Monday, August 31, 2015

The Courage Game

I have historically alternated between trying to understand how I work and trying to understand how the world works or what my place in the world is. When I first started the blog, it was trying to understand myself. After a few years, it went back to the world. After the book was published, it went back to myself again -- this time with the help of an aggressive therapist. Now, I have a sense that I should sort of move on from this simple but comfortable and relatively safe life I have carved out for myself post book publication and trashing much of my previous life. I feel like my gaze has been slowly turning outward, and sometimes in some somewhat dispiriting ways.

This was an interesting video about a 12 year old boy who came out as being gay to his friends. Even in this day in age, that didn't go over well. Probably of most interest to me and people that come here is how he describes how society turned on him, how he reacted to the social ostracization. Starting around 4:20, he talks about how his peers chose to shame him, and how he withdrew as much as he could from society, how he desperately wished he was normal. The most poignant quote from him for me, though, was "I would always want to go to sleep and like never wake up you know because I just didn't want to deal with what like society had come to, and I thought, nothing would ever get better." He eventually stumbles upon a youtube video of an interview openly gay professional lacrosse player from a decade ago, and they strike up a mentorship. At the end, his mentor infers that one day the boy will be able to perform a similar role for other boys in similar circumstances.

I have felt what this little boy has, the feeling that every time you wake up one of the first things you think of is what type of world this is that you are waking up to -- where you don't want to deal with what society has come to. Sometimes I think about other sort of sociopaths that have gone public about their status (oddly only older males?) and how well they seem to be doing. I wonder why things seem more ok for them and their lives than they do for me -- why people don't seem to be as eager to witch hunt or to ostracize or to shame them as they seem to do for me. I could come up with a list of reasons (and some of you may feel the need to tell me why it's my fault), but could anyone of those reasons really explain the drastic difference between one man's and the others? I sort of don't want to believe it, because if I do the world will seem more arbitrary to me, although it may seem less arbitrary to others to want to blame victims, e.g. the rape victim for leading men on or dressing provocatively or putting herself in those situations, or the gay hate crime victim for rubbing it in people's faces. I understand the urge to blame the victim, because if you've never experienced victimization like this, you want to believe that you never will as long as you make all of the "right" choices in life.

But I guess the real answer is that there probably isn't an explanation for who gets victimized and who doesn't, or it's just so complicated. Why does this little boy get ostracized when so many other other young people nowadays have no problem coming out? And if you tried to think about how people would react all of the time to your honest expressions of identity, they would cease to be honest expressions of your identity. And as much as you can try to plan for the right moment and the right way and balance all of the competing interests and variables, everything can go wrong quite easily, like Gettysburg for the South. But in social situations like this, not only is there a large degree of risk and uncertainty and any planned or unplanned social maneuvering like a coming out, there's also a large degree of irrationality.

And I guess that is what I am actually really grateful for, for the opportunity to finally understand what it feels like to go through something a little like this boy did. I understand better now what it must feel like to be an abused spouse, where everything can seem like it's going fine and suddenly for some reason (but really no reason, or no rational reason, or not any reason that could be a reasonable response to the alleged trigger), you are something that is so reviled that you deserve to be treated like human garbage. It reminds me a little of an interview I watched with a youngish black man who had been raised by white parents and never really experienced the worst of racism in his sheltered middle class community until one night he was pulled over by police who proceeded to pull him out of the car, antagonize him, and then beat him to within an inch of his life. There is no rationality to it. There's no predictability to it. Or Sandra Bland. Did she really deserve what she got for not being deferential to the police? That's the reason why? And I know that not all of you will see it this way, but to me it's as ugly to me to hear people try to justify the police officer's behavior as it is for people to justify the homophobic bullying of a little gay boy. And now I can see better how people would just not want to deal with what society has come to. And this is not an indictment, it's just an expression of gratitude that before when I used to feel very little ties to society outside of my close family and friends, I now feel a sort of kinship to everyone else who has had a similar experience. And I don't know. If this is the way the world is going to keep working, at least for the foreseeable future, then I feel a little bit of an obligation to make my life work so that maybe eventually my example can help others who endure similar fates. But it's still a huge struggle for me right now to reconcile myself to this being just how the world works. Maybe that's a good thing too. Maybe eventually there will be enough people bothered by this sort of thing that it will cease to be as socially condoned as it still is. Because I wonder what the world would look like if people got as outraged by senseless shaming as they did senseless killing. In a lot of ways, I think victims of shaming would rather be dead -- that's why the suicide rate is so high among young gaysters, as the video points out. But also what good does the outrage at senseless killing accomplish? Maybe moral outrage of any kind is not the solution that it sometimes seems to be in our moments of deepest frustration with the world.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Non-discriminatory love

