REGISTER | LOGIN
By | October 27, 2007 18 Comments

Sociopathy and psychopathy: The two most difficult questions to answer.

People frequently ask me questions about human behavior, this is natural because I’m a psychiatrist and people hope I’ll have some answers. I’ve observed a pattern in the questions that people ask me. Often, I will give an answer I am sure is scientifically and clinically correct. At some point later, the person will come back to me and ask the same question again, perhaps phrased a little differently. This process is repeated several times until I am able to figure out why the person does not feel satisfied by my answer. Questions about sociopaths and psychopaths are often very difficult to answer in a way that brings closure to the question.

The most frequently- asked questions where the above dynamic occurs is, “Is my _______ a sociopath/psychopath?” and “Why can’t I leave?” I have gone around and around with people over and over again with these. It has recently become apparent to me that these questions are difficult for different reasons.

In the case of “Is my _______ a sociopath/psychopath?” the difficulty has nothing to do with the accuracy of the DSM or the Hare checklist for psychopathy. The difficulty happens because when people ask this question they don’t really want a diagnosis. When people ask whether or not a loved one is a sociopath, what they really want to know is if their loved one is evil. So, when I come back with criteria and answers, they never feel satisfied. They walk away more confused than ever. So to answer your question unambiguously, look within yourself to understand how you define evil. What is the difference for you between evil deeds, evil choices and an evil person? A sociopath is a person who repeatedly does harm to others. In my book, this defines an evil person. An evil person is one who repeatedly harms others”¦ and yes repeated actions are a good reflection of a person’s personality.

If a person repeatedly harms others, it doesn’t matter whether he/she also occasionally does good things, says “I love you,” hangs around or seems to be “nice.” The evil deeds scream volumes about a person’ s personality and character. For more see Would somebody please tell me why he did this?

“Why can’t I leave?” is difficult to give a satisfying answer to for another reason. People who ask this question want to be helped to leave in spite of themselves. Often people who ask this question are trying to make themselves want to leave. The most satisfying answer I can give (other than come and move in with me and I’ll help you) is leaving is hard because it makes you very anxious. If you want to successfully leave you have to plan on being very anxious and have predetermined coping strategies. Many people may need to see a physician for medication because the anxiety is so overwhelming. For more on leaving a sociopath see Why is this so hard? and I dont understand why I still care.

I want to thank all of the people who take the time to write Lovefraud. We have learned a great deal from you and we strive to use your questions to help others.


18
Comment on this article

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Jorgio

The guy really snowed me. He came to me with bait and hook.
He was so obvious that I told him he was just using me for my money. “He said I really don’t mean to, in such an humble way that I let it go because he really made me feel good about myself. I kick myself as I was warned by my Preacher and my wife. I should have known he was no good, but he made me feel he was the exception to the rule. Of course, I didn’t know he was a narcissist sociopath at the time even though my wife diagnosed him in the summer as psychopath. I felt they were the wrong ones this time. He kept coming back to me as a friend and using some method of humility and friendship always to get me to give him whatever he wanted. However after he learned that I no longer had an income, he dropped me immediately using my friendship affection against me and his new-found Religiocity as grounds to never see me nor speak to me, disconnecting all contact with me. He would not tell this to me by phone or to my face, exhibiting a trait of cowardice. I told him he was a 2-faced lying self-righteous hypocrite via text message as he would not answer his phone any longer and soon cut off the text messaging receiver. The Jerk!!! I was so angry I could
not contain myself. I sought revenge, however, I talk myself out of it everytime as I have been told by three separate sources “turn it over to God” and that he will get his payback. Life has a way of doing that. The anger is the biggest thing I am dealing with right now, however, there is the hurt, but it is not as strong as the anger. I have thought about going public with the information that he is sociopath, passing out flyers, placing ad in paper, puting the flyers on the places that he frequents, etc. But have not gone that route yet.
However, I did give the information to his counsellor and am
trying to get it posted on his record at the police department.
Jorgio

Louis

I think the key is to look at peoples actions not their words. Psychopaths can mime such words as “love” and “empathy”, but there is no emotional connection to the word. Of course, psychopaths have to learn the feelings we all instintively recognize, so words can sometimes indicate psychopathic tendancies, such as when Lynne Cheney’s recent slip on the daily show about foreign deaths not being “American interests”. A helpful book for anyone seeking to understand psychopathy, and how to detect them, is Political Ponerology: A Science of the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes. It has really opened my eyes to psychopaths can commit these horrible crimes on both the interpersonal and global scale. A review of the book can be found at http://tinyurl.com/z3s2l . Btw, this blogs mission is very noble, billions of people (literally) have been hurt by psychopaths. I wish you all the best.

alohatraveler

I think the key to leaving is to educate oneself about the way a sociopath/narcissist/or borderline manipulate people. Once I realized that the “love” that was poured on so thickly at times was merely a manipulation to get something he wanted out of me, I was able to set myself free from this man and the fantasys that he would someday stop being hurtfull and mean and just be the loving seducer he was that hooked me in the beginning. After I physically left, he continued to dominate my thoughts 24 hours a day for over a year. Once I discovered LoveFraud, I followed the No Contact rule and continued to educate myself. Now I see that the “good” and the bad are all part of the cycle. I used to think that the good side of him was who he really was and the bad was just something that needed to be healed in him… with my loving patience and kindness, of course. Looking back now, I can’t find even one truly authentic moment we spent together. I can see that he was good and kind when it benefited him and helped him to get something out of me. He is pure DISORDER. Thank God I am FREE!!!!

