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bluefish Donating Member (166 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-26-06 11:29 AM
Original message
Sociopaths - anyone have any ideas on how to deal with them?
Edited on Fri May-26-06 11:51 AM by bluefish
Edit: found an easier to read page with breaks,I found this useful link where you can see the pattern of behaviors:


Glib and superficial

Sociopaths are often witty and articulate. They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming.

Typically, sociopaths attempt to appear experts in sociology, psychiatry, medicine, psychology, philosophy, poetry, literature, art or law. A signpost to this trait is often a smooth lack of concern at being found out that they are not.

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Egocentric and grandiose

Sociopaths have a narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their self-worth and importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of entitlement. They see themselves as the center of the universe, as superior beings who are justified in living according to their own rules.

Sociopaths are seldom embarrassed about their legal, financial or personal problems. Rather, they see them as temporary setbacks, the results of bad luck, unfaithful friends or an unfair and incompetent system.

Sociopaths feel that their abilities will enable them to become anything they want to be. Given the right circumstancesopportunity, luck, willing victimstheir grandiosity can pay off spectacularly. For example, the sociopathic entrepreneur "thinks big," but it's usually with someone else's money.

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Lack of remorse or guilt

Sociopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the devastating effects their actions have on others. Often they are completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they have no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have caused, and that there is no reason for them to be concerned.

Sociopaths' lack of remorse or guilt is associated with a remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior and to shrug off personal responsibility for actions that cause shock and disappointment to family, friends, associates and others who have played by the rules. Usually they have handy excuses for their behavior, and in some cases they deny that it happened at all.

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Lack of empathy

The feelings of other people are of no concern to sociopaths. Sociopaths view people as little more than objects to be used for their own gratification. The weak and the vulnerablewhom they mock, rather than pityare favorite targets.

Sociopaths display a general lack of empathy. They are indifferent to the rights and suffering of family members and strangers alike. If they do maintain ties with their spouses or children it is only because they see their family members as possessions, much like their stereos or automobiles.

Because of their inability to appreciate the feelings of others, some sociopaths are capable of behavior that normal people find not only horrific but baffling. For example, they can torture and mutilate their victims with about the same sense of concern that we feel when we carve a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

However, except in movies and books, very few sociopaths commit crimes of this sort. Their callousness typically emerges in less dramatic, though still devastating, ways: parasitically bleeding other people of their possessions, savings and dignity; aggressively doing and taking what they want; shamefully neglecting the physical and emotional welfare of their families; engaging in an unending series of casual, impersonal and trivial sexual relationships; and so forth.

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Deceitful and manipulative

Lying, deceiving and manipulation are natural talents for sociopaths. Given their glibness and the facility with which they lie, it is not surprising that sociopaths successfully cheat, bilk, defraud, con and manipulate people and have not the slightest compunction about doing so. They are often forthright in describing themselves as con men, hustlers or fraud artists. Their statements often reveal their belief that the world is made up of "givers and takers," predators and prey, and that it would be very foolish not to exploit the weaknesses of others.

Some of their operations are elaborate and well thought out, whereas others are quite simple: stringing along several women at the same time, or convincing family members and friends that money is needed "to bail me out of a jam." Whatever the scheme, it is carried off in a cool, self-assured, brazen manner.

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Shallow emotions

Sociopaths seem to suffer a kind of emotional poverty that limits the range and depth of their feelings. While at times they appear cold and unemotional, they are prone to dramatic, shallow and short-lived displays of feeling. Careful observers are left with the impression that they are play-acting and that little is going on below the surface.

Laboratory experiments using biomedical recorders have shown that sociopaths lack the physiological responses normally associated with fear. The significance of this finding is that, for most people, the fear produced by threats of pain or punishment is an unpleasant emotion and a powerful motivator of behavior. Not so with sociopaths; they merrily plunge on, perhaps knowing what might happen but not really caring.

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Sociopaths are unlikely to spend much time weighing the pros and cons of a course of action or considering the possible consequences. "I did it because I felt like it," is a common response.

More than displays of temper, impulsive acts often result from an aim that plays a central role in most of the psychopath's behavior: to achieve immediate satisfaction, pleasure or relief. So, family members, employers and co-workers typically find themselves standing around asking themselves what happenedjobs are quit, relationships broken off, plans changed, houses ransacked, people hurt, often for what appears to be little more than a whim.

Sociopaths tend to live day-to-day and to change their plans frequently. They give little serious thought to the future and worry about it even less.

