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The flaw in viewing sociopaths through normal eyes

Lovefraud recently received an e-mail from a young man, we’ll call him Kyle, who has just broken up with a woman whom he now believes is a sociopath. Based on the behavior he described, I’d say the guy is right. The woman cheated on him, and when confronted, either downplayed her behavior, said it was none of his business, or verbally attacked him. She had no interest in resolving problems. “Her solution to everything was to run, wait awhile, and then pile on affection as if nothing ever happened,” Kyle wrote.

Kyle has been researching sociopathy to try to grasp what is really going on with this woman. Here’s more of his e-mail, which I have reproduced with his permission:

First of all, I don’t believe criminal behavior, monetary fraud, substance abuse, or any other overt signs of social misconduct are primary symptoms of sociopathy. I suppose that’s the big question though… what is a primary sign? My theory is that the sociopath is incapable of developing personal values through the process of induction, meaning they are unable to look within themselves to gain a sense of self-esteem. This results their inability to experience empathy. After all, if one cannot generate a sense of self worth from their own reasoning how can they be expected to relate to others who do?

It seems in every case I have read about, the sociopath is an extravert. I think this is natural as the person must constantly be in contact with others because they find no satisfaction in themselves. Sociopaths also seem to be universally intelligent. (Perhaps these are the factors that differentiate a sociopath from a psychopath. Again, forgive my ignorance on the subject). What results is a charming individual who preys on other people to satisfy an endless hunger for temporary esteem. Because they cannot make sense of the internal values which should be generating this esteem, they simply try to get it from others, essentially reversing cause and effect.

In the end, this system never quite works, so they develop an incredible defense to avoid the fact that every close relationship falls apart. Every interaction is bounded by a series of rules/parameters. So long as the victim stays within these, things run smoothly. However, close human contact results in an emotional trade off that is impossible to control. Normally this is a tremendously good thing: trust, loyalty, and compassion are established. However, these all rely on a person’s sense of self worth, and the sociopath is not able to understand that. Sooner or later the relationship becomes too close and loses all stability. This is the point where the sociopath is “found out.”

In dealing with the woman, I felt a certain childlike quality to her emotions throughout our relationship. Though she was highly developed socially, in a lot of ways I almost felt like I was dealing with a puppy who just killed a small bird in the front yard. I think my mistake was in believing that I would be different. If I held my hand out she wouldn’t bite it. But I think this quality is misleading, as that naiveté is something the sociopath will avoid at all costs. They simply refuse to learn from their mistakes, or even acknowledge them in the first place. It seems to be a rare combination of a highly developed intellect and a poorly developed emotional response.

Perhaps at some point every sociopath learns to guard that core of insecurity at the deepest level and as such cannot even look at that, let alone analyze it and learn from it. In time, they develop an incredibly complex mechanism to guard this, adding another component with each deception. By early adulthood, these deceptions become so many that the cost is just too great to turn back, and it’s just so much easier to keep going that the thought never even crosses their mind.

These people are not normal

Kyle has correctly observed many traits of a sociopath: Criminality, fraud and substance abuse are not necessarily the prime indicators of this personality disorder. Sociopaths do not experience empathy. Sociopaths are extraverts. They are highly developed socially, but emotionally immature. They do not learn from mistakes.

However, his theories on why sociopaths are the way they are suffer from a fatal flaw: They are developed from the perspective of someone who is normal.

The hardest part of understanding what happened during our entanglements with sociopaths is coming to terms the extent to which these people are not normal.

Lovefraud readers have described sociopaths as not human. Aliens inhabiting human bodies. As cold as these descriptions may sound, they’re probably the easiest way to grasp what you are dealing with in a relationship with a sociopath.

So how different are they? Let’s take a look.

What sociopaths want

Normal people want love and harmonious relationships with others. Normal people want to feel competent in some form of endeavor. Normal people want to contribute to the world in some way.

Sociopaths want power, control and sex. Since they do not really value human relationships, they only want to win.

Kyle is correct in stating that sociopaths cannot look within themselves and develop personal values. He is incorrect in assuming that this causes the sociopath distress. Yes, these disordered people are empty inside, and they may be vaguely aware that they are missing something. But most sociopaths do not have issues with their self-esteem. If anything, they are grandiose, and their views of themselves are ridiculously inflated. They feel absolutely entitled to anything that they want, simply because they want it.

Self-esteem and sociopaths

Kyle speculates that sociopaths must be in constant contact with other people because they are trying to borrow self-esteem from others. This is not the case. Sociopaths view people as pawns to be manipulated into giving them what they want. Every social encounter is a potential feeding opportunity, a chance to convince someone to provide something.

Many people, of course, eventually catch on that they are being used, and stop serving as supply to the sociopaths. Sociopaths are aware of this—they’ve experienced it many times. So they are constantly on the lookout for new targets. When one victim is depleted, he or she must be replaced with another.

This leads to the answer to Kyle’s question, which is, “what is a primary sign of sociopathy?” Dr. Leedom has said lying. Steve Becker has said exploitative behavior. Put them together and you can say deceitful exploitation is central to the disorder.

Insecurity and sociopaths

Kyle suggests that sociopaths are insecure and build defense mechanisms to protect themselves from being hurt. By the time they’re adults, these defense mechanisms are so elaborate and complex that sociopaths can’t return to their authentic selves.

Again, he’s trying to interpret the sociopath based on how normal people may cope with personal issues. This is a mistake.