A recent comment on an old post:

I have recently come across this blog and find this post insanely accurate. I know this love. I give this love.

I become obsessed with knowing everything about someone - every detail - and I love it whether it is good or bad or ugly. I love them so much they feel like they can't live without me. My love is intoxicating, obsessive and completely desirable. But none of that means my love isn't real - just different. The intensity within itself is enough to show that the love of a sociopath is real, cemented and totally accepting. What more could you want in love? Sure - I can't love for long periods of time because I end up breaking the person, and myself a little bit - but the love that I delivered prior to breaking them was real and intense and passionate. 

I don't think empaths are vulnerable and pathetic - I think they leave themselves open to be hurt by people like me. But that is what love is all about - give and take, ying and yang, compromise. I have recently allowed a lover (who is an empath) to move into my house with me, as she left her girlfriend (which I orchestrated, but she doesn't know that. She thinks it was her idea after years of emotional abuse. Truth is, I just like the idea of being powerful enough to rip someone out of an eight year relationship). She is now staying with me until she gets on her feet - and boy do I love her. I make her lunch, touch her in all the right places and make her feel wanted and needed and desired. I am everything she has never had. Apart from being her physical fantasy (tall, thin, blonde, green eyes, very womanly and pleasant yet edgy), I give her all of the support she needs - I listen, respond, understand - I see the REAL her and love her anyway. But I know this won't last long. Once everything has settled down, I will get bored and itch to move on. But I love her all the same. Sociopaths can love males, females, empaths, other sociopaths, intellectuals, simpletons - EVERYONE. We don't discriminate on love and that's why it's real. We can love. Regardless of what it looks like. We love. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fearing the ego assault

I have a person in my life who I am helping to be able to do well on a particular standardized test. Part of doing well on this particular test requires a high level of critical/rational/logical thinking. This person struggles in a very consistent way at this type of thinking, filling in gaps with inferences and facts of his own creation -- a sort of magical thinking, really, but not a rare struggle. We two can spend a good deal of time on a question, debating until he finally sees where he went wrong. But 30 minutes later he makes the same error. At first he came up with reasons why he might be doing it. Now he doesn't bother to come up with any explanations or excuses, he's just frustrated. More than that, he's a little afraid of what it all means. The last time it happened he said, "I just wonder, have I been doing this the whole time?" It's like when you realize that you have a piece of spinach on your teeth, and now you rewind through the whole day, mortified, thinking who must have seen it and said nothing. As much as people say they don't like change, perhaps the most difficult part of deciding you were in error and changing is to acknowledge the error and the ego death that comes along with it.

Excerpts from "Art of Living", regarding the philosophy of stoic Epictetus, via Brain Pickings:

 The wisest among us appreciate the natural limits of our knowledge and have the mettle to preserve their naiveté. They understand how little all of us really know about anything. There is no such thing as conclusive, once-and-for-all knowledge. The wise do not confuse information or data, however prodigious or cleverly deployed, with comprehensive knowledge or transcendent wisdom. They say things like “Hmmm” or “Is that so!” a lot. Once you realize how little we do know, you are not so easily duped by fast-talkers, splashy gladhanders, and demagogues. Spirited curiosity is an emblem of the flourishing life.
Arrogance is the banal mask for cowardice; but far more important, it is the most potent impediment to the flourishing life. Clear thinking and self-importance cannot logically coexist.
The first steps toward wisdom are the most strenuous, because our weak and stubborn souls dread exertion (without absolute guarantee of reward) and the unfamiliar. As you progress in your efforts, your resolve is fortified and self-improvement progressively comes easier. By and by it actually becomes difficult to work counter to your own best interest.

