By | April 24, 2012 72 Comments

When the sociopath isn’t wearing a mask

The concept of the sociopath as “masking sanity,” originally from Hervey Cleckley, MD, and since as confirmed and elaborated by other experts, is certainly chilling, great, profound and often-times apt.

But I’d suggest we be careful not to apply it too indiscriminately. In other words, not all sociopaths “wear masks” in the classic sense of Cleckley’s concept. For this reason, if you’re looking for “masks” as a prerequisite to confirming the sociopath, you risk missing the sociopath.

Some sociopaths are more manifestly who they are—sociopaths. They aren’t “masking” much of anything. They aren’t necessarily taking brilliant precautions to conceal themselves.

Like many human beings they aren’t wearing “neon signs” advertising their personality type or personality disorder—rather, they are who they are in their daily lives, not necessarily more consciously disguised in their personalities than anyone else.

The individual suffering from “panic disorder” who takes measures not to make his panic obvious isn’t necessarily wearing a “mask.” He may be effecting a certain normal, selective decision about which aspects of his personality or experience he is or isn’t comfortable making obvious or transparent in the moment.

Many sociopaths are surprisingly undisguised, or certainly no more disguised, about their personalities than non-sociopaths. In some cases I’d suggest the opposite is true: Because many sociopaths are adventure-seeking, under-inhibited and less anxious about the impression they make on others, on top of being inclined to grandiosity and thereby possessing a heightened sense of immunity from the consequences of their attitudes and behaviors, they may reveal even more transparently and less self-consciously aspects of their “real” personality than will non-sociopaths, whose greater self-consciousness around others and greater respect (in general) for others’ boundaries will have an inhibitory effect on what aspects of themselves they choose to reveal.

I’m not suggesting that many sociopaths aren’t master disguisers and impressively covert, calculating manipulators. Of course they are. But we don’t want to fall into the trap of assuming that all of them are, as this puts us, I am suggesting, at risk of missing the many exceptions to the classic sociopathic profile.

Thus we want to be careful to avoid making sweeping generalizations about the presentation of any personality disorder, including sociopaths.

For instance, some sociopaths aren’t even particularly disguised about how manipulative they are. They can be audaciously, almost blatantly manipulative, whether effectively or not. The less good they are, the more “transparent” their manipulativeness is. There’s not much “masking” going on here.

Same with lying: some sociopaths are bad liars. Lying itself doesn’t constitute the wearing of a mask. You can be a transparently bad liar; you can even admit you are a liar, or that you lie frequently and “get over” on others, or “try getting over” on others as a tendency; and while this may qualify you as having sociopathic characteristics, it does not, perforce, mean you are wearing a “mask.”

It may mean, quite simply, that you are being who you are, whether you are boldly, recklessly impulsive; shockingly insensitive and callous to someone else’s experience; or shameless and guiltless as you “steal something” from someone that isn’t yours.

In the latter case, you may make little disguise or pretense of your shamelessness, or lack of guilt. You might just be acting exactly as the sociopath acts. That is, there be very little to “unmask;” what may be primary in such cases is merely to identify the attitudes and behaviors themselves, which may be sociopathic.

I will advance this discussion in a near-term article.

(This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of the male gender pronoun is strictly for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of exhibiting the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)  

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Ooh. Very interesting. It raises lots of questions.

Which of the sociopath’s presentations aren’t masks?

I’m inclined to say that the smooth talking, smiling, all too friendly demeanor of a sociopath is the presentation most close to seeing the sociopath in his or her natural state of being.

My gut is saying that when the sociopath is manipulating, the presentation would become less fluid, meaning that we’d probably see less spontaneity. The smile might be a tad more forced. The breathing slowed down a bit. Everything about the presentation would be just a smidgen slower because the sociopath is in a calculating mode. There would be a tenseness in the body that the sociopath is trying to overcome. Something would feel unnatural/forced.

What other possibilities for presentations?

How about when the P is feeling threatened or challenged, but is not yet unmasked. Then, he or she would be in a defensive mode so what would that look like?

I’m using my P sister and S mother for references now, thinking back to when they aren’t switched on (if you will.) I’m envisioning them in their homes, relaxed, when they would most likely be themselves, and there would be no need for them to be in “action mode.”

Approaching them, I see a look of superiority in their eyes. They already know better before you’ve even opened your mouth.

