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ASK DR. LEEDOM: Am I also a sociopath?

Recently, a woman sent me a letter with this question/comment. Her former lover accused her of also being a sociopath, he said, “”¦The truth is that you’re just like me. You’re in this because you want something for yourself, for your own life”¦You’re more dangerous than me, because you give the appearance of being a good person, but you’re really untrustworthy and selfish.” Then the woman wrote, “So my question is that I sometimes wonder if I’m sociopath too and it’s the real reason we gravitated toward each other.”

The psychological warfare that sociopaths engage in can leave a lover with many self doubts as this woman expresses. After my encounter with a sociopath, I too looked within myself to try to understand why I was attracted to this type of person. Yes I used the word was. I can tell you that I am no longer attracted to the type of people who are prone to sociopathy.

Attraction is an unconscious force. We do not necessarily have conscious control over who we feel attracted to. So when I say I am no longer attracted to this type of person, I mean I have changed.

The catalyst for this change has been a deeper understanding of myself and other victims of sociopaths, that started when Sandra Brown, M.A. author of How to Spot a Dangerous Man contacted me. Since that time, Sandy and I together have worked to understand women who have loved sociopathic men. A large number of women have completed our survey which has included a temperament assessment and the results have been very enlightening.

Since we are not yet finished, I cannot go into too much detail, but I can say that our results are in agreement with those of other studies. People who tend to be extraverts are socially outgoing and adventurous. Extraverts tend to seek out and marry other extraverts. As you learned from my post last week, sociopaths are social extraverts. If you, like me, have been attracted to outgoing people, your attractions may have put you at risk.

Remember, not everyone who is outgoing and who seems to enjoy people, is able to love. For some people the source of social pleasure is not affection but dominance and control. A sociopath enjoys making you laugh, not because he/she wants you to be happy, but because he/she enjoys having an impact on you. He/she receives just as much pleasure from upsetting you or eliciting anger as he/she does from making you laugh. If you understand this point, you will no longer be overly impressed by social extraverts who are funny.

Next time you find yourself attracted to someone either a friend or potential lover, take a step back, and ask yourself why. Resolve not too take your attractions too seriously, instead surround yourself with people who have demonstrated ability to love. Don’t worry that you share too much in common with the sociopath you were involved with. You may have both enjoyed having a good time, but the similarities stoped there.


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66 Comments on "ASK DR. LEEDOM: Am I also a sociopath?"

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It was my letter that you referenced, and I agree about the necessity for change. I think that my attraction to this man was a reflection of other personal issues I had – specificly my search for the perfect partner who solve my emotional and practical problems.

The change that has been most beneficial has been learning to take responsibility for my own life. And in doing that, I think I also took care of the characteristics in my personality that were most like a sociopath. Like objectifying other people, looking at them as extensions of my need, something to solve my problems, rather than people with their own realilty and their own lives. People to be respected as I want to be respected.

Redefining love and relationships, after an encounter with a sociopath, is a big challenge. But as I look back on every relationship in my life, I see that the elements of “need” rather than “choice” were what created toxic patterns. Including the idea that I was responsible for other people’s feelings and they were responsible for mine.

In my case at least, the sociopath force me to grow up. If I am in control of my own life, it becomes more important that I screen for the kind of people I want around me. I don’t want addicts, leaches or manipulators, because I’m going to have to clean up the messes or replenish my resources after they are gone.

Part of the letter I wrote to Dr. Leedon was about how I feel colder emotionally than I did pre-sociopath. I worried about that. But since writing it, I’ve noticed that other people going through similar recoveries go through a phase of exagerated self-protectiveness while they restore their boundaries and learn to conduct relationships with new demands for mutuality.

In my case, it’s been three years and I’m not sure exactly when Im going to be ready for another romantic involvement. But I do know that my other relationships — personal and professional — have improved greatly. Largely because I’m not so concerned about making people like me or finding emotional security. It’s more important now to communicate honestly, understand that we both have choices about how much to invest, and to create environments in which compassion and trust can grow in a voluntary and organic way. I’ve also learned to pay a lot more attention to actions than words.