By the steady but patient commitment to removing unsound beliefs from our souls, we become increasingly adept at seeing through our flimsy fears, our bewilderment in love, and our lack of self control. We stop trying to look good to others. One day, we contentedly realize we’ve stopped playing to the crowd.

This is maybe just the sort of thing that someone would read and say, sociopaths are not capable understanding or thinking these sorts of thoughts, and perhaps not if the particular sociopath lacks self-awareness. But doesn't it seem more likely (at least in a way) that someone with a weak sense of self would brave the ego assault that is self-introspection than someone with a rigid sense of self?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Famous sociopaths: Lucretius?

From a reader:

This one is a long read, but I think you'll enjoy it.

Apparently Machiavelli was an Epicurean. Epicurean philosophy: materialist, rational, pleasure-oriented and pro-social. It is very different from Catholocism/Christianity.

Personally, Stoicism appeals to me more. It is basically the same philosophy, but with more emphasis on self-control in all situations. But if you are happy and full of joy and wonder, it is a lot easier to be nice.

If you always remember that you've only got right now to live - and that you'll be dead forever - that makes it a lot easier to be nice to oneself and others.

From the article:

Anyone who thought, as Lucretius did, that it was a particular pleasure to gaze from shore at a ship foundering in wild seas or to stand on a height and behold armies clashing on a plain—“not because any man’s troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive what ills you are free from yourself is pleasant”—is not someone I can find an entirely companionable soul. I am, rather, with Shakespeare’s Miranda, who, harrowed by the vision of a shipwreck, cries, “O, I have suffered / With those I saw suffer!” There is something disturbingly cold in Lucretius’ account of pleasure, an account that leads him to advise those who are suffering from the pangs of intense love to reduce their anguish by taking many lovers.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Finding a sense of self

In the book I wrote something like I identify more as being a sociopath than any other common identity characteristic, e.g. gender, race, nationality, religion, etc.

I was thinking about that as I read this when I was reading excerpts from the book In the Name of Identity : Violence and the Need to Belong, via Brain Pickings:

Identity isn’t given once and for all: it is built up and changes throughout a person’s lifetime… Not many of the elements that go to make up our identity are already in us at birth. A few physical characteristics of course — sex, color and so on. And even at this point not everything is innate. Although, obviously, social environment doesn’t determine sex, it does determine its significance. To be born a girl is not the same in Kabul as it is in Oslo; the condition of being a woman, like every other factor in a person’s identity, is experienced differently in the two places.

The same could be said of color. To be born black is a different matter according to whether you come in to the world in New York, Lagos, Pretoria or Luanda… For an infant who first sees the light of day in Nigeria, the operative factor as regards his identity is not whether he is black rather than white, but whether he is Yoruba, say, rather than Hausa… In the United States it’s of no consequence whether you have a Yoruba rather than a Hausa ancestor: it’s chiefly among the whites — the Italians, the English, the Irish and the rest — that ethnic origin has a determining effect on identity.


I mention these examples only to underline the fact that even color and sex are not “absolute” ingredients of identity. That being so, all the other ingredients are even more relative.

But why then did I not associate with all of those markers living in the same society as everyone else who had those markers? Why didn't I identify as female and white just like every other white female child of my generation in my general geographic location? It's like I was born with an odd sort of immunity to that sort of socialization. Or maybe it was some sort of child strategy or defense mechanism because in identifying with something, there is vulnerability. Which oddly explains mob mentality, at least in a way that finally explains it in a way that I can sort of understand:

People often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack. And sometimes, when a person doesn’t have the strength to defend that allegiance, he hides it. Then it remains buried deep down in the dark, awaiting its revenge. But whether he accepts or conceals it, proclaims it discreetly or flaunts it, it is with that allegiance that the person concerned identifies. And then, whether it relates to color, religion, language or class, it invades the person’s whole identity. Other people who share the same allegiance sympathize; they all gather together, join forces, encourage one another, challenge “the other side.” For them, “asserting their identity” inevitably becomes an act of courage, of liberation.

