Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Empathy's role in defining otherness

From a reader:

I've begun to take your advice on "getting people to my side", as you called it, by coming out to them. I decided to tell my oldest, and whom I consider my only close friend, about me being a sociopath. He's an incredibly empathetic person, and upon telling him it was almost as if he had lost that ability with me. Like he was no longer capable of empathy or understanding with me because it was such a shock to find out his friend had been lying to him. Even after a decade long friendship (even I'm surprised it's lasted that long) he nearly ostracized me simply for who I am. One of his defining features is that he hates lying, and it's one of the reasons why I told him. He is maybe the only other person I respect, other than you M.E., so telling him became an easy choice. Although, it took him almost four weeks to finally begin accepting it; he nearly hated me up until that point. 

All that got me thinking: was the cause of his negative reactions from his empathy? Was is strong moral compass and empathy the source of his inability to connect with and understand someone who lacks those things? Is empathy the reason people like me, or the gays, or anyone else considered "abnormal" by those with a "moral high ground" get ostracized and alienated? All I want is to be myself publicly without scorn from the people around me. Will this society change in its own, or do we have to make it change?

I don't know the answer to his question. I wish I did, and I'd love to hear people's thoughts on it. Here's my attempt to give some sort of response:

I wouldn’t say that empathy itself leads to this, but I think that the illusion that empathy often gives can lead to this. By that illusion I mean that I don't really believe that empathy is as functional (and certainly not as flawless) as people seem to report experiencing it. Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but I wonder how often people are accurately feeling the same feelings that someone else is feeling. The whole concept seems really foreign and almost absurd to me, like a superstition of a culture to which I don't belong. It seems like such magical thinking to even believe that the common belief of empathy exists. But I think a lot of people have an unexamined faith about it. It feels very real and true to them, so they have no reason to doubt it, or question its failure rate like I do. And it is that faith in empathy, I believe, that contributes at least in part to people treating otherness as they do. The empathy gives them the illusion that we are all connected (or at least the ones that they feel connected to). It emphasizes and validates that sense of connection -- proves it to be true, in a way, to the person experiencing the empathy. The empathy helps people to feel like others are a part of them in some way, because that's how they experience it -- they believe they feel the joys and hurts of another, so how couldn't they be seen as a part of them? But if you can't empathize with someone or they can't empathize back, that sense of identification and connection isn't there. If anything, it's seen as a threat -- not just to the person, but to their whole group of people they do identify, e.g. all white people, or all males, or all gay people. 

I was recently reading an article about the rise of polygamous unions and the calls to have these unions legitimized as the marriages that they functionally are. The arguments in favor, of course, are very similar, even identical, to the same sex marriage arguments. But is there widespread support? No. Why? I think at least in part because those people are seen as other, they're difficult to empathize with. I identify as ambisexual, or at least sexually fluid. I read media sources targeted at gay audiences, especially now as I continue to try to build a stronger sense of self and identity and integrate all facets of myself in the process. They do not support polygamous relationships, not even same sex ones (perhaps especially not those, because they "make a bad name" for the community that has been so successful in normalizing as of late). 

I had to laugh because I recently saw an article lauding a woman for being a gay woman in science with Asperger's. She is quoted thusly: "While I’m not trying to push my ideas on anyone, I’m happy to know there are people that might look at me and feel more comfortable about being themselves." Good for her, and I really mean that. I am so pleased to see other marginalized groups gaining recognition, acceptance, and even accommodation and appreciation for their special needs and attributes. This is not sour grapes but just a fact: no group I am part of would laud me for what I am. No group would not even openly acknowledge me as being one of them. 

As a society, I do think that we want people to feel more comfortable about being themselves (google Mr. Rogers "It's you I like"), but still only if they fit certain acceptable categories, albeit an ever expanding list. Certainly you can't be open about being attracted to children still, nor being diagnosed as a sociopath. That's fine, I understand that's how things are and I actually fully expect things to change with that respect in my lifetime (how could they not? transgenderism was taboo only a decade ago). But I do wonder what role empathy plays in all of this.

(And just to clarify for those who might misinterpret, I don't mean that we have to accommodate all behaviors just because someone is wired differently. Rather I think that we shouldn't keep people out just because they are wired differently if they're able to conform their behaviors as needed. For example, I strongly support increased understanding and acceptance for pedophiles in the sense that I believe that they can't help who they are and that if it was possible for them to be more open about their condition, they could possibly get better help and fewer children would be harmed as a result. I feel the same about sociopaths. No one is advocating for special treatment. But demonizing or ostracizing someone who comes out as a sociopath is compounding the problem, not helping. Yes, the sociopath probably misrepresented him or herself by not revealing that he was a sociopath, but is it really fair to punish them for that evasion when this is how people react to the truth?)