I realize that it’s a very strange thing to say, but I believe that my encounter with this sociopath was probably a very good thing for me. Not at the time. It was awful at the time. But it did force me to face a lot of things about myself, how I give away my power in exchange for “love,” how I was expecting other people to take care of me, and how I was in deep denial about the costs of this behavior to myself and the people I was involved with.

The “openings” in my psyche that enabled this person to enter my life are what I’ve been working on. It’s been good work. And yes, I do occasionally wonder if I’m turning into a psychopath myself, because I am so much more self-interested and self-controlled than I was ever before. But I still spend a lot of every day helping other people, and I sitll invest in non-profits that do good work, and get involved with politics that I believe will improve the lot of poor people and children. So I think that I’ve just become more like the sociopath, but in good ways.

And the difference between us, I’m afraid, is that he can’t do the same thing. He can’t care about anyone but himself, and he has a lonely miserable life because of it, even though he gets transient thrills by winning. I wouldn’t be him for anything in the world.

I HAD BEEN INVOLVED WITH “DANGEROUS MEN” ALL MY LIFE. I AM NOW 63 AND FINALLY “GET IT”. I ALSO WONDERED IF I WAS PERHAPS A SOCIOPATH AS WELL. I STATED MY FEELINGS TO MY PSYCHIATRIST ONE DAY AND HER RESPONSE WAS ” IF YOU WORRY YOU MAY BE ONE, YOU MOST LIKELY ARE NOT. SOCIOPATHS HAVE NO GUILT AND WOULD NOT GIVE IT A SECOND THOUGHT ABOUT WHETHER THEY WERE ONE OR NOT.” THAT PRETTY MUCH SUMS IT UP FOR ME.

I think that one reason that those who are involved with sociopaths begin to question themselves is because of the phenomenon of projection. My sociopath constantly told me I was selfish, that I needed therapy, that I was too sensitive, that I was not as smart as I thought I was, that I was rude, that I was inconsiderate, that I was lazy, and on and on. What he was doing was accusing me of the faults he had in himself.

What I realize now is that all of us have a little bit of a lot of bad characteristics, but that for the most part, we keep them in check. The sociopath has these characteristics in abundance and they are unchecked.

The sociopath counts on us having a conscience and being introspective and wanting to be good people and uses that against us. Sure, I have my selfish moments. We all do. But being unwilling to sign over everything you have to a sociopath is not selfish. Being unwilling to give “too much” to a sociopath is not selfish. Ask yourself if he would be pressuring you to give if it weren’t for his benefit. Would he be pressuring you to give this much for some random charity (not of his choosing)? No way.

The sociopath counts on us having self-doubts. Could I benefit from therapy. Yes! The benefit was that I had an excellent therapist who recognized my sociopath for what he was. My therapist said my reactions to him were normal and understandable. I learned a little more about protecting myself. That was how I benefited from therapy.

Can a sociopath benefit from therapy? Not in the same way that a normal person would. A sociopath learns new manipulative techniques in therapy. He learns the buzzwords that allow him to even more efffectively twist things to hurt you. He learns to feign the right “attitude.” He looks to therapy for validation that he is right in everything that he says and does. He hears any positive reinforcement as validating his actions. He never hears suggestions for his own improvement, he only hears what his partner is supposed to do to change to accomodate him.

If you are questioning whether or not you are a sociopath, I seriously doubt you are one. A sociopath either totally knows that he is one and doesn’t care, or else he is so utterly sure of the rightness of everything that he does that it would never occur to him to imagine that he could be one. In fact, my sociopath would fly into a rage if someone told him he was one (unless he was in public, then he would calmly find a way to attack his accuser, possibly questioning the sanity of him/her).

I too have been questioning my own character with respect to being socipathic in ways.

When our needs are not properly met when we are children, we will resort to using any means necessary to get them met.

Ususally our needs are taken care of by loving parent who feed, cloth and nurture us, not because they want anything in return, but because they love us.

But, on some level, I knew what he was. When he gave me 5,000 for us, I figured I have endured enough from him and I deserved to keep the money, even though I broke up with him. I told him I was keeping his money and there was nothing he could do or I would have him arrested if he tried to take it. That was clearly not the “right” thing to do or say.

The only thing that makes me think I am not a total sociopath is that when he told me his cat died and needed the money, I did feel truly bad for him and guilty about keeping his money and I did start giving it back to him little by little.