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Poor behavior controls

In sociopaths, inhibitory controls are weak, and the slightest provocation is sufficient to overcome them. As a result, sociopaths are short-tempered or hot-headed and tend to respond to frustration, failure, discipline and criticism with sudden violence, threats and verbal abuse. They take offense easily and become angry and aggressive over trivialities, and often in a context that appears inappropriate to others. But their outbursts, extreme as they may be, are generally short-lived, and they quickly resume acting as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

Although sociopaths have a "hair trigger" and readily initiate aggressive displays, their ensuing behavior is not out of control. On the contrary, when sociopaths "blow their stack" it is as if they are having a temper tantrum; they know exactly what they are doing. Their aggressive displays are "cold;" they lack the intense emotional arousal experienced by others when they lose their temper.

It's not unusual for sociopaths to inflict serious physical or emotional damage on others, sometimes routinely, and yet refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem controlling their tempers. In most cases, they see their aggressive displays as natural responses to provocation.

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Need for excitement

Sociopaths have an ongoing and excessive need for excitementthey long to live in the fast lane or "on the edge," where the action is. In many cases the action involves breaking the rules.

Some sociopaths use a wide variety of drugs as part of their general search for something new and exciting, and they often move from place to place and job to job searching for a fresh buzz. Many sociopaths describe "doing crime" for excitement or thrills.

The flip side of this yearning for excitement is an inability to tolerate routine or monotony. Sociopaths are easily bored. You are not likely to find them engaged in occupations or activities that are dull, repetitive or that require intense concentration over long periods.

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Lack of responsibility

Obligations and commitments mean nothing to sociopaths. Their good intentions"I'll never cheat on you again"are promises written on the wind.

Truly horrendous credit histories, for example, reveal the lightly taken debt, the shrugged-off loan, the empty pledge to contribute to a child's support. The irresponsibility and unreliability of sociopaths extend to every part of their lives. Their performance on the job is erratic, with frequent absences, misuse of company resources, violations of company policy, and general untrustworthiness. They do not honor formal or implied commitments to people, organizations or principles.

Indifference to the welfare of childrentheir own as well as those of a man or woman they happen to be living with at the timeis a common theme among sociopaths. Sociopaths see children as an inconvenience. Typically, they leave children on their own for extended periods or in the care of unreliable sitters.

Sociopaths are frequently successful in talking their way out of trouble"I've learned my lesson;" "You have my word that it won't happen again;" "It was simply a big misunderstanding;" "Trust me." They are almost as successful in convincing the criminal justice system of their good intentions and their trustworthiness. Although they frequently manage to obtain probation, a suspended sentence or early release from prison, they simply ignore the conditions imposed by the courts.

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Early behavior problems

Most sociopaths begin to exhibit serious behavioral problems at an early age. These might include persistent lying, cheating, theft, fire setting, truancy, class disruption, substance abuse, vandalism, violence, bullying, running away and precocious sexuality. Because many children exhibit some of these behaviors at one time or another, especially children raised in violent neighborhoods or in disrupted or abusive families, it is important to emphasize that the sociopath's history of such behaviors is more extensive and serious than that of most others, even when compared with those of siblings and friends raised in similar settings.

Early cruelty to animals is usually a sign of serious emotional or behavioral problems. Cruelty to other childrenincluding siblingsis often part of the young sociopath's inability to experience the sort of empathy that checks normal people's impulses to inflict pain, even when enraged.

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Adult antisocial behavior

Sociopaths consider the rules and expectations of society inconvenient and unreasonable, impediments to their inclinations and wishes. They make their own rules, both as children and as adults.

Many of the antisocial acts of sociopaths lead to criminal convictions. Even within prison populations sociopaths stand out, largely because their antisocial and illegal activities are more varied and frequent than are those of other criminals.

Not all sociopaths end up in jail. Many of the things they do escape detection or prosecution, or are on the "shady side of the law." For them, antisocial behavior may consist of phony stock promotions, questionable business and professional practices, spouse or child abuse, and so forth. Many others do things that, although not illegal, are unethical, immoral or harmful to others: philandering, cheating on a spouse, financial or emotional neglect of family members, irresponsible use of company resources or funds, to name but a few. The problem with behaviors of this sort is that they are difficult to document and evaluate without the active cooperation of family, friends, acquaintances and business associates.

