how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

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how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:09 am

http://www.youmeworks.com/sociopaths.html

common everyday sociopaths

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 feelings of affection and empathy 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 the result is that most sociopaths go undetected.

Because they go undetected, 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 (or she) 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 brains. 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., 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 naturally care about others.

If you hurt someone you love, the guilt and remorse would be even worse 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.

SO HOW COMMON ARE THEY?

Some researchers say 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's a continuum. So how sociopathic does someone have to be before you call him a sociopath? That's a tough question and it's 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 I strongly recommend: 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's 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 SPOT A SOCIOPATH

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

1. Do you often feel used by the person?

2. Have you often felt that he (or she, because women can be sociopaths too) 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. She wrote: "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 of our purposes 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 and purpose in our lives. 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. If they are in business, it's becoming rich and defeating competitors. If it's sibling rivalry, it's defeating the sibling. If it's a contest, the goal is to dominate. If a sociopath is the envious sort, winning could be simply making the other lose or fail or be frustrated or embarrassed.

A sociopath's goal is to win. And he (or she) is willing to do anything at all to win.

Sociopaths don't have as much to think about as normal people, so they can be very clever and conniving. Sociopaths aren't 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 in the list 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 and interest us intensely. 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 high level of stimulation. Even negative stimulation — drama, worry, upset, etc. — is more tolerable to a sociopath than boredom.

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 making their inexplicable behavior comprehensible. Some feelings that you and I might find intolerable might not bother a sociopath at all.

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 the therapeutic interactions 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. They don't usually seek therapy, unless there is something to gain from it.

Given all that, there's 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's not your mission. It's not your responsibility. You have your own goals and your own life, and those are your responsibility.

If there are children involved, that complicates the issue, of course. You can read more on that here.

In Hare's book (Without Conscience), 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. Uh, yeah, right. Good luck with 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 whatever information you can get.

I don't recommend you tell anyone you've diagnosed him (or her) 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 possible. 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's 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. Maybe even buy your friend a book. But it's not your mission to save your friend, either. Tell her what you know and if she ignores your warning, that's her problem, not yours. Because you said something, she may figure it out eventually.

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 need it some day.

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 a support group for people who are in a relationship with a sociopath:

LoveFraud.com

SociopathicStyle.com

SafeRelationships.com

Abuse Recovery: For Survivors of a Relationship with a Narcissist or Psychopath

If you have a sociopath in your life, you should take it seriously. For more resources, look in the sidebar of the comments page (click here). Learn what you need to learn, and if you're pretty sure you have correctly identified one, do what needs to be done to protect yourself and your non-sociopathic loved ones. Then get back to your own life. Accomplish your goals. Nurture your relationships. Learn and grow and enjoy yourself.

Here's a summary of Common Everyday 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.

Update:

I've been reading and writing about oxytocin lately (see the article, Peace, Love, and Oxytocin) and came across an interesting experiment. Paul Zak, one of the primary researchers in the field, found that when you give someone a dose of oxytocin, they tend to become more generous.

"Interestingly," wrote Joyce Gramza, "Zak found that oxytocin had no effect on two percent of the participants and that these students fit the personality profile of sociopaths."

Oxytocin is a naturally-produced hormone that creates feelings of closeness, comfort, relaxation, empathy for others, and trust.

As I said before, the estimates given in the research on sociopaths are that one to four percent of the population is sociopathic. Now with this study, coming from an entirely different field, maybe we can be more specific and narrow it down to two percent. One in fifty. If you know more than fifty people, chances are you know a sociopath.


Comments

I've gotten so many comments on this article, I've created a blog just to handle them all. Read the comments and make your own comments here: Sociopath Article Comments.

I had received quite a few comments before I started the comments blog. Here are the original comments: Original Comments Page.


More resources:

As I find new resources, I've been posting them in the left sidebar of the comments page. If you know of other support groups for people who are dealing with (or have dealt with) sociopaths, please post them on the comments page, and I will add the resources to the sidebar. Thank you.
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:22 am

warning flags that you are dealing with a sociopath:

