who were gypsies, disabled, african and so forth incurred less sympathy for whatever reason). Yet in their own country AT THE SAME TIME they were still up to their elbows in the blood of the African descendants who had been forcibly brought over to that country hundreds of years earlier.
The torture, rape, bio-terror and abuse the status quo of american culture enacted against African and Native american ppl are well documented, and yet the cognitive dissonance employed to ignore this fact and cast euro-americans as the 'good guys' is amazingly still in place.
Western empaths say things like 'never forget', but only when it concerns those they have been programmed to care about.

Right through until the sixties (described as the swinging era of peace and love in this culture) black americans were being publicly lynched, and those events were captured in postcards that were sold door to door and still feature in the family albums of many white american families.
[this links to many of these images]

in these postcards, you see men, women AND children looking at the bloodied, castrated corpses hanging from the trees....and their expressions register the kind of gay pleasure, excitement and convivial community spirit you might expect at a neighbourhood carnival or block party.

i recently read a news article that could have described this macabre atmosphere perfectly, but it was in fact talking about 'islamists', the new fabricated boogey man of the morally bankrupt west.

From the Metro, February 5th:
""crowds cheer burning death on big screen.
Jubilant crowds of IS supporters have been celebrating as big screens reportedly showed the jordanian pilot being burned to death." The article laments the "sick celebration in the face of international outrage" and marvelled at " a smiling boy aged about six talking excitedly about the killing."

Now, i mentiion this in this forum, because it at least purports to be full of ppl who dont get all emotionally defensive, illogical etc, and who dont have strong attachments to identity etc.

i am interested in a response.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A comprehensive attempt to categorize oneself

A long email from a reader asking:

First of all, I wanna say I have read almost every post of your blog, and it really makes me happy that someone's taking the time to do this. Actually help us with our doubts and everything.

Before beginning my history, I just want to note that my main language is not English, so there will probably be mistakes with grammar or something like it. 

It's hard to choose where to start, but I'll do my best.

I have had an inner doubt for a few months now: am I a sociopath? 

How did I get to this question?

During one class at school, my teacher was talking about Sociopaths, noting every trace that one might have, and, to be honest, I had seen myself in those traces as he spoke, but said nothing. The thing is, as soon as the teacher finished, my friends looked at me and smirked, 'you're a Sociopath', they said. And I simply took that as a joke. 

It's been in my mind since then.

In my small group of friends, I've always been known as the 'weirdo', simply because I'm not outspoken, I don't get along with most of our colleagues, and always been called the 'cold' one, because I never really showed my feelings. I never been outspoken, but I always been articulated with words.

Lately I have developed a curiosity towards serial killers. I've always had this 'uncommon' interest in things that people usually tend to ignore because it doesn't seem healthy. 

The therms sociopath and psychopath became a routine, but it was more like a hobby until I came across this personality test to see if you're a 'sociopath'. My intention was just to amuse myself, but when the result was positive, I made other three tests like that, and all of them the same. I don't think this could be a trustful diagnoses, so I started looking up for the traces of a sociopath, and it seemed that I had many things in common. 

Since I have been a child, I have never got along with other people very well, simply because I'd rather my own company, but people always seem to love me. Teachers, other students, everyone. They saw me like this smart and sweet little girl, but deep inside I felt like I was pretending. Until I learned I could get things from it. I'd usually be nice to people to get something. Anything. Not a big deal to me, everyone does that, and specially back then (I believe I was 9). 

I think my life took this turn when I was 4, because I was molested in school, but I can't really say, since I don't remember anything before that. My mom says that after that, I turned into this more reserved girl. This was a fact that I had to pretend I forgot for the next 10 years, because I did not want my parents to worry about it. 

Since I can remember, I haven't been really that person that loves everyone. No, I'm not saying I don't love. I do. I love my family. My mom, my dad, my grandma, my brother... The ones that are with me in a daily basis. 

I don't have many people I consider friends, because I just can't trust people. And even if I do trust them, I have never been able to be truthful with them. I'm not saying that I lie about everything, but even when there's no reason to, I'll make up a lie or two, sometimes just to show them that I'm better somehow. In my whole life, I only had one friend I have been totally honest, and that I totally trusted. Someone I'd give my life for. (What happened isn't really what matters.)

I think, even when I don't feel able to love or feel empathy for everyone I know, I love too much that small group of people that I'm able to feel something for. I hope I'm making sense here, as said, my mother tongue is not English. But I love too much, to the point I feel it gets close to an obsession.

