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Sitting with the sociopathic client

Sitting with an antisocial or sociopathic client is an interesting experience—for a while, anyway, until it grows tedious”¦almost boring. There is the initial curiosity about, and fascination with, the client’s antisocial behaviors”¦their nature”¦breadth.

Perhaps there’s even a certain rubbernecking interest in the train-wreck of moral turpitude these clients present—with their staggering patterns of ethical and moral debaseness. Admittedly, it can be breathtaking, on certain levels, to behold the magnitude of their abuse of others’ boundaries and dignity, accompanied by missing feelings of accountability and remorse.

And the interest in the experience with such clients persists a bit longer when you are dealing with someone who is “intelligent.” There’s something just inherently more compelling, at least initially, about an “intelligent” sociopath who guiltlessly transgresses others in the gross, chronic way that sociopaths do, versus the less intelligent sociopath, whose intellectual limitations seem to dim, however unfairly, the spectacular nature of his violations.

But after a while, as I say, sitting with the sociopathic client, however intelligent he may even be, grows tedious. It’s not unlike the experience of discovering that someone you expected to find extremely interesting (and perhaps did, initially) is, at bottom, really a boring individual with little to say or offer. There’s something anti-climactically disappointing in the discovery of the individual’s gross limitations. 

With most sociopathic personalities, in my experience, this sense of disillusionment—of  of having to face the reality, ultimately, of their emotional vacuity—occurs in the work with them. As different in temperament and intelligence as they may be, ultimately sociopaths prove to be highly ungratifying clients to work with. This is because, regardless of their ability to talk the talk, they are, ultimately, unable to make themselves genuinely accountable for their actions, the fact of which, after a while, simply grows tiresome.

The sociopathic client just doesn’t feel, in a heart-felt way, so many of the things he “allegedly” is ready to own, or the reforms he is “allegedly” ready to make; and when this becomes clear—as it always does—a certain tedium, boredom enters the sessions.

This boredom, I think, arises in the recognition of the futility of making a real connection with the sociopath; also in the futility of his making any sort of real connection to the pain he’s caused others, and will continue to cause others, despite his superficial assertions of regret and remorse.

And so this is where the big yawns threaten to emerge with regularity. It’s the feeling of having your time wasted, which is exactly what the sociopath is doing. He is wasting your time, as he wastes everything from which he doesn’t derive a personally, selfishly compelling benefit.

It is that moment of untruth—that moment when it becomes clear that, no matter how verbally interesting and, perhaps, even engaging he may be, the sociopathic individual finally lacks anything substantive to say, feel, or aspire to. Lacking this substance, the possibly initially engaging experience with him yields, ultimately, to the sense of being futilely engaged with an emotional cipher.

That is, for a while his charisma, charm and engaging qualities, if they are present, may compensate for the missing underlying emotional substance. But there is a shelf-life for this compensatory entertainment before the tedium of his barren inner emotional life begins to weigh down the experience of him. There is a limit to hearing the same repetitive pronouncements of intended change, pseudo remorse and responsibility.

There is also a limit, beyond which it becomes increasingly oppressive to sit with the sociopath, who in one breath may claim responsibility for his violations of others, while in the very next withdraw his pseudo-assumption of responsibility and abruptly rationalize the very behavior that, only moments before, he seemingly repudiated?

This is the sociopath at work. Sitting with him can be an interesting experience. But as his particular, underlying emotional disability surfaces, the interest leads, surpisingly quickly, to a feeling of ennui”¦almost oppression.

(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake only and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors and attitudes discussed.)


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309 Comments on "Sitting with the sociopathic client"

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below that post in bold red it should say
Clisck to edit…..press that and go to town.

EB I told you that you sold the Snow blower too soon. Do you not have snow at the new place? Oh, well, it isn’t often I can tell you I told you so. hee hee

Coffee tables for cuties! Har de har har!!!