They will listen politely, but with faint smirks on their mouths, again, they are superior to you. The “obvious” answer is on the tips of their tongues. They’ve already figured out what you can’t (because you are asking, aren’t you?)

There is a sense that they are tolerating/indulging you. It’s non-confrontational. They have deigned to hear you.

When would they be wearing the masks?

When they are on the hunt.

When they are manipulating.

When they have been challenged or are at extreme risk of being found out, such as when being questioned by the police.

How would that look?

Great topic.

Am looking forward to reading people’s thoughts and reading the follow-up article.

This is a fabulous. Here’s something that we all need to remember: When people tell you what they are, believe them.



Online, my x-spath does not wear much of a mask. His profiles are juvenile, superficial and show a lack of any real interests other than “boys, beers and fooling around,” to paraphrase his own words. However, in person, his mask to me was one of a “reserved, shy and sorted” British guy.

His profile names are unique and the very same ones he uses for “serious” dating site he uses for various porn sites, some of which are fairly graphic.

The first time I came across one of his profiles was on a site called “OKCupid.” While primarily a straight website, it does have a small gay following. It was suggested to me by a friend as a “serious” dating and is nominally atypical of most gay “dating” sites.

OKCupid employs a “matching” algorithm and I came across the x-spath because he happened to be one of my “matches.” I found this odd, given that OKCupid is largely American and he is not.

I will never forget that night. First, when going thru my “matches,” I actually skipped over him! One, because the profile was very juvenile and two, because the photo looked way too young for a 35-year old. While I thought to myself that this person looked like a younger x-spath, it did not first register that it was him. Something went off in my head and only when I looked at all of the profile’s details, I realized it was him.

As I said, none of it added it. As Skylar says, 180 degrees opposite from the person I thought I knew. A quick Googling revealed a porn trail, much of which was about unsafe sex.

Then it all clicked…


Same here. I just about spit out my coffee when I read my email with matches from My ex husbands profile popped up. This wasn’t the person I knew for 23 years . He sat with me and our sons in church for years. His profile said that he did not believe in God . I about died . It then clicked the same as you . We cannot say that they lied to us because there is no one under the mask. They are everybody yet they are no one . What a shame , this is how they function . I do have pity though . They did not ask to be this way .

Ox Drover

GReat article, Steve.

Making broad sweeping generalizations about ALL psychopaths (or any other group) is like making broad sweeping generalizations about blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Yankees, Southerners, etc.

We may have known one Yankee and he/she was the “stereotypical” “Yankee” but not all people who would qualify as a “Yankee” will meet that stereotype.

Yes, some psychopaths are very good at masking their behaviors, at pretending to be something they are not, and want to present a persona that makes them appear kind and caring, professional, or whatever “mask” they are trying to portray. Others could care less what you, me or anyone else thinks about them.

To some psychopaths I have known, the persona they present to the public is very important to them. Their position in the social community, the political community, the professional community, or the religious community in which they function is very important. Coach Sandusky is a perfect example of this “masked” persona.

The mask is what allows them to get close enough to their potential victim supply to “pounce” where as with out the mask the victims would not allow them close enough to “pounce.”

Not many women would be interested in a man who approached them and said, “Look, biatch, I like rough sex, and I want to beat you up and you support me financially, and I’ll drink and drug and lay out for days with other women, how about a date?” The mask, at least for a time, can be used to cover a history of bad behavior in order to get close enough to get their hooks into the potential victim.

The guy I dated after my husband’s death didn’t present to me that he was interested in another “respectable wife” to keep his harem from wanting him to marry them, or to only have one girl friend. Only after he had his hooks into me (and I was very vulnerable and still in grief) was I finally able to see what he was up to. To this day, I still don’t know how I had the strength to kick him to the curb. I am very glad I did, however.

Some people besides psychopaths, though, wear masks and present themselves as things they are not…for various reasons, from shame to anxiety.

Psychopaths though have many similarities but they are not identical by any means. they range from Ted Bundy and John Edwards to Bernie Madoff and Charlie Manson.



I believe to this day that online, my x-spath left enough of a trail to answer questions he did not want to directly answer. From videos he posted of himself masturbating and from his choice in porn, one would have to be very dense not too draw the following conclusions: 1) attractive face, but not much of a body; 2) small willy (I always need to throw that in, lol…) ; 3) HIV+.


Donna, I read something in Mademoiselle magazine years and years ago that said when a man tells you that he doesn’t deserve you, believe him. He knows himself better than you do.