In the midst of any community that has been wounded agitators naturally arise… The scene is now set and the war can begin. Whatever happens “the others” will have deserved it.


What we conveniently call “murderous folly” is the propensity of our fellow-creatures to turn into butchers when they suspect that their “tribe” is being threatened. The emotions of fear or insecurity don’t always obey rational considerations. They may be exaggerated or even paranoid; but once a whole population is afraid, we are dealing with the reality of the fear rather than the reality of the threat.

So is it possible that my weak sense of self and invulnerability to mob mentality are both tied to this odd immunity to identity socialization?

Interestingly my therapist is huge about identity, or maybe he's just huge with me because he knows that I have traditionally lived my life with much of a sense of self. The way he talks, it's as if reconnecting with my identity will be the panacea for essentially all of my primary psychological issues. That's easy for me to buy, at least enough to explore the concept more, because I've always thought that most if not all of my sociopathic traits stem from this inborn or very early acquired weak sense of self.

It's also another interesting example of how seemingly every human trait, and at least sociopathic ones, can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage depending solely on shifting contexts. Like the dark side of empathy, the weak sense of self has allowed me to be this chameleon teflon adherent of instrumentalism. Because I rarely care what others think, I've allowed myself to follow paths in life that are solely of my own choosing (as much as we have(n't) free will to choose).  But I can also see how it contributes to my sense of meaningless and emptiness, which in turn promote my novelty and stimulation seeking behavior, which often isolate me further from human connection.

But if I had to give any unsolicited advice to non-sociopathic readers, it would be to ask yourself why you're so keen to protect and rally behind socialization aspects of your identity that you would sacrifice other more core aspects of your identity, and all only because you've been programmed to think that you need to or it's the honorable thing to do. See somewhat relatedly, Tim Wu on why You Really Don't Need to Work So Much

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sociopathy doesn't exist

This was actually a good description of the difference between personality disorders versus other mental disorders and the problematic features of personality disorders, cognitive versus affective empathy, how and why the PCL-R emphasizes criminality, how sociopathy is a spectrum, and why brain scans cannot actually diagnose you with sociopathy (but rather just show that your brain is prone to the typical sociopathic traits), with Jim Fallon:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Jinx

Again, I am late to the party. I just started watching this. Can I say that I love the taped conversations he has with his wife while in prison?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reading people (part 2)

This was an interesting old comment from an old post:

I love Jung's concept of the "Shadow". It is the part of our identity we split off from our own consciousness because it is too threatening to the persona we access (constructed to a greater or lesser degree based on our need to calculate vs be sincere) .To have our shadows exposed feels like an annihilation of self- and the sociopath knows this. You are correct- a few select individuals who are not sociopaths seem to have an eerie knowledge of how to "map" the Shadow sides of new acquaintances. However they rarely employ this talent for nefarious purposes. But it is a formidable skill set to have- and anyone who has had their own Shadow exposed (or have been threatened by exposure) tend to have a reflexive defensive reaction to people who have developed this gift- sociopathic or otherwise. 

The best "tell" I know for whether someone with this gift is sociopathic or simply insightful is their use of flattery whenever you look at them funny for saying something that to outsiders might seem innocuous, but has pierced you to the core. The sociopath has made a note of your reaction and tries to switch the subject by propping up your wounded ego. The insightful person is more likely to stay present with you and not immediately pretend they did not see what you both know that they saw. They aren't necessarily interested in learning more- they happen to just reflect back to you what they have seen.

In contrast- the sociopath becomes obsessed with knowing every last detail about you as a way of learning the "Shadow" part of you that you hide even from yourself. They want to know what buttons to push should they ever have the need to ruin you, and also for the purposes of inducing your confusion and anxieties when you deviate from their plan to make you one of their sycophants. 

The gift of having your life turned upside down by a sociopath is in having your "Shadow" self exposed. When this happens, your comfortable illusions about your identity are shattered. This experience will either destroy you or strengthen you, depending upon your own resistance to the lessons you chose or refuse in the aftermath of this traumatic experience. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sociopathic feminity

From a reader:

Saw this documentary and thought that it seemed like the kind of thing beautiful sociopathic women might do to take advantage of their looks.

