Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sociopathic tendencies

HOW TO KNOW

The big question is, of course, how can you know whether someone is a sociopath or not? It is a difficult question and even experts on the subject can be fooled. If you suspect that someone close to you is a sociopath, I strongly recommend you read both of those books I mentioned and think hard about it. Compare that person to the other people in your life. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you often feel used by the person?

2. Have you often felt that he (or she) doesn't care about you?

3. Does he lie and deceive you?

4. Does he tend to make contradictory statements?

5. Does he tend to take from you and not give back much?

6. Does he often appeal to pity? Does he seem to try to make you feel sorry for him?

7. Does he try to make you feel guilty?

8. Do you sometimes feel he is taking advantage of your good nature?

9. Does he seem easily bored and need constant stimulation?

10. Does he use a lot of flattery? Does he interact with you in a way that makes you feel flattered even if he says nothing overtly complimentary?

11. Does he make you feel worried? Does he do it obviously or more cleverly and sneakily?

12. Does he give you the impression you owe him?

13. Does he chronically fail to take responsibility for harming others? Does he blame everyone and everything but himself?

And does he do these things far more than the other people in your life? If you answered yes to many of these, you may be dealing with a sociopath. For sure you're dealing with someone who isn't good for you, whatever you want to call him.

I like Martha Stout's way of detecting sociopaths: "If ... you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to one hundred percent that you are dealing with a sociopath."



WHAT DO THEY WANT?

This is an interesting question. Of course most people have purposes that are strongly influenced by our connections and affections with others. Our relationships with others, and our love for them, give us most of the meaning in life. So if a sociopath doesn't have these things, what is left? What kind of purposes do they have? The answer is chilling: They want to win. Take away love and relationships and all you have left is winning the game, whatever the game is decided to be. If they are in business, it is becoming rich. If it is sibling rivalry, it is defeating the sibling. If it is a contest, the goal is to dominate. If a sociopath is the envious sort, winning would be making the other lose, or fail, or be frustrated, or embarrassed.

A sociopath's goal is to win. And he is willing to do anything at all to win. And sociopaths have nothing else to think about, so they can be very clever and conniving. Sociopaths are not busy being concerned with relationships or moral dilemmas or conflicting feelings, so they have much more time to think about clever ways to gain your trust and stab you in the back, and how do it without anyone knowing what's happening.

One of the questions above was about boredom. This is a real problem for sociopaths and they seem fanatically driven to prevent boredom. The reason it looms so large for them (and seems so strange to us) is that our relationships with people occupy a good amount of our time and attention. Take that away and all you have is "playing to win" which is rather shallow and empty in comparison. So boredom is a constant problem for sociopaths and they have an incessant urge to keep up a level of stimulation, even negative stimulation (drama, worry, upset, etc.).

And here I might mention that the research shows sociopaths don't feel emotions the same way normal people do. For example, they don't experience fear as unpleasant. This goes a long way to explaining the inexplicable behavior you'll see in sociopaths. Some feelings that you and I might find intolerable might not bother them at all.



WHEN YOU SAY THE WORD "sociopath" most people think of serial killers. But although many serial killers are sociopaths, there are far more sociopaths leading ordinary lives. Chances are you know a sociopath. I say "ordinary lives," but what they do is far from ordinary. Sociopaths are people without a conscience. They don't have the normal empathy the rest of us take for granted. They don't feel affection. They don't care about others. But most of them are good observers, and they have learned how to mimic those feelings remarkably well.

Most people with a conscience find it very difficult to even imagine what it would be like to be without one. Combine this with a sociopath's efforts to blend in, and what you get is most sociopaths go undetected. The reason this is a problem is that they wreak havoc on their family, on people they work with, and on anyone who tries to be their friend. A sociopath deceives, takes what he wants, and hurts people without any remorse. Sociopaths don't feel guilty. They don't feel sorry for what they've done. They go through life taking what they want and giving nothing back. They manipulate and deceive and convincingly lie without the slightest second thought. They leave a path of confusion and upset in their wake.

Who are these people? Why are they the way they are? Apparently it has little to do with upbringing. Many studies have been done trying to find out what kind of childhood leads to sociopathy. So far, nothing looks likely. They could be from any kind of family. It is partly genetic, and partly mystery.

But researchers have found that the brains of sociopaths function differently than normal people. And their brains function in a way that makes their emotional life unredeemably shallow. And yet they are capable of mimicking emotions like professional actors.