Allergic to Spandex

I would say that when mine was alone with me and drunk, that’s when the mask fell off altogether. I was behind a door in our apartment one New Year’s Eve, after he’d gone out without me and had, as he proudly told me, four beers and a margarita. I had gone into the room to get away from Spath, but he followed me and, just as I was closing the door, he pushed it open from the other side. “You hurt my hand,” I told him. His chilling, non-sequitur response: “I’m in my own apartment.” In other words, I had no right to privacy and should expect to be hurt if I tried to exercise one. His right to enter any room for any reason — especially to follow me and continue a fight — overrode my right to bodily autonomy.

Then, of course, eight months later when I had a broken wrist from a cycling accident and was dizzy, sick, and nearly immobile from the Percocet I had to take, and he took the opportunity to rape me… that was the most real him I ever saw. Total opportunity to take by force the sex I had started to refuse him, and to put me in my place. THAT was him absolutely maskless.


He spoke of his Mode of Operations, how he thought, his perceptions….in retrospec, these words were far greater than the surface words as I knew them…he was being truthful of who he was…in my naiveness, I could not fathom the depth of the truth in the words he used to express his character…it was out of my thought realm…it was ignorance, it was belief in all people have a good core…BUT at the same time, I do not believe he knew himself as a disordered individual either..he saw himself as a wise king or god and the rest of us as “puny mortals”…..he did take precautions to hide himself to others but he told me that I knew the real him and i was a danger to expose him…


“When would they be wearing the masks?

When they are on the hunt.

When they are manipulating.

When they have been challenged or are at extreme risk of being found out… ”

I very much second this list, especially when at the risk of being found out, in the case of my x-spath his HIV status.


Mine put on a mask when he needed to reel me, make me bond initially, when I was ready to walk out on him or make him leave. But otherwise I don’t think he was wearing much of a mask at all. I just didn’t put 2 and 2 together for a long time.

When he was threatening me 3 weeks ago he wasn’t wearing a mask at all. He was trying to threaten, insult and bully to get his way. I actually told him: wear a polite mask and maybe you’ll get your way. Of course his polite request was a mask. It would fool any reader who doesn’t know the actual background. It just didn’t fool me at all. But the times he wore that mask were not frequent. Most of the time he just did what he wanted in blatant sight, supposing he didn’t need to wear a mask at all.

I guess I asked him to put it on to test whether it would fool me now. Luckily for myself, it doesn’t at all.

Ox Drover

My Uncle Monster (egg donor’s brother) didn’t wear the mask when he was drunk…the REAL him came out.

As a result of this I tend to think that people who are drunk are the “real McCoy”—my reasoning is that alcohol dis-inhibits the higher thinking centers of the brain. Therefore it is more difficult for people to “mask” themselves when they are drunk.

So if a person is an arse when he is drunk, I tend to think that he would LIKE TO BE AN ARSE WHEN HE IS SOBER but he doesn’t have the guts to “be himself” and so masks himself sober. The sober him is the FAKE, and the drunk him is the REAL PERSON.

It’s funny, but the few times in the last 40+ years I have had too much to drink I want to sing and dance, neither of which I do adequately much less “well.” LOL But both of which I would LIKE to do. My inhibitions against singing and dancing are overcome and I think I can do them. Oh, my, some of my funniest memories of those times. The people who become abusive and use alcohol as an excuse are in my opinion, just showing what is behind the mask.

Allergic to Spandex


If you’ve heard that old saying about “dance like nobody’s watching,” I would add “Sing like nobody’s listening”!

I am physically disabled (and have always been clumsy), and I have a singing voice fit for… silent film! Do them anyway. Who cares? Life is too short to imagine Simon Cowell following you around and trying to poop on your enjoyment.




I agree 100% about the drunk.

Ox Drover

Lady Sweet G,

I not only laughed but HOWLED at your post above! I DO sing when no one is listening. In the shower, in the yard, to the cattle, to myself….and I enjoy it even when I don’t sing well (which is most of the time) I come from a family of singers and actually I did sing when I was young, and pretty well, but smoking RUINED my voice which is now not sweet like it was.

Your post above made my day Lady SG! I do have a voice fit for the movies……SILENT FILM! I’m gonna steal that one! LOL ROTFLMAO


Regarding drink, I am the same way. Shy in social situations until the alcohol kicks in!