Wikipedia defines insecurity as, “a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving oneself to be unloved, inadequate or worthless.” Sociopaths probably should see themselves as unloved, inadequate or worthless, but they don’t. They may seem to be exhibiting insecurity, but in reality it’s one of two things:

  • Frustration that they’re not getting what they want.
  • Manipulation tactics to get what they want.

Sociopaths have no feelings, so there are no feelings to hurt. They can certainly pretend to be hurt, but it is a ruse designed to guilt others into giving them what they want.

Genetic roots

So if sociopaths are not trying to protect their deeply felt insecurities, where does this disorder come from? In most cases, the temperamental traits that lead to sociopathy are genetic. That usually means one of the parents is a sociopath, and sociopaths are notoriously bad parents. If a child is born with the traits, bad parenting can make them develop the full disorder.

But even if a child with the traits gets good parenting, the disorder can develop. Parents who have a child at risk of developing sociopathy need to take extra steps to help the child overcome his or her predisposition, but the parents may not realize it. And in some cases, even the best parenting is not enough to overcome negative genetics.

It is also possible for a mostly normal child who has extremely an extremely bad growth experience—such as being moved from foster home to foster home as a baby—can develop the disorder.

Accept and avoid

Please understand that I am not picking on Kyle. He’s obviously given a lot of thought to his experience with a sociopathic woman, and is trying to understand what happened. He has a reasonably good handle on normal behavior and normal motivations.

His letter simply provided me with an opportunity to illustrate that what we know and understand about normal human behavior simply does not apply to sociopaths. Thank you, Kyle, for allowing me to quote you.

In the end, we may not be able to truly comprehend sociopaths. The way they go through life is just too foreign to our natures. We must simply accept that they are very, very different from us, learn to recognize the symptoms, and if we see them, run for the hills.


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469 Comments on "The flaw in viewing sociopaths through normal eyes"

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I’m an early riser. (I’ve been up since 4:30.) If I had seen a flying saucer while taking the dog out this morning, you had better believe I’d only tell a few select friends. I have no desire to be viewed as a lunatic or an idiot.

What about Sociopaths? By some estimates, 9% of the population suffers from some type of cluster B personality disorder. Even if the rate is much smaller, everyone has had dealings with them, and yet we don’t dare admit it too loudly. Encounters with sociopaths are like UFO sitings in this respect.

With so many cluster B personality disordered people in our population, how can popular psychology cling to a word view that pretends them away? Why are those of us who are honest enough to try to report our experiences struggling for language and meaning? It’s as if we were dealing with a new or rare phenomenon.

I really empathize with Kyle.

In each encounter with an N/P/S, I’ve strived to make sense of the contrast between what I’ve been taught about human nature and what I’ve seen in the N/P/S. How could they act the way they do, yet still have the hopes and needs ascribed to all human beings? What could I do, but torture the data to fit the accepted paradigm?

Without a working model of sociopathy, there’s a huge disconnect between what we experience in the N/P/S, and what we have been taught is germane to the human psyche. We may as well be encountering UFOs, fairies or ghosts as N/P/Ss. We’d receive the same quality and quantity of scientific insight to help us understand our experience.

“Again learning and knowing all a part of growing”

Each time I come to a point of an understanding of my ex s/p. I lose that thought process because I think like a normal person when applying these same principles and factors to her.

Each time I come to believe in a feeling or emotional state of being, I again lose that emotional belief for her when I compare that to my ex s/p because I feel like a normal person.

Each stage of my life whenever I try to apply it with expectations to my ex s/p I become disappointed because I live an natural normal life. And understand and accept this normal process of natural living.

I have now come to a part of my life that I have stop trying to apply understand feel and expect what happens to me will also apply and happen to my ex s/p because I will always see and understand these things through the viewing of “normal eyes”.

I have accepted my self for who I am and must accept my ex s/p for who she is…

Good morning Elizabeth Conley!

I too am a early riser!

🙂

Good Morning James.

Have a great day!

Ditto!

Interesting post – poor Kyle. Really had a number done on him like the rest of us.

I have a question for Donna, and I guess everybody. Donna, at one point in the post you say that Sociopaths “have no feelings.” I’m a little confused. I thought they experienced and catered to their own feelings, but had no respect for the feelings of others.

My ex S certainly seemed to have the feeling of “anger.” He would get enraged, and would describe himself as “angry.” He also did seem cheerful at times. He would laugh, be playful, smile. It seemed like at the very least he was “giddy.”

He certainly seemed frustrated and irritable.

Are you implying that ALL of these seeming feelings were faked?

He talked about “being fearful,” but I think this was bullshit and manipulative. But that anger seemed pretty genuine.

What do people think about Sociopath’s and feelings?

A couple of quick comments.

I thought Kyle’s letter makes some good points for discussion. Some of his analysis could apply to high level narcissists as well and I think his descriptions and insights are very accurate. Lack of empathy, lying, interpersonal exploitation, needing constant affirmation of who they think they are (image), ongoing deception. This brings me back to re-thinking the question of whether or not the term “sociopath” is overused. I am beginning to think it might be overused and that many are dealing with high level narcissists who will also do illegal things because they think they are entitled to do so.

Judging from everything I have read it seems the high level narcissist is concerned with maintaining an image of himself which parallels much of what Kyle has expressed. The sociopath , on the other hand, does not care about his image in quite the same way, and he does not care what others think of him when he becomes aggressive , violates the law, or harms others.

