Sunday, November 8, 2020

NY Times Modern Love "He Married a Sociopath: Me"

 This was an interesting NY Times Modern Love column by a sociopath. 

Here are a couple interesting observations:

Human beings aren’t designed to function without access to emotion, so we sociopaths often become destructive in order to feel things. I used to break into houses or steal cars for the adrenaline rush of knowing I was somewhere I wasn’t allowed to be — just to feel, period.


Like many, I gained my first understanding of sociopaths from pop culture, which portrays us as singularly dangerous and threatening, our flat emotional state and lack of remorse making us unfit for normal life. It wasn’t until I began my research in graduate school that I learned sociopaths exist along a wide spectrum, like many people with psychiatric disorders. You’ll find us everywhere in daily life, as your colleagues, neighbors, friends and, sometimes, members of your own family.

When you’re a sociopath in a marriage, especially one with children, honesty is critical — even more, I would argue, than for people in “normal” relationships. As a sociopath, I had difficulty prioritizing telling the truth, but as a wife and a mother, I forced myself to learn.

Outside of my family, my loyalty to the truth is what has enabled me to connect with other people. As a doctor who specializes in the research of sociopathy, I prize credibility and integrity as my greatest asset.

Granted, it hasn’t been easy. People claim to want complete honesty from their partner or spouse, but I have found they aren’t always happy when they get it, especially when that honesty is coming from a sociopath.


And thanks to me, he started to see the value in not caring as much about what others thought. He noticed how often guilt was forcing his hand, frequently in unhealthy directions. He would never be a sociopath, but he saw value in a few of my personality traits.

He learned to say “no” and mean it, especially when it came to activities he was doing purely out of obligation — family visits or holiday gatherings he didn’t enjoy but couldn’t decline. He started to recognize when he was being manipulated. He noticed when emotion was clouding his judgment.

I do wonder, did the husband know she was publishing this? Does the husband's work crush recognize herself in this portrayal? 

Maybe even more interesting were people's reactions. From Reddit:

I took a look at her website.

"Today I am working to expand the definition of sociopathy to include its status as a spectrum disorder. Sociopaths are not inherently evil people. We suffer from what I believe to be an emotional learning disorder, one which is both relatable and treatable."

Honestly not sure how I feel about that. Having worked with someone I'd consider a sociopath, I'm conflicted. I would like to think every human is redeemable with help. But I can't help but feel a primitive urge to punish and cast out evil.

I'm not a big fan of the post-religious types which describe mental disorders like this as evil. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this trend, but there is a new atheism out there that rejects conventional religions and just substitutes it with an equally monolithic belief in good and evil that tends to reject out-group beliefs as being "evil." Another good example of how religion is not the problem, it's the narrow concept of morality being something that just coincidentally tracks your own preferences. 

Interestingly a lot of people with no evidence or support suggesting that she was misdiagnosed, even though she is herself a psychologist (and has lived her whole life with herself). For whatever reason I went through Twitter engaging with people. Feel free to visit and be part of the dialogue:


  1. Very interesting comments. This idea of lack of excessive empathy and evil being a consequence always confused me. It's true people tend to fall back on religious dogma to excuse bad behaviour. But most religions also have the concept of forgiveness. The idea that behaviour is what is unacceptable not the individual as a whole.

    Sociopaths are people they are not one mind absent of any personality. Treat all people as individuals get to know them by the words and actions and you will not go far wrong.

  2. I read this article a few days ago.

    Perhaps this is something difficult for sociopaths to understand, or perhaps it isn't...

    Non-sociopaths can have all manner of feelings at any one time... There's no reason why the husband couldn't be crushing on the woman at work and still hold that the wife was the only one for him.

    My question is why doesn't she believe him? Why does she insist he's lying?

    Another point that jumped out at me from the article was the signalling of misbehavior. This was somewhat similar to **-* telling me he'd been a monster after he'd been deliberately difficult to me.

    I understand why the husband respected the wife's tokens and what they signified. When I read this section, I recalled the time **-* pretended to slash my throat after we had watched a news report of a rape. I immediately jumped up and hugged him. Why the hell would I do that? Well, he wasn't threatening me at all, but he was showing me a part of himself. I respected that and I was grateful to him.

    I knew when he was actually dangerous and I kept the hell away.

    ME, I agree with your last statement. I will add that I don't think **-* could ever believe I genuinely liked him for who he was, and I can see in the NY Times article the chord of similar disbelief.

    I delighted in him.

    1. How do you feel about the fact that you abandoned a perfectly good spouse to go off with your **_* socio BF just to get shafted and multiply intersected through every orifice, figuratively and literally?

      was it worth it? Inquiring minds want to know

  3. Um, i apologise in advance, but are u going to finiah the article?

  4. I read some of your Twitter threads, saw the source you shared about psychopath imprisonment and thought of this TEDX talk by a Pakistani girl.

    "Psychopaths have brains different from regular human beings, yet they're judged no differently from a mentally stable criminal."

    The made up "scenario" she described in the beginning may not be the most accurate description of a psychopath, but I like everything else presented in her talk, especially how she urged the neurotypical to treat psychopaths with open-mindedness and fairness.

    1. I think it's important to note that fairness includes setting limits and rejecting unfairness from any other party.

      As a first principle, I have always accepted the validity of the psychopathic paradigm. I think that's a more useful start point towards acceptance, because it allows one to remain cognisant of the interpersonal risks one faces when relating to people with psychopathic traits.

      I feel that the acceptance conversation relies too heavily on proving value and minimising (glossing over, not acknowledging) harm. It doesn't ring true to me and I'm not inclined to support that story because my reality of loving a person with psychopathic traits contains much darker elements like attempted rape, stalking, vandalism and death threats. Even before any of that, there was an inherent difficulty in the control and manipulation attempts that always came very, very close to offsetting the benefits of the relationship.

      I've always argued that people need a rounded picture of what psychopathy entails in order to learn how to effectively integrate psychopathy into the social consciousness. Seriously, in my experience, my number one recommendation for people would be to make sure you take full responsibility for your own welfare, be aware of the risks, and then to see the psychopathic person for who they are. One might say it's important to do that in all relationships - I say again, it's more important with psychopathy in the picture.

    2. I think people are way too obsessed with psychopaths and need to get a life.

    3. Little cat!! Don't you want some milk?

    4. Naw, mate, I'm lactose intolerant, but cheers for the thought :D

      You didn't answer my question

    5. You didn't write a question.

    6. Do you regret leaving your sure-thing spouse for some socio wack job?

      I want to know because I am contemplating doing the same and I am wondering if it's worth the bother.

    7. Am I settling for silly questions now?

    8. Is this answering questions with other questions in order to deflect the heart of the matter something you learned in some pop psy self help manual or other?

      Does it work?

    9. Are you describing your own techniques?

    10. why, what do you think I am deflecting or avoiding?

    11. Why would you think I'm interested in that?

  5. I tried having feelings for a while. It didn't suite me. Time to go back to the other thing.

  6. @anon 7:07, I don't think this is how it works.

  7. awwwww look at what I have missed ;)


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