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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-26-06 09:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. ...
Edited on Fri May-26-06 09:40 PM by Random_Australian

:cry: :cry: :cry: Reading that list was painful. It is difficult not to hate myself for wanting to do that, not that I ever will.

I refuse to do any of that. I won't do it. I refuse.

For me, I know what I want to be, and a sociopath is not it.

So, what is the context of the question? Have you met one that you want to deal with?

Edit: Added the question.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 01:49 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Medical Students Disease
RA - I take it that you think that you fix the Dx criteria for sociopathy? Not to undercut you in any fashion, but just keep in mind that you shouldn't diagnose yourself. A good diagnosis can only really be given by someone trained in what to look for. A good example is Medical Students Disease. It's not really a disease at all, but often times, 1st year Med students would read about all these interesting disorders and illnesses and think "That sounds like me!" or "Do I have that?".

While it may be true, it's a very tricky business. Many of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM are certainly more objective and specific than they were in previous iterations of the DSM (e.g. II and III), but there is still a need for a trained clinical mind in the diagnostic process.

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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 03:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. I am careful of that effect- I take care not to read about mental illness,
except things like anorexa, bulimia and addictions, I refuse to believe I am one or conform to the label, but it is so hard for me not to do those things sometimes. That is why the list was painful; I don't read about it, and then seeing a list of all those things is rather nasty - I didn't read the entire thing list, in honesty.

I see that particular part of me as merely the incapability to feel emotion. It's just hard to not do those things sometimes, it takes willpower and energy and I hate how much time it takes up. (No, I am not talking about just wanting to hurt someone or jump under a bus or whatever, it isn't just ignorance of the fact that everyone gets those)

One last thing - I don't believe I fix the DSM criteria, for the simple reason that I do not know the DSM criteria, I in fact refuse to read it. I also avoid reading DSM about autism, anxiety, and some others because yes, I do get the old 1st year med effect pretty easy.

A second one last thing - I have spent enormous amounts of time making myself as normal as I can. It was once way off normal, which certainly made life difficult. Which is why I hate it, there are just a few things left now. I'm actually rather proud right now - I miss someone. I thought that was an upside of not seeing them. Emotions are difficult things, but not impossible. It just gets so isolating sometimes. I do not want to want to manipulate others, which I can see how to do and which I know how to do, and I know that sometimes I want to but I just won't let myself.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 08:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. To clarify the situation:
- In the past, though I have managed to reduce this significantly by the present, I have
A) At times felt no emotion but the basics;
B) Both known how to and desired to manipulate those around me;
C) Felt nothing when I knew that others were bieng hurt;

That is why the mentioned post said "sometimes, I fear I am one"

I have not:
a) Read the DSM or any other manual or list of clinical signs of sociopathy and tried to put those attributes on myself; and
b) I do not believe that I would qualify under DSM-IV for sociopathy, however if I had not taken action some few years ago then there would be the definite possibility that I would now; and
c) I have never acted on {-(C)} (This is not to clarify, but is something I wanted to put in so I am not judged likely to commit such acts, in fact when I knew I would I withdrew, which made for a very, very lonely few years).

Just so's you know.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-17-06 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
21. And the final explanation of all this:
Here is me sometime later!

1) I don't particularly care what the name is of what is wrong with me.

2) You see here me experimenting with emotions as part of an attempt to keep systems in control (the systems themselves are things that give me emotions, I have had extreme difficulty in feeling anything).

3) Experiment showed emotions are too unstable for me to use as motivation. I chose instead certain set boundaries enclosed by something that induces stress until behaviour is once again inside those boundaries.

4) I'm still having problems with feeling emotions. Well, I can feel them now. It took me more effort than I would care to admit, but I can.

5) The lack of emotions was why I feared sociopathy. :( It makes doing so many of the things they talk about so EASY. They're right there. I can get so much stuff if I just manipulate a little - but I won't. I won't. Musn't allow oneself. Musn't. As you can see, this stress thing works pretty well!

6) So that problem set is over. The one I am working on now is reacting properly to these emotions. The other day I was eating, and almost choked myself from not thinking about what I was doing, and not reacting to the pain and feelings of illness (from eating too much). I'm working on it. The problem seems to be that since I have done so many test-runs on emotions, I have become accustomed to them not having any real world significance. :(
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bluefish Donating Member (166 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. Thanks for the link
I did not know there was another thread.

Context: I know two sociopaths. I am curious as to how many people come into conatct with them and how they keep their sanity.