Regarding feelings, I have noticed moments of an S/N appearing to have feelings……almost like a window that mistakenly gets left open for a moment. What we consider a normal level of feeling seems to leak out for a minute and we are fooled into thinking there has to be more in there somewhere! Whether this is part of their adaptive ability to mimic the level of normalcy they see in others, or whether it is a residue of something real that was not quite snuffed out, I don’t know.

It is fascinating how very hard we strive to empathize with them…and how very much they count on it.

Yep- accepting they behave with an alternate set of rules was KEY.

Once you “get” that it all makes sense. Their “emotions,” behaviors and words lie; they mean something entirely different than we take for granted.

For example: I thought “my” psycho missed me, was jealous I had other friends. Why? Because he acted jealous, pouted and mde scenes when others were around me.

In reality- it was not me he missed or coveted, it was my attention. This only made sense when I realized he did not want to know ANYTHING about me, though he called constantly and emailed.

He wanted my attention; I was a good source of attention. He was mad I was giving attention to someone else. I was supposed to be enthralledby him and adore him. His need for me, was purely parasitic.

In the end, he haughtly said: “I don’t even know you.” This is after a year of daily contact- but he was correct; he knew little about me aside from my name. This was startling revealed when in a conversation with another he assumed I had an older brother- I have a younger sister. He had no clue.

He hoovered me for attention after I left, because I was good at providing rapt interest. Not once did he miss me as a unique person. And I was reminded of this today- when while reading the author mentioned when in love we want to know about the loved one.

James,

i can relate to all that you wrote and i feel that i have made progress simply because i can evaluate a situation now by looking at it first in terms of how it benefits me or affects me. i guess the nice thing is that i have to deliberately make myself think this way where withe the sociopath it is inate.

HH,

i had the same thoughts as i read the post and i feel that ager is an emotion they feel and it stems from not getting what they want when they want it and usually it is about control and manipulation.

as for other eotions…… like Kyle, when we see or ehear them express themselves we believe it is real, honest, sincere…… yet their longer term behavior is not consistent and much times lags between what we heard and what is proven to be truthful.

in other word…..they say and act in a way that we want so they can manipulate us and by the time we realize what has happened we were already duped, lied to, stolen from. they are emotional and psychological criminals.

i hope this made sense. i dont believe all criminals are sociopaths and there are many who have never been convicted of a crime by law who are potentally more dangerous.

I wonder if it isn’ti nnately extroverted to take advantage. I mean psychopaths are exploitive.That’s central, and they do not exists on their own.

Hello Donna:
In trying to understand, a sociopath as an extrovert.

Ok . The one that I knew was quiet, but had all the traits of an S, the lack of empathy, lying, cold and when it was obvious he wanted something, displayed the horriffic confusing behavior as that of a young child that was being so ill treated. There were major tantrums to turn the situation to his favor, and after he achieved his goals had this gloating that was so strange, almost euphoric when he got his way after extreme anger.

Trying to understand this, and over time making my own observations I assumed that he was more than likely abused emotionally and not loved as “typical, or most children”, therefore that created this lack of empathy and not being able to get close to people he was in a relationshipwith, afraid to be let down because as a child he was never loved. A question I had asked him once. “You were never loved as a child”? And another time I asked after being so confused with this irratic behavior, I asked and stated”, “You were abused emotionally as a child”?.
With those satements, the look I had seen come across his face was not like a look I recognized, along with a deep sadness and a long puase. I did not receive an answer. There was always an answer from S/P. Did that statement tap into something? Normally any questions to his behavior and emotions would anger him. These two statements and questions touched another side.

As for genetics yes there were instances I had learned of with one of the S’s parents and their anger, and lack of empathy.

I have said he comes across as being quiet initially, another mask of the S/P?. It makes him more believable and seemingly to be in control? Also because there is a constant conflict of analyzing the situation to his advantage within? The overview of lack of empathy and lying were superior to the personality and gradiose he had for himself.

So to pull it together in this case, it may have been genetics and being predisposed, emotionally unloved by parents, and other instances. The mother was in an abusive relationship with S’S biological father, and she had physical illness throughtout her life, and the fact that S’s, (former partner left him cold for another partner after a long term relationship of 17 yrs.). Which brought out more lack of empathy and strengthened that, along with the fear it may happen again, so in order to survive, maintain the lack of empathy and not love, and lie because it may happen again.

Revulsion…..Contempt….yeah, I got that. He even wrote a public letter mocking my actions once.

Top extraversion- they have to be, even when they “seem” introverted …these creatures feed off of others.

GREAT ARTICLE, BTW!!! And, Welcome Kyle!

Yesterday we were talking about the psychopathic ORGANIZATIONS and how the larger the organization the easier it seems to be to manipulate whole groups of people by psychopathic leaders…..cults, like Jim Jones, etc. and the many “cult-like” religious organizations.

All start out seemingly for a GOOD PURPOSE and then “morph” into something sinister.

A good example was a news article I was forwarded today about the ASPA suing Ringling Brothers Circus in federal court. The law suit is an attempt to do away with the Circus Elephant because the elephants are “controlled by a small stick called a bull hook” rather than “trained” by the reward system of “be a good elephant and I will give you an apple.”

Here is a copy of the article from the NY times. I hope this doesn’t violate any copywrite prohibitions.

