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.

41 comments:

  1. Duplicitous...

    My kids have been telling me I would like the show, and now that ME has commented on this particular character, I definitely have to watch it. I don't remember ever seeing a good portrayal for a "sociopath next door". Even Sherlock who calls himself a high functioning sociopath did not ring true to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Duplicitous, yes.

    I found it boring although the production values are good.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shows, shomes. Get together with Casey on a book. That's where
    your lucrative future lie$.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think sociopaths are like cats. They play with people the way normal people play with things. They manipulate naturally. Bored easily. They can mobilize a lot of energy to do some silly thing, and then behave completely lazily. They can get really worked up (emotionally) and be different in a moment when circumstances change. And they are cold-hearted, focused and driven at times.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is a great show, and a great character. But I feel like in later seasons, after he achieves some of his goals, he seems less manipulative, and less the focus of the show. S3 seemed to be mostly about Claire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. who is interesting in her own right. The dynamic with Claire is really fascinating if you seek to understand what a long term "successful" marriage of sociopathic personalities looks like… although Claire seems more narcissistic she definitely has her ruthless moments and is similarly manipulative on an interpersonal level.

      Delete
    2. I don't think Claire is a sociopath. There were several instances of her emotions overruling a more prudent course of action. Narcissist, maybe.

      Delete
  6. BreathlessEmpathJuly 3, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    Until now I've been a devoted lurker. But ME lured me out of hiding by mentioning my favorite show. Love, love, love Frank. He reminds me of the socio I'm smitten with: seductive, powerful, unknowable. Some of the scenes between Frank and Zoey make me weak.
    Come to think of it, I think I hang out around here for the same reason I watch HOC: to feel just a little bit closer. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi BreathlessEmpath! And welcome. It is nice to see new blood on this blog.

      You sound hooked.

      Enjoy it, but please keep liking your sociofriend after the high is over. He is who he is. Remind yourself of how he helped you see life in a different light. Even if he can't quite recall the way you made him feel or the way you interested him, remember the energy he gave you. Hopefully you are using that energy to get ahead in life. Do not concentrate all the energy on him, or you will eventually resent him. Keep a bit of distance. He will like it, and you will benefit from it in the long run.

      Delete
    2. @BreathlessEmpath Unknowable... Yes. My sociopath ex is a a wild bundling of dichotomies, untamed as the sea. I think the mysteries of the universe are bound up in his delicious, delicate, dangerous being. It's no wonder I loved him.

      Yet there is something wonderful in letting him go, too. A broadening, a release, a freedom of self-awareness and the hint of a thrill that the universe has infinitely many more mysteries at hand.

      So I don't force. Let it come, let it go.

      @OldAndWise That's good advice and timely for me, too.

      I did see my ex last week. He kissed me on both cheeks in the French style at his work farewell. Not a word nor any tension between us. His body was warm. I remembered his shoes under my bed.

      He forgot his coat.

      Yes, he will linger in my mind for a few weeks, in a less intense way than previously. I've learned to focus on my experiences rather than his actions.

      Emotional and novel experiences are the best environment for neuroplasticity... I always take advantage of these encounters. I use the energy to reach greater clarity, awareness and stillness.

      Delete
    3. Emotional and novel experiences are the best environment for neuroplasticity...

      Well said, North.

      Most people describe their experience with a sociopath as negative, destructive even, after they realize that the attachment or the love they felt towards the sociopath was not reciprocated (at least not in the usual way). They feel cheated, they feel like they were taken advantage of. They feel bitter, and sometimes unable to trust again.

      It looks to me that you see your experience as mostly positive and enriching.

      Can you explain? When did you realize your friend was a sociopath?

      Delete
    4. @OldAndWise
      Thankyou for your words. I have been reading for a while and perceive that perhaps our journey has not been dissimilar.

      I chose to blow up my entire life with the sociopath. I had, however, no clue how perfectly fit he was for that task.