However, when this doesn’t happen, we, as children, use tactics such as lying, crying, manipulating anyone who will feel bad for us and give us what we need.

When this continues into teenage years and adulthood, we begin to “use” people to get what we need because we were never taken care of and no one taught us how to take care of ourselves.

I believe I have sociopathic tendencies because as a child, I would start fires, pretend to be sick to get attention or get out of doing something I didn’t want to do.

With boyfriends, I would pretend to really care about them, and on some level I did, but if they didn’t give me what I wanted or needed, I would become infuriated and verbally abusive.

I am not all that responsible and I am very implusive and can be reckless. Looking back, I have used boyfriends, foster parents and others to get my needs met. I never really saw it as doing anything wrong, until I got caught up with this sociopath who made me realize my own actions.

When I knew he was stealing from his employers, I tried hard to believe that someone else did it or that he was being wrongly accused of something he didn’t do.

When I tried to keep his money and justified it and told him I would have him arrested if he tried to take it back, that was clearly wrong.

I did feel guilty about it only after he hit me with his pity plays of his cat dying and other things and suicide. So maybe I am not sociopathic.

However, I think on some level I was “stealing” his money because I wanted him to know how it felt to have something of his taken from him like he had done to others. It was sort of an unconscience attempt at saying “how do you like it?”

Of course, a true sociopath won’t ever see it that way. He saw it as an opportunity to show me how good of a “con man” he really was and how he could get “his” money back from me, meet another woman and screw me over in ways I never saw coming.

I don’t know anymore of how much of what has happened is a product of his sociopathy or mine or his projections and my own character flaws.

It’s all so convulted and crazy that I can’t pull myself out of it.

I feel worthless and confused and hurt that he wouldn’t understand that I never really meant to keep his money but wanted to “teach him a lesson.”

So at this point, I feel he has money stashed somewhere from all his “deeds” and has left me with nothing and will go and live a happy life somewhere while I am here miserable.

People say it’s only a matter of time before he gets locked up again. They say that the longer he stays out of jail or prison, the longer sentence he will have because all his “actions” will pile up over time and so when he does get caught, his jail or prison term will be that much longer.

Even thought all this has gone on and he has hurt me beyond belief, still somewhere in my heart I don’t want to see him locked up. However, another part of me wants him to get locked up again so he is as miserable as I am.

Then there is another part that just wants him to get his life together with or without me and hopes he will have a normal life.

All these conflicting emotions are debilitating.

“””I think that one reason that those who are involved with sociopaths begin to question themselves is because of the phenomenon of projection. My sociopath constantly told me I was selfish, that I needed therapy, that I was too sensitive, that I was not as smart as I thought I was, that I was rude, that I was inconsiderate, that I was lazy, and on and on. What he was doing was accusing me of the faults he had in himself.”””

WOW my sociopath used and still does say the same things to me ALL THE TIME.

I just read the SocioPath Next Door and cried the whole way through…seeing some of these same traits in myself and how I am trying to overcome them

I am spiraling out of control again. Thinking I am somewhat a sociopath myself. To the point of conversating with Secret Monster in a hopes of getting my socio back. There is NO REASON to want him back!!!! Unlike many on the site, this guy has literally for the past year done NOTHING for me! No dinners, flowers (maybe once), kind gestures…nothing. He always made excuses for it.. saying, we are past that point, things are different between us. You cook better than any restaurant blah blah blah. I was taken in by all his tricky ways of making me believe he was not doing things for me now.-He always said we have enough time for that. As if to say we would be together forever! Well, I have been reading, commenting and trying NO CONTACT. As of recent, I sent yet another txt…OH this one was so bad. So embarressed and want to stop. Someone Help!!!!!! This time the txt basically said that we are so much alike, together we could have got more, too bad. You beat me at my game. Happy Hunting :)! I am at the point of making a fool of myself on top of all the other issues I have to deal with due to this “relationship”. He has not responded to anything and I back off and Im strong then I fall into the pit again. It is making me crazy, I keep saying, “I want to get him back to dump him”! I am obsessed with doing that….I am finding it sooo hard to except that its not going to happen. I have had bad relationships in the past, (including divorcing a narcissis) but all the others I ended it with them. Yes, I am 40 years old and it took this 25 year old socio (& his family) to take my money, mind, heart and now soul. I am at a tug of war with myself. And to top it off I am ripped apart thinking, HOW could his family and him walk away like this. My socio lives across the street from my ex-husband (well the socio’s family does). And there is a good chance of me seeing them…I cant believe THEY (socio and family in it together) would do this and still show there faces! I am a MESS.