Keith Meyers/The New York Times
Among the issues is whether elephants are compliant because of positive reinforcement or fear.

By DAVID STOUT
Published: January 31, 2009
WASHINGTON One of the most iconic images of American life, that of circus elephants joined trunk-to-tail as they lumber along to delight “children of all ages,” as the old saying goes, is about to be debated in a courtroom.

Are the beasts docile because they are highly intelligent and respond well to training, reinforced with the promise of apples, carrots, water and kindness at day’s end? Or do they obey because their spirits have been broken and they fear getting hit by their trainers?

These are among the questions that will be asked when a lawsuit by a coalition of animal rights’ groups against the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus and its parent company opens in federal court here on Wednesday.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs say the circus’s Asian elephants sleep and travel in cramped, filthy quarters and are routinely prodded, even bloodied, with special clubs or “bull hooks.” The idea that the animals are happy “and allowed to roam free and to socialize” is an illusion created by the circus and its parent, Feld Entertainment Inc. of Vienna, Va., the plaintiffs say.

But the defendants say in court papers that the elephants are “healthy and well cared for” and that they are attended to by veterinarians around the clock. The elephants’ quarters are roomy and well ventilated, heated when necessary, and tended by crews with shovels and hoses at the ready, the defendants say.

Moreover, they say, the club or “guide” used by a trainer is no more cruel than a leash on a dog or a bridle on a horse, and what few injuries occur are minor and easily treated.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court will try the case without a jury, at the request of the plaintiffs. They seek an injunction barring the circus from engaging in a number of practices they call cruel, including chaining the elephants for long stretches.

The defendants are asking the judge to dismiss the case. They argue that the plaintiffs have most of their “facts” wrong and are also wrong on the law, basing much of their case on the Endangered Species Act, which the defendants say Congress never intended to apply to animals in captivity.

The plaintiffs include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Fund for Animals. Tracy Silverman, a lawyer for the Animal Welfare Institute, said she expected the trial to last up to three weeks. Asked whether a settlement is possible, she replied, “Most likely not.”

A lawyer for the defense, Michelle Pardo, said that the plaintiffs’ case was “false and distorted” and that Ringling Brothers regularly passed inspections by federal, state and local authorities in its treatment of the animals. (The plaintiffs say those inspections are often rigged.)

With a shaky economy, conflicts abroad and a new president in the White House, a lawsuit over elephants may seem relatively unimportant. But people get emotional over the huge, intelligent and sociable creatures.

And there is big money at stake. Feld Entertainment says that its productions, which include ventures with the Walt Disney Company, are seen by 25 million people a year around the world, and that its 50 or so elephants are as much a part of the circus as clowns and trapeze artists.

“In effect,” the defense says, the plaintiffs “are hoping to put an end to circus elephants.”

But Ms. Silverman said, “We simply want the elephants to be treated humanely and in accordance with the law.” If her side wins, she said, Ringling Brothers “would have to stop hitting elephants with bull hooks and keeping them in chains,” except for veterinary care or another legitimate purpose.

The plaintiffs say they will introduce videotape documenting mistreatment and will call several experts on elephants, as well as some current or former Ringling Brothers trainers.

The defense says that at least one former trainer and plaintiff, Tom Rider, is not to be believed because he has been on the payroll of the animal rights’ groups. Ms. Silverman says Mr. Rider has received only “a very modest amount” of money for public relations work.

Feld Entertainment says it is committed not only to the safety and happiness of individual Asian elephants, but also to the species. It mentions having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on breeding, conservation and research programs.

The parties have been battling for years, and will continue to do so no matter what Judge Sullivan decides. Feld Entertainment, in turn, has sued the A.S.P.C.A. and other animal groups, accusing them of violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. That case will be heard later, Ms. Pardo said.

The emotions run deep and not just on the plaintiffs’ side, apparently. Kenneth J. Feld, the chief executive of the circus company who took over after the death of his father, Irvin, in 1984, described elephants as his “personal passion” in a recent interview with Portfolio magazine.

“I love these animals,” Mr. Feld said.

As an animal trainer, both of wild animals AND domestic animals, I realize that trainers CAN BE brutal and hellish with ANY animal. I am also a parent and I realize that some parents can be brutish with their children. I don’t approve of any kind of “training” that is brutish or cruel.

The ASPCA like ,many large organizations started out to try to right a perceived “injustice” or fix the brutish treatment of animals. However, like many “non profit” groups, if they don’t have a “cause” going on, they don’t get donations, the “executives” who have such nice salaries for “protecting animals” lose their perks, etc. so they MUST FIND ABUSE.

While it may be appropriate to train your pet dog ONLY with positive reinforcement, to train and control (and folks that is WHAT WE HUMANS DO WITH ANIMALS IS TO TRAIN AND CONTROL THEM) a negative reinforcement is a MUST.

An elephant trainer weights probably at most 200 pounds, an elephant weights 7,000 fully grown. In order to be as safe as possib le around the elephant, the elephant is trained from “babyhood” that the man is “bigger” and more “powerful” the same way I train a calf to work as an ox.

I use mild negative reinforcement by pulling on a rope, and if the animal gives to that, the pressure is released and he gets a positive reward. The horse’s bridle works the same way. I pull on the reins, the bit pinches the horse’s mouth, the horse turns, and the pressure stops. Some people use a bit that HURTS (or even one that cuts) and I think that IS CRUEL, but that’s not thepoint, the point is that we FORCE animals to our will, whether it is a draft horse, an elephant, a trained monkey, or your pet dog. “I am the boss, do my will.”