Margaret

Amen and Amen. I had come to the conclusion that my daughter’s sociopathic boyfriend was evil, but I have thought that maybe I was on the edge. However, now I feel like I have supporting evidence.

Hopefully one day she will be at the point where she will at least begin to see that she should leave him. However, I’ve seen other women stay with their sociopathic husbands for 10 to 15 years.

usednomore

Being a recent victim, learning about this is all so new to me and so real. I have been learning as much as possible about it and think everyone should know. I mean my sociopath was my personal trainer and sponging off of rich, older white ladies is his M.O.

I actually had my first true validation today that my sociopath was really a sociopath. I spoke to the previous victim, also a client (just before me) at length and she gave me the name of her great therapist who actually went to this sociopath for the personal training a few times, just to see and pegged him right away.
It was what I needed to hear. This sociopath owes me alot of money for a business we own together and he keeps claiming I mixed business with pleasure Blah Blah Blah and everyone believes him. At least I have the money to sue him to get some revenge, and I feel confident about staying ahead of him rather than behind. When I saw him after this, I know (no contact) I felt empowered and felt nothing,except a little fear and anxiety, but no love or desire. I read somewhere that you have to become somewhat of a sociopath yourself in dealing with a sociopath. It will all be over soon, I hope.

usednomore

The crazy thing was that I didn’t listen to my instincts. I googled sociopath three months ago, when he started changing, once he had me hooked and still I kept going back. Intellectually, I always knew he was bad news and that he shouldn’t/couldn’t be trusted. I am just now starting to blog so I may tell more of my story. I am also at war, both of my therapists(I know, two?, but one is just like me the other is just like my husband) think that I’m in a good enough place to handle it. We’ll see.

Usednomore wrote “I read somewhere that you have to become somewhat of a sociopath yourself in dealing with a sociopath.”

I know I read this too and that is what happened to me. I have Borderline and Antisocial tendencies to begin with although I never saw myself as a sociopath in the past. I look back and say I have exhibited some of these characteristics in my past. I do have remorse though and I don’t hurt animals. I also try to control my impulse but my tolerance for that is very low. I have been reckless with my life and other’s feelings. I have been abusive and horrible in many of my relationships.

I just thought that was who I was…you know don’t take any shit from anybody attitude. Very opinionated. Now I see though many ASPD traits in myself. Thinking I was better than everyone else and most people were incompetent, etc.

That being said — dealing with another sociopath or someone who is further along on the scale only fuels your own tendencies. Their behaviors are infectious especially when you tend toward them already.

So I have to say that becoming somewhat of a sociopath yourself in dealing with them is not the answer really. It just makes you sicker and more anxious and fearful. It makes you secong guess your own actions and you lower yourself.

Fear, anger, wanting revenge, these things are poison to the system. I know because I have been literally killing myself with these feelings. It can only go downhill and affect the health and stability of your life.

To this day he still says he wants to marry me and have a baby and live with me. Meanwhile he is engaged to someone else and hiding everything from me.

They just like to f–k with your head. It gives them power. It feeds them. I know how this feels because I have done it to other people. Said mean things to get a reaction, etc. You don’t realize you’re doing it and you can’t see you’re hurting the other person. You just say oh they should get a thicker skin.

Becoming a sociopath will only destroy you more if you can’t get yourself out of the behaviors. It will spiral you down and down until you don’t recognize your own face in the mirror. I know from experience.

They say success is the best revenge and NO CONTACT is the way to assert the most control.

My issue is now I see everyone as a sociopath in one way or the other. Most people lie, cheat where they can, take advantage of a situation, are out for themselves, etc. Maybe it is just my perception though I always saw people that way.

Becoming a sociopath means losing motivation for the important things in life…wasting energy and time on revenge is self defeating since that is energy better spent on taking care of yourself..finding someone new, working, etc. In the end, you find yourself just waiting around to die. It’s an aweful place to be. So be careful.

I keep thinking I miss him… but it’s me I really miss because I let myself get out of control. He knew what buttons to press and how to send me over…the edge. They use your best and your worst traits against you and they go off skipping on the wind happy as can be.

usednomore

I know I hear everything that your saying and do agree, to a point. I fortunately don’t have any tendencies toward ASPD. I am though highly competetive, and I am not at the point in my recovery where I will just let it go. My wake-up call is only four weeks old. I will have no contact with him, but I am sure he will have his just desserts to land him back in prison. He is on parole and he only needs one infraction to put him back there, then I can take the business and do what I want with it.