      I did go through those feelings you describe as well - the idea that someone would try to hurt me deliberately just didn't register. There was nothing in my framework of understanding to accommodate such a possibility. It *was* painful, and sometimes I understand clearly that such a relationship *inevitably* changes a person.

      What I have realised, however, is that I choose the direction of that change.

      My father and almost-ex-husband are both narcissistic. Of the many gifts my experience gave me, one of the most powerful was waking me up to that understanding.

      It's around 12 months now since I figured out he was a sociopath. We discussed it briefly and he was happy for me to use that term. My very first reaction was of intense curioisty - I wanted to explore his mind even more than I had done during our romantic relationship. I was absolutely fascinated. And still am.

      It's very difficult to jam the past year into a few sentences! After the farewell, a colleague asked me if I had dated him. I responded with a text... indicating he had catalysed some huge changes in me, the most useful of which was learning to let go. Non-attachment, as the mystics call it. It's easy to get good things with simply curiosity and good intent. An open mind.

      This colleague had been discussing techniques for controlling others with the sociopath. My argument and my experience is that control is limiting for the one who seeks to exercise it. I've learned the universe, with its myriad factors, is far more capable of producing enjoyable circumstances than I might ever manipulate into existence.

      Curiosity is the most glorious of human traits. And for optimists, there is no consequence worth worrying about.

      This week, I have let go of his game. I played it for 8 months. He took me to court. I learned my own self. And now I am free to let it go. Let him go. Acknowledge his beautiful strangeness, a black box of mystery that might throw up scintillating circumstances at any time. Or may not ever cross my path again.

      This is a process requiring such patience and investment in self. Right now, you will see my language, my concepts are still somewhat framed by sociopathic dialectic. But my personal vision extends far beyond. As Sems-i-Tabriz said:

      "Blessing is excess, so to speak, an excess of everything. Don't be content with being a faqih (religious scholar), say I want more – more than being a Sufi (a mystic), more than being a mystic – more than each thing that comes before you."

      #Sail

      I would like to hear some of your story, too, if you would like to share.

      Delete
    5. Your words are a bit disconnected, probably because you have so much to say, and it makes it a bit difficult to piece together your story, but it sounds like you were married when you met the sociopath. Perhaps not a happy marriage. Your husband was using you and controlling you more than was healthy.

      You met the sociopath at work and had an affair. More than an affair. It broke your marriage. The the affair ended and you stayed "friends" with the sociopath. You probably did not have too much of a choice, it was either that or finding work elsewhere, plus you were still smitten by your sociofriend. You wanted to understand more.

      The part that I really don't get is the part where he took you to court. Is this a metaphor?

      The way in which we are the most similar, I believe, is that we take responsibility for the relationship and learn from it. We enjoy the many interesting sides of the personality, and accept the not so savory aspects as something we can learn from, in the sense that it reveals to us who we really are. The main thing is that we decided earlier on not to see ourselves as a victim, but as a student of life. The majority of the work we did was/is on ourselves, on understanding our reactions to this nasty mirror, as opposed to blaming the mirror exclusively for the pain it put us through. We are strong, and the experience has made us stronger and more appreciative of what life really has to offer. We learned to look at life not as something we have to go through, but something that we can enjoy as we go through it. Curiosity, new experiences are now what drives us. We are still us, but with more of an edge and an appetite for life that is stronger than before.

      Can you relate?

      Delete
    6. @OldAndWise

      Thankyou for the opportunity to elucidate these things. I have written reams in various places, but not one consistent and clear narrative.

      Having a narrative is an excellent tool for helping one to let go.

      In response to your comment, I drafted such a narrative. It's still too long to post, so much has happened.

      You are fairly close. Why did he take me to court? I suspect my having sent a document package of my journal entries to his wife had a lot to do with it. Was it revenge? Was he re-establishing control? Was he genuinely paranoid and wanting to protect his marriage? I suspect a combination. But given he has since persisted with the old create expectations - dash hopes - collect routine, I doubt it would merely be the latter.