Just as there are psychopathic people in every group of people, there are psychopathic animal trainers who use and abuse the animals without conscience, or who ENJOY inflicting suffering on animals.

There are also psychopathic people in leadership roles in what started out as good organizations, and they take control, they enjoy inflicting pain and control on others…all in the name of a good cause, of course, send in your donations.

The DUPES of these groups are not aware of what is going on with the PERSECUTION of others by the group and their leaders, and having EMPATHY for the circus elephants (or other animals) they dutifully send in their donations so the organization’s CEO and minions can have their private jets and fancy offices and spend a few well placed dollars on very public prosecution of an American icon so that they get the maximum press for their “good deeds.” All the while, there are MILLIONS of dogs and cats in this country who are being killed because of overbreeding and cheap spay and neuter is not available. There are thousands of cattle going to INHUMANE slaugher every day because of lack of oversight by the Feds whose employees are stretched thin.

I.e. while the ASPCA prosecutes Ringling Brothers over the “chaining” of an elephant or the use of a “bull hook” to control an elephant, the REAL purpose of the ASPCA is neglected….to stop reall suffering.

BTW an elephant’s skin though 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick is very sensitive, so even a touch with the hook (which is not all that sharp by the way) gives them a cue, the way you would touch your small child’s arm or grasp it to “stear” him through a crowded aisle in a store.

I do not doubt that there are SOME cruel elephant trainers who have actually HURT the animals but elephants are quite smart, and they are POWERFUL so if you abuse your power of control with them, they DO GET EVEN sometimes and I sure as heck would not be one that would abuse them because when they do get enough, they squash your head literally.

Neither would I like to be the person who “trained” elephants only with treats and as for the chaining, I can’t imagine how you could NOT keep one on a chain or in a cage in an urban area…what’ya gonna do, let it run loose?

The thing that makes me so frustrated is the way psychopaths use the emotional currency to twist things into “give me money and power” and then they run rampant.

I am open to discussion on this, so am not going to get my dander up if you disagree with me, but I just sort of got an “Ah ha” moment this morning when I read the article about Kyle and LOOKING AT PSYCHOPATHS THROUGH THE EYES OF A NORMAL PERSON, and the discusson about GROUP psychopathic stuff yesterday and then the NY Times article. It just all kind of came together to make sense to me.

I fear that when we try to “explain S/Ps” to ourselves by looking at losses in their lives over a long period of time, we risk again being distracted by our “normal” perspective.

Is Opn: S’s former partner may have left abruptly after 17 years because s/he figured out the truth, or at least enough of it to get clear. I believe that the roots of the disorder are developed so early, that you may not understand much at all by looking at patterns in their lives.

I have lived long enough to have seen patterns from babyhood into adulthood, and I think that many patterns are there for the educated observer to see from very early on. I think that Elizabeth Conley’s guesstimate of 9% is probably close, but I also believe that S/Ps fall along a spectrum: some are mildly disordered, some are extremely disordered, and the most extremely disordered may actually be “very nice,” like Bernie Madoff, or Harris, the Columbine high school shooter, or the guy I was involved with.

And, I also wonder about the extraverted/introverted element. I know some of these can be the quiet type.

Rune, that’s a good point about the “extraverted” vs “introverted.”

What is an “extravert”? What is an “introvert”?

The definitions we usually use (at least I do) is that an “extravert” is OUTGOING and an “introvert” is more cautious and inward thinking, analyzing etc. BUT since the Ps have no “inner life” to analyze and they don’t “get it” about our innerlife, emotions and so on, I really don’t think they can be EITHER in the true sense of the word as since an “extravert” is one who displays their inner self to others more easily than an “introvert” who holds it inside and analyzes it, I think they APPEAR to be transparent and an extravert, but that in the true sense, they are NEITHER. Just a ROLE they play, but without any substance to it.

Yes, the alternate set of rules….I was at such a decided disadvantage when in the relationship with the S because I kept trying to understand and interpret, and even predict, his behavior with the schema that he was a “normal” person. It wasn’t until the end, when he did some monstrously cruel things that I realized all bets were off, this guy was capable of anything, and that a relationship with him was impossible.

But I did wonder about my part in it – if there were things about my personality that brought out the worst in him. Afterall, his relationship with me was one of his shortest. His relationship with his wife spanned two decades (and continues, even though she is ex-wife), and his last two girlfriends stayed with him for 2 years plus…and I lasted only 9 months. I wondered if I played a role in the relationship imploding and exploding so early.

I must have – because he certainly was the same guy in each relationship. The fact that mine ended relatively early (though not early enough) probably speaks to my wellness rather than sickness.

But don’t worry, I have no delusions that I am “well,” or I wouldnt’ have engaged in an enduring relationship with him to begin with.

I remember being struck, after the first few months, with his lack of compassion. To his sister, to me, to strangers. We were at an event where someone went into a seizure. I am not a medical doctor, and am not a hero….but all bystanders seemed helpless and I felt compelled to step in. I recruited someone else (who had a medical background) to help me, and we basically held the person until he stopped seizing.

My ex S never stepped in to help. In fact, he looked at me with what appeared to be digust, and then walked away. The only comment he made about the situation was that I was foolish to get involved.