This is an OLD blog, btw….

Anyway, you should ask your husband for advice. I’m sure he’ll help you get back at that evil rat bastard…………

😉

SecretMonster

hi again,
I love reading what you write, it seems as if you are written to me. I definitely had thoughts that I too am a sociopath. I had been pushed to the edge so often and right as I was going to jump he would pull me back.
I have said and believed I was insane or going there, cause of what other people would say to me. one need to experience that sycophancy blade, in order to fathom why we are pulled in.
I tried to will myself to insanity. I am not claiming by any means I am all there! On the contrary.
To this day, a man is still doing his best to make me crazy.
I have not reacted to his antic in almost six months. The more frost I give the harder the punishment is for me.
He can not take my dignity. I will not allow that.
Thank you for your post.

We are expecting frost here also, time to bring in my potted plants..

Hi Hens,
good thing you remembered. I haven’t thought of anything all day but gravel. I must’ve shoveled a hundred million tiny grey rocks today.

I just hung blinds in my kitchen!!!!!
Keep the heat in and the chill out…..
YEAH ME….. 🙂

Skylar….you should be in the tub…..soaking!

No…..this girls getting organized!
Gotta put the heels up for the weekend and be good.

I cleaned the jr’s bathroom last night……OY VAY! Nasty- Nasty!!!!
I want a clean house again…..now the box’s are mostly unpacked. 🙂

Hens, LOL ROTFLMAO Oh, wow! Yea, you are right, every weirdo in the state will be out this weekend! I used to love the drag queens back when I lived out in California though! Some of them were fantastic!!! I never saw a woman that beautiful in my life–well, Elizabeth Taylor when she was young, but no one else!

EB, why are YOU cleaning Junior’s bathroom???? Make that boy do it himself!!!! I had a foster kid once that I spent 6 saturday mornings with him, teaching him to clean a bathroom. I thought he NEVER would even TRY to learn to clean a bathroom, and we worked on it all day until he finally gave up and decided if he wanted to do anything except sit in the bathroom all weekend then he better get it done and over with. I laid away nights thinking of how to murder this kid and dispose of the body! But he eventually got it and Started cleaning the bath room RIGHT! I can’t STAND NASTY!!!! Clutter is one thing, but nasty is a whole ‘nuther ball game!!!!

I started teaching the kids to clean house when they were just walking….even convinced them that washing dishes was a privilege!!!! “If you’re not good you can’t wash dishes tonight”–worked too, they were 11 and 12 when they realized they had been “Tom Sawyered” into washing dishes for years!

OMG…..I was out in Anaheim at Denny’s yeaaars ago….
And they had a cross dresser convention that just ended.
They all converged on Denny’s as I was eating.
I had no idea until I was overhearing the conversations.
There were some beautiful (men) women there. Just beautiful!!!
They were talking about how Mary K has a great foiundation that hides the 5 oclock shadow…..
I looked up like WTF? OMG….these men are prettier than ME!

I doubt, if hens is looking for a lumberjack, he’s gonna be impressed with the drag queens this weekend! 🙂

OH…he knows how to clean.
I just got so sick of it and my friends have been coming over to have coffee and use it…..it’s disgusting.
I’ve been telling him to do it…..and each time my friend shows up it’s still the same…..so I broke down.
Couldn’t stand it.
He steams up the bathroom until the tannens in the wood dribble down the wall in streaks.
It looked like someone had piddled on all the baseboards and walls…….I mopped the walls!
I didin’t do the shower…..I sprayed bleach in there with comet all over his shampoos etc…..so he couldn’t NOT clean the shower!
I told him I got it off to a start…..and HE was to keep it clean and clean it once a week!!!!
That will happen!
I had him moving stuff to under the house…..instead.