There was a pattern with the x-spath. All the “WTF” moments came after he had several drinks, yet he claims he is “chill and friendly.”

Until he has a few drinks…

Maybe there should be a chapter in Donna’s book about plying dates with alcohol to see what happens. If they sing and dance, no problem. If they get aggressive, argumentative, or demeaning, run!




Mine was the same, drinking or not drinking. What’s up with that?? He is an alcoholic. He may have been just a bit more apt to say things when he was drinking, but when I look back, not really. He was apt to say pretty much the same things even sober. An enigma as usual.

Does anyone know if that is a very high tolerance to alcohol when a person doesn’t really change when they are drinking?


Yes, I know.

A high tolerance for alcohol, i.e., not appearing drunk and/or not changing one’s behavior when consuming alcohol, is a trait of alcoholics.

People in Alcoholics Anonymous call New Year’s Eve “amateur night.”


Mine could be a sweet drunk or obnoxious drunk, just as much as he could be sweet sober or obnoxious sober. The only difference was that when he was drunk he’d end up in a physical brawl sooner. He was substance addicted (alcohol, cocaine, marihuana)

I sing only when sober (in the car, when all by myself) and dance irregardless. I’m chatty as it is, but when drunk I I have to be careful not to bore people, because I don’t come to the point anymore. (only social drinker, never alone, and I can go out on water… but have a reasonable tolerance. I’d only start to feel alcohol around 3/4 wine glasses, 5 beers, 3 tequila shots)



Thanks for that confirmation…that’s what I suspected and thought to be the case…a trait of an alcoholic with a high tolerance. Sad.

Ox Drover

G1S, my Now-Ex BF who was the P was a “secret” drinker and I suspect he had a high tolerance for alcohol as well, so i think he was probably drinking when I wasn’t aware of it. I found bottles he had hidden around the place of Vodka. I also found one under the seat of his truck once when I was looking for something else.

Since my grandfather and two close friends were all killed by drunk drivers, you can only imagine what I feel about people who DRIVE DRUNK or STONED. Crucifiction for the FIRST offense, and leave their body for the crows—get tough if there is a second offense. LOL I helped bury a 21 year old young woman killed by her BF drunk driving on Christmas Eve….I will never forget that. she had grown up next door to me and her mother was my closest friend. Two years later we buried her father hit by a drunk driver when he was broken down on the road, and a year after that we buried my grandfather who had been hit by a drunk beer truck driver who ran a stop sign.

When I worked for the orthopaedic physician I had a patient’s father come to me and ask me to write a letter to the judge for his son and to say that Junior couldn’t go to jail for his FIFTH DWI because of his bad back, he couldn’t sleep on those platforms the jail provides as “beds.”

I told daddy I would be GLAD to write a letter to the Judge and I sent it directly to the judge—indicating that a hard surface would be great for Junior’s bad back. I will cherish that day and the chance to write a letter to the judge til I die!


Oxy, your tenderness and compassion always move me – and my bladder. I think I wet my pants again laughing.

My 13-year-old cousin was hit and thrown 70′ by a drunk. I forget how many DWIs he had, but it wasn’t his first offense. She landed on her neck and was killed instantly.

She was standing by the side of the road talking with her girlfriends. They had just come out of an evening church service. They were waiting for their parents to take them home.

People often make that mistake of thinking the people who are obviously drunk are the alcoholics, while the ones who seem to be handling the booze are not. It’s the other way around.

That’s not to say that alcoholics do not appear drunk. They most definitely do. I’m talking about how much it takes to get them there. And, everybody is different. This is a general rule of thumb.

People with low tolerance for alcohol get drunk quickly. Alcoholics can consume volumes and do an excellent job of not letting it show.

Hiding bottles is another sign of full-blown alcoholism, including taking the bottles with them to work to hide in their lockers or desks.

People minimize this one thinking that the person is STARTING to develop alcoholism. It’s actually a sign of advanced alcoholism.


Love your letter to the judge, Oxy!!

I suppose it’s a blessing that I can’t tolerate liquor. One drink maybe, but the second one makes me literally puke.

GIS, you’ve given me insight into my x-best friend. I was always perplexed when I found out she was carrying a bottle of vodka in her bag, her ski boot, etc. She said she did so because buying drinks at a bar was expensive. Dumb me, I said “uh, oh, OK”. She was probably very drunk quite often, but I didn’t know it. Years later, she became very nasty, so I’ve gone LC.