Is this an instance of sociopathic femininity or is it something else entirely?

Monday, August 10, 2015


I saw this on social media, 23 Emotions People Feel, But Can't Explain. I can't speak to the legitimacy of this particular list, but I myself know of some emotions (like "saudades" or "schadenfreude") that have words for them in certain languages but not others, suggesting that certain emotions are more prevalent, or at least more on the radar, in certain cultures than others.

Some of these emotions on the list I could see myself having (or have had), others not so much. It made me think of emotional (affective) empathy (as opposed to cognitive empathy). If people are not even aware that some of these emotions exist in the broader population, how could they possibly feel empathy for someone who is experiencing one of these emotions? It makes me wonder about some people's absolute faith in empathy, that just because they happened to have been born a human being they were somehow magically imbued with being able to reliably understand each other and feel each other's feelings. In a world in which researchers are constantly finding new ways in which our cognition fails us such that entirely new disciplines have sprouted up over the past decade or so (behavioral economics for one), it's odd to me that there is still such blind faith and misconceptions about what exactly empathy is, means, and can do.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Going limp: or how to response to a sociopath attack

Sometimes I give advice to people about how to deal with the sociopaths in their lives. Often they ignore the advice, or attempt to cherry pick the advice in such a way that the advice is essentially useless. Or they think they're following the advice, but they do it in a completely backwards way. For example, one time one of my overweight co-worker had decided to start what must have been the 201st diet of his life. He showed up at work and proudly announced that he had skipped breakfast. Another co-worker told him that skipping breakfast would actually make him fatter by triggering the body into starvation mode, such that his body would horde the fat stores while it still could. He promptly left the office and came back with a half gallon of buttermilk that he chugged, all so he wouldn't get fat. 

When people ask me about how to deal with the sociopaths in their lives, all I do is think about what would work on me or what has worked by me against other sociopathic individuals. One of the pieces of advice I often give is a variation on the strategy of "going limp". If the person you are "fighting" against needs any part of your engagement (e.g. they need you to stand up so they can keep pummeling your torso with punches, or they are gaslighting you and need you to overreact so they can portray you as crazy), you just go limp. You very passively do nothing, don't react, slump, relax or cease all efforts or reactions to your adversary. Becoming deadweight is often the easiest and most effective way to lose someone's interest.

This old comment from an old post gives similar advice:

One great way to manipulate a sociopath is to play naive, innocent, unaware. 

Cause major inconveniences for the sociopath but act like none of that was intentional, you actually even have no idea about these inconveniences (and see how they are not willing to share or put themselves in a victim position voluntarily, while being quite pissed off about it). 

They just hate it when 'universe' or 'chance factor' plays against them (a sin they are not in full control) and there is no one there to blame. 

In these situations they are upset but they cannot turn their rage against you because that would be accepting the fact that maybe you are smarter, maybe you are gas-lighting them but that just cannot be, you are so naive and more importantly they are so smart. 

This, of course, works if you got something they want, otherwise you ar non-issue anyway.

Don't ever appear like you know deep psychology around a sociopath, they'll act like they have no idea what you're talking about anyway. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Addict or sociopath?

Some people ask if they or an addict who they know is a sociopath. My understanding is that addicts often display the characteristics of sociopaths without being able to actually be diagnosed as sociopaths because it's not a permanent condition (e.g., recover from the addiction, recover from the sociopathic traits). I don't have any real experience abusing drugs, so it's hard for me to know when someone is just an addict or is also a sociopath?

From a reader:

Convinced that I may be a sociopath, or at least have some type of antisocial personality disorder, I've come to you for further analysis. I've come to the point where I can recognize patterns in my behavior, past and still occurring, that can be identified with sociopathic traits & characteristics. I’ve noticed my inability to empathize with my mother, or any of my relatives, and my lack of interest in others ideals or their emotions. In later infancy and early adolescence, I was described to be abusive and manipulative of my mother/sister during my father's absence while incarcerated. I would physically abuse my sister and take advantage of my mother’s tenderness and inability to deny me of almost any privilege. My father's arrival into my life brought structure and discipline within the household. I was very hateful of my father, initially, but respected his ability to deliver swift punishment with complete rationality. We had a lot in common which lead to me favoring him over my mother. But I still persisted in my mischief. In elementary school, I made friends easily and could band them together to accompany me in my nefarious schemes. It came to the point where my father couldn't afford to leave work anymore to beat me himself, so he gave consent to certain instructors and faculty members to do the job for him in his stead.