There is an excellent book, I need to read, it was recommeneded.

"The Sociopath Nextdoor" by Marth Stout. Her premise, one in 25 Americans are sociopaths!
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shanti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-17-06 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #9
20. cross paths?
i was married to one - briefly, thank god. that was a painful awakening. :(
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 03:52 AM
Response to Original message
3. Speaking from a clinical perspective
There are a variety of options such as psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, medication, addiction counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling, etc. At the extreme, imprisonment may be necessary for the protection of society.

Few individuals seek medical attention specifically for antisocial personality disorder, or ASP. Antisocials who seek care do so for other problems such as marital discord, alcohol or drug abuse or suicidal thoughts. Family members or the courts may send some people with ASP to a mental health counselor for evaluation. Antisocials often have poor insight and may reject the diagnosis or deny their symptoms.


Cognitive therapy
Cognitive therapy -- first developed to help patients with depression -- has recently been applied to ASP. The therapist should set guidelines for the patient's involvement, including regular attendance, active participation and completion of any necessary work outside of office visits. The patient who submits to therapy only to avoid a jail term is not intent on improving. Therapy must be more than a means by which the antisocial tries to elude the consequences of his behavior. The cognitive therapy's major goal is to help the patient understand how he creates his own problems and how his distorted perceptions prevent him from seeing himself the way others view him.


No medications are routinely used or specifically approved for ASP treatment. Several drugs, however, have been shown to reduce aggression -- a common problem for many antisocials.

The best-documented medication is lithium carbonate, which has been found to reduce anger, threatening behavior and combativeness among prisoners. More recently, the drug was shown to reduce behaviors such as bullying, fighting and temper outbursts in aggressive children.


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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 04:32 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. The downside of lithium...
it has an extremely low therapeutic index (which is the ratio of the lethal dose in 50% of the population to the effective dose in 50% of the population). In other words, it's very toxic and very easy to OD on it.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 04:43 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Lithium is indeed a tricky medication
much like Clozaril. However for some people, who haven't responded to other drugs and therapies, properly supervised use of these medications may prove beneficial.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 04:59 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Definitely.
Lithium has proven to be very efficacious for certain individuals and certain classes of disorders (such as bipolar mood disorder). It's been around for somewhere around the order of 100 years, and we still have no friggen clue how it works.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. We have no clue how many meds work
Look at the profiles of countless medications. You'll see "The exact mechanism of action is not known.", such as in this profile for lowly acetaminophen (Tylenol/Paracetamol). We don't know how they work, but we know they do.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-27-06 11:34 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Funny, ain't it?
And not in the "ha ha" fashion, either.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 01:56 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. In fact, the main operation of big pharma is to find some chemical that
does something, work out what is different about it, remove that to test, and then try countless combinations of the bit that works with all the different groups attached.

Hit and miss, that is for sure.

(In truth, they change a lot more than the attachments, they have to try varying the shape and the positions and the orientations and the folding too, but Pharma has the money!)

All with no idea of what it will actually do, but you can usually tell if something is going to be psychoactive (telling if something is NOT going to be psychoactive is a whole other matter), but what effect that will have on the mind? "Let's try it and find out!" is the attitude.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 02:57 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. There's only one way to found out... a drug affects people, unfortunately.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 04:19 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. So they do lots of rat testing first, for general properties & toxicity,
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 04:28 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Well, then...
they generally do Phase I clinical trials - to test for safty. Then on to phase II and phase III for effectiveness and tolerability. But yeah, that finding throws a wrench in the whole works. If those studies were all methodologically sound (i.e. double-blind, mutli-site, placebo-controlled, etc.), then there does seem to be something fishy in denmark.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics...
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Pharaoh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
16. Bush is a sociopath!
How to deal with them?

Send them to the hague!!
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. I disagree.
(About the sociopathy not the hague)
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-28-06 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. I myself,never ever
pity a sociopath.NEVER,I extend them NO compassion or tolerance if they act up.I do not treat them like other non-sociopathic people.

I basically keep clear, stone rigid boundaries with them I don't mince words,and I will enforce my boundaries and give them no excuses,second chances, or trust whatsoever EVER. If they insist on pushing me,they are warned to stop,than dead to me.If they don't like that and get violent in response than I deal with that in as as needed basis to make them stop,I don't care they made thier choices So I will make the consequences for them than.I have no pity on them,no tolerance,and when they act like an asshole,there is no kindness or denial about it,I will tear them up.I find