Sociopaths and psychopaths are the same thing. The original name for this disorder was "psychopath" but the general public and media confused it with "psycho" and "psychotic" so in the 1930s the name was changed to sociopath. Recently the media again caused a misperception that sociopaths were always serial killers, so now many call the condition "antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)." But some experts think ASPD includes many things like narcissism, paranoia, etc. And also including sociopathy. And others think ASPD is the same thing as sociopathy, but the diagnostic criteria used to describe and diagnose ASPD is different than sociopathy, so for the purposes of this article, we'll stay with the term "sociopathy."

Sociopaths don't have normal affection with other people. They don't feel attached to others. They don't feel love. And that is why they don't have a conscience. If you harmed someone, even someone you didn't know, you would feel guilt and remorse. Why? Because you have a natural affinity for other human beings. You know how it feels to suffer, to fear, to feel anguish. You care about others. And if you hurt someone you love, the guilt and remorse would be very bad because of your affection for him or her. Take that attachment and affection away and you take away remorse, guilt, and any kind of normal feelings of fairness. That's a sociopath.



HOW COMMON ARE THEY?

Some researchers say only about one percent of the general population are sociopaths. Others put the figure at three or four percent. The reason the estimates vary is first of all, not everyone has been tested, of course, but also because sociopathy is a sliding scale. A person can be very sociopathic or only slightly, and anywhere in between. It is a continuum. So how sociopathic does someone have to be before you call them sociopathic? That's a tough question and it is why the estimates vary.

But clearly sociopaths are fairly common and not easy to detect. Even when the evidence is staring you in the face, you may have difficulty admitting that someone you know, someone you trusted, even someone you love, is a sociopath. But the sooner you admit it, the faster your life can return to normal. Face the facts and you may save yourself a lot of suffering.

Most of the information in this article is from two excellent books: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, and The Sociopath Next Door. The first book is by Robert Hare, who has made his career out of studying sociopaths. He is one of the leading, if not the leading expert on the subject. His insights and examples are compelling. But because Hare has done most of his research in prisons, sometimes his book seems a little removed from everyday reality. We don't very often run into rapists and cold-blooded killers. The second book, by Martha Stout, brings it to the everyday level, describing the kinds of people we are likely to meet in ordinary life.





HOW TO DEAL WITH A SOCIOPATH

There is no known cure or therapy for sociopathy. In fact, some evidence suggests that therapy makes them worse because they use it to learn more about human vulnerabilities they can then exploit. They learn how to manipulate better and they learn better excuses that others will believe. Given all that, there is only one solution for dealing with a sociopath: Get him or her completely out of your life for good. This seems radical, and of course, you want to be fairly sure your diagnosis is correct, but you need to protect yourself from the drain on your time, attention, money, and good attitude. Healing or helping a sociopath is a pointless waste of your life. That is not your mission. That's not your responsibility. You have your own goals, and those are your responsibility.

In Hare's book, he says before you diagnose someone as a sociopath, he recommends you get a full clinical diagnostic, including an extensive interview with the sociopath by a qualified psychotherapist, plus interviews with the sociopath's bosses, co-workers, friends, and family. Yeah, right. Good luck on that one. I agree, that would be ideal, but if you can get a sociopath to submit to an interview, I would be astonished. So you'll have to do the best you can with the information you can get.

I don't recommend you tell anyone you have diagnosed him as a sociopath. In fact, I strongly urge you not to. I don't even know if it's a good idea to tell anyone about your conclusion. Just get the sociopath out of your life with as little fanfare as you can. The only exception I would make to this rule is if the sociopath is making someone else's life a living hell, it seems wrong to leave her to the wolves while you slink off. I don't recommend you try to convince your friend she is dealing with a sociopath. I recommend that you simply say you got a lot of insight from this or that book or whatever, and let your friend draw her own conclusions. It is not your mission to save your friend, either. Tell her what you know and if she ignores you, that's her problem, not yours.

If this all sounds cold or heartless, maybe you're not dealing with a sociopath, or maybe she or he hasn't driven you to the point of madness (yet). But remember what the solution is; you may someday need it.

And besides, the point of all this dismal information is so you no longer need to think about such negative things and so you can turn your attention to positive, life-affirming, uplifting goals of your own.

You may also want to check out an online support group for people who are in a relationship with a sociopath:

MSN Groups: Psychopathy

MSN Groups: Friends and Family

If you have a sociopath in your life, you should take it seriously. Learn what you need to learn, and if you are pretty sure you have correctly identified one, do what needs to be done to protect yourself. Then get back to your own life. Accomplish your goals. Nurture your relationships. Learn and grow and enjoy yourself.