EB one time I was walking down the street on Holly wood blvd when egg donor had come to visit me, and my GF was with me,, and egg donor looked up ahead and said in a stage whisper loud enough for them to hear “Lookkkkkk at those girls! Their mini dresses are up to their butt cracks” and my GF and I said “Shhhhhh, they’re NOT GIRLS!” Egg donor didn’t believe me until we followed them into a cafe and you could see their adams apples and 5 O’clock shadows….but they were awesomely beautiful!

I used to love to go to the clubs where the transvestites worked and they did improvs of famous people and movie stars. They were great!

In the other house, he had a master suite…..with bathroom No one but him used.
I made him clean it weekly, change sheets etc…..

He slagged being here alone all those months. And I didn’t fight it.
……Mamma’s here now…..and I don’t want gross!

He took my pillow a few months ago…..and just gave it back to me…all drooled up! I removed the cover and showed him and told him to smell it…..I said…>THIS IS A RESULT OF NOT WASHING SHEETS WEEKLY.
He was disgusted!
Guess who’s sheets are in the wash now?!!?!?!
He doesn’t like stinky>

No I am staying home – drag queens are not my thing no matter how pretty they are, somethin about a man in a girdle just turns me off…but to each his own, I aint being judgemental.
Ox I cant wait till Christie’s auction’s off Liz Taylors jewelery collection, they say it is the largest in the world and will bring billions…I miss Liz.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

okay, i know the drag queen’s aren’t hens’ cup of tea, but i gotta say:
i hate bitchy people of any stripe;
i was deeply smitten with a gay male drag queen when i was 23;
and i like gender transgressive folk…;
and although i am a grrl, i could been something else entirely.

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Um Hens…..If you don’t like women in girdles, I can’t imagine fancying a man in one?!!?

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Oh yeah Katy…..I’ve got a bone to pick with you!!!!!!

So…..Chocolate cake huh? And NO RECIPE?

THEN you knock COSTCO!?!?!?!
I was devastated……Costco has my FAVORITE-store bought Chocolate cake!
And since you don’t share……I’m gonna get me one just to SPITE YOU! LOL!!! 🙂

Yea, I think the young Liz was the THE most beautiful woman what ever lived….but after she got old and fat and still tried to “look young” She used to disgust me. Nothing worse I think than an old woman trying to pretend to be young! I saw Ann Margaret a year or two ago on TV and she had had so many face lifts the dimple in her chin used to be her navel. LOL DISGUSTING to me. I guess it is sort of like fat people wearing clothes which are 4 sizes too small, and they look PAINTED ON….just makes them look WORSE, not slimmer.

I miss Liz too…but I wish she had aged “gracefully” not tried to pretend to be young when she was well over the hill.

Well, as a FAT OLD LADY who wears clothes loose, and no longer tries to pretend to be young, I’m gonna go get my BEAUTY sleep. See you guys when I get back from the auction tomorrow night.

Katy lmao – I gave EB my costume a few years back and she has not returned it or I would.
EB ..Um I know a few women that would look much better in a girdle…

One…..we can all be somthting else entirely…..at times.

No Hens….and your NOT getting ‘her’ back! MTP is all mine!

Hens, we were all posting over each other….as for some women looking better in a girdle—Any time I want a laugh I go to the People of Wal Mart pictures and laugh and laugh about the really fat or skinny people who NEED MORE CLOTHES TO COVER THEIR NAKEDNESS….you know how to “stop sex in people over 50? TURN ON THE LIGHTS!!!! HE HE HEEEEEE HEE BWAHHHHHH G’nite for real this time!

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Hens:
You can go as a lumberjack……if you got wood. lol Shalom

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one/joy_step_at_a_time

shalom wins for best one liner.

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Shalom
You crack me up – I wasnt gonna touch that ~!

one/joy_step_at_a_time

…with a ten foot pole.

OH mY I think Katy did got drunk..

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Katy,
What do you call two gay Bob’s?

Oral Robert’s…..~!

Okay….EB’s back….I decided on a guinness. No cocktail.

If Katy knocks my Costco choc cake…..ima gunna knock her out…..WITH Hens WOOD AND TEN FOOT POLE!

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ok Eileen – my pumpkin time 2

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