      Yes, students of like. Absolutely. I have taken my lessons running head on. Perhaps I am happier now with a broader, less intense learning experience. But you have expressed it nicely: an appetite for all life has to offer.

      It's glorious.

      I wouldn't necessarily say I am stronger. I think perhaps I have tried to be too strong. Instead, I think of myself as more integrated, closer to neural and physical harmony.

      Thanks again for this opportunity.

      Delete
  7. "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"

    ^I have never watched the show, but this description resonates very profoundly with me. At first, I took issue with the "mere pawns on my chessboard" statement, but upon reflection, I *do* view the people within my organization as "pawns", whose strengths and weaknesses I plumb and harness for the benefit of our collective- which also happens to be my baby. I am certainly invested in maintaining my power and influence there. :P

    If I become involved in my colleagues' personal issues, it is primarily so as to placate, subtly nudge, or maintain them in some way. I do not feel any emotional connection to them- even though we are, rather ironically, an unusually tight-knit community. I suppose this could be viewed as a form of emotional manipulation, but I only realized this recently, because I am not harming them. On the contrary, my aim is often to help, but it is true that my motivations are not purely altruistic, even though many of my actions are frequently characterized as such. Even so, I do not have an authentic connection with anyone there. Perhaps my saving grace is that is that I am not applying myself towards greedy gain, but towards an initiative that genuinely benefits my community.

    I don't have an open marriage- but I am bisexual, and I'd like one. My partnership is based on mutual respect and admiration... This being the highest compliment I might afford someone, and also what brings me deep satisfaction in our relationship. I am also exceedingly duplicitous without suffering an iota of cognitive dissonance or guilt on account of it. And I fuck up all the time with regard to controlling my anger and impulses. Worse yet- I have no real desire to reform these tendencies. Frankly, they can be powerful tools through which to manipulate people, get what I want, or achieve a desired outcome.

    However, I differ in that I might bullshit even someone I respect greatly, easily and without compunction, if it suits my whims, impulses or agenda- without remorse.

    All that to say that I concur that description as someone with pronounced sociopathic tendencies. I guess I'll check out the show.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are MUCH to intelligent. You are an academic of some sort.
    Could you KILL? Yes. But I guess you would only do so to prove a point,
    or if you were under great stress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't kill anyone unless it were in self-defense, or my family was in danger. I'm not the person lurking outside your window at night, making weird noises, Lonnie. Rest easy. ;)

      And while I am smart, I am certainly not an academic. I never had the discipline or the impulse control to maintain a steady course of study. I am lazy, easily bored, a chronic procrastinator, and I abhor routines. (But when I hyperfocus, I can accomplish 10 times what most people can within the same time frame.)

      I have co-morbid adhd, and experience has shown me over the years that I *can't* work for someone else over the long-term; I invariably take off. Being an entrepreneur was a natural choice, born of necessity. It keeps me accountable and personally invested like nothing else ever had. It is a path that worked out well for me.

      Delete
    2. Man, we sound alike. I flunked my time at the university. They say psycho's aren't procrastinators, but i seriously doubt that. Although when i have to do something i often just get it over with. Can i ask what kind of business your in? (im not fishing im just curious)

      Delete
  9. Duplicit is the adjective you're looking for.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The reason spell check informed you that "duplicitive" is not a word is because it is not. I do believe that the word you had intended to conjure up was and still is, and without further adieu is....duplicitous. Call me an informatIVE "empath." ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. If you like House of Cards, you might want to check out the original BBC series. I understand that the BBC House of Cards would be too British (both in culture and politics) to appeal to U.S. audiences, but Francis Urquhart is played by Ian Richardson, who makes the Chief Whip diabolically gleeful in his machinations and manipulations.

    ReplyDelete
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  24. More people need to be on http://sociopath-community.com/

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    Goddamn ME refused to reconnect the blog to the forum so we SC goers will just have to spam advertisements for the forum in the comments section. ;)

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