Summary Of Sociopaths

1. They make you feel sorry for them.

2. They make you feel worried or afraid.

3. They give you the impression you owe them.

4. They make you feel used.

5. Sometimes you suspect they don't care about you.

6. They lie to you and deceive you.

7. They take a lot from you and give back very little.

8. They make you feel guilty (and use that to manipulate you).

9. They take advantage of your kindness.

10. They are easily bored and need constant stimulation.

11. They don't take responsibility but place blame elsewhere.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic webpage - I felt like I was reading all about my ex-boyfriend, who thankfully I have now removed from my life. He fitted every tendency listed and I am glad I no longer have anything to do with him.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this information. I have been tormented for years and years by a sociopath, and this has helped me accept that some people just don't have the ability to reciprocate the loving and affectionate feelings that you may have and share with them. It is still extremely difficult because I share two beautiful young children with the sociopath.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the excellent and useful information. After 3 years of chaos, division and manipulation, coupled with public humiliation and vengeance for the smallest perceived slight on her part, we finally figured out our son married one. He is oblivious as she is strikingly beautiful and petite; comes across as needing help, and needing to be defended against all the evil people (us) because she's always the perpetual victim. She also tells unnecessary lies. Our son and his wife have surrounded themselves with a small cadre of people who believe her and will do anything to protect her.

We did cut them off for a couple of years, but now that they have a child, they want to "reconcile"; I question their motives. I wish there was something concrete to be done, but the only thing I can arm myself with is knowledge, and learn everything I can about this personality disorder.

My husband and I are learning to change our behavior to make us less vulnerable, but I fear having them in our lives now puts us at risk, as we found out that she was going around accusing us of all sorts of vile and bizarre things - when we've tried to discuss that with them they refused, saying, "We don't want to live in the past by bringing things up. We want to start fresh and move forward."

We try to keep an arm's length, but it's difficult with a small innocent child in the picture, but we both don't want to be falsely accused of the unthinkable that could ruin our lives, our reputations and possibly put us behind bars.

The hardest part of this whole mess is it centers around church, so everything has this thick veneer of spirituality - "just trust God to make things right", or "pray for her healing". We've been very careful never to label her, but only say nice things when we're in a group situation. We're really in a rock and a hard place.

Thanks again for your blog.

Anonymous said...

How sad. I'm realizing that although I have my own problems, I have married 2 men that are like this. One was wealthy, educated, and my age but cold as a fish and very selfish. i never felt good enough for him and his family. I built a company wit him abd then he dumped me and I got very little. Then I married a poo cowboy with just over 100 horses but no monsy--just a little land. I had some money, and since he had none, mine went pretty fast. He didn't finish high school and is 17 years older than me but very charming and excellent at his trade. He fools everybody and uses people like crazy--mainly ME, but also any friend that he can get to help him, work for him for free, hang around with him (drive to the horse show because he has no gas $$$$), etc. Now I'm broke and living with my parents while on probabtion for a DUI---while being with him for 13 years I started drinking too much to try to block out reality in his world--see? I told yu I have my own problems. He treats me terrible--calls me stupid now, telling me I've wasted my life, he has no use for me because I'm out of money and I'm having a hard time getting my career back on track. He has won for now. I sometimes think I'll have to go back to him because it's embarassing to live with my parents at 48, but they don't seem to mind for now. I frequently think about killing myself.myself

Annie said...

I have come to realize that my ex-husband and our only child are both sociopaths. Unfortunately, it's taken a few years to come to this conclusion and only after much destruction.

My ex was actually diagnosed as a sociopath and created havoc in every aspect of his life. Since we were already divorced when he was diagnosed, I didn't think much of it until our daughter started taking on his traits.

I could see this in my daughter for years but wouldn't accept it & chose to ignore it. She is the mother of my only two grandchildren and I didn't want to lose them so I tolerated her behavior, telling myself it's for the sake of the grandchildren.

This has cost me everything. I have not had contact with my grandchildren for over 3 years & I'm ten's of thousands dollars in debt. Obviously I'm still searching for answers or I wouldn't be writing this.

I felt compelled to comment after reading the last post from Anon on 7/23/09. No matter what you do, Anon, it will never, ever be enough to stop the destructive, divisive behavior of a sociopath. They are always able to stay one step ahead of you because they have an accuity of what normal behavior should look like & can imitate it better than a normal person. Not only that, this woman will use your beautiful grandchild as a negotiating tool throughout the childs life. And I think you'll still come to the inevitable outcome.

You can't change this woman & you probably cant' help this child. The only person in a position to change the outcome is your son and this won't happen until he decides he can't live with the drama and chaos in his life anymore.

You may be able to start with your son by planting seeds of thought. A word here, a word there, said without malice can add up.