63 comments:

  1. Very pithy post M.E.

    I agree with much of your analysis and interpretation. Especially:

    "I don't mean that we have to accommodate all behaviors just because someone is wired differently. Rather I think that we shouldn't keep people out just because they are wired differently if they're able to conform their behaviors as needed"

    Yes, I imagine that in a reasonably short space of time, children will learn about neurodiversity in schools. Humans are simply a diverse species. The world is and always has been a dangerous place: it is incumbent on the individual to be aware and protect oneself, and as we grow in awareness, we can pass learnings on to the next generation.

    I've written previously that humans are not inherently moral beings so much as being social creatures that normalise within groups. We do this through our tendency to create rules which serve the dual purpose of keeping the group more or less aligned AND of aiding normalisation. This benefits empaths and socios alike - everyone knows what's expected.

    As for empathy, Dan Siegel in Mindsight describes "resonance circuits": our perceptions, even subconscious ones, are interpreted at the lower levels of the brain, travel up to the insular area and mirror neurons for some interpretation, then out through the body - which is why we sometimes feel sick when someone describes a nauseating experience or cringe in pain when hearing of a painful one - then back to the brain. See below for explanatory links.

    In short, M.E., you are right about it being magical thinking: we interpret the other's behaviour and feelings AS WE OURSELVES would have experienced it in the same circumstances.

    I will give a few examples that support this idea of resonance perhaps extending to surprising areas:

    1. A few posts back, I related some anecdotes about my ex. A commented she'd have interpreted my actions the same way my ex did. I don't think is coincidence. She is probably wired more similarly to him than either of them are to me - I simply didn't have the intention they read into it.

    2. Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphise. We think of God in human terms, inanimate objects, natural phenomena.

    I speculate these examples are an application of this same circuitry, the circuitry that gives rise to the "faith in empathy" that becomes problematic.

    So back to the OP. I am glad your friend is returning. In all honesty, four weeks is pretty good :D

    I'll share how I felt when I discovered my ex was a sociopath. I was horrified that he had lied to me to that extent - it was simply not conceivable prior to that day. It hurt tremendously; his face haunted me. I can post an extract of an email I wrote explaining exactly why it made me so angry, but in short: lies diminish freedom. They create a false landscape through which navigation is possible and all choices are dead ends. I felt my liberty had been deprived of me in this specific sense. I was simultaneously incredibly curious - and still am. I would love to talk to him.

    But it is a shocking thing to realise there are people out there that operate entirely differently; it's genuinely difficult to comprehend. Think about how it was for you, discovering you weren't like others. It's possibly a bit like that in one nice little smack in the face :) It's very personal.


    Resources I highly recommend:
    Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last (video, 43 mins)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y
    Explains the biological bases for human collaboration and leadership. Very high explanatory power.

    Dan Siegel: Mindsight (book)
    http://www.drdansiegel.com/books/mindsight/
    Integrating your brain by facilitating and directing neuroplasticity with mindfulness practices for better connections with self and others

    And for a quick explanation of resonance circuits:
    Resonance Circuits, Mirror Neurones and Mindfulness (2 page PDF)
    http://www.upperdonside.org.uk/atdynamics/7-C3%20RESNONANCE%20CIRCUITS,%20MIRROR%20NEURNES%20AND%20MINDFULNESS.pdf





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    1. *They create a false landscape through which navigation is IMpossible

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    2. Before I finished up playing competitive rugby, I wrote a training manual for provincial level players.

      I have a feeling I'm doing something similar with all my posts here. Packaging and offering all the things I've learned before moving on.

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    3. Great post, North. Your writing is very lucid, which I like. And thanks for the reading material -- I'm a sucker for reading suggestions. Can't get enough. Like that T-shirt that reads: Too little time, too many books.

      There's a lot of truth to the idea that projecting one's own feelings is often mistaken for having empathy. But I don't think that's always the case. There's been times when perfect strangers have sat down next to me on the bus, looked me briefly in the eye, and then started telling me their whole life story. Why are you telling me this? I usually ask. They shrug and say, Because your eyes told me you'd understand. And they are often right: I have a super-strong suffering detector and when it kicks in so does an automatic sympathy. I've practiced this type of non-judgmental receptiveness with some very violent people in extreme environments and it does seem to lower boundaries. It's almost funny how many criminal types seek to befriend or even 'claim' me as 'theirs.'

      On the other hand, when it comes to lies, some are obviously worse than others. Lie to me about being a socio and I could care less; all that means to me is that you suffer shallow emotional affect. Make up lies about your whole sad story just to get me to sympathize and I get pissed: Now only have you wasted my time but, dammit, you made me cry over tragic stuff that never happened. Consequently, I don't put empathy on a pedestal; it's too easily manipulated and self-deceiving. It must be balanced by constant harsh self-examination and rationality. Only reason I cherish my empathy is because I see it as invaluable to my art and to understanding the art of others. And it helps to make friends with wild animals, who pretty much know my intentions better than I do. Presently there's a murder of crows with whom I'm growing close and I wouldn't trade that relationship for anything because it's so much fun. They have accepted me into their world and that's exciting. It's also funny: a couple dive-bombed this neighborhood creep who threw beer cans, first at them and then at me.