What I am curious about is how can I legally alert the public to this parasite, in the mean time, so that it doesn’t happen to others. I have dropped off printouts on sociopathy to some, and forwarded some web pages to others. Is there any legal recourse. Will I be sued for slander?

apt/mgr

I, too, see myself in so many of these blogs. I never would have known what a personality disorder was, until certain aspects of my marriage and friendships didn’t add up. So much duplicity in the relationships. I could never understand why I was treated one way and others got preferential treatment. I blamed myself, which is exactly what my “significant” other wanted me to do. That way it took the heat off him. I’ve found, over the years, the only real emotion so many of them have is anger. The other emotions are pretense. I have learned from these sites and many others, the way to deal with these people, until they are out of your life, is to mirror them. Not become them, but just answer in kind. I’m told I have an attitude, but I just pass it back and say he gave it to me. It’s really a lose/lose situation with these kinds of people. In order to preserve what sanity I have, I need to distance myself. It’s difficult, because I truly miss the person I met. And it’s sad to say that person obviously doesn’t exist. I keep waiting for the real man to step forward. There are so many sides to them, that you never know which one is going to emerge. Sometimes I’m more angry with myself for not seeing and being aware. But I really had no idea that people were capable of doing this. I thought if someone took care of the outside, the inside had to be okay.

I have a male friend, who probably no longer is, but he is so meticulous, that you wouldn’t think he’d have a devious bone in his body. He comes from a rather influential family, but he has emotions that are very retarded. I never know where I stand and it’s usually on the outside looking in. Appearances are really deceiving. We really can’t judge a book by it’s cover. They are masters of keeping the real truth hidden and keeping one guessing. I’ve learned to go behind the scenes and look for real. I figured if two people had the same experience with him, then that’s who he is. What saddens me is that my trust is gone as far as a one on one relationship is concerned. I don’t want to trust my emotions, let alone my money, with just anyone. They sure have a way of souring one on further relationships.

I am glad for sites such as these, as they help to shed a lot of light on a subject that has been kept hidden for a very long time. What you see really isn’t what you get!

alohatraveler

“I keep waiting for the real man to step forward.”

He has and you have all the evidence you need.
Now exit, stage right! (and don’t look back)

Come on! It’s sunny and nice over here!

No CONTACT, No CONTACT…. LALALALALA!

Happy Thanksgiving!
XO E.R.

If you all haven’t guessed, “No Contact” is my savior!

I just blogged on the pointlessness of trying to figure psychos out…it was a bit of an epiphany for me.
http://holywatersalt.blogspot.com

ccarlino

Dr Leedom,

I once knew a girl who was dating a sociopath, and would ask me these same two questions quite frequently! Although I am not a doctor, I did my best to answer her in much the same way as you, by providing her with the diagnostic criteria for a sociopath and offering some supporting information and correlations between her boyfriend’s behavior and behavior typical of a sociopath. Sure enough, this information never seemed adequate, and she stayed with him through much pain and suffering for a long period of time.

What I found was similar to your findings. She never seemed happy with the facts, and seemed to be seeking some other explanation for his behavior. I believe that many times, the reason why factual information about the nature of sociopaths is not enough for a person intimately involved with one to recognize them as such and make a commitment to leave, is because they often don’t want to accept it. As is the nature of the beast, sociopaths do an excellent job of mimicking honest apologies and feigning emotions they do not have the capacity to feel, and the average lover is often easily duped by the sociopath’s efforts to retain control over the other person.

In the case of my friend, this caused her to constantly search for some other, easier-to-accept explanation for his deliberately hurtful and evil behavior. In other words, she was constantly searching for hope where none exists.

Unfortunately, the inertia of a long term relationship often makes it hard for those involved to imagine a way out, and even the most evil of acts can be brushed off by victims. It appeared to me that my friend had been almost conditioned over time to accept his behavior as “the norm” and, through many awful situations, lost her steam in fighting back, and lost her hope of finding a way to a better life.

kat_o_nine_tales

Guys.. know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking I can take a few pages from the sociopaths book.. but NOT for the purposes of hurting, lying to or defrauding anyone. I’m thinking of doing what they do in paying more attention to people’s cues and signals, what’s important to them, reading them better, and watching their behavior. I can surely use this information.. not as they use it.. but to help me deal with people, and help me maintain order in my life, and also to keep myself a bit safer out there.

southernman429

holywatersalt …

I just read your blog page… very well written and thought out…You know your subject well… thanks for sharing… how can I subscribe to your blogs?

kat_o_nine_tales

HWS fill in the blanks is really so true… and it is a good game for them because it keeps us off balance and also keeps us busy. I always used to wonder how some of these people can sleep at night after the trauma and upset they cause.

The answer is easy.. they got what they wanted, we are off balance, not in any shape to stick up for ourselves, while we are crying ourselves to sleep we won’t be researching their lies, asking hard questions or throwing them out.. security for them for one more night.. plus they enjoy the fact that they WON, once again..

hens

holywatersalt Thank you soo much for sharing!!!! thank you thank you thank you –

hens

I have been hearing on the local radio channels about “The Physcopath Haunted House” a halloween event. Guess these people don’t understand that physcopath’s look just like us, if they had horn’s and tails we would of known to run away from the them…..

They charge admission? A pound of flesh and your soul…right?

Thanks for the kind comments guys.

Send this to a friend