I hope your outcome is better than mine. I feel like there have been 3 deaths in my family and it's been devastating, both emotionally and financially. I'm still grieving and don't know how to make it stop.

Anonymous said...

This is mainly for the 48 year old Anonymous...I read a lot of posts, but very rarely actually post, however, your last statement about thinking of killing yourself gave me chills....hope you are not even teh elast bit serious...anyway, I also live w/ (still) a complete sociopath, it is bad, really bad & I am just realizing it. I am not sure how I will deal w/ it yet, but I remember something my sister told me that I thought of when I read your blog...You can always start over..I am somewhat of a "Katrina victim" & have had several monetary problems since that time, as have the rest of my family, which is difficult, b/c we never had to deal w/ anyting like that. We grew up pretty well off & always have been, until first the hurricane, then a rouge tornado, then the wall street tumble, all while I was recovering from surgery & suddenly realized I had been taking pain medicine for way, way too long, and, actually was addicted. I was crying on her shoulder one day & she said, What is the worst that can happen - the worst?? Having to move in w/ Mom & Dad, w/ me...Move into an apartment & have to sell your house? Take a job at starbucks? Think of the worst & then think of whether you can handle it - are you strong enough for that? Most of us will say of course. I have one son & as long as he stays healthy & happy & I am healthy enough to take care of, I can handle anything.

Fred said...

It just bothers me more than a little that you started out describing the Sociopathic Person as "he (or she)" and then used the pronoun HE afterward throughtout the piece. Perhaps a new word should be added to the dictionary:
"HeShe"!

Anonymous said...

Dear Annie,

Thank you so much for your wise advice - I am taking it very seriously. My heart goes out to you that it had to come with such a heart-wrenching price. I too grieved over my son because it felt like a death. Letting go of him wasn't the problem - of course we want our adult children happy and productive - it was the complete severing of what used to be a close family relationship and how triumphant she is over that. He now "belongs" to her. Wherever he goes, she goes, so we can't just have a friendly cup of coffee with him or the claim is made that we are disrespecting their marriage. He has been completely cut off from our family, which includes his adult siblings.

I also take to heart what you shared in the financial arena - there is an amazing entitlement in this area, and I have to say my son is still going along with it. We have backed off giving them any money and will continue that stance. It's the one reason I think they've come back into our lives - because they aren't doing well financially.

Also completely agree that we are powerless to change anything but ourselves. I've been reading everything I can about sociopaths, and how to navigate having one as an in-law. My husband and I have purposed in our hearts not to expect or want anything from them, such as wanting to spend time with the baby. In the past, any "wants" she had perceived were always used against us in vindictive ways.

Annie, I pray fervently that your grieving will get less and less; I understand how debilitating that is. Do you have a good support group around you - close friends, relatives, your church or synagogue? In my Google searches I've come across some very good sites - especially when I did a search on whether or not sociopathy was genetic.

If you'd like more information and understanding on at-risk children, there is an excellent book I'm reading called: "Just Like His Father" - it might be very helpful to you when your grandkids come back into your life. You may be that only island of security, love and affection your grandkids ever know. Their mother can only control them so long, but once they become adults she pretty much will lose that power over them. I pray this is the case for you; my husband and I also are bracing ourselves for our grandchild to be withheld from us - it hasn't happened yet, but it's not far down the road, or as you said, she'll use them as a negotiating tool. This is our first grandchild and it's still pretty new at this time - so far everyone is acting so "happy, happy", but from her track record, it's not going to last very long. I appreciate everything you said and have taken it to heart.

Bless you, Annie, and I'll be thinking and praying for you often, and will check back here as well to see how you're doing.

God bless,
D

Annie said...

To D from Annie -

Thank you D for your heartfelt response. For the most part, I'm trying to put this behind me and move on with my life.

I followed the same path as you; researching the web on sociopathy to get answers. Unfortunately the research made the outcome seem even bleaker and that's when I decided, for my own mental health, I had to stop grieving after 3 years and get on with my life. Believe me, it's the most painful decision I've ever made.

And then I set about removing all reminders of my daughter and grandchildren. I removed all their pictures (my fridge was covered with them) from my house, put away all the gifts they ever gave me and threw out all the cards I'd received from them over the years. I felt like a traitor to my grandchildren but had to do it.

Now I can get through most days without thinking of them, but when I do, I'm usually back on the web hoping to find something that will tell me the disorder is treatable. That's how I found this website and you.

I'll put you in my prayers, too. Who knows, maybe the prayers of two grandmother's will have more power than one. Even though I decided to move on with my life, I never stopped praying for my daughter and her children and never will.