      Figure a murder of crows as friends might come in handy at the world's end. ;)

      Mr. Hyde

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    4. Mr. Hyde-Are you familiar with the poem "Invictus", by William Ernest Henley? If not, you may enjoy it. I know you are always looking for good reading material.:)

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    5. P.S. Your "Song of the Day" is Collective Soul's "The World I Know".:) You will find your bird, your "Light On Earth".:) I think you already have, in Beastie Boy.:)

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    6. M.E., Empathy is not a concept. Empathy is a naturally occurring chemical event that one is born with. The cause for empathy is found in the prefrontal cortex and according to medical science subsequent to MRI, that particular chemical is lacking in the brain of the antisocial personality disordered person.
      Empathy is not the act of feeling sorry for those you think the rest of us deem abnormal. Empathy is simply the act or thought of consciously being concerned for another's feelings.
      In regards to why empaths "like" antisocials, number one, we have a desirous nature to love, trust, care, forgive, all of the aforementioned being a foreign concept to a sociopath, and number two, we know that the more empathetic we are, the more inclined we are to become victimized by antisocials.
      The damage sociopaths leave in their wake is literally unbelievable. Mother's cheated on, lied to, called upon at three in the morning to bail out the father of their child from jail, for shoplifting, yet again. Friends used, abused, left completely twisted from the actions of a person with no conscious and no reconciliation of consequence. When these things happen to an empathetic person, they are compelled to understand, investigate. Why? Not to figure out what makes a sociopath tick, but to figure out why or how we let this happen to us in the first place so as to prevent it's reoccurance.
      Generally speaking, once a person finds out that they are dealing with someone who lacks the concept if consequence, they want to distance them self from the inevitable disappointment and negative behavior said lack affords. It's really that simple.
      The empath learns considerably from observing the antisocial disordered person and they tend to run because the behavior is usually completely unacceptable. We learn to turn our backs on you FROM you.

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    7. M.E., Empathy is not a concept. Empathy is a naturally occurring chemical event that one is born with. The cause for empathy is found in the prefrontal cortex and according to medical science subsequent to MRI, that particular chemical is lacking in the brain of the antisocial personality disordered person.
      Empathy is not the act of feeling sorry for those you think the rest of us deem abnormal. Empathy is simply the act or thought of consciously being concerned for another's feelings.
      In regards to why empaths "like" antisocials, number one, we have a desirous nature to love, trust, care, forgive, all of the aforementioned being a foreign concept to a sociopath, and number two, we know that the more empathetic we are, the more inclined we are to become victimized by antisocials.
      The damage sociopaths leave in their wake is literally unbelievable. Mother's cheated on, lied to, called upon at three in the morning to bail out the father of their child from jail, for shoplifting, yet again. Friends used, abused, left completely twisted from the actions of a person with no conscious and no reconciliation of consequence. When these things happen to an empathetic person, they are compelled to understand, investigate. Why? Not to figure out what makes a sociopath tick, but to figure out why or how we let this happen to us in the first place so as to prevent it's reoccurance.
      Generally speaking, once a person finds out that they are dealing with someone who lacks the concept if consequence, they want to distance them self from the inevitable disappointment and negative behavior said lack affords. It's really that simple.
      The empath learns considerably from observing the antisocial disordered person and they tend to run because the behavior is usually completely unacceptable. We learn to turn our backs on you FROM you.

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    8. You done sermonizing now, Ms. Bleeding Hearts Aplenty? :P

      Good. Allow me to return the favour.

      Sociopaths have shallow affect. Do you know what that means? It means that our emotions are short-lived, as opposed to non-existent. Yes, we struggle with poor impulse control. We have a tendency to lie, cheat, screw up, take unnecessary risks, etc. But to say that "love, forgiveness and trust" are entirely foreign concepts to us is ignorant blather of the worst kind, because it serves to demonize a segment of the population on the basis of misinformation.

      Some of us are high-functioning, and actually seek to better the world we live in. Newsflash! Empathy is not a necessary prerequisite for that. In fact, some people *you* know who function effectively in high stress occupations, or positions of leadership, likely possess a preponderance of sociopathic traits. They are not all negative, you know. Yes, we can be callous, harsh, duplicitous and manipulative- but even these can be applied towards positive ends. Moreover, we can also be charming, eloquent and particularly courageous. Narcissistic? Perhaps. But we were born to lead- and we have the strength and self-confidence to do it well.

      While I am sure deep, heartfelt empathy is quite wonderful- I wouldn't give up my strengths for all of it in the world. I rather like my "disorder", thank you very much. If, as you say, I was born without that special "empathy chemical" you reference with such astonishing scientific aplomb- it is not my fault. I can blame my genes and "faulty" wiring for that. And while it might make me sociopathic, it does not make me a monster.

      Ultimately, it is our actions, and not our feelings- or lack thereof- that count.

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    9. A, Dee is not a bleeding heart. S/he is actually quite representative of the general population. And she can express what most people think without being too emotional. As a rational person, you should understand this and listen to what she has to say.

