I’ve read that up to 10% of the people in this world could be diagnosed as sociopaths. I’ve also read that a much higher percentage than that could be found amongst US politicians. The simple fact is that we all have crossed paths with a sociopath and the odds are that we will continue to encounter more of them in our lives. I am not a psychologist. Nor do I have a degree in any field associated with personality disorders. I haven’t clinically dealt with dozens of sociopaths. One such person happens to be very close to me, or at least was very close to me. I’ve been mitigating damage and picking up the pieces of broken lives left behind by this person for the last 25 years.
This article is written from the experiences that I’ve accumulated in my life. You could say that I’m writing this article to get something very heavy off my chest. This article is not meant to be a rant or an effort to “get even” with the person in my life that has delivered so much grief to so many people. I’ve come to realize that I can’t get “my sociopath” to understand shame or guilt or responsibility for their actions. “My sociopath” may even read this blog once in awhile so I will not be outing this person with any specific facts or names. From here on, I will be referring to my sociopath as “Pat”.
I’m sharing this with all of you since it’s my belief that after a long term, large scale disaster sociopathy will become an issue that many people will have to deal with. Sociopathy must be understood now so it can be identified and dealt with appropriately. Sociopathy, by it’s very definition, means an abnormal ability to put the sociopath’s desires and their needs ahead of everybody and everything else. You’ll find many mental health websites and books that have diagnostic checklists with specific traits that are indicators that someone may have the disorder but there is one particular trait that YOU must understand: The sociopath does not have an internal “voice” to tell them that their actions will hurt or negatively impact other people. Which means they take survival to another level.
Some may call it a conscience or an internal compass but whatever it’s called, Pat doesn’t have it. Pat may show feelings of remorse once in a great while but I suspect that Pat’s true remorse is in the fact that Pat’s plans or lies had been discovered and instead of showing anger a false showing of remorse was displayed.
The sociopath can be very goal oriented. They set their sights on an object or other gratification and will scheme ways to achieve their goal. If you can be used as a tool to get that gratification you will be an ally, if you are an obstacle you will either be avoided or destroyed. Over the years, Pat has orbited in and out of my daily life. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was only being used during those times when Pat became closer to me. When Pat would realize that others and myself were no longer allies, Pat would find another group of people to use.
Sociopaths are very good at lying. Sociopaths rely on lying to achieve their gratification. They will also use lies to deflect attention from themselves. Pat can look a person right in the eye and lie even though Pat is aware, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they know it’s a lie. Pat often tells lies to keep groups of allies apart from each other so they would not communicate. Confusion surrounded Pat constantly for decades. Pat kept things confused on purpose. Confusion is now something that I look for when Pat comes around because, sadly, I know that it means Pat has been lying.
Along the same note, sociopaths are very good at portraying themselves as something that they are not. I believe that they do this to attract victims. At the very least, they must consider this tactic as a way to earn some quick respect and trust. Pat does this. I regularly have to explain to unknowing victims that Pat does not have the career or decorated history that Pat had led them to believe. Pat has taken some drastic measures to create that illusion.
I could go on and on about Pat but I think that I’ve explained enough detail to show that a sociopath is not someone that can be trusted around you and your family, especially in times of crisis. You or someone you know may have the desire to help a sociopath “recover”. Here’s something to remember: YOU CAN’T. The very nature of the disorder prevents it. A sociopath does not understand that they need to change because they are hurting people. A sociopath can be a pathological liar, have several addictions and/or have many troubled marriages and relationships. Each of these problems may be treated as a single problem in a regular person’s life but when combined together they become simply the symptoms of sociopathy. There is nothing that another human being can do to counsel a sociopath. Pat has been in counseling several times. Pat became very gifted at figuring out what a therapist or counselor wanted to hear or Pat would just figure out a way to end the counseling altogether.
So how do we use this information?
1) I have finally come to the conclusion that my household is done with allowing Pat into “the circle of trust” (I know, I stole that from DeNiro). Pat will stay at a distance that is comfortable and the erratic details of Pat’s life are no longer a concern. This was a decision that took a very long time to reach. This decision was easy only because we are emotionally exhausted with Pat. I can totally understand other people’s desires to try to help Pat but I have come to the realization that only God can help a sociopath.
2) Any future interactions with Pat will be emotionless and factual. Sociopaths seem to have a need to extract emotion from the people around them. I have noticed recently that Pat will just move on without drama if other people involved show no emotion.
3) Once I figured out what the #*$! was going on with Pat, it has become very easy to spot other sociopaths in our life. In fact, it is simply amazing how many probable sociopaths we’ve encountered. Confusion and trouble surround them like a cloud that won’t go away. I’m not referring to teenagers, we’ve all had troubles when we were young. I’m talking about adults. These are the people to watch for and keep out of your life if at all possible. At least know who they are and figure a way to lessen the negative impact that they are sure to have on you and yours.
4) Always remember that sociopaths can be dangerous. A sociopath can ruin your life or the life of someone you love. Pat is not beyond becoming physical and Pat has no problem with the reckless use of money. Sociopaths can be very creative and surprisingly cunning. To keep from becoming a victim, a person needs to identify and think one step ahead of the sociopath.
PS… I found it very helpful to read the book linked below.