My hope for you is that your son's upbringing will kick in at some point and he'll remember the values you've instilled in him. I don't think any reasonable person can live with a sociopath for long because the drama and chaos isn't sustainable, unless you're the one creating it. And that will by my prayer for you - that he will realize he can't live with the drama and also doesn't want his daughter mired in it, either.

And if there is a website you've found on this topic that was especially helpful, please send the info - I would very much appreciate it.

I'll check back here from time to time to see if you've responded. In the meantime, we'll lend our prayers to each other.

- Annie

Anonymous said...

Annie,

It's good to hear from you. I agree that our prayers together are more powerful. There's a website in the UK about serial bullying (another name for sociopathic behavior)that I found very helpful and in some areas identical to ours, even down to the verbage they use when talking to us.

Here's the site:

http://www.bullyonline.org/related/family.htm

There are many links on this site to other sites that are also helpful. The more I understand, the less I expect from her and the more empowered I feel. When my son started dating her, I felt extremely victimized and at a complete loss as to why the hostility and divisiveness was happening - it just didn't make sense. I've experienced a 180 degree turn in attitude now, but it's taken two years of study, grieving, and crying to get here.

I am encouraged by what you said about our son. He was raised in a good home, and in spite of our imperfections, we were/are good parents. We warned him about being a rescuer when he first started dating her but he flat-out denied it.

There is perpetual drama in their life, as you noted with your situation. At this point our son continues to blame us and anyone else who gets in her way. We are learning to step out of their drama by not getting pulled into it in the first place like we used to do. When she starts to complain or act like a victim we just ignore her, change the subject or act completely indifferent - so far it's been mildly effective.

Anything by Dr. Leedom is a valuable source of information. Her book, "Just Like His Father" is outstanding. She's on a number of blogs -

http://www.lovefraud.com/01_whatsaSociopath/Inner_Triangle_explains_sociopaths.html

http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/category/liane-leedom-md/

http://driventodoevil.com/blog/?page_id=21

http://www.parentingtheatriskchild.com/

I, too, keep hoping to find some breakthrough research promising to heal these people, but nothing yet. All I can do is what you're doing - praying for my son everyday and for my grandaughter. I will keep you in my prayers as well.

Blessings to you, and look forward to hearing from you again,
D

Anonymous said...

This is very good and informitive. I just got out of a horrible relationship with a man that I now know is a sociopath. He has every trait. I hate that I wasted 3 years of my life. They won't ever change, it only gets worse. Those are years that I can't get back, but wow what a learning experience. I am just afraid that his son will act like him?

Maxi said...

I feel very touched by this info, I can admit I am one of them...there's also a reason, our childhood... never was allowed to bring friends home, never had a best friend, always doing things for myself, building my own games... you're a 10 yo kid and all you have it's yourself.(went to military school all my life)
Inside of us we find sadness and yes, stay away from us. Sooner or later we will let you down, we will make you hurt.

bookworm said...

Thanks for the information on the website and input by other bloggers. It has reinforced my belief that I have done the right thing in getting out of a three year relationship with a sociopathic man. From reading other peoples stories it seems that three years is a common length of time for such a relationship. Perhaps they can't keep the facade up for longer than that. At first my man was ever so charming, listening to my every need and providing it. His first outburst was about a year or so into the relationship and I couldn't believe it but of course "he was ever so sorry and loved me ever so much." We battled on with the good times which were very good getting less and less and the anger outbursts which led to violence getting more frequent and lasting longer. The worst thing about it was that they were unpredictable and then he would bring up things that he had been stewing on for days. On Saturday night he confronted me about two things which were nothing and in doing so he sat on top of me on the bed, with his knees either side of me so I was pinned down and bashed me about the head. I am quite bruised and have four large bumps. I thought he as going to kill me which he threatened to do. That is it now. No more. I have a life to live and it will not include him. My advice to anyone who is a relationship with a sociopath, please at least make plans to get out, perhaps locate a safe place where you can go and try to put a little money aside. You will feel free once you are out, I guarantee it.

Anonymous said...

I would say that being with a sociopath leaves you feeling like you want to kill yourself just to make all the pain they caused go away. The man I was married to terroized me for more than a year. He is still looking for me. They find all your weaknesses, fears and capitalize on them. They leave you not trusting anyone and leave you thinking everyone is going to hurt you. I found myself wanting to be left alone and to retreat. Funny thing is now if someone hurts me I hide at home and quit talking to everyone. It doesn't take much. I want to know how do you heal from this?