      Most neuro-typical do not understand why they should spend time or energy on a sociopath. It is so much more fulfilling to be with neuro-typicals.

      The way I see it, neurotypicals form a fabric or a painting. Sociopaths (and other cluster B ... sorry to put you in that category ... i don't think you like it much) are the spark that can put the fabric on fire. Society is not able to capture the energy that comes from cluster B in a positive fashion yet after they realize where it comes from.

      I think people on this site are trying to capture the energy, make the bridge...

      North certainly got a lot of positive energy from her relationship with "her" sociopath.

      North, I hope you can find ways to stay in touch with your ex.

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    11. Thank you for informing me of what I should think, and how I should understand things as a rational person. Is it from this more enlightened perspective that you are dispensing your wonderful advice to North concerning maintaining close contact with a man with whom she committed adultery, and whom she claims trampled on her heart for sadistic pleasure?

      That sounds rather like it comes from a co-dependent perspective. (Sorry to put you in that category ... I don't think you like it much). But then, I would probably just call it encouraging someone to act like sharkbait. You know me and labels. But you can call me Cluster B all you want. Queen fucking Cluster Bee, baby. XD

      On that note, how *is* your sociofriend these days, Monica?

      Yeah. I see you. ;)

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    12. OldAndWIse and A,

      Things can be different. Things are different with me.

      You have both provided insights I value.

      Everything aligned for me yesterday morning, energy was flowing right from my core and with my desires aligned. I want to share energy with him but that energy flows well beyond him, too.

      I am not sharkbait and he knows it.

      I saw him yesterday by chance (always by chance, we live in a small city and this wasn't even in the town centre where we had previously been working.) We didn't speak - I was on the phone when he walked past - but I have extended a written apology, explanation and invitation. Energy was flowing from me; I was not conflicted in any way.

      He has read it at least twice (thanks Viber.) There's much for him to ponder.

      At worst, we avoid the farce of the last 12 months. At best, there is a new basis for exchanging energy. We will see how he responds, if at all.

      Things *are* different with me. No one else in my life has kept pace with the change; but I wanted to see if he has the capacity and inclination to respond via a different model. Because he is beautiful and intelligent and creative with wonderful energy. He will know he can't manipulate me.

      The psychopath who first helped me interpret what had happened said of my attempts last year that I had freely asserted my will and he would not have that type of relationship.

      "I now invite you to look beyond the chessboard with me... Perhaps your results with me were unexpected; I ask you to consider the emergent possibilities :)"

      That's what I have wanted to do.

      Cheers, SW. This has been / is a fruitful place of exploration.

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    13. "Change YOUR part of the dynamics of interacting with others. You can only change yourself. You can learn to be direct and straight with people without playing games.

      Learn congruence which is the art of having your outside behavior match your inside feelings. In congruence, all thoughts, body states, emotions and actions are similar. When you are congruent, you state your feelings and act in a direct, fair manner."

      That's what I'm doing and it's result enough.

      http://www.angriesout.com/grown20.htm

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    14. I'm learning to extend my agency without any need for outcome-control.

      When you step beyond your current patterns, the universe opens to you in unexpected ways. This is why the Dao resonates with me.

      'Move and the way will open.'

      You don't know how it will open; I've found it's often a door within me that opens, giving access to a deeper, more nuanced experience of every day.

      "If good happens, good;
      if bad happens, good." ~ Lao Tzu

      The more I remove barriers and shapes in my own mind, the more free I am to experience *anything*.

      It does take a few days for the grid to shift after an action / experience like Friday's.


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  2. The awakened, spiritual, person does not divide people into sub groups.
    They realize that humanity is one. It's just the behavior of people that is good
    or bad.
    The awakened person knows that whatever is genuinelly good for one person is
    good for another person.
    For example, following the Ten Commandments would be good for you regardless where you originate from. You may not see that and believe that the
    Ten Commandments are a plot to hold you down, but they are not. They are
    good for you.
    If someone came out to me and told me they were a Sociopath, it wouldn't affect
    the way I view them, because in all likelyhood , I would already know that from
    observing their behavior.
    The problem isn't Sociopath vs. non Sociopath, which is only a label. The
    problem is awakened vs. asleep, and no awakened person knowingly hurts
    themself or another person.

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  3. "The empathy helps people to feel like others are a part of them in some way, because that's how they experience it -- they believe they feel the joys and hurts of another, so how couldn't they be seen as a part of them? But if you can't empathize with someone or they can't empathize back, that sense of identification and connection isn't there. If anything, it's seen as a threat . . ."

    Isn't that true of socios when they connect and share their feelings of boredom? Doesn't each person assume that the other belonging to their group experiences many of the same traits, suffers the same trials and shares in the same joys? And don't some socios feel a disconnect with another socio when that person shows differences of some kind?

    I have sympathy for all kinds of creatures with whom I can't identify. Perhaps because on some level I believe that just being alive involves quite a bit of suffering. Pain and death are equal opportunity employers. Every single person I know is afraid of being utterly alone, shunned by others. Everyone is afraid to die.