Later I talked about this with other people (whether or not I should have gotten involved), and every one agreed that it was “legally” risky, and that there could have been repercussions for me, but that I did the “right” thing. Every one else I talked to about it said they would have done the same thing. That legally risky or not, they would feel compelled to help someone in danger.

He was disgusted. At one point when I was holding this man, I looked up at the S, and he looked at me with such clear disdain. It definitely looked like a feeling. It wasn’t “blank” it was revulsion.

we had similiar discussion on another thread about extroversion vs introversion. many researchers who use this comparison define it as “from where one obtains their energy”. for example, if i am an extravert and you put me in an office with spreadsheets and little or no contact with others, i will be exhausted by the end of the day and unmotivated. introverts who are forced to spend time with others who get their energy from thinking thughts through would be exhausted at the end of the day.

its not so much about talking a lot or a little. many extroverts ar not very talkative but NEED to be with others to get their energy.

im not sure you can say all P’s are extroverts….but they certainly need people.

OxDrover,

The plaintiff’s should be prosecuted for malicious mischief. There should be more criminal penalties attached to trifling behavior.

About 6 years ago the kids and I saw a bunch of twits picketing the circus in our town. To my absolute astonishment, one of the little feather heads was leading her dog on a pinch collar. (That’s the metal collar with the spikes that point into the dog’s flesh. When the owner tugs, the spikes dig in.) Standing there in the middle of downtown traffic for all to see was an object lesson in why elephants are chained and disciplined. Letting them roam free downtown would only frighten and endanger them, just as it would have harmed the hen-witted lass’s dog. Duh – uh! I wonder if the silly girl was “spayed”. Her kind of stupid is scary!

As someone who has personally witnessed the real maltreatment of Asian Elephants in Thailand, I have absolutely no sympathy for the plaintiff’s persecuting Ringling Brothers. These activists are gambling on our collective ignorance and arrogance, as if all Americans were as ill informed and narcissistic as they are.

Ringling Bros takes very good care of its elephants.

http://www.elephantcenter.com/default.aspx?id=5068

Oxy: FOOLS disdains and abuses animals and these same FOOLS disdain and abuse mankind as well.

If this judge favors the foolish abusers due to political pressure, the judge is showing they too are a FOOL and should be driven from chambers.

I love animals and have never abused an animal in my life. In fact, my pets are spoiled with Love … always have been and always will be.

That’s why it’s important for man to take care of our animals. Anyone on this blog, if you don’t have a pet or two, I suggest saving a pet from your local pound. Animals give us unconditional love. A love from your pet is so important to your healing process at this point in time. They are loyal, love you unconditionally and will be your best friend.

Peace.

Interesting – the “feed off” others. I think extraverts get “energized” by being around others – but it’s not at the other’s expense. But Sociopaths…they “feed off” others, and it IS at the others’ expense. Maybe its not “extravert” at all – its simply “parasite.”

My ex S didn’t do well in crowds or large gatherings. What he was good at was getting the attention of one person (almost always a woman) and mesmerizing/seducing her. I don’t think he existed when he was alone. He had no life force on his own.

Donna,

“But even if a child with the traits gets good parenting, the disorder can develop. Parents who have a child at risk of developing sociopathy need to take extra steps to help the child overcome his or her predisposition, but the parents may not realize it. And in some cases, even the best parenting is not enough to overcome negative genetics.”

Your perspective is appreciated. As a mother of a 30-year-old whom I now know is almost certainly an S/P, I know that your conclusions about genetics and parenting are rare. Recently, I’ve been going over and over and over this child’s life and development in my mind, trying to ‘spot the clues’ that might have given me a better idea of what I was dealing with, had I a better knowledge of psychopathy.

I can, in retrospect, see behaviors that are “classic” indicators. The inability to learn from experience. The inability to connect behavior and consequences. Absolutely a lack of affect, empathy and normal human emotion. And one other characteristic that I’d like to throw out as a possible primary trait of S/P’s: destructiveness.

I came to this conclusion while I tried to come to grips with the sexual abuse my ex perpetrated upon my daughters. After reading some wise comments from Lovefraud posters about how the S/P’s will deliberately set out to ruin or destroy anything the victim cares about (e.g. don’t say you like a particular TV program or the S/P will suddenly find a new favorite that is opposite your program, etc.), I remembered one of the many soul-baring things I shared with my ex.

I told him that, after my first marriage, I felt utterly destroyed and without much self-esteem. I told him that the one bit of self-confidence that I had was in my own abilities as a good mother. I told the S/P that my belief in myself as a good mother was all I had been left with.

I now believe that is the moment he decided to destroy that belief by molesting and abusing my daughters. I believe his primary motivation was not power or sex in this instance (although certainly they were secondary motivators). I believe his primary motivation was my DESTRUCTION.

And once I came to this conclusion, I began to look again at the life of my “problem child.” Destruction was always a key component in his behavior, from infancy. I could never leave this child alone in his crib or later, in his room, because he would destroy things. Mattresses. Furniture. Toys. When closely supervised, his destructive nature could be lessened but never changed.

Later, this child graduated to destruction of people. One elementary teacher left the profession after a year with my child in her class. They seem to gain power from the destruction of others, and gain life force by the destruction of innocence.

RE: The animal abuse issue….I find the “training” of animals for human entertainment, forcing them by means of painful consequences to do stupid things that are unnatural, is totally repulsive to me. I refuse to support the circus, rodeos, and other asinine things that humans think up to do to animals for entertainment.