Adept liar.
Brilliantly evasive.
History of inability to form meaningful relationships.
Inability to take responsibility for behavior.
Superficially charming.
Secretive.
No signs of guilt or responsibility for behavior.
See self as victim.
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:36 am

http://toogoodtobereal.blogspot.com/200 ... opath.html

Dr. Martha Stout, in her book 'The Sociopath Next Door', discusses the techniques of the sociopath - what she refers to as 'the tools of the trade'. The first technique she talks about is charm. Dr. Stout believes it is "a primary characteristic of sociopathy. The intense charm of people who have no conscience, a kind of inexplicable charisma, has been observed and commented on by countless victims, and by researchers who attempt to catalog the diagnostic signs of sociopathy. It is a potent characteristic". Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak talk about the role of charm during the interview process in their latest book "Snakes in Suits - When Psychopaths Go To Work". According to the book, "one of the most effective skills psychopaths use to get the trust of people is their ability to charm them. Some psychopaths lay the charm on too thick, coming across as glib, superficial, and unconvincing. Hower, the truly talented ones have raised their ability to charm people to that of an art, priding themselves on their ability to present a fictional self to others that is convincing, taken at face value, and difficult to penetrate". One must always keep in mind that the charm, like manipulation, can be very subtle.
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:04 am

"...Sociopaths fail to fulfill their promises or commitment made with romantic partners. They usually have a string of broken relationships and/or failed marriages due to their inability to feel true love and sustain intimate relationships. They never really form emotional attachments and therefore lack any sense of obligation. It may appear that there is an attachment but it isn't real. According to Dr. Martha Stout in her book 'The Sociopath Next Door', sociopaths will marry but never for love. Their relationships allow them to appear normal. Sociopaths can "know the words but not the music". They learn to appear emotional and romantic by imitating others' behavior.

Sociopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the devastating effects their actions have on others including wives, children, family and friends. They do not feel remorse, guilt or shame. They are not able to care about the pain and suffering experienced by others due to their complete lack of empathy which is a prerequisite for love. Sociopaths are always takers and never givers in spite of appearances and the illusion they create...."
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:57 am

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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:09 pm

NO CONTACT RULESPosted on 02/17/11, 03:18 pm
Please find below no contact rules I was given by another abuse survivors group. They DO work. You must stick to them PERMANENTLY - not just "try them and see if they work." This is a permanent thing.