    As for polygamous arrangements -- if consenting adults are involved I don't see why anyone would care. These next few years in law should prove interesting as I don't see how this prejudice can possibly continue.

    As for pedos, I can buy the fact that they're wired that way. I can smile at their urges to sublimate by writing books like Alice in Wonderland. But I will beat them to a pulp if I catch them hurting a child. Think about kids all you want: Touch them and I will fly at you with daggers in both hands. Kids are utterly defenseless, easily manipulated and can't be expected to know and protect their boundaries.

    Mr. Hyde

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    1. "Touch them and I will fly at you with daggers in both hands."

      What does death mean to you, Mr. Hyde?

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    2. I can always count on you to ask devilishly difficult questions, Parnasse. Your posts are often similar to drinking a doubled shot of coffee in the morning. :)

      Death means many things to me. An end and a beginning. Transformation. Possible rebirth in myriad forms. What I choose to believe versus what I know about death is vast. I can only speculate. :)

      However, at present I tend to embrace the Eastern idea that what we focus on (and what we believe) may in fact define what happens next to the consciousness of a dying person. So I choose to believe that some part of my consciousness will transform and carry on. In any case, I'd rather die in anticipation of experiencing a new adventure than in fear of impending annihilation.

      What does death mean to you, Parnasse?

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    3. I was waiting for that. You can feel the "Alpha Male" between your exchanges...

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    4. Your response sounds doubly devilish to me, Mr. Hyde. ;)

      I believe in the threefold eschatology of the dualist. Naturally, I see it as a dichotomy (i.e., “an end and a beginning”), wherein the continuum of the mind carries on. In this sense, it is penetrable; however, within the hidden secrets of nature dwells an “aura” that, like a riddle, summons to be untangled.

      “In any case, I'd rather die in anticipation of experiencing a new adventure than in fear of impending annihilation.”

      This is what I know about you, too. :)

      But, as the continuum of the mind carries on, there is a fascinating phenomenon taking place in the sea of consciousness. This phenomenon has been building on through the eons of time. So, viewing it through this lens or through the grains of sand filling an hourglass (i.e., the hourglass can be turned on its head again), it makes you wonder: who goes and who comes?

      I believe that no matter what nature’s riddle summons to the surface, one’s “true self” can never go or die. It wants to be as it is, accepted and wholly known by another. That is the remaining, perpetuating phenomenon that I envision in this eschatology.

      Do you believe that our deepest "sense" is the architect of any or “all” of this, Mr. Hyde?

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    5. Good morning Parnasse, I most certainly believe that our deepest "sense" is the architect of all we experience and beyond. But what 'sense' are we talking about? From whence does it come and where does it go? I can't put my finger on it but I definitely feel its immortal presence . . . it feels like the infinite tenaciousness of life.

      The sea of consciousness (a tingling ocean into which I dive every day) evokes for me Jung's idea of the collective unconscious, which I believe exists. There is little else that can explain the global reach and consistency of universal symbols and myths throughout history. It is perhaps why all religions employ icons so successfully. A deep part of the mind instantly recognizes the Cross as representative of the four points of the compass pulling in different directions, the cross of matter on which Spirit is crucified by the confines of the flesh. And the circle always expresses completion, wholeness.

      Who serves the Grail and why must the King die?

      Sacrifice to a higher power calls out to everyone but until we know who we are and what we can give, we are deaf the sound of harp-strings.

      I enjoyed your caffeine-fueled comment. I am now fully awake. ;)

      Mr. Hyde

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    6. “I can't put my finger on it but I definitely feel its immortal presence . . . it feels like the infinite tenaciousness of life.”

      Would you compare it to this, Mr. Hyde?

      “Death consists, indeed, in a repeated process of unrobing, or unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, and - as the snake from its skin, the butterfly from its chrysalis - emerges from one after another, passing into a higher state of consciousness.” A.B.

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    7. That's a beautiful way A.B. has of putting it. And yes, it does compare to my way of viewing death.

      Mr. Hyde

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    8. I thought so, too. The higher state and "immortality" in its message reminded me of a specific scene from "Let the Right One In." In this absorbing scene, the vampire-socio is experiencing something apart from anything that has ever known. They say that a "vampire" has to be let in or invited (to pass one's "threshold"). Are you familiar with the concept, Mr. Hyde?

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    9. I am very familiar with vampire lore. Lol. Who's your favorite vampire from Rice's novel, Interview with the Vampire, Lestat, Louis or Armand?

      When I hear the word threshold I immediately think of several things: the fact that we must invite the monster in and the phrase, "Dweller on the Threshold," in reference to Saturn the Devil.

      There are three scenes I can recall in "Let the right One In" where the girl is invited inside: when she appears at the window at the hospital, when she appears at the boy's window and where she is invited inside his home . . . is that the scene you are referring to? When she enters the boy's home and it takes some time for him to invite her in and she begins to bleed from her eyes. She literally bleeds for him to let her in. Wonderful script writing!


