Thursday, November 8, 2012

Look Out for those Sociopaths

Moving a little away from the travel theme of this blog, here's another Byway Contemplation and Byway Memories post inspired by something I saw on Facebook today. Today on Facebook someone I know posted something on their wall with this link.

Oh, do I know this link. What's in the link? Just a summary profile of the characteristics of the common sociopath. And I will never forget the day I read it.

It was some years ago. I was at work, sitting in my office, freaking out about my personal life. It was dawning on me that I was dating a sociopath.

I had been in the relationship for awhile and crazy things had been happening and I was a mess. But that was the day that it hit me like a ton of bricks and I suddenly realized exactly what I was dealing with. I don't know why I hadn't honed in on it sooner - I suppose because we sometimes live in denial about our relationships. That day I had an epiphany that saved my life.

I frantically searched the term "sociopath" on the internet and read in detail, and with dread, what I was already living. It was the wake up call, the slap in the face, the reality check that I needed to help me end that relationship.

I never considered myself in physical danger. The person I dated wasn't violent. I know he loved and adored me. He was just a pathological liar of unbelievable extremes. Oh these weren't your garden variety white lies people tell each other all the time. These were whoppers. The kind that remind you of the characters from bad 20/20 exposes where they report on some guy who had his spouse, family, friends fooled and lied all the way to jail or being murdered. His whole life was a lie. He spun a web of deceit. Everything he told me was a lie. He was delusional. He lied to impress me, about things I didn't care about and never gave any indication that I cared about. When he got caught he spun more and more lies. The lengths he went to in order to maintain the illusion were mind boggling. He lied to make himself seem better than he really was, and that made it really very sad. After some distance and dealing with the anger I held over the betrayals, I could allow myself to feel sad for him. Because he was a sad, sad little man.

That experience hurt. It gave me some serious trust issues that I've learned to manage over the years. So many years have passed that I can think back on that period and laugh about it. Some of my experiences are actually quite entertaining, publishable even. I've toyed around with writing about it, going so far as starting to write up one particularly hilarious story. Some of my friends know about it. It really is one of the funniest things that has happened to me - where I caught him red-handed in a series of ridiculous lies.

Sometimes I can't believe what happened to me. That is the thing about sociopaths. They are very smart and very devious. The person I knew was highly intelligent, professional, attractive. You would not know he was a sociopath until you became involved with him and got entangled in his lies. If you are just an acquaintance, then the lies don't mean anything and don't hurt you. But if you become involved with a person like that, then those lies will hurt you.

So I share the link and the list below because I am reminded to do so today. I don't want the opportunity to pass to give a shout out on this matter. I think its good to understand the nature of a sociopath and then be on the look out for them and steer clear. Trust a woman who knows.

The link:

The Profile:

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm
  • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."
  • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
  • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
  • Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
    Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet "gets by" by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
  • Irresponsibility/Unreliability
    Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
  • Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
    Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.
  • Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
    Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
  • Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
    Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

Other Related Qualities:
  1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
  2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
  3. Authoritarian
  4. Secretive
  5. Paranoid
  6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
  7. Conventional appearance
  8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
  9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
  10. Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
  11. Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
  12. Incapable of real human attachment to another
  13. Unable to feel remorse or guilt
  14. Extreme narcissism and grandiose
  15. May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

(The above traits are based on the psychopathy checklists of H. Cleckley and R. Hare.) 

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