Can Someone Please Help Me???
My Mother was widowed just over 2 years ago, after nearly 50 years of Marriage.
my Dad died suddenly at the age of 69.
My Mum has a new Boyfriend. (Frank is his name)She met him 3 months ago.
within two days of knowing her, he told her he was “smitten” (his words) with her.
That he wants to marry her, HE has set the date, HE plans things with her that never include her family, and she goes along with it.
within a week he had a knee operation and was recovering at her home.
he never moved out until about 4 weeks ago, that’s when my Mum moved into his home (a home he rents from his daughter).
Now she is selling her home which she owns outright..
her $50,000 investment (that my Mum & Dad had saved all their lives for) has dwindled to $17,000
My daughters, my husband and my Mum’s friends don’t like him.
He took my Dad’s ashes from my Mum’s home (telling her that he will hide them, as to not upset her…??? and she let him)
When i visited my Mum at Franks home,)
I found my Dad’s ashes in the very back of his kitchen cupboard and took them to my house.
My Mum has changed dramatically, she is lying to me when I question the odd things that are happening, she is lying to her friends, and when anyone questions her about how fast things are happening or where all the money is, etc… she replies with, “you just don’t want me to be happy”
There are so many other things that are happeng since Frank came into my Mum’s life.
He is a classic love fraud, and he is going to take my Mum for everything she has.
Please help me find a way to get Frank out of my Mum’s life.
How do I get a background check? how do I catch him out?
How do I get my Mum to see who he really is?
…..cathie

Dear Cathie,

I am so sorry to hear that you are having such a problem with “Frank”—I think your assessment is right.

How do you save your mother when she doesn’t want to be saved?

There may not be a way. Frankly, that is the way things are. My own mother, a widow, was being conned by one of my sons who is a psychopath, the wife of the other son and a convicted child molester….it was only when they wer arrested that she saw some light.

Contact a private investigator and hire them to do a back ground check on Frank. As much information as you can get on him, date of birth, age, previous places of residence, etc. any information at all will be helpful. This should not be too much in the way of cost for the initial background check.

I’m not sure what country you are in, but if anything turns up that looks criminal, contact the local police.

Your mother is GRIEVING and LONELY and may feel, as I did when my husband suddenly died, that I am all alone and no one will ever love me again, and she SEES THIS AS HER LAST GREAT HOPE of happiness in her elderly years.

Part of the problem with it too is that she DOES NOT WANT TO BELIEVE HE IS A CON, she WANTS to believe so badly that he does love her. I fell for a con man as well, but fortunately I didn’t get conned for money, only my good name and position in the community. So even if you find a CRIMINAL record your mother may not even believe the police. Be prepared for that.

Keep on reading here and any help or suggestions that anyone here can give you I know will be there for you. Good luck. (((hugs))) and God bless.

ps my own mother still sends money to my psychopathic son in prison even though she saw proof in his own hand writing that he tried to have me killed.

(((((((( cathie ))))))))))))

Welcome to Love Fraud! I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this with your Mom!!! I hear the pain and desperation to help her!

I could offer you advice, but there are others here who would be MUCH better at it, given your situation.

Ox, EB???

thanks, I hope someone can point me in the right direction.
I think that Frank knows I’m onto him, so things have started moving uncontrollably fast.
I am going overseas in 2 weeks (for a month) and I’m worried that things will move even faster while I’m away.
we all live in Melbourne Australia.
I am going to get onto a private detective today.
thanks again for your concern….Cathie

Cathie,
older people are the hardest to convince about sociopaths. They are set in their ways. But it’s hard for anyone to believe.

What YOU can do is to read as much as you can about narcissism and sociopaths. This will help you “interpret” the behavior that you will witness from Frank. You will eventually be able to stay one step ahead of him, but it will take lots of time learning on your part. You will eventually be able to predict his behavior to some degree because they all act the same.

Some one here posted the news story that the National Enquirer was able to uncover and disclose the Senator John Edwards scandal by hiring an expert on PD’s to do a profile on him. Armed with that and thousands of dollars in surveillance equipment (including satelites) they were able to predict his behavior and push him into a corner where he HAD to reveal “some” of the truth.

I mention this story because it shows the power that knowledge about this PD, can lend to us. Be brave and start reading.

CATHIE—there is a great group of ladies in Auz that have successfully fought another con man like frank, get in contact with them IMMEDIATELY.

Look on the left side of your screen for an article about “almost drowning with Andrew Harper” Get in contact with Rozzie she has a click-link on there that will put you in touch with her. She is an expert on how to get these creeps.

Also, if you are gone a month you can bet your mum will be married to him by the time you get back. So work fast! Good luck. You also must be prepared to step back if you can’t convince her and just be there to help pick up the pieces when your mom hits the ground and he goes away leaving her broke and devastated. I am sorry for both you and her, but these people have NO CONSCIENCE. You and she are in my prayers.

thanks for that, I will get onto it when I get home from work this evening.

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