Anonymous said...

this is so revealing, i had a relationship with a socipath and evenmarried him. I got him out of prison for "something he did not do", I lost my home, all my money and the god feeling of most of my family. He was full on at first; frighteningly so, wanted to move in on second date and took over everything so quickly. I was hooked from the first and if i asked for love or commitment he would be gone and I would be running after him, I was so under his spell. he sent me thousands of love letters whilst in prison, spinning me the fairytale that he knew i had always wanted. When he came out of prison the first thing he did was get a loan under my god credit (got none now ...had to go bankrupt cuz of him). he wanted a car and a phone within days of coming out of prison. Not once did he say thankyou for believing in me, fighting for me, even though it had cost me thousands of pounds and a load of stress. When i lost my job he was scathing, on about me getting a job all the time. He never once supported me or stuck up for me, we split soom after he came out of prison; then he came back tail between his legs promising all sorts. Then the marriage carrot was dangled and we did have fairytale wedding and homeymoon (supposed honeymoon) no romance for me!!! Things went on like this until July 2009, after several months of cruelty and coldness, he announced he wanted a divorce. There was no money left; no more loans to be got and hehad already lined up his next victim. I have been left with no home, no money, crippling debts and coldly thrown aside with no real explanation and with a severing that is bordering on utter cruelty. 18 months down the line I am still trying to pick up the pieces and he has fled the country with his other woman and left all the debt for me to deal with. they are parasites that suck the life out of good loving people andleave them depleted .....Diane Toplass Stoke on 'Trent England Jan 2011

Anonymous said...

NEED INSIGHTS.

One of my sisters (who is not a therapist) has suggested that I might be married to someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder. I know that I have been subjected to some things that just don't seem normal to me and are outside of anything I ever saw in my parents' marriage. The incidents also seem outside the "acceptable" to my siblings and one old friend to whom I've just recently been able to open up after overcoming the embarrassment of revealing a "soured marriage" which has had problems for awhile. They live on the other side of the country and there's been a decidedly "isolating" quality to this marriage created just by being on "his" turf (his home state) and far from "mine." Maybe others can help out with an amateur diagnosis after reading the incidents that perturbed me?

1. At a time when his now-deceased mother (Alzheimer's) and father (stroke) were in failing health, and there was some need for him to increase the frequency of his visits to see them (to once a week and it was a one hour drive), but no financial hardship since they had plenty of money to pay for good caregivers, I was shocked to hear him say, "You know, a lot of problems would be solved if both of them just did me a favor and dropped dead tomorrow."

2. One time when I had gone out ahead of him, and a couple of our friends, to make ready a vacation place where we all would spend the week with 2 of our kids, it happened that Father's Day fell on the day before he and guests were to arrive. We weren't in the same town to celebrate the occasion on its actual date, but I got a F.D. cake to serve as dessert after dinner on the day that he and the others got there, and made sure the 2 kids on that trip had signed cards for him. When the cake was put on the table along with the cards, he pushed it all away and said that we all had missed the REAL Father's Day and he didn't want to eat the cake or read the cards. I was mortified because of the houseguests sitting there, seeing all of this. We all literally had to coax him into eating the cake.

Anonymous said...

NEEDS INSIGHT (cont'd)

3. One time, I was driving to our home from having been out of town and I didn't realize my cell phone battery had died. I put it into the adapter/charger and saw that I had missed about 5 attempted calls he had placed in the space of 15 minutes. I phoned back and discovered that he had been phoned by a contractor working at our house about a delivery that needed a check to pay the final balance. After not reaching me on the dead cell phone, he'd left his office to drive to the house to write the check and even as we spoke, he was in his car, driving there. Before I could tell him it was an unnecessary trip, since I had already left credit card information on file with the vendor to cover the balance in case no one was home, he said:

"When you didn't pick up the phone, I thought you had been killed in a car accident. Not that I would CARE if you were dead in a wreck, it's just that right now it would be very inconvenient for me to have you die, with all that's going on at the house [renovations}."

Then he hung up and wouldn't pick up my calls as I tried to phone him back. The contractor later told me that when my husband reached the house, the delivery van had already dropped off goods and left after seeing "credit card on file at office" on their own delivery documents. He said that my husband had exploded in a few choice curse words before jumping in his car to return to his office. To be fair in letting readers evaluate how "serious" a departure from the office might have been, will let all know that he is a doctor and there were some patients left dangling in a waiting room for IME's (but not actual "treatment" since he's called on to evaluate medical conditions prior to trials).

One of my sisters, and an old friend I reached out to after bottling things up for years, both said that no matter how angry he might have felt about his office routine being interrupted, those remarks suggested a 'toxic relationship' and an 'abuse' problem.

As far as physical abuse, there have been 2 incidents but they were so long ago, and never repeated afterwards, that I "thought" (mistakenly?) that maybe there wasn't a serious problem and perhaps didn't seek out the professional help that I should have at that time.