      Some other poignant scenes for me was when she told the boy that she could never love him as girlfriend, i.e., have sex and then the audience is given a brief look at her strange genitals. Those scenes meld together in my mind because in those moments the young vampire's eternal isolation from humankind appears utterly complete.

      Mr. Hyde

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    10. Louis, Mr. Hyde. He is the man who wants to "know," taking wholesome risks, unchaining his passion, and consuming the immersing essence of his journey. His quest is unique among the vampires of both worlds, namely "the New and the Old Worlds." There is the thirst to belong, the hunger to reveal his soul, and the depth to seek and discover his inherent nature in another. He explores it all, unveiling an atmosphere of clasping passion that feels as though it could be palpable, and coupling that with humor, determination and a distinct love that yearns to exist in both worlds: mortal and immortal.

      Dweller on the threshold, follower of his own ways, and seeker of that which seems intangible come together in Louis' penetrating account of a life lived over and over again...longing so profusely for the "other."

      Yes, she bleeds, and comparable to Louis, it is all done with the intense fervor to "know." Her isolation as you define it stems from the same, original and deeply permeating root.

      Bleeding. Do you see that as her highly emergent, seeping and divergent love for him, Mr. Hyde?

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    11. Yes I do see it as one vital aspect of her emerging love of and need of him. As she stands there shaking and staring intensely at him I could practically hear her shout from the bottom of her being, "I am determined, upon pain of death, for you to know my passion." That scene embodies the saying, "I would bleed for you. I would die for you." Whilst I don't take that literally, I do think that on a soul level, to love and be known is to bleed a little, to die a little. Real love, even platonic love, is truly the 'little' death.

      One aspect of the film forebodes a tragic ending for the boy: he will grow old and die like girl's original male companion, giving her his blood when he's no longer useful to her any other way. Did you get that sense, too, that the man had been with the girl vampire from a very young age?

      You summed up Louis and myself perfectly. ;)

      Another couple gothic tales that I've enjoyed are Lewis' "The Monk" and Maturin's "Melmoth the Wanderer." Both are less nuanced takes on "good and evil" but still fun to read. Melmoth's Satanic rants about mankind to the beautiful (and over the top good and naïve) Immalee are hilarious.


      Mr. Hyde


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    12. "You summed up Louis and myself perfectly. ;)"

      Thank you, Mr. Hyde. I can say the same about you as I peruse and spot your thoughts about me. They are well-defined and meaningful in a mode that sets you apart from the rest.

      It is hard, or rather close to impossible, to compare the vampire girl's initial male companion to the boy. Her bond to the boy is truly one-of-a-kind, giving so much of herself than she had ever done before. You are quite right in thinking that to live and to be wholly known means to die a little on a soulful level. There is so much proof of it in the movie, taking what they have built together to a higher, more penetrating level. In essence, she finds that it is possible to bond, the tragedy of it seeming non-existent. Real love changes the course of something that incorporates so much more than previously known. The vampire girl's intense stare marks a point of inner release on her own part.

      Yes, some aspects of the other works you've mentioned are hilarious. However, how would you compare "The Monk" to "Melmoth the Wanderer?" Is that inherently possible, Mr. Hyde?

      Delete
  4. To the OP , what a courageous step you took. And I'm sorry your friend can't accept the fact that your a functioning human and a member of society who happens to be a sociopath. I see more empathy in your actions than I see in your friend who chose to ostracize and cut you off for coming out. Some empaths are just very ignorant and they will judge what they don't understand. Sociopathy is a very miss-informed diagnose upon the general populations. I'm finally meeting up with a childhood friend who I believe has the traits of aspd. My other girlfriend who cleans and nannies for us informed me that she believes she's a functioning sociopath and a narcisstict.. So what did I finally do: we is all finally getting together
    " all four of us" this weekend. I'd rather have her in my life than not. And it took me months to convince them that it was better off we went are separate ways to grow and learn because we probably fall into these traits far more ourselves than we'd like to project off onto her. I see more advantage than not to have her in my life in some capacity. She taught me so much growing up one to one. And yes some negative traits were there too. But with age comes more wisdom. I just feel myself around her. She's a teacher and now a tattoo artist that struggled with a nasty divorce... In which she was judged harshly for by her family. So she just hid for many years. Finally , I said enough was enough, I seem to have a natural tendency in bringing people back together. O maybe I'm just full of myself thinking that, I admit, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Funny you mention polygamy. I've been on a polygamy kick for awhile when I found myself attracted to another male. And I tried so hard to not have these stupid feelings. And yes, I was very honest with my husband about it. This group is very marginalizEd by society ( and it shouldn't be.) There should be more human rights to protect them. It's up to each individual to choose what's best for them and how they live whether it be polygamy or moly gamy. But I had to research the the flip side ( the negative aspects of polygamous relationships) ...and for me the cons outweighed the pros of it. Just listening to how the women felt in some you tube videos brought the issue to light for me.There's a core issue that's missing sometimes in monogamous relationships. If you can find what's missing.... Than your mono relationship can develop further.. I guess you can say I'm flexible in my sexuality -- so I incorporated just some bdsm play and that seems to keep my sexual appetite in a good realm. Lol. It's funny cause I can't seem to fit in a box of rules.. I'll find a way "how it's too torturous in my mind" .....but then from another perspectives the moral compass keeps me grounded and sane inside. Fuckeen scheme modes I tell ya, lol. So I tell hubs, I'll be your lady by day , but I better be your whore by night. I need the best of both worlds and some role play talk during the day.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Many seem to "relish" the thought of being able to identify themselves as psychopaths, similar to young folks that dont wanna be "ordinary", instead longing to be things they may not have understood much about? But hoping for praise/awe from normal people when revealing such stuff perhaps is "a tall order" (if thats the correct expression)? Such stuff is a strict "club thing" where other "members" can appreciate the opinions of other members. To hope for wider understanding most likely will lead to disappointments, and probably also can be dangerous in smaller, rural areas not seeing any "charm" with either self-proclaimed witches/warlocks or any psychopaths..