Manipulating people to get something, sometimes only amusement, is also something I do quite often. Isn't really something I try to do, it comes and I don't even realize. To mention one case that happens often, I usually will talk guys into believe I like them, so I'll get something back. Information about something I have the need to know, getting them to pay for things and all that. 

I also have bursts of anger often, since really young. Sometimes there's not even a reason behind it, I just get the urge to hurt someone or break something. In the past few years I blamed this on self destruction. 

First time I ever tried to hurt someone, I was really young, to the point I can only remember flashes and what my grandmother tells me. She was laying down on the couch, and I simply hit her head with something. To be honest, the only thing I can remember of this event is me looking at her head and then just hitting her. 

Second time I can remember, I was between 8 or 10 years old, when my cousin was tripping on the stars and reached out for me. I grabbed her hand but I wanted to see what would happen if I let her go, and I did. She didn't get hurt, and I convinced one other cousin that was there with us, to tell my aunt that I didn't let her go, that her hand slipped from mine. My aunt believed me, and nothing happened to me.

Last year, I was camping with three friends, and this one was making me irritated, somehow. He took something from me without asking, and lost it. I was really angry, and told him to look for it, but instead, he sat down and started using his phone. He was sitting in the dark, and I remember walking to a pile of sticks, grabbing one and going behind him. When I was about to raise it and hit him, he turned around and saw me, so he walked away. Our other friends had to sit me down and make me calm down.

I don't think I am a bad person, nor these episodes make me a Sociopath or not, because everyone has these bursts of anger and do things they'd regret. But I don't regret. I don't regret almost hitting him, because in the end he found the thing and gave it back to me. I don't regret lying, I don't regret manipulating, and I don't regret doing things that other people wouldn't. I think the closest I have to feel something about it, besides the thrill, is being anxious with the possibility of being caught on my lies or anything I do.

For the last two years, I've been to therapy. I hate school, and that's normal, so I had suicide attempts and started self harming, because I wanted a way to get away from school. It worked for one year and a half. I started therapy and my therapist would write to school to justify why I wasn't going to my classes. But back then my explanation to myself, was that I had depression. Maybe I had, I'm not really sure, but these days I've been thinking about the possibility of being a Sociopath, and it crossed my mind that maybe I created these symptoms to get away from school, something I hated. Something I was forced to do.

I never really had problems with my exams, so that wasn't the problem. I'd like to consider myself quite smart. I never really had to study for tests, I'd only listen to the teacher for half an hour, and I'd get high notes on my exams. I always been the best in my classes, without much effort. 

Again, it always led people to like me. I never really understood why, because I never did anything, but people always try to talk to me, they always like me. I guess I started liking the fact that I could get something from it.

Earlier today, I had therapy, and questioned my therapist about being a Sociopath. Mentioned the tests and all. She said I'm cold, insensitive, egocentric, but didn't get to the point to tell me if I was or not. She simply said 'all of us have the traits of a sociopath'. 

I know it might sound like I'm trying to convince you that I might be, because I have seen several people claiming to be sociopaths because they want to hurt other people when they're angry, but I am being truthful, here. I have nothing to lose by saying the truth, and nothing to gain by lying. I just wanted to know if I am or not, because for the first time I think I found someone that is like me, and that there's actually nothing wrong with not being empathetic with everyone you know, just because society tells you to. 

My friendships never last for too long, because I always expect more from them, and they always disappoint me. Letting go of them and losing the feelings (sometimes, shallow feelings), is never too hard. The only thing is the feeling of revenging for the betrayal. 

I think these are the things that might help you with... Helping me. I need to get this doubt out of my head. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Re-thinking personality disorders

From a reader:

I read your blog post from 2012 titled "Why I hate narcissists" and I think you should try to think of them a little differently(if you don't already, considering the post is from 2012.) I've been best friends with a narcissist since elementary school. He is obsessed with being liked, looking cool, etc. He'll lie to make himself look good, do anything for attention etc. He has all the hallmark traits of a classic narcissist.

My point is, I have always kept him around as a sort of sidekick. He is not very smart, again a trait of a narcissist, so he doesn't notice when I am manipulating him. He loves attention, no matter if it's good or bad, so he was a great fall-guy anytime we got in trouble. He'd gladly take all the blame just for the attention, allowing me to get away scot-free. He would also improve my image and allow me to indirectly manipulate my impression on others through him. He would lie about me in order to make himself look better. After all, if his friends are great then that makes him look great too. Of course that meant that I could put all the blame on him if any of the lies were discovered, thus avoiding all risk while still getting all the reward. 

All in all I'd just like to say that narcissists might be the most useful tools in a sociopaths arsenal. so you might want to reconsider your opinions on them.