I got on here to post about something else……the intovert question.

Here is an excerpt from one of Howard Bloom’s books. I’m not posting it with the intention of making any particular point about introverts or extroverts. I found it interesting and it might contribute something to the discussion.

Extravert – Intravert?

Many people are capable of being both. When they’re with family and friends, they’re extraverted. When they’re with unfamiliar people, they’re intraverted. They choose what seems appropriate to the situation. I imagine most healthy people do this to a certain extent.

The cluster Bs I’ve known have not confined themselves to any particular interpersonal style.

Tood,
I am so glad you said that about destruction of another. I do believe the power and sex play a role, but ultimately I believe that my S took great pleasure in the take-down. I was confident, attractive, intelligent, funny, sought after by many men, and initially I rejected him. What a win for him to have me miserable, groveling, begging him to treat me as more than the sex-object that he reduced me to.

HH,

PARASITE is a much better description than extravert.

it seems that we try to find characteristics in them that may stand out like the blue light special ay KMart. when unfortunately, the things we agree are common will probably not be in view for quite some time. and by then we are already entangled in the web of lies and deception that we can’t see it clearly.

Eliza: Yes, exactly. It was the complete take-down that he was after, and the fact that you had so much going for you was the real appeal. You see why I’ve said that being targeted by an S/P is a kind of a recommendation to the rest of the world: Here’s a vibrant, intelligent, compassionate person — one of the best of the best!

Tood: I share your perspective, and your heartache. I believe Donna is absolutely correct — not just because I want to believe that, but from other research I’ve read as well.

I agree with Elizabeth that many people are capable of being both introverts and extroverts depending on the social situation in which they find themselves. Some are more successful at adapting than others. This refers to what we discussed on another thread about the Myers-Briggs types and preferences. While a given individual might be balanced enough to handle being with people in a certain setting, that individual’s natural preference might lean toward a more quiet way of being when there is a choice.

I am so attracted to the Mr. Darcy type. I have said that here before. I desire the guy who is stoic on the outside, mysterious, but generous, kind, brilliant, caring, and chewy (no wait that’s bagels), on the inside. I wonder that this sets me up perfectly to be the victim of sociopaths. I thought that I found him, my Mr. Darcy, but he was stoic on the outside and nothing on the inside. How could all my reading end up being so bad for me???

As for being an extrovert, my S certainly enjoyed social settings. He spends every weekend and several weeknights out at the bars. He is a bit of a lurker though from what I can tell, observing, often looking for the sickliest, easiest to pick off gazelle I suppose. He is capable of producing a dazzling smile here and there. Beautiful predatory eyes. Not so much an extrovert though. He reminds of of one of those amazing creatures in nature that is able to lure their prey because they look like something attractive to their victim, not really because of anything that they actually DO.

Sam,

i am with you and if the actions are not matching up quickly then ditch em. at a minimum that is a man who lacks integrity which is a very important basic quality.

trust then verify…….

Sam: A good “groomer” can set up a lot of actions that will speak very loudly to his kind, generous, savior-of-society persona. The Boy Scout leader, church leader, mental health professional, AA leader, etc., etc. Some of these people run long cons, and it can be quite a trick to distinguish the true from the faked “goodwill” gesture.

I’ve come to notice that the “groomers” like to take big credit for doing small things. The S/P I was involved with would take people to someone else’s event as if HE was the one putting on the show.

The really slippery ones are so hard to catch, and so very, very dangerous.

OxDrover:

I agree with you about an extrovert is one who displays their inner life. I’m what people call a “live-wire”. My s was an also an extrovert.

What was the difference between us? My extroversion is definitely based on my character, etc. I tell a joke, generally its based on something about myself.

My S? Never. Oh, he could swan around a room and be superficially charming. But, 5 minutes after he left, it was like he was never there. There was no “him” in the extrovert mask he presented to the world.

Donna:

Your intro to this article jumped out at me. You said “The woman cheated on him, and when confronted, either downplayed her behavior, said it was none of his business, or verbally attacked him. She had no interest in resolving problems.”

That has always nagged at me in my relationship with S. I’m the first to admit that I gave S a pass when it came to his cheating, etc. However, it was any of my other attempts to understand him or help him that generated his ire.

After numerous put-downs saying “You don’t get it. It’s an Asian thing” I decided to learn about his culture to “get it.” I was accused of prying.

When I tried to help him out legally or get him into therapy, the best I got was “It’s on my list” and the worst I was berated and told “That’s you answer to everything!”

If I asked the most innocous questions about his past or his family or his friends I was told “It’s none of your business.”

When I told him I loved him, but I thought we should go into couple’s counseling because it was clear to me that we weren’t communicating he point blank told me he had no interest in resolving our problems.

I look back at the 15 months I was with S and the ensuing 3 months I’ve been away from him. And I keep thinking about all our encounters, and its that pattern of behavior that jumps out at me. I was his punching bag. He had no interest in me. He had no interest in us. And at the end, it was all about him and keeping the supply pipeline open and running.

Eliza: Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and written between the years 1796 and 1797 considered to be the era of the New Nation (1790-1828).

Good luck in finding a gentleman such as Mr. Darcy in today’s polluted world. In those days, there was no TV, no telephone, no porno on CDs or movie theatres freely exhibited in the public streets, no rag magazines exploiting women which treated us like cattle … sub human so that men can even oggle at the inside of our navels, never mind the other parts of the human anatomy.