Ox Drover

G1S, Yea, my husband (the MASTER of the one line barb or come back!) used to tell people that “My wife went to nursing/medical school so she could learn to stick sharp metal objects into people’s bodies.”

When I would give him a flu shot I would always tell him, “This is going to hurt YOU more than it is me!”

Sorry about making you pee yourself, actually it is bladder damage from having your kid, so blame it on him! LOL Or get you some depends. LOL

Yea, i suspect that he was a full blown alcoholic, but i didn’t suspect that for a while since we didn’t live together. One night he showed up at my house drunk and had driven about 4 hours to get here and I was furious. I should have kicked his sorry arse to the curb that day but I didn’t. I gave him another “chance” and I never again caught him driving drunk, but that doesn’t mean much I guess. I do think he had a high tolerance for alcohol. I’m a “cheap drunk” and one glass of wine will make me tipsy, and part of that may be because I don’t drink often and I don’t drink much.

But you are right, my COMPASSION for that patient was not much. What really pithed me off was daddy coming there begging for the letter. I felt so sorry for that old man, he was probably 75 and “sonny boy” was 50 or so. He had been trying to protect sonny boy for all that time. I didn’t see at that time that I was beginning on the same trip that he was on. At that time we were living in florida and Patrick was just starting his criminal behavior (as far as I knew, but it had actually been going on since he was 15-16, I didn’t know about it until he was 17 and things went to hell in a hand basket from that time on.)

What I had thought was just normal teenage rebellion and mouthyness was actually the full blooming of the psychopathic behavior. The total refusal to be “controlled” by anyone, especially me.

G1S, I’m glad you are here with your experience and knowledge about alcoholism and AA etc. it is a really good addition to our group of “off the wall experts” here.


“G1S, I’m glad you are here with your experience and knowledge about alcoholism and AA etc”
Yes, I agree.

Now that I think s’more about my x-best friend: She always carried with her a small box of pills containing ambien & things like that. Again, never rang a bell with me: Duh!! Cheez, I really picked a great best friend, lol!


There is a graphic, the Jellinek curve, which shows the progression of alcoholism. It’s been adapted for drug addition.

It’s worth checking out.

This PDF talks about the Jellinek curve, explaining the progression.

Ox Drover


I read those links you posted. I wish you would do more articles on alcoholism, though my P son is not an alcoholic or drug addict that I have any indication of, and none of my sons have this problem, my Uncle Monster was the “mean type” and by the end of his long life (I never did figure out how he lived to 83, he had melanoma, lung cancer and heavy heavy drinking and seizures) and brain damage from the alcohol. I remember how to say the word for that but not spell it…”Kor-she-koff’s” syndrome and I’ve had patients with it. It is sort of a dementia caused by hard drinking over a life time that has damaged the brain.

I’ve also had patients in the middle of DTs on a medical surgical floor of a hospital.

My egg donor’s maternal line the males were heavy drinkers, passing out, becoming abusive, or More abusive, as the case may be. Even on that side of the family 3 murder/suicides I know of though not in my direct line, but the line of alcoholics is unbroken except my grandmother was an enabler of her son, but the son was his “grandfather’s boy”

My egg donor’s father drank until middle age, but one night he came home and reached out for her (she was an infant and her mom was holding her) and she didn’t want to go to him. He said as drunk as he was he realized his drunkenness was disturbing to his child and he never drank again.

I have heard rumors that after they were married and during the time he was drinking, my grandfather had an affair and even had a child by that woman, but I never saw or heard him be abusive to my grandmother in any way. If they had any serious problems at that stage of their marriage I never observed any, but at the same time, my family was the “keepers of secrets” and I didn’t know about my Uncle Monster’s drinking until I was in my 30s.


I can write more about alcoholism, but I don’t know much about it medically.

Perhaps there is somebody here with a medical background and experience who can explain?

I know a lot about how alcoholism impacts a family and those around them.

I defer to the recovering AAs and double-winners here who can explain much better than I can what alcoholics go through.

Was there anything in particular that you want to know about, Oxy?


I looked over those links and while generally true, some of it is somewhat “beliefs-based.” In addition, the Jellineck Curve pretty much fits the patterns of clinical depression, PTSD and anxiety/stress disorders and while these people may self-medicate with alcohol, they are not necessarily alcoholics.


This is true. I would assume that there is a lot of crossover.