I have actually already have reconsidered my opinions on them. "Hated" was always an overstatement as it applied to narcissists, I'm sure. But also I think I don't think of people as fitting such neat boxes as "narcissist" anymore. Or at least I try not to if I can help it.  I still think that labels are a useful abstraction that help people understand themselves and others. But particularly for personality disorders, the lines separating us are not bright as people make it out to seem. These diagnoses say things like you need "three or more" of a long list of characteristics, but a lot of people have in their mind that a "true" diagnosis actually looks like. Like the classic BPD is a female cutter who is emotionally unstable with outbursts and oversexualized or whatever else. Where do they get this picture from? Stereotypes probably owe their genesis to truth, but the stereotype is by its nature an oversimplification. Still, people assume that if you don't fit the stereotype you must not be X. And I sort of feel like personality disorder diagnoses (at least as they are commonly conceptualized and used) are essentially as valuable and truthful as a stereotype. And that's where the label making starts getting a little absurd. Lately I am more of the opinion that personality disorders all share certain things in common -- problems with identity and sense of self, e.g. Then there are maybe 50 or so traits that they could also have depending on how the lack of sense of self played out in their development -- variations in how they understand and deal with their emotions, variations in their conception of their self, variations in how they deal with others, are they generally passive or aggressive, are they generally driven or lazy, introverted or extroverted, delusional or self-aware? And is it possible to have a driven introverted self-aware sociopath? Or do they all come out extroverted lazy and delusional? What if, like a rubics cube, we change just one of those traits. When does a sociopath who has all of the classic traits suddenly cease to be a sociopath? Taking away one trait? Two? And which ones are essential and which ones could you expect to see some variety within the population

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sociopath or not?

From a reader:

Hi, I was wondering if you could give me some kind of answer on whether or not I have sociopathic tendencies? Honestly I'm pretty concerned with my thoughts and emotions and I was hoping you could give me some kind of advice if possible.

I'm a 14 year old female and from a very young age I've been known to be aggressive and both verbally and physically abusive. It has calmed down slightly throughout the years but for a while now I've been having both suicidal and homocidal thoughts. I have no intention with carrying out with the actions but at times they're so overwhelming I get frustrated. I'm no longer in schooling for the moment because of my outbursts and anger, I have no talent for being patient and although I had numerous chances, I was unable to change my behaviour and how I reacted to things. It got to the point where I could barely make it through a whole class.

I've researched the signs and symptoms and I could honestly relate to some. I'm going to point a few things out which I lack and if its decided that they're one of the primary traits of being one, it'll make the rest of this email irrelevant. 

"Animal cruelty" is beyond what I could do. If I were in a situation where I could either choose a human or a dog to live, It'd be the dog all the way. I don't take much interest in animals and it doesn't bother me that most die but there are around 3-4 certain animals I couldn't tolerate dying. I'm rather fond when it comes to the common house pet. With all of that said I still wouldn't mind slaughtering something, maybe even dissecting.

"Lack of empathy", I'd be lying if I said a severe lack of it. I'm to the point where I'm not exactly sure if I lack it or not. I care about my family and would do anything to attempt to prevent danger but I'm not too sure if its love. I recently attended my nan's funeral, of course my eyes got watery but I couldn't cry. I wanted to, I really did considering I looked like a heartless bitch but I couldn't. Over the last two years I've been gradually losing it. 

I believe I'm quite smart, I'm able to spot things that most people couldn't. I've been told numerous times that I'm manipulative but not as straight forward as that. I could change someones opinion within minutes of talking to him/her. Sometimes I get so caught up with thinking about myself that I over see reality and wonder if I'm enabled to some kind of supernatural ability, I believe that I could do many things, anything I want to do. 

I'm just going to run over some things that would possibly be needed to judge and provide your opinion. In the past I've done drugs and have drank alcohol, well whenever I go out. I'm really anti-social, I can't stand being around others for more than an hour at most. The first time I smoked was to try it out, the second time was an attempt to calm down and since I've been smoking. Sometimes I enjoy laying in bed and thinking of ways to end people, to end myself. I've made plans in my head that I couldn't follow through with. Honestly, I'd love to follow through with them but there's things that stop me. Simple things like the outcome of it, wasting away in a cell where I couldn't fulfil my ambitions and become something better then everyone else. I couldn't do it for simple things like that, including what my family would go through because of me.

My old school suggested that I have ADHD, the one after suggested I had some kind of severe anger problem. I often get irritated and angry and when I do I say things that I wouldn't normally say, I take my frustration out on walls and objects in the house and when at my worse I'd lash out without even thinking. 

I'm not too sure what else to say or if you even took time to read this but if you did, thank-you.
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