I grew fond of my father but still felt emotional unattached to him. For example, when he was hospitalized in the result of a stabbing during a street fight, I wasn’t very emotionally receptive and didn’t feel any sense of urgency for his well-being. During the hospital visit, I feigned sadness in order to seem concerned. My attempt to fool him wasn’t successful. When he saw me he immediately knew that my tears lacked sincerity and smiled at me while lying on his bed, with his abdomen stapled together.

 I think that because of him and his almost militant approach at disciplining me, I turned out to be much more tame than what I could've been. As I grew older, I used lies and manipulation in order to avoid being beaten. Although it wasn't foolproof and it ended up contributing to my family members deeming me generally untrustworthy, I was able to maneuver around and stave off immediate punishment.

In high school, I was extremely conflicted. My father wasn't around anymore, due to his past criminal charges coming back to haunt him. I was then elected to be the man of the house and was expected to fill his shoes. I tried to emulate him and his role as a diligent, selfless, and stern family man. That proved to be very difficult. In some ways, it was easy to fashion myself after him. He could be extremely calculative. In addition, my apathy could be mistaken for benevolent qualities similar to his selflessness and generosity. Ultimately, I felt inadequate in my role. My responsibilities also hindered me from indulging in the typical activities that a normal teenager would have been able to. 

I also felt a slight betrayal from my mother, who couldn't accept my general impartial attitude towards my duties and at the fact that she was very intrusive of my privacy. Whatever discoveries she made as a product of her habitual prying, she became more and more aware of my true nature. I simply did what I felt like doing, as long as I felt it didn't have a detrimental affect on others. I believed that it was justified. She had hopes for me to grow into a loving and compassionate son who was considerate of other’s feelings, and primarily of hers’. I thought of her as a mess, at times. She could be very emotional and it didn't have a pull on me. She would question my love for her but I would say things like I loved in my own way. I feel that I do love her as my mother but am not very fond of her as a person. I grew to be very close to my sister. I hold her very dear to me, despite our past violent relationship.

Upon graduating from high school, I was accepted to one of the best design schools in America. I chose to major in illustrations because I was very good at it. After completing my freshman year, on the slow track of a part time student, I felt quite passionless about drawing in general. Around that time, I became unemployed and was earnestly looking for work. I took to craigslist and went for a rather unordinary job for someone of my background and stature. Growing up middle class, others felt that it was odd that I felt compelled to sell $2,000 vacuum as a cold call, door-to-door salesman, in trailer parks to boot. I didn’t know exactly why at the time, but I didn’t have any qualms with the work and had a rather positive outlook. During that time period, I believe that I was at my most sociopathic. I played the role of a seasoned salesman well, as I went from trailer to trailer pitching a sale to people who were obviously financially unfit to buy a vacuum for the price of a used car. People were often forced to buy with the alternative option to finance the payments on the vacuum. The money was terrible, due to the company being an actual pyramid scheme, but for some odd reason that did not concern me. My mother recommended that I should find work elsewhere, after a month. 