Plus, alcohol is a depressant.

agree with Oxy that your info was very helpful. Although my parents were not alcoholics, they are workaholics. Obsessed with money, work is the only thing they find rewarding. Their children were not rewarding to them, they have no hobbies except keeping up the facade. They don’t even have friends. Really, they don’t have any long time friends that they see regularly. They never have.

The “high” they are after is the “getting paid” high. Obviously we are living in an environment where that is a necessary evil but I think it would be good to have some balance, other interests etc…

I wonder if there is a 12-step program for money addicts.



Thank you so much for the links. I am very interested in studying alcoholism. It looks like my spath may be a Delta.

I have a question…have you ever heard of alcoholics being described as a number? When my spath got a DUI and had to take classes, he told me that they told him he was a “Number 3” and weren’t sure if he was going to progress any further or not. I had never heard of that system and wondered if you had?



No. I have never heard of a number in association with an alcoholic, except for the blood alcohol content.

Based on what you said, it sounds like they had him take some kind of test in that class and he came out as a Number 3.

He was probably screwing with your head, by the looks of it. Just using the information to scare or worry you, throw you off. I bet there was a good chance that it didn’t mean anything outside of that class.

Skylar, there are 12-step programs for all sorts of things, including Workaholics Anonymous (do a search for it,) compulsive spenders & shoppers (Debtors Anonymous), Gamblers Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Smokers Anonymous – the list seems endless.

Here’s a list of over 50 different 12-Step programs. Take your choice.

In recovery, it’s known as “same disease/different drug.” The underlying premise (psychology?), (pathology?) is essentially the same.



Was that in the UK? Perhaps they were applying something similar to the Jellineck’s types?



No, it was here in the US.



Thanks. I am sure you are right…he probably took some type of test and that’s where he came out on their test.

You probably know this, but the “same disease/different drug” thing also means that if an addict of any kind gives up one substance, they usually get addicted to something else. Sometimes when they give up drugs, it becomes food. Also and you probably know this, too…a lot of times they have more than one addiction going on at the same time. I think mine had alcohol and sex although from what I have read and heard lately, sex addiction is not really a true disease. The term is tossed around loosely. People who are just really promiscuous are often labeled as sex addicts when they are not at all.

Ox Drover

G1S the medical part I don’t think is all that significant. MY BELIEF, and that is all it is, is that while there are enzymes that remove alcohol from the body (alcohol is a poison actually) and some people have more or less enzymes than others. Native americans tend to have low enzymes so when they drink they are much slower to remove the alcohol from their systems.

Many native Americans become alcoholics for this reason as well as social reasons I think.

Also I think the euphoria that is experienced by various people is different, and may tend to make them crave the alcohol more.

My drug of choice is nicotine, and it IS A DRUG. The centers for these various cravings are being studied now and scientists are trying to find out how to BLOCK the cravings.

Methodone clinics supply the methodone to the patients as a stop gap (for drug addicts) but it only allows some of them to “function” not to really kick the “habit.”

The giving of antabuse drugs to alcoholics, and if they take their medication and then drink become VERY sick is another way, but unless the patient is monitored many will just quit the medication and then resume drinking. Uncle Monster did this.

I realize that some people “self medicate” with drugs or alcohol as a form of coping with PTSD, bi-polar and/or depression (etc) and if you fix the bi-polar or the depression with medication they will leave off the booze.

So there are a lot of various things about it that impact the patient, the family and society as well. It isn’t a “one way” fixes it all.

Probably for the purposes of this blog the general stuff like you have linked to her, G1S is what would be helpful to the group, both to the ones who have problems with it and/or enabling as well as those of us who are just touched by the societal problems. My family had some of the “alcoholic family” dysfunction, without a lot of the alcohol directly (since only Uncle Monster drank after I was born and he lived remotely from teh family until I was about 30 at which point he was divorced and came back to our area and central family to live)


“Also I think the euphoria that is experienced by various people is different, and may tend to make them crave the alcohol more.”

Ox, there is evidence suggesting that those who experience an alcohol “buzz” followed by a rapid “crash” are more prone to binge drinking.

High levels of alcohol tolerance are linked to high levels of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes. Interestingly, those with high alcohol tolerance are less likely to be alcoholic, one reason being is that they suffer worse hangovers. Those with low alcohol tolerance have low levels of the enzymes, which means they not only get drunk more quickly, but don’t get severe hangovers because alcohol is not broken down in formaldehyde by the enzymes.