Both times, I was pregnant. Only our first child was planned. With subsequent, he would suggest an abortion and I would decline. We are both Catholic, although he stopped going to Sunday services once the last child left for college because he seems mostly to have regarded it as a role-setting exercise to benefit the children, and I now continue to go, but alone. Both episodes were very similar. Seated at dinner, we would disagree over some minor matter (minor enough that I don't even remember what the subjects were, now, years later and forgot them soon after the actual incidents too). He would raise his voice. I would be concerned that shouting would alarm a child (or two) sitting at the dinner table and when he didn't "see" my sign language to lower his voice, I would get up from the table. Both times I "hoped" to be able to VERBALLY tell him in the adjacent room that he needed to lower his voice for sake of kid(s) or pick up the disagreement after they were put to bed.

Anonymous said...

NEEDS INSIGHT (cont'd)

Didn't get a chance either time to do that. He would leap up, hollering, "Don't you DARE walk away from me when I'm talking to you!"

The first time, he gave me a hard shove against the shoulders in the adjacent room and it knocked me against a wall. I was 7 months pregnant. The second time, 6 years after that first incident, he jumped up and walked hurriedly to stick his leg out along my path to another room, so as to trip me. I was 8 months pregnant when that one happened. Neither incident was a battering of a fist against face that would have left cuts or bruises or caused a harm that needed any medical attention. I was shoved up against a wall forcefully one time; I managed to catch the side of an upholstered chair to break my fall and avoid hitting the ground (hardwood floor, no carpet) the second time.

There was NO immediate catching of himself with an "I'm sorry" either time. Or indeed at ANY time afterwards. I went into silent shock both times; and his silence was one I couldn't interpret one way or another. He has a stone-faced aspect oftentimes.

4. He has had a strong need to control the funds in our joint accounts, and pay all household bills, even though I worked for 20 of the years we've been married and contributed financially to those accounts. After several occasions where he would announce "we're not buying so-and-so and that's FINAL", I started to put some percentage of my paycheck into a sole-name account so as to be able to purchase things like furniture for our house. I'm far from being a spendthrift. I put myself through higher education, paid for my own car,and owned my own condo at age 23 before we were married when I was age 25. The profit from that first real estate provided a big percentage of the downpayment on a house we later bought jointly, after marrying. His father flatly refused to help because, despite being wealthy, he didn't believe in mortgage debt and wanted us to rent in the town to which we had moved for my husband's job, shortly after birth of our first child, until we could pay full cash on a house. I found a full time job when baby was 9 months old in that new town.

My husband has outbursts which, while infrequent over most of the years until just recently, seem to bear absolutely no relationship to the external stimuli at hand. More recently, however, there was a single week in which there were 6 such flare-ups and most of them in the presence of others (friends of our visiting and now-grown kids) which were humiliating to me because one doesn't feel one can respond with others observing in any way with a potential for escalating a situation. I did what I've always done ... tried to just back away and "make light" -- which I believe now is probably unacceptable co-enabling behavior which makes me bear some fault for how things are evolved at this late date.

Anonymous said...

NEED INSIGHT (end)

I later told him we should seek marriage counseling because I was reaching my personal "limit" in coping with this. He told me that he'd pay for me to get therapy because I was the only one with problems and I should know that he says nasty mean things at times, but that he doesn't really mean them. He hasn't volunteered an apology, of his own independent insight and without any prompting, ever. And I do mean NEVER in all the years. When I reminded him of the recent 6 incidents, his response was "Oh, well if it bothered you, then I'm sorry."

I told him that I'd give him a chance to think things over about seeking couples counseling and then I did something highly atypical for me. I loaded up the dog into my car and left for a month, so that he could ponder life and his possible future in an empty house with no kids (now grown) and no other "life forms" (human or canine) to take out his anger on. By the end of the 2nd week, he phoned to say he'd changed his mind. I told him "his pick" as to the counselor since fair is fair. He picked someone qualified when I got back at the end of the month.

The counselor is fairly poker-faced at the sessions, and practices the kind of "there's no right or wrong or blame here" therapy which seems designed to simply re-open communication. But I can sense she's kind of disturbed by some of this.

The counselor doesn't seem like the sort of professional who is going to "diagnose" any condition with any labels. With her client couples, it seems she's there to either patch-them-up or tell them to call it quits if a situation seems futile. I'd just like to get some sense of whether anyone reading this can discern if there's a diagnosis to be had, so that I don't spin my wheels in weekly sessions stretching out for infinity -- and all in some vain hope that counseling will bring a "cure" or a "patch up" that might prove to false hope and elusive. I'm not even looking for LOVE at this point, but merely GENTLE CIVILITY under the same roof with this man.