And women wonder why there are hardly (if any) gentlemen left in society today?

Don’t get me wrong, I do know some gentlemen, but they are far and few between … and these men know they aren’t the norm in today’s screwed up society of no morals, no ethics, anything with anyone goes today.

There are a few that blog with us on this site (hi Guy’s) … and everyone knows who they are … even though one of them isn’t blogging with us today.

Peace.

about the issue of a “gentleman”….. in my definition this is a guy who is respectful, tellls the truth, does as he says/ shows integrity and is consistent in his behavior. these in my mind are basics and if he doesnt have the basics then why waste time.

the XS held doors open for me but he also threw me out of a hotel room when we weree 3 and a half hours from home and didnt call to see if i got home safely.

he was generous at Christmas time. he also bought me a nice grill. then every chance he got he threw it in my face like i owed him something and would tell me how his daughter didnt want me to have it anyway.

there is something to be said for a man who is respectful. the XS was not. never will be.

KF: I think these basic values are so significant. The problem with the S/Ps is that they can play that game for awhile, at least some of them can. I think this is also how they suck us in — they show those “basic values” at least to some degree, and then we start to trust, and then we make excuses for them when they fall short later, and then . . .

Well, we all have similar stories, don’t we!

you are right Rune. just as those red flags hit us in the face at some point, as i think back some of them were basic things like respect. and even as they continued, some of us continued to stay. if nothing else, it may help usrecognize simple bad behavior and get out faster.

Rune,

you have mentioned that you have studied the brain and im wondering if you have read any of the work of Pierce Howard?

one of the assessment tools that i use for exec coaching is taught at his facility and he conducted much of the research. i thought you may find his work interesting. you can find him at http://www.centacs.com if you are interested.

So I guess I should not expect him knocking at my door to tell me that it has all been a big misunderstanding and he had to act like a sociopath for some covert mission for the government, but actually he does see that I am a human being with feelings and….
Has anyone else had these fantasies? It is all such a nightmare. I still don’t want it to be true.

No eliza, that was my XS’s story……remember? He was the one working covertly and killing people. He will only come knocking if he wants or needs something for himself… it will never be about us.

Eliza:

I still do. This whole weekend, even after he sent me the nastiest letter, some little part of me kept hoping that he would admit he was wrong and see me as a human being whom he hurt badly.

It was good this article posted today. It reminded me that any guilt I was feeling for taking down S is a wasted emotion since they feel nothing.

True KF, If he did come around with that story it would just be one more lie. And actually it would not be all that surprising. I just wish he would fall off the face of the earth. I hate inhabiting the same planet. I don’t want him breathing the same air as my son.

Matt,
You should feel zero guilt over that slimy creep. EEEEW! Destroy him.

Eliza: He’s just one of the multitudes of FOOLS in the world that believe in his own ego instead of reading and learning wisdom from the Bible.

Take Ted Haggard for example. A preacher for years. Has a beautiful family … knows the words from the Bible like the back of his hand … yet, refuses or never knew how to go HUMBLE. So, the sin of lust will continue to destroy his world. Talk about the ultimate egotistical FOOL. He needs to read about how to go humble.

Peace.

Matt: Your EX, like all of our EXs are so blinded by their sin(s) … they can NOT see what they do. They can NOT hear what they do… and they certainly can NOT feel what they do.

My EX is blinded by envy and jealousy … always looking and craving for what his brothers and others have accomplished. Blinded by GREED … hence why he did what he did to me and others that invested in his business. HE’s blinded by Lust … pretending that he was faithful to me, but I found out to late that he was involved with numerous women. He’s blinded by lying … so the truth never enters his brain to be allowed to come out of his mouth. And he’s lazy, pretending that he was starting up a new business to find out that I was his business and all the other people he can con their money from their hands to his hands.

Let’s see, below is the list of Contrary Virtues … how many did I describe that my EX has.

You should count how many of these sins your EX has … and you will know what is blinding him.

P.S. of course the sins are in the right column.

The Seven Contrary Virtues:

Humility against Pride
Kindness against Envy
Abstinence against Gluttony
Chastity against Lust
Patience against Anger
Liberality against Greed
Diligence against Sloth

Peace.

No matter what I tell myself, the feeling of loss will not leave.

Wini:

The Seven Contrary Virtues makes sense. My S ran a clean-sweep in the sin column.

In my heart of hearts I know that S hated me for everything I had accomplished in my life, and everything I had. He never seemed to get the idea that I worked incredibly hard to get where I am. What hurts more is that he used my generosity against me.

What if find the most unnerving of the list is the kindness against envy. His sister and he are in the same business. She is a decade younger and incredibly successful — the youngest SVP in her company, travels worldwide, etc.

My skin used to crawl as he killed her with kindness. Because I him well enough to know that he was pea green with envy over what she had accomplished and that he knew he was out of the race before it ever got started.

I know on some level she has his number, but she can’t admit it. Instead, I think she’s consumed with guilt over what his life is.

She recently reached out to me — I can tell she’s struggling with what she sees. The two of us always got along well. I would dearly love to send her a copy of “Without Conscience”. My fear is not matter where I mailed it from, he would trace it back to me.

So I can’t respond. All I can do is hope she eventually figures it out and saves herself from him.

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