    ReplyDelete
  7. "But demonizing or ostracizing someone who comes out as a sociopath is compounding the problem, not helping. Yes, the sociopath probably misrepresented him or herself by not revealing that he was a sociopath, but is it really fair to punish them for that evasion when this is how people react to the truth?)"

    I agree. Throughout evolution, ostracism meant death.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When I read the post, this bit didn't make sense, "Even after a decade long friendship (even I'm surprised it's lasted that long) he nearly ostracized me simply for who I am..." -- how is it that someone could know a sociopath for more than a few days or weeks and not realize that something is "off" - and then figure it out?

    I'm surprised a sociopath wouldn't have a better bead on the friend -how does this friend deceive himself? How does his ego work - that is, what do I say to get him to do things for me? How does he like to think of himself, his family, his friends, etc?

    Oh - the person that wrote in might want to consider hanging around zen Buddhists - the sort that meditate - as they won't get freaked out when you explain that most of the time you don't give a shit, life seems meaningless and arbitrary, etc. It won't be because they agree with you so much as they've developed the ability to tolerate pretty much anything.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm guessing here, OP (that's really all empathy is, a guess - because, while I may work to put myself in someone else's shoes, I've no hard and fast way of knowing for sure if I got it right), but I can imagine three main reasons why your friend had a problem with your confession.

    1) The popular image of sociopaths is that of dangerous criminals.

    2) You didn't tell them immediately. From their perspective this might sow doubt upon the entire friendship. They might be thinking Was it all a lie?

    3) The brain wiring issue: without understanding the way the brain works, it might be hard for them to understand how different the world looks through your eyes (the tolerance issue another poster pointed out). Sounds like they may have had the honesty to go away and examine both their own reactions and your world view, which means they may be truly empathic, and then took the time to process everything.

    Like North, I don't believe empathy should be put on a pedestal - any more than any other quality should be exalted - it's a tool. Sociopathy is also a tool. They happen to be at opposite ends of the spectrum (and yet not, since in a curved space they lie closer than you'd think).

    At the end of the day, reality is subjective. No one can tell you theirs is the 'right' reality, since its existence cannot be proven (anything you experience in 'reality' - touch, sight, hearing - can be achieved by direct stimulation of the correct brain area. And that is why tolerance (on both sides) is the issue. People are generally afraid of things they don't understand. It'd be nice if there was a lot less of that.

    Anyway, good luck in your quest to be yourself with your friends.

    ReplyDelete
  10. When any of you think of M.E., do you try to form a composite picture
    in your mind of what she must look like?
    We DO have a number of photographs to go by, and we have the Dr. Phil
    T.V. appearence. I can't help wondering how she fills her day.
    What a woman she is, who could earn a living in a half a dozen ways:
    Attorney, teacher, musician, writer, just to name a few. How greatful we
    should be for this intellect and this blog.
    I also try to picture "A" who I assume to be simular in age, intellect, and appearence to M.E.
    A fund raiser? My cousin is a fund raiser and she hates me. Too bad. It's her
    energy that she wastes in hate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes all the time non-stop...

      Delete
    2. Not really, google Jamie Lund...

      Delete
  11. Its funny that OP blames the person with empathy for being unable to connect with him. Classic sociopath.

    But why would you want to out yourself. You can no longer scam others because they know what you are like. It makes no sense. And being a sociopath is like a little inside joke that you're only in on. It makes me feel superior. I think everyone is an idiot because everybody believes me. That makes me feel powerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's definite benefits to having someone who knows in your life. It can get terribly boring when you're not able to tell anyone about your best accomplishments.

      Of course, it's easiest when that person is another sociopath since that means they'll understand and there's little to no risk. Empaths need to be carefully guided before you can tell them.

      Delete
    2. I could probably deal with a psychopath friend as long as they're not at all sadistic towards me.

      Delete
  12. Who can blame somebody not wanting to move in next door to a known PSYCHOPATH? Most folks would shun that apartment for sure. Strange? Not at all. But in reality most folks (in apartment-buildings) already live close to psychopths. And most only get disturbed by drunken pig-stupid empath bastards..