Typical Asians and native Americans have low levels of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes.

kim frederick

You might find this interesting: When convicted of DUI and ordered to a substance abuse evaluation, the person doing the evaluation already has the arrest record, and has already made a precursory evaluation based on blood alcohol readings….the higher the readings the more likely the person is an abuser, because they’ve developed tolerance. If the blood alcohol level is above a certain point, there’s pretty much nothing you can say…you’re going to a program.

kim frederick

G1S, I’ve been reading up on sexual addictions and I think the debate is interesting. Patric Carnes, the author of, “The Betrayal Bond” is the leading expert in the feild of sex addiction and has written numerious books on the subject. I fail to understand how some addiction experts would conclude that sex cannot become addictive, when shopping can, gambling can, spending can, working can, and just about any behavior under the sun, can…If the argument is that sex is a natural desire and a normal human appetite, well then, so is eating…over-eating, bulemia and anorexia can all be addictive. If the argument is that it’s not a chemical substance…well. it releases chemical substances into the brain. Carnes, in “The Betrayal Bond” says that secrecy, high-risk behaviors, and deceit highten arousal and become addictive…they also increase the likelyhood of betrayal bonding, and the perception of being in love. Undrneith all this secrecy and deception is shame, and shame underlies all addictive behavior, in my opinion…as it also underlies a lot of PTSD.
Sexualty can be used to self medicate just as surely as alcohol or narcotics can…it masks pain, if only for a moment and then the shame rears it’s ugly head and the cycle starts again.
The is another perspective: that sex addicts are sonomic narcissists. They are narcissists whose supply needs come from many adoring sexual partners who adore them.
My x hub fits ALL the leterature, no matter how you toss it, and co-dependancy is codependancy whether you are in a relationship with an SA or an alcoholic or a narcissist. JMO.


I can easily see how sex can be an addiction. Think of the biochemical changes that occur during arousal, climax, and afterwards. Aren’t there endophins going off all over the place? And aren’t endorphins the reason for drug addictions?

I know that I do not react to (crave) alcohol. I get drunk very fast. I blacked out occassionally without much alcohol as well. Hated the feeling.

My brother and sister-in-law told me that watching me drink and how I reacted looked like an allergic reaction to them. (I have so many allergies it isn’t funny.)

I refuse to drink, which is probably a good thing because I developed gout and any alcohol with that would be debilitating.

However, my cousin on my father’s side of the family, which has its share of alcoholics, used to take antabuse and then go out drinking. Antabuse didn’t affect her at all. She had a major stroke, went through a long rehab, and still likes her wine.

I think bodies process the alcohol in different ways.

I’ve always been very grateful that I didn’t have the “addiction” gene (assuming there is one.) Considering my family of origin, it’s a miracle.

Ox Drover

Kim I think your point is well made.

The brain has “pleasure centers” and “pleasure chemicals” that are released in response to various things…have you heard of the “runner’s high”? People get addicted to running and it releases the “feel good chemicals”—so anything that makes the pleasure centers light up can become addictive I think. My son c is addicted to video games and even though he is very ADHD he is able to concentrate on the games to a remarkable degree and is quite good at them. His job as a machinist tool and die maker also requires great concentration and precision and he is also very good at that as well and enjoys it.

One of the reasons we tend to gain weight in the winter time is that carbs give you a “feel good” shot and when we are not getting exercise as much or day light which also give us feel good shots, we tend to over eat on carbs.

Many psychopaths are high “risk takers” and engage in risky behavior such as driving fast, gambling, risky sex, military and police occupations, etc. the excitement they get, the adrenaline rush is pleasurable. There are socially acceptable ways to get your adrenaline rush, such as flying airplanes, or riding motorcycles, or riding bulls, or training oxen, and there are those like my son Patrick who get it from doing illegal things such as robbery, rape and murder.

