Friday, July 31, 2015

Sociopath fan boy

A list of movies/characters/tv:

Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler
Eva Green - 300 Rise of an Empire
Toby Kebbel - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Matt Damon - The Departed
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Carl Urban and Lena Headey - Dredd
Ralph Fiennes - In Bruges
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Ryan Gosling - Drive
Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci - Goodfellas
Hugo Weaving - The Matrix
Christain Bale - American Psycho

Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Many actors - The Sopranos
Michael Kenneth Williams - The Wire
Robert Knepper - Prison Break
Iwan Rheon - Game of Thrones

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Minimum IQ sociopath?

A reader wonders:

A couple of weeks ago I ran into someone I went to high school with and had not seen since we graduated.  Remembering back to when we were in school, he showed a lot of the traits of being a sociopath.  He hasn’t changed much since then.  When I saw him recently though, I realized that he’s not a sociopath.  He’s just stupid.  I don’t mean that as an insult towards him.  His IQ is probably in the low 80’s.  This made me wonder.

Is there a minimum intelligence needed for sociopathy to matter?  Maybe he is a sociopath, but his stupidity can explain his actions.  I can’t tell the difference.

I’m still going through all of your posts so apologies if you’ve already covered this.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Empathy: Overrated?

So asks this Atlantic article, regarding whether the Age of Reason should give way to the Age of Empathy:

Bad idea, say the cognitive psychologist Paul Bloom and the neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson. At their Aspen Ideas Festival talk on Thursday, Bloom allowed that a the word “empathy” as it’s sometimes colloquially used—to mean kindness, goodness, morality, and love—is unobjectionable. But in the Obama-esque sense of feeling another’s feelings, empathy, they contend, it mostly hurts the world. “To the extent that I’m an empathetic person,” Bloom said, “I’m a worse person.”

Empathy is a documented psychological phenomenon: If you see someone else poked in the hand, Bloom said, your own pain centers in the brain will light up. And scientists have demonstrated that you’re more likely to help someone whose pain you feel. The problem, as Bloom sees it, is that “because of its focusing properties, [empathy] can be innumerate, parochial, bigoted.” People are often more empathetic toward individuals who resemble themselves, a fact that can exacerbate already-existing social inequalities. And empathy can cause people to choose to embrace smaller goods at the expense of greater ones. "It's because of the zooming effect of empathy that the whole world cares more about a little girl stuck in a well than they do about the possible deaths of millions and millions due to climate change,” Bloom said.

Empathy can also make people do evil. “Atrocities are typically motivated by stories of suffering victims—stories of white women assaulted by blacks, stories of German children attacked by Jewish pedophiles," Bloom said. It also can lure countries into violent conflicts based on relatively small provocations, and researchers have shown that people who are more empathetic are more likely to want to impose harsh punishments on people. “The more empathy you have, the more violent you are—the more ready and willing you are to cause pain,” Bloom said.  

Empathy doesn’t even necessarily make day-to-day life more pleasant, they contend, citing research that shows a person’s empathy level has little or no correlation with kindness or giving to charity. And in the professions centered around helping others, empathy can be a burden, leading to burnout and incompetence caused by emotional contagion. “When I go to my therapist, I want her to understand me and I want her to make me better,” Bloom said. “But if I’m going, ‘I’m anxious and depressed!’ I don’t want her going, ‘I’m anxious and depressed!’”

So what should empathy be replaced with? Bloom and Davidson proposed two things. One is “rather cold-blooded, rational cost-benefit analysis,” Bloom said. “Go after not what gives you buzz, but what really helps other people." For example: Instead of giving to a child beggar in India, and thereby reward the criminal organization that likely put that child there, donate to Oxfam. The recommendation dovetails with the rising “effective altruism” movement, which The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson recently described as “munificence matched with math.”