 Working in the environment that I did, I fell into recreational drug use. I began to experiment with MDMA and LSD to rouse myself or try to gain some direction, because I fell into apathy. It ended up being quite detrimental. I started to feel emotions and couldn't understand them. I started to feel extremely alienated and off kilter. I felt weak and had numerous episodes of uncontrollable sobbing. Sometimes from depressions, anxiety or deep joy. I did not like it. Going to raves and partying every weekend was also taking a toll on my school life and finances. I stopped for a short period of time and turned to drinking. I felt much more I control while intoxicated from alcohol. I also started to experiment with narcotics (Xanax, Adderall, Oxy, Cocaine). They induced almost the same feeling. Oxy and Xanax put me into a state of dismissive drowsiness that I am not very fond of. Cocaine and Adderall were almost identical in how they induced energetic highs with a trace of overzealous aggression, when tapped into. All of these drugs gave me the ability to draw off of a spectrum of emotions that I normally couldn't. I appreciated it, but wasn’t fully convinced that they were going to be beneficial to my quest of self-discovery. They eventually led to me being kicked out from under my mother's roof and my current homelessness. Nevertheless, I am complacent. Without a working vehicle, I am unable to work as my position of delivery driver. I am currently stationed near a well-populated and budding town where I have access to nearly free food and Wi-Fi. I spend my days reading books in a local cafe that I steal from Barnes and Nobles. On weekends, I spend my time in the company of my female familiars that I've met during my drug and alcohol filled adventures with friends. My family does not know of my homelessness only because I feel that it will complicate things if they did.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sociopaths in film: Paper Towns?

From a reader:

Hello, I've been a reader on your blog for a while now and find it mostly very insightful, so thanks for that. I'm writing because I just saw the movie Paper Towns (haven't read the book) and I found the character Margo quite relatable. If you aren't familiar with the story it's just a teen coming of age story about a boy who likes a girl (Margo) and decides to chase after her when she leaves unexpectedly. Margo growing up in the movie had few friends, and ran away from home five times on impulse. She would also always leave clues just to toy with the people she left behind. Later during high school she seemed to act quite impulsively, and liked to live on the edge as she described it. When she found out her boyfriend cheated on her she had no problem cutting off him and her friend group, getting a quick revenge, then leaving town again. 

At the same time she was dragging along an old childhood friend who is the main character of the story, and just seems to use him for the poetry of him being her first and last partner in crime. She also tells him that she thinks Orlando is a "paper town" and the people are paper, basically she means that she doesn't think anything of them. She also talks about how she just created a persona of herself for everyone to know and like. Then she leaves again, and the whole coming of age teen thing plays out while the boy follows the trail of clues and finds her. But in the ending when he finds her she seems surprised to see him simply because she didn't think he'd come looking. Then they have a romantic moment, but he ends up returning to Orlando and she just continues with her own adventure. 

Overall the movie was so-so, but I found this character of Margo most interesting. So after the movie I realized from relating myself to Margo that she might be a sociopath. I don't know if the author had that intention when creating the character, but I definitely think she has quite a few traits of one. I was wondering if you had seen this movie and had any thoughts on it? If not, I think it's worth watching to analyze the character.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Penelope Trunk, sociopath posing as aspie?

A reader wonders:

Be interesting to do an article on how common this is. She's fabricated a lot of her career success, and created a blog around 'aspergers honest' career advice. She ticks a lot of boxes for sociopathy.

-ex pro volleyball player
-bisexuality/lots of partners
- Supposedly founded 4 startups, but no in depth details about the first two websites she founded.
- pathological liar, her account of the 9/11 attacks is obviously a creative writing exercise

- lack of responsibility, seen in her financial advice where she tells readers not to worry about credit card debt and just pay the minimum monthly payment. Also been fired from multiple jobs. 

- multiple aliases, used to write semi-autobiographical chic lit

The unnamed narrator is a stunning young woman who wants to play professional beach volleyball at least until she decides to become a model, and then a graduate student. Her succession of nonstarter relationships with variously inaccessible men is matched only by her inability to keep a job for longer than one chapter. Beset by a series of issues straight out of a glossy women's magazine eating disorders, lack of self-esteem, the could-you-be-a-lesbian question she moves from Chicago to Los Angeles to Boston with money donated by her parents and lovers.

Her book while fiction, is probably much closer to the truth that anything she presents on her website. Because of the similarities between aspergers and sociopathy, she could claim the aspergers label and thus publish sociopathic career advice, and people would applaud her for 'keeping it real' and being honest. Most career advice is pretty generic so hers stands out & she's definitely a marketing genius in that sense.

I think her career advice is actually pretty good. But its impossible for someone with aspergers to be a charismatic speaker, a pathological liar or to sleep around. hence why she's probably a sociopath. 
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