BTW we have not had any oxen for a while but we now have a 6 month old Scottish Highland calf, named TAM, who is in training to be a working steer (ox). Son D just made him a newer and bigger little training yoke so he will be pulling a little sled around here for starters so I’m the “ox lady” again (that’s my nickname in my living history group)


Kim, I am not defending sex addict’s, but when we add sexual addiction plus sociopath we come up with a complete different animal. I have made many bad decision’s in my life based on sex or the desire for sex. Goodness knows I would never have met the xbf. The old phrase, looking for love in all the wrong places fit’s me to a T. I am no saint, I have been around the block and back again. Bur never did I use sex to exploit, manipulate or lie to someone. never have I had a sexual relationship without being upfront and honest.. Sex seem’s to be the only motivating factor with most gay men in this culture. Sex is everywhere in today’s society. I was more forgiving of the xspath’s sexual history then I should of been. I thought the guy was gay, but he was neither straight or gay or bi, he is a sociopath..that is a big difference. I met a player, fell in love and got the education I needed, I no longer look for love in wrong places. I have read many self help books about sexual addiction. “Cruise Control’ is a very good book by carnes. Life is so complex sometimes..the truth is uglier than a lie…and the truth is they are a lie (period)



While the entire mechanisms of addiction and reward are complex, most is attributable to dopamine neurotransmitters. For example, in otherwise healthy adult males, sex drive is determined by dopamine levels, not by testosterone levels. This is why a lack of interest in sex (in males) is a sure sign of depression. Other evidence includes the typical traits of manic or hypomanic individuals: very compulsive, especially gambling, sex and alcohol but given them a mood stabilizer and these behaviors disappear.

Finally, those drugs that are dopamine agonists given to Parkinson’s patients are know to induce hyper-sexuality and other compulsive behavior.

My own experience with an MAOI confirms this and to some degree I blame the MAOI for my relationship and subsequent issues with the x-spath.

kim frederick

I get ya Hens. It’s all so confusing…so many perspectives, diagnosis, therapies, lables and so many of them over lap. There’s misunderstanding, and denial. There’s bitterness and anger. For me, personally, I just don’t know…and I think I may have to accept that I will never know.

As someone who knows first hand about the effects of addiction, I know I put my addiction before others and I know I was selfish. I hurt other people who meant the most to me….but, I know I wasn’t a spath. I can understand how compulsively acting out can be out of control and a selfish preoccupation that hurts people. I can see how it can be an addiction that masks an inability to form intimate relationships and so on. I can identify with shame.

On the other hand, I’m confused by the whole thing and I’m stuck, I think, because I still don’t know the whole story, and that smacks of dishonesty.

I waver between thinking my x didn’t want to hurt me, and that he did. That he was malicious and something out of a lifetime movie, and a victim. Honestly, even now,,,23 years later. I still don’t get it. Not so there’s any real closure. Having my own addictive issues complicates it, because I know I deserve to be forgiven. Sigh. It’s a maze of thoughts, convictions emotions and chaos. I just don’t know.


kim, I will never have answer’s to so many questions..I am sad for you that you cant find closure with your x husband. When we know better we do better, I have at least found some peace with what I dont know.


“I have been around the block and back again. Bur never did I use sex to exploit, manipulate or lie to someone. never have I had a sexual relationship without being upfront and honest…”


You have hit the crux of my issue with the x-spath and something that IMHO, among us adult gay males, could be seen as a defining factor.

I was honest to my x-spath that I was no angel. At the same time, I never used sex to exploit or manipulate. If anything, I looked beyond sex to the person and when in situations where I felt it was not working out, I gave the person an honest chance, without being manipulative.

My x-spth choose the opposite route. He downplayed his past, manipulated me, and kept me off-guard.

kim frederick

In a way, Hen’s, the fact that I have found closure….is only more confusing…I still have contact with him, on family occasions such as birthdays,Easter, and Christmas. He’s good to my children and grandchildren…he’s been good to me ever since I left 16 years ago. We have no problem. But, he did some really reprhenible thing, in the course of our marriage and it seems he had no regard for my feelings…as far as cheating and serial infidelity goes, he perfectly fits the profiles of both narcissism and sexual addiction. He gas-lighted and lied and made me feel crazy. I was blind and silent in the face of huge evidence and I forgot about it…til it all came crashing in….


Kim. maybe you need to confront him. Tell him you know what he did and you will never undersatnd how or why, Maybe you have been silent to long because of some guilt or shame that is not yours to bare. Just put it out there and be done with it. Expect no answers from him, just release it once and for all.


BBE, Old age cure’s lot’s of things, I wish I knew then what I know now and I would of made better choices.



Regarding your post above about DUIs. My spath was more than twice the legal limit when he was caught…that is why he had to spend the night in jail and I’m guessing that’s why he had to take classes…lost his license for 9 months…was only allowed to drive to and from work during that time. He’s never had another one as far as I know. Also shows his high tolerance.

When you say going to a program, do you mean like AA or just a program to take classes like my spath did?

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