Keep them pinned up in a room where you will see them throughout the day, read them frequently to remind you of them

~~~~~~~~~
Tips to Help You Adhere to No Contact
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. To keep my sanity and end this relationship, I must maintain NO CONTACT.

2. No contact includes every single form of contact with him/her..

2a. This also includes... do NOT ask friends/family about him/her and do NOT let friends/family tell you about him/her.

3. I will not email him/her. I will block them.

4. I will not call him/her. I will block them if possible or change my number.

5. I will not send him/her letters, cards for any occasion or notes of any kind. Any flowers or packages they send to me will be refused or marked "delivery refused" and put back into the mail, unopened.

6. I will not text message, two way, fax or page him/her. I will block them.

7. If he/she calls me, I will hang up immediately, or not answer the phone at all.

8. If he/she leaves a voice mail or answering machine messages, I will delete it without listening to it. (Anything he/she says is done to draw me back into his/her web of insanity.)

9. If he/she emails me, I will delete the message without reading it or answering it. I will not check his/her Facebook or MySpace and I will block them.

10. If he/she mails me a card, letter or note of any kind, I will throw it into the garbage can without opening it or reading it or return it unopened and mark it DELIVERY REFUSED

11. If he/she two-ways me, text messages or pages me, I will delete the message or the phone number and not listen to the message or return his/her call.

12. If I am ever tempted to do anything listed from 1-11, I will get to this board immediately and talk about it.

OR replace a hopeful reunion fantasy with a Clear Memory of a time that he/she insulted me, manipulated me, belittled me, made me cry, used my children, friends or family to demean me, embarrassed me in front of co-workers, family or friends or used sex or love as a way to intentionally hurt me.

13. If I feel like I am about to reach for the phone to call him/her, write, email, page, fax or text message him/her, I will count to ten and clearly ask myself silently, why am I doing this? what do I think will happen?

14. If friends and family are not supportive of my efforts to remove myself from this relationship, I will not discuss my personal life with them and will ask them sternly not to offer their opinions. My decisions about this are my own. This is My Battle.

15. If I find that the urge to speak to him/her or see him/her has overwhelmed me and I slip off the course, I promise to be kind to myself and patient with the situation, then get right back on to No Contact.

16. I promise to be good to myself, forgive myself and allow myself to move on and not dwell on this for ever.

17. I will stop creating chaos in my mind & environment. I will stop listening to everyone else who doesn't 'get it' or looking for the answer I want to hear, rather than the answer I NEED to hear.

18. I will accept reality - The facts.

19. I will accept others for who they REALLY are. (not what I'd like them to be)

20. My hands are off others responsibilities: I will tend to my own, focus on me.

21. I will refuse to believe any of his/her lies about how wonderful his/her life is now. Basing the truth on the past, I will assume him/her to be lying.

22. I will distrust every time he/she has a "change of heart"

23. I will journal all my positive and negative feelings.

24. I must accept my own responsibility in this relationship.

25. I will strive to find what it was that he/she invoked in me that created MY behavior.

26. We must love ourselves.

27. Take time off, at least one year, before beginning a new relationship.

28. Find out what we need in a relationship, and go after that in a person that is worthy and has substance, morals, and ethics.

Accept nothing less for yourself
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Fri May 06, 2011 11:19 pm

http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-a-Sociopathic-Friend

There is another article about how to identify and help sociopaths. This article is about dealing with a sociopathic friend, namely how to get rid of them. Imagine you have been best friends with someone for years. But at the end of the day, he always left you with the awkward feeling you had done some kind of wrong. If you experience this, it is time to analyze your friend's behaviour. He may be a sociopath, that pretends to be your friend, but really wants to hurt you.

Almost 1 in 25 people are sociopaths (1-4% of the population). They are not serial killers by definition, but more likely to be manipulating, pathological liars who get close with people in order to hurt them. When confronted, they will make you feel sorry for them. This is the ultimate victory for a sociopath. However, some people can mistaken the difference between a sociopath and someone who just has very little experience with social contact.

Here's how to rid yourself of these troublesome friends.

Steps

1
Deal with initial denial. Having been friends for so long, it will be hard to accept there is something wrong with your friend. You did so much together. To you the friendship seemed so honest and true. But if you feel your friend has also done you a lot of wrongs, for which you usually forgave him because you felt sorry, then it is time to realize you are being abused! Your friend is a sociopath. This is the game he has been playing from the start, laughing himself to sleep every night.
2
Deal with the anger that follows. Once you realize you have been victimised by a sociopath, you will feel like getting even. But be warned: the sociopath has a lifetime of experience in screwing people over. You don't. Your chances of getting even are very small and risky. It's better to get over your anger. Sociopaths are mentally ill and need help. Try to think of it like that: you have a chance to help somebody.
3
Break the friendship. As a matter of fact, breaking friendships with sociopaths is easy. To them, the friendship has been practically meaningless. It was only special to you. You need to realize a sociopath does not care about you, or your friendship. It has been nothing but a game to him/her. After breaking contact and not meeting up once or twice, you will notice the sociopath has immediately forgotten about you. No matter how long your 'friendship' had existed. This is hard to believe for normal people, but that's why we call sociopaths sociopaths!
4
Rescue your other friends, who also befriended the sociopath. You have escaped from a mentally ill person's tricks. But you may know other people still involved in a friendship with this sociopath. You must rescue them. Remember the following though: do not talk negatively about your sociopathic friend. Instead, calmly explain examples of his sociopathic behaviour. Talk about it in a positive way, namely about how to help the poor guy. Portray him as a victim of circumstances, and make very clear you seek to help him. This is necessary because negative talk would make you highly unpopular amongst your other friends, and drive them deeper into the arms of the sociopath. Avoid that mistake at all cost!
5
Move on with your other friends.
6
Tell them to leave you alone. Be assertive, be firm, be direct, be consistent. Should work with anyone you want to leave you alone. If you are unable to make your own decisions and stick to them, anyone can manipulate you with ease.

Warnings

Do not try to change your sociopath friend by yourself. Not even educated specialists (psychiatrists) can do that.
Avoid your sociopath friend at all times. You cannot change him, because he is mentally ill.
Sociopathy is considered a permanent mental illness. It is incurable. Avoidance is the only help for you.
A sociopath never has clouded vision from emotions; unless you are a master lie detector, have complete emotional control, and are able to resist expert manipulation it is best to, again I emphasize, stay away. They are dangerous, they are psychotic. If they were your friend, if you could not see through them first, you do not have the means to help them.
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Sat May 21, 2011 7:16 am

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_te ... ey_are_one

How do you tell a sociopath that they are one?


Unless a sociopath is professionally diagnosed, you cannot tell that person that he/she is a sociopath. And the chances of one going to get a diagnosis are virtually nil. And DO NOT tell others that you think he/she is a sociopath in case it gets back to the person. Since a sociopath has no conscience, and since only self matters to a sociopath, he/she can be vindictive and even litigious when it comes to being told about his/her condition. There is no therapy to "fix" this condition - just protect yourself and those around you. Get the person out of your life as cleanly and quickly as possible. Read "How to deal with common everyday sociopaths" at www.youmeworks.com/sociopaths.html. Excellent article, plain language.
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:59 am

be sure to read a new article here:

http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_socio ... uence.html

How to spot a sociopath - 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_socio ... z2bb9Mw8gn
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Re: how to deal with common everyday sociopaths

Post by Stevyn » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:11 pm

good article on how to keep the "zero contact" going

http://www.lovefraud.com/2014/08/28/str ... o-contact/
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