Of course, this sounds a lot less emotionally fulfilling than helping someone you have a connection with. That’s where the second potential empathy replacement comes in: compassion.  To do good, Bloom said, “we need an emotional push. But the push need not come from empathy. It can come from love, from caring, from compassion, from more distant emotions that don't come from being swallowed up in the suffering of others."

At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Davidson has studied the brains of Buddhist monks and explored the ways that compassion is neurologically distinct from empathy. He even believes it to be an intrinsic trait like linguistic ability—something that must be fostered at a young age to be implemented throughout life, and something that can be strengthened through practice. To that end, he and his colleagues developed a “kindness curriculum” for preschoolers.

But what about personal relationships—don’t they rely on empathy? Bloom and Davidson said it’s possible but not yet scientifically proven that some amount of empathy is indeed required in order to practice compassion. But they contend that even the closest relationships need not be dominated by the sharing of emotions. At the end of the Aspen session, an audience member posed a scenario to the scientists: What if she was fired from her job, and her partner offered her a back rub and kind words but didn’t truly get why she was upset? Wouldn’t the comfort feel hollow, useless?

“What you’re really asking for is compassion plus understanding,” Bloom replied. “Suppose you feel humiliated. I don’t think it’s what you want or what you need for your partner to feel humiliated. You want your partner to understand your humiliation and respond with love and kindness. I think for your partner to feel humiliated would be the worst thing you want. Because now, you have to worry about your partner’s feelings.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sociopath envy?

Is this the source of the sometimes observed sociopath envy? Is it really just jerk envy (because sociopaths are too oblivious to conform to social norms, and therefore are seen as confidently bucking social norms because they're too powerful to be bothered with conformity)? From Forbes, on Why Jerks Get Ahead:

And so it is with rudeness, because while most of us deplore it, research suggests that we also see it as a sign of power. A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science indicated that the ruder someone acts, the more convinced observers become that he or she is powerful, and therefore does not have to respect the same rules the rest of us bow to.

In one of the experiments, study participants read about a visitor to an office who marched in and poured himself a cup of “employee only” coffee without asking.  In another case they read about a bookkeeper that flagrantly bent accounting rules. Participants rated the rule breakers as more in control and powerful compared to people who didn’t steal the coffee or break accounting rules.

In another experiment participants  watched a video of a man at a sidewalk café put his feet on another chair, tap cigarette ashes on the ground and rudely order a meal.  Participants rated the man as more likely to “get to make decisions” and able to “get people to listen to what he says” than participants who saw a video of the same man behaving politely.

What this study appears to indicate is that violating norms is viewed by others as a sign of power, even if the observers would otherwise judge those violations as rude or flatly wrong.  Considering many of the openly rude jerks we venerate, these findings make a lot of sense. (Though I would like to see a follow on study that examines observer perceptions when the rude rule breakers are caught. Perhaps it’s less the rudeness and corruption we admire, and more the ability to get away with it that intrigues us. Maybe we’re just a little smitten with the charisma of villainy.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Famous sociopaths: Gandhi?

From a reader:

Two sociopaths I know both insist that Gandhi was a sociopath; their evidence was Gandhi's hunger strike.  I found their reactions fascinating, because both are sociopaths of course, neither one know each other, but both were equally as skeptical and offended by Gandhi's motivations for the hunger strike.  Both thought that anyone who thinks Gandhi did ANYTHING for any reason other than fame and power is a sucker, and that Gandhi over did it because the hunger strike led to a massacre of some of his Hindu followers. 

What do you think?  Do you think that some of the world's greatest humanitarians, such as Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, had sociopathic  tendencies?