    ReplyDelete
  13. As someone who is naturally inclined to be polyamorous and definitely bisexual, as well as sociopathic, I have no desire reveal these things to those I work with. Very few people know these things about me, and I am happy to keep myself closeted. It is nobody's business. I reveal myself to those I choose.

    If those I work with knew these things about me, I would be deemed unfit to lead. And yet- as I have mentioned before, it is precisely *because* of my sociopathic traits that I am particularly suited for the task. Oh, the irony. :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. I wasn't "enlightened" about my true nature until I met another sociopath who was very open about who he was. I always knew I was somewhat different, knew I lacked something, but I honestly thought I was just crazy.
    I was honestly relieved to learn what I was. I started visiting your website after reading your book, and it gave me a tremendous sense of calm I had never experienced before. Self-acceptance.
    I then decided to share my enlightenment with my extremely empathetic husband of more than 20 years.
    What a mistake. I have never,ever cheated on him, but he now refuses to believe me. He refers to me regularly as a sociopath, considers all my behavior to be manipulative, and constantly calls me a liar. He literally tracks every move I make, monitors my computer, reads my personal emails and writings without my permission, and has recently started calling me a "dirty whore".
    While I'm relieved to know I'm not crazy, I now just feel emotionless and completely disconnected from others.
    But life must go on, so it's a good thing I still have a closet full of masks to wear..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Lore lei,
      I am so sorry to hear he reacted in such an unempathetic way. Life does go on, but I hope this experience doesn't prevent you from trying to be open about yourself again in the future.

      Delete
  15. Seriously? I would hardly call anyone who violates your privacy and personal boundaries in such a grossly inappropriate and unfounded manner "extremely empathetic". What good does it do to feel someone else's emotions if you act like a colossal asshat? I find it hard to believe that you would have so poorly judged his character after 20 years of marriage. Sociopaths are usually quite adept at reading people, and uncovering even hidden strengths and weaknesses.

    If my husband spoke to me that way, there would be hell to pay. I've torn him down mercilessly for calling me on shit even when his concerns were perfectly justified. I wouldn't tolerate that crap even for a single minute. And I don't think you should either- unless you *want* to be his spineless bitch. And if you are indeed a sociopath- I know that prospect cannot possibly sit well with you. :P

    Are there kids involved in your equation? Maybe it's time to cut your losses and move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Second that. Reaction sounds extreme, histrionic. How long has this behaviour of his being going on?

      Did you feel, prior to sharing your sociopathy with him, that you did have a connection with this individual?

      Delete
    2. He may really love her, and his reaction could be from extreme fear and emotional pain. When living things are afraid and/or in pain, they tend to either cower or attack...

      Delete
    3. I have seen it mentioned several times before on this blog, and it is true-if you don't have a lot of information on sociopathy, the initial thoughts are about being hurt or killed and the fear that goes along with that, as well as thoughts about having your life destroyed and the pain that goes along with that...

      Delete
    4. This blog is a great resource, for everyone to learn from each other, and understand...

      Delete
    5. What a haughty little shit, set him straight ! If my husband tried shit like that , oooooh my balls are way bigger ! I'd teach him a lesson or two .... :D

      Delete
  16. Those ideas come from movies, news, etc. That's what sells and gets ratings, I guess. Unfortunately, that is generally all the average person knows about it...

    ReplyDelete
  17. The movie "Gone Girl" may have flashed through his head, followed by the Jodi Arias trial. If there is a connection and they would like to stay together, she can show him that she is not a threat to him, and he can educate himself about sociopathy...

    ReplyDelete
  18. I don't think empathy is what led to the negative reaction of his friend. The friend reacted negatively due to his own emotions. Perhaps the hatred was a reaction to a feeling of betrayal, or an array of other feelings that one might feel when they question the authenticity of a person or relationship, after the reveal of new information that may contradict their previous perceptions. The friend eventually came around after 4 weeks. That behavior is empathetic. He chose to accept his friend, knowing that he was a Sociopath.
    Empathy is not a 'flawless' super trait. People have their own emotions that drive their reactions and their behavior as well, overriding their capabilities for empathy in emotional charged situations . However, the decisions to accept those different from us, forgive, and to let go of past hurts, are made easier through the ability to empathize with others.

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

    !!! it used to be connected to this blog but was disconnected over a year ago. We need fresh blood and lots of interesting things have happened recently (relates to kiwifar.ms drama: https://archive.is/M2tXa) that will go down in the forum's history! Be sure to check out http://www.psychforums.com/antisocial-personality/ too, as some of its regulars are regulars on SC too!

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

    !!! it used to be connected to this blog but was disconnected over a year ago. We need fresh blood and lots of interesting things have happened recently (relates to kiwifar.ms drama: https://archive.is/M2tXa) that will go down in the forum's history! Be sure to check out http://www.psychforums.com/antisocial-personality/ too, as some of its regulars are regulars on SC too!

    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. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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