One divorced friend told me she never felt so lonely as when she was unhappily married. And never so much at peace as when she left to live on her own, with a nearby network of family and friends that didn't

I would return to a part of the country where, although I'd be living alone, I would also have the network of a nearby family on whose love I firmly know I can count.

Sorry for length, but I didn't want to draw conclusions or use adjectives suggesting any. It seemed better to be detailed about some incidents and the verbatim words my husband spoke, so that OTHERS with more experience or who are better read on this topic can help with their insights as to what I might be dealing with.

My husband claims I'm just being overly sensitive and he's just being Italian with his temper and outbursts.

The remarks that centered on death (his parents' and mine) are really perturbing to me, I'll admit.

Anonymous said...

i think this is absolutely horrible. yeah whatever some people might like this but i think its horrible and cold and heartless i am best friends with a sociopath and i dont care. to me he is still a person and deserves to be treated like one not to be blocked out by everyone because he isnt what people think is normal. he has never done anything wrong to me and sure we fight but who doesnt i dont care i wouldnt change him for the world and maybe if people stopped treating them so differently they wouldnt be like this towards you.

George said...

I think most of you should really try to veer away from this page because most of you seem to be highly geared to being manipulated into a victim mentality and a high level of weakness. Psychology should be offered when necessary, but not as a belief system... that is why outside of America (and not even so much here anymore) it is just not respected as it is not tough enough of a mentality to withstand real life. Takes some people years/decades/lifetimes to figure this out and it is sad. Life's tough, let's just all deal with it as decent people together, the best we can, stop making excuses for ourselves. Victim mentality and this highly fragile "Sociopath" diagnosis seems REALLY weird and dangerous to the supposed perpetrator ND victim.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is stay strong and remove the cancer from your lives. I am a surviver of a very twisted 3 year relationship to what I now know to be a sociopath. I didn't know what I was up against until his mother forwarded me to this webpage. They will never change, they will just become more of who they really are and find new ways to lie to you. I'm not going to go on forever about the sick details of my past relationship, but just know that there is hope. I come from a very loving family, educated, successful career, etc., However this monster made me feel that I was unworthy of good things. My happiness relied upon his happiness. When he was going through a manic state we were on cloud 9, but when he fell into depression he made me pay. The first step to my recovery was to get off the emotional roller coaster and recognize my self worth and realize that you deserved more. More than what he could ever offer me. Then I had to completely remove the cancer from my life. It is now 1.5 years later and I have started over. Throughout the healing process he has reached out several times and it was hard to stay strong, but i knew that I had to if I ever wanted to get out alive. I now look back and feel sorry for him and sorry for the future women that he will prey on. Best of luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

Hi. There is actually a difference between a sociopath and a psychopath. A sociopath doesn't do extreme behavior such as killing or raping. A psychopath does. Sometimes the terms get used enterchangeably.

Anonymous said...

To the person that said this page is horrible and you don't care that your friend is a sociopath...maybe you are not close enough so that you haven't been affected. I dated a man that had sociopathic traits. That man did every thing to me short of raping, killing, or stealing from me. But he did everything else to me. He lied ALL the time, cheated on me, threw other women in my face, used me, tried to control me, manipulated me, harassed me when I tried to get away from him, and was cruel to me beyond belief. I was living a nightmare because of him...a liternal nightmare. This person is correct that people should stay away from sociopaths. That man tried to completely destroy me. He psychologically abused me. He emotionally abused me and went on with a wink and a smile to his next victim. He even used his autistic son in his lies. He was scum and stil is.

Anonymous said...

Blogger, you speak of sociopaths as though they are a disease, that must be wiped from the face of the earth. While your points on identifying a sociopath were good, and well thought. I assume you yourself have had past experience with a sociopath, not a very good one I might add. But, sociopaths, like all people, are all different. No two are alike, and to stereotype them into being such horrible human beings is revolting.

Anonymous said...

My son is 48 years old. He has all the signs of being a sociopath. He has destroyed every life that has the misfortune to love or like him. He lies when the truth would serve him better. He lives in the now only. He will not except blame, it is always someone else fault. My son has finally just caused me and my husband some very bad finical problems. He worked his wicked cons. Once again we fell for it! I new he had problems but tonight I got online and looked up sociopaths. He has all the signs and in extreme forms. I just kept praying for him to change. He does indeed change to fit the situation. it has taken the last two weeks for me to see how truly evil he is. He has no remorse for the pain he causes.