I wish I could convey better just how striking a similarity in responses these two people had. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


From a reader:

I don't even know where to start... I have seriously been looking into (and studying) sociopathy. I am generally sure that I am definitely a sociopath. When I was younger I remember manipulating my parents and even my siblings when I would get in trouble. For instance, my brother and I would get caught for something... we would both be questioned as to who did the (wrong) deed. Then left to our rooms... until the guilty party spoke up. I repetitively remember just holding out in silence and waiting for my brother to step forward and admit to it after 24-48 hours passed. I would then hear him getting physically punished and not even bat an eye. I recall getting people fired from work simply because I didn't like them, or because I wanted their job. Once, I came upon a drunken coworker on the job, who couldn't finish his shift. I assured him I would cover his ass, and everything he needed to be "good to go."  Instead, I called the owner of the establishment and told them about the entire situation. He then "showed up" and caught the fellow. He was fired immediately. I then got his job position. I continued to pretend he was a good friend (to his face) and even hang out with him, lying to his face about the person who "snitched." I didn't even bat an eye. I felt nothing for him. I thought that he was stupid and therefore didn't deserve his position, since he couldn't even take necessary precautions to break the rules intelligently. I was better. I never feel any actual guilt for things. The closest I can imagine is a paranoia of being discovered. Such as, while im hanging with these people, getting what I can off of them. The only negative thought about the situation is "What if they figure it out?"  Even then, I wouldn't stress too much about it, because I couldn't give two shits about the guy, and I could probably lie my way out of anything.

I actually hate hanging out with other people. I'm not sure why.... I will be around them, and they will suggest an outing of some sort but when it comes to the next day, or the day of plans,  I flake out. I lose all interest. 

The only thing that somewhat throws me off is my newest relationship. I am in a relationship with a girl that I can be more open with about my darker thoughts. She is very non judgmental... and maybe even a bit on the morbid side for an empath. When she isn't around me I wish for her to be, but I feel like it's that she quenches my boredom. Not that I can't live without her, or that I would be wrecked without her. She goes out of her way to do things often for me. Little notes, suprise lunches... She is very sexually pleasing. For these reasons I feel like I "Love" her. Is it possible to have a "target" and not realize it? I have been doing that with women my entire life. I feel empowered when my "mate" (whatever you want to call it.) thinks unusually high of me. I guess I feel like I want my partner to think of me as badass. I realize that I have been using these women to fuel my ego... when things happen and they have exited my life, I have felt sad... even cried before... but it feels like a hole is in my routine and that I am bored. I cannot text/call them to alleviate my boredom when I want. I don't think I've ever felt like I want them back, unless its some sort of game to me.... where even if I know I'm not interested.. the fact that they dont "want me" drives me insane and I put on all of my charm to reel them back in. Sometimes just to hurt them again and for them to leave. Or maybe to see how many times I can pull this off. 

I am prone to bouts of anger and fantasize about killing people. I was at a fast food restaurant and this woman cut in front of me. She was old. I wished I could follow her home and kill her for thinking herself above me. She was an old hag, why the fuck did she cut me off like I didn't even matter? People should watch how they treat others, I thought. I wanted to choke the life out of her while screaming at her, "Was it worth it?" After thinking about this and realizing that the laws of society keep me from regularly doing what I wish/want to do.... I suddenly went off on another random thought. Completely forgetting about my rage.

I would really enjoy talking more with you... I have never spoken to a human being so openly like this. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Film: The Act of Killing

From a reader:

I think this reviewer describes it properly:

The thing I found odd about this movie is that I could easily see myself acting the way the death squad leader did. Especially when I was younger, I had a lot more anger at other humans.

So the deal with "The Act of Kililng" is that they guy has the original gangsters (sociopaths) talking about what they did.

They boast about their deeds and are celebratory.

This is horrifying for normal people. You can see it in one of the clips here, where they have a panel:

The film panel is horrified that the perpetrators talk about this stuff so causally and happily.

I realized - this horror is the "essence" of the experience that sociopaths experience when we're honest with normal people about our subjective experience.

E.g. I was talking with a friend about Himmler's Posen speech -

For example:

"...Whether the other races live in comfort or perish of hunger interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; apart from that it does not interest me. Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany. We shall never be rough or heartless where it is not necessary; that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals, but it is a crime against our own blood to worry about them and to bring them ideals..."

I explained that I liked its honesty and clear priorities. I wish our leaders would reason and talk this clearly. I'd feel a lot safer and happy.

My friend explained that that sort of speech scares and disgusts normal people. I explained that the "normal" speech used to justify such actions like, "we're doing it for freedom" or "God says we should do it", bothers me, because it seems dishonest, illogical and arbitrary. But that's exactly the stuff that makes normal people like you and feel relaxed.

And yet if I'd worked Russian women to death to get the tank ditch built, my feelings (or lack of them) would incline me to boasting about what I'd done. I'd be proud that I'd done the nasty job because I had a clear sense of what was really important, and I'd acted on it, doing a dirty job.

If you watch "The Act of Killing", it seems that in general, gangsters have the sociopathic mindset. E.g. at one point, one killer starts to say that some stories, even true ones shouldn't be told, because they'll make the bad guys (commies) look good. One of the gangsters tells him that the truth is the truth, and there's nothing wrong with telling it. You can bet that that guy would be a Himmler fan too.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gone Girl

I forgot to post this back when I read the book about a year ago. I loved the book, obviously. I (like many others) thought that the film was oddly woman hating and relied much more on the trope of the psycho bitch than any honest attempt to depict a realistic sociopathic character.

Here are some quotes that I liked, regarding the odd obliviousness that sociopaths experience regarding reading people (considering they can be so oddly insightful), regarding the husbands desire to trick his sociopathic-ish wife into thinking she had won:

‘Go, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, we need to remember that,’ I said. ‘What matters right now is what Amy is thinking. If she’s softening toward me.’

‘Nick. You really think she can go that fast from hating you so much to falling in love with you again?’

It was the fifth anniversary of our conversation on this topic.

‘Go, yeah, I do. Amy was never a person with any sort of bullshit detector. If you said she looked beautiful, she knew that was a fact. If you said she was brilliant, it wasn’t flattery, it was her due. So yeah, I think a good chunk of her truly believes that if I can only see the error of my ways, of course I’ll be in love with her again. Because why in God’s name wouldn’t I be?’

‘And if it turns out she’s developed a bullshit detector?’

‘You know Amy; she needs to win. She’s less pissed off that I cheated than that I picked someone else over her. She’ll want me back just to prove that she’s the winner. Don’t you agree? Just seeing me begging her to come back so I can worship her properly, it will be hard for her to resist. Don’t you think?’

And from our sociopathic character regarding what role she provides for her husband:

You think you can ever be a normal man again? You’ll find a nice girl, and you’ll still think of me, and you’ll be so completely dissatisfied, trapped in your boring, normal life with your regular wife and your two average kids. You’ll think of me and then you’ll look at your wife, and you’ll think: Dumb bitch. Just like your dad. We’re all bitches in the end, aren’t we, Nick? Dumb bitch, psycho bitch. I’m the bitch you makes you better, Nick. I’m the bitch who makes you a man.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Song: Animal?

From a reader:

New'ish reader here. 

I was wondering if you have had the pleasure of listening to the song "Animal" by Mike Snow.  It recently popped up on my Pandora and I was instantly bopping around to the tune. hit me.  The lyrics. Just spreading the lovely word of us s'paths...thought you may like to share with the rest of them. 

"Animal" - Mike Snow
There was a time when my world
Was filled with darkness
Then I stopped dreaming now
I'm supposed to fill it up with something

In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody
I knew before, long ago
But I'm still trying to make my mind up
Am I free or am I tied up?

I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I'm still, I'm still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when I slip
Yeah I slip, I'm still an animal

There is a hole and I tried to fill it up with money
But it gets bigger till your horse is always running
In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody
That could be strong

Tell me if I'm wrong
And now I'm pulling your disguise up
Are you free or are you tied up?

I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I'm still, I'm still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when I slip
Yeah I slip, I'm still an animal

A like-minded individual

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I have heard (and used) this analogy before, but I like the way the adaption is described put in this comment from an older post:

A sociopath is like a color-blind person who sees the world in shades of gray but who has learned how to function in a colored world. He has learned that the light signal for “stop” is at the top of the traffic light. When the color-blind person tells you he stopped at the red light, he really means he stopped at the top light. . . . Like the color-blind person, the sociopath lacks an important element of experience—in this case, emotional experience—but may have learned the words that others use to describe or mimic experiences that he cannot really understand.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Moral objections

In Mormon world there is a woman who is Mormon-famous, largely as a blogger. She was involved in a plane crash and suffered extensive burns all over her face and body, along with her husband who was not quite as badly hurt. She relates her emotions at the time of waking from her coma to see herself for the first time post-accident as feeling like she wanted to just die, that she never wanted her children to see her that way. She later has a change of heart and became sort of an advocate and a promoter of self acceptance, among other things. Tonight I was thinking of what a drastic change that was -- from not wanting even your own children to see you, to being photographed and viewed by millions. And despite no longer being attractive by society's standards, she is widely accepted, loved, and viewed as brave, and I'm sure rightly so.  

I was thinking about my own experiences with religious or other morally driven types who have read my book and responded to me about it. Largely (as I expected from this turn-the-other-cheek crowd) Mormons tend to be amazingly supportive. But there were a few who were not, including one person that I knew personally who put it to me a little this way -- it's not the things I've done that were so problematic morally (which are, after all, relatively tame compared to the sorts of sinners that churches routinely welcome in their doors), but how I feel about those things, e.g. lack of remorse. Of course, lack of remorse happens to be a symptom of my personality disorder. Which begs the question -- in what ways am I responsible for my lack of remorse (that resulted from genetics and my disrupted childhood, neither of which I had any control over)? Under what philosophical or moral standard does that make me a morally objectionable person? How am I not like the burn victim -- ugly or distasteful society's standards, but allowed to not feel shame or self-hate about my psychological disfigurement because I suffer it through no fault of my own.

Along the same lines, this recent comment on an older post:

Hello human race. I have an unpopular opinion to share; 

Psychopaths/sociopaths are either genetic, or made via extreme trauma before the age of 3 yrs, or both! In both cases, these people have no control. They don't choose this.

I present the solution: Star Trek's Data's emotion chip. Psychopath/sociopath has complete control at all times, can choose to remove it whenever they wish, dial it up or down, or off. 

How to get them to do it? Present it as a dare, a challenge. Therapists to help them with the transition. Problem over. 

They are still people. A monster is a victim who got no help when they needed it, that's why they're monsters now. They had no choice, no control. 

Offer it to them, then. If we empaths are so much better than them, prove it. Don't hate them. Help them.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Song: To the Shoreline

From a reader:

I'm an aspie but I'm very interesting about the subject of sociopathy and find socios fascinating.

Anyway, I was listening to some music from one of my favorite bands when I stumbled upon a song whose lyrics reminded me a lot about what I've read about relationships with sociopaths.

Maybe you'll appreciate it, so here's a link to the song (with lyrics):

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How do you cope?

From a reader:

I have recently come across your blog and it's given me a new perspective. It's interesting, many of your readers seem to be very high-functioning. This is not the case with me. I've had some trouble since early on being a "functional member of society", ergo I can't hold down a job, my family hates me, and I'm quite the drifter. Now don't be fooled, this does not much upset me. 

I found your blog after my psychiatrist (after some time of "therapy") informed me that I qualify for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He also told me that I have a few antisocial traits, but barely don't qualify for a diagnosis of ASPD, the closest official variant of sociopathy. Now after I received this diagnosis, I was really put off because I can't stand narcissists, so I did some digging on NPD with antisocial traits, ended up reading "Mask of Sanity" and your very own enlightening book, "Confessions of a Sociopath." I don't believe in self-diagnosis, but I believe I would fit more into Dr. Robert Hare's depiction of psychopathy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Psychology Survey - MBTI

A request:

I was interested to see if there could be any correlation between any MBTI facets and sociopathy, so I created a survey to investigate.  It's only 3 short questions, so it will take about a minute.  As the experiment is looking only at sociopathy, I would ask empaths to not particpate.   I will share with you the results provided that a reasonable number of people submit answers.

Here is the survey:

Here is a personality test that is generally reliable:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Psychopaths excel at deceptive facial expressions

A reader sent me a link to the article "Would I lie to you? ‘'leakage’' in deceptive facial expressions relates to psychopathy and emotional intelligence."  In the study, researchers tested the ability of psychopaths and those with high emotional intelligence ("EI") in emotional deception.  Here are some fascinating highlights (citations omitted):
  • Emotional deception via the alteration of facial expressions can occur in three ways : simulating an expression involves adopting an expression in the absence of any real emotion; masking an emotion involves replacing a felt emotion with a different emotional expression; and neutralizing an expression involves concealing a felt emotion with a neutral face.
  • Some psychopathic individuals are chameleon-like actors and appear to use their acting skills to effectively manipulate others in various interpersonal contexts. In corporate settings, white-collar criminals with psychopathic characteristics, such as Bernard Madoff, often find easy victims by appearing trustworthy, empathetic, and kind. Psychopathic offenders can readily feign remorse and a pro-social attitude to manipulate their way into lower sentences (i.e., manslaughter rather than murder), permissions to appeal their sentences, and undeserved conditional release. Despite their much longer criminal histories and poorer conditional release histories, psychopaths are 2.5 times more likely than non-psychopaths to be released when they apply for parole . Further, these decisions are faulty; psychopathic offenders in both studies spent fewer successful days on release compared to non-psychopaths released. In fact, extended interpersonal contact with a psychopath can lead to less accurate perceptions of psychopathic traits.  
  • Despite evidence that psychopathic individuals are successful manipulators, the manner in which they deceive and manipulate others is open to question. Psychopathy arguably is associated with effective emotional deception. The psychopath’s distinctive lack of emotional experience may prevent emotional ‘‘interference’’ in feigning emotional displays. That is, because of the lack of real emotion, there may be less genuine emotion ‘‘leaking’’ onto the false face during a fabricated emotional display. In support of this prediction, Herpetz et al. (2001) found that psychopathic offenders exhibited fewer and less intense facial expressions in response to pleasant and unpleasant emotional images relative to controls. We predict that psychopathic individuals, particularly those with strong interpersonal-affective features of the disorder, will have an advantage when attempting to control their facial expressions during deception because of their lack of emotion; such individuals may express less ‘‘leakage’’ of genuine emotion during deception. However, due to emotional recognition deficits and a lack of understanding of what a sincere expression ‘‘looks like’’, these individuals will not necessarily be proficient at creating a facial expression consistent with the feigned emotion.
  • As predicted, psychopathic traits – specifically, high levels of interpersonal manipulation – were related to shorter durations of unintended emotional ‘‘leakage’’ during deceptive expressions. In contrast, the erratic lifestyle element of psychopathy predicted greater emotional inconsistency during deceptive displays.  Individuals higher in EI – specifically, the ability to perceive and express emotion – feigned emotions more convincingly than others but were not more immune to emotional leakage.
In other words, psychopaths are the best at not letting other actual emotions interfere with the feigned emotion (presumably because the psychopath does not have strong feelings to suppress), but that people with high EI did a better job mimicking actual emotion (presumably because they know better what those emotions look/feel like).

Friday, July 3, 2015

House of Cards

I've just started watching this show. I don't know why I haven't started before. I guess because I'm not really that interested at all in politics? Anyway, I'm still in the first season so I don't think these are going to be terrible spoilers, but I was a little surprised at how realistic the depiction of a high functioning sociopath seems to be for Frank Underwood.

There are the obvious things: obsessed with power, crafty, manipulative, duplicitive (spell check tells me that's not an actual word), has few intimates and the rest of his acquaintances are just pawns in his chess game. But there are also some of the less obvious things: bisexual, oddly friendly and helpful without any seeming motive and just as oddly vindictive in a way that seems to far exceed the original offense. He often does things that are generous with little hope of the good deed being reciprocated in kind, but he feels like "generosity is its own form of power". He's not delusional, but he also has random beliefs that don't seem entirely rational either, like a faith/belief in karma. If he respects you, he's not going to bullshit you, which may be nice for the open marriage he has with his wife (the marriage and love angle also seems like a pretty realistic depiction of the sort of partnership built on respect and admiration rather than love that you would expect), but he also clearly has impulse and rage problems and his crazy risks don't always pan out well for him. He's the type of person that you would love to have for a friend if you needed any of his prodigious skills, but also would need to watch yourself around, which maybe isn't that bad of a trade off?

Any way, I hope the subsequent seasons stay true to this character and for those of you who haven't seen this show yet, I would recommend it. Netflix.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Regret being sociopathic?

From a reader:

I consider myself neurologically atypical if not also sociopathic. I don't have any official diagnosis so I'm not sure if my self-diagnosis is useful.

I wanted to ask about regret for being sociopathic. Much of the website posts and your book resonate with me rather deeply. I see myself in many many of the different posts and comments and stories.
I read the book (having been drawn to it primarily because I have considered myself atypical since my teen years) in only a matter of days and determined that I very strongly matched enough of the factors or variables that would classify me in the socio realm.

I struggle with something of a cognitive dissonance, though. And I'm not sure other identified sociopaths would agree I am in that realm based largely on this factor. I can't fit in anywhere since I behave in manners so out of place and abnormal to the folks at large (social, work, etc.)

But I want to. I see how others act and emote and engage and connect and I get angry at myself for not understanding how to do that and not being able to. I have definitely learned how to feign it, but I find that cuts a number of relationships short because the empathic (to use book language) types try to get me to open up and be vulnerable like they are and I think they see how shallow that pool of mine is or see something else that creates a sense of unease and they remain somewhat distance.

In a few instances I've invested a lot of time and energy into a specific person to get them to convince themselves that I am more and deeper and I feel things just like them. I have in essence made some very good pawns from it. The latest addition to my collection of people is someone who I've somehow managed to totally ...glamour. They are enamored to the point where I've had to detach time and energy from them. To the point where I think I've broken them or gone too far. They adore me, they love me, they want more of me, they dream of me, they masturbate to me. I am overwhelmed that I did this.

The latest ...conquest only happened after I underwent a lengthy period of loneliness / retrospection / self-revelation. I'm in my late 20s now and I identified my last couple of years with the "blue" period from your book, where you seem to have realized just how lonely life can be, for someone who has a rather difficult disconnect from a lot of other run-of-the-mill people.

This is getting long, but you, in some ways or at certain times...regret being sociopathic? Do you have desires to be 'normal?' To not have to think about yourself in these ways? To not have to watch yourself carefully and present a persona all the time? To able to relax and be "yourself" and not worry about being chased up the mountain by torches and pitchforks?

M.E.: I think I definitely do feel that way. It's not necessarily that I feel dysphoria so much as a sense of meaninglessness that can started creeping up on me in my late 20s and took firm hold of my early thirties. If everything is a game, then what's the point of playing? That sort of thing. And there is a lot of effort spent just maintaining a status quo. It just didn't seem that sustainable, at least not when you looked as lasting for decades. So I've tried to expand my mental and psychological horizons, so to speak, in terms of figuring out different ways to be. I don't ever expect to cease being sociopathic entirely, but I guess I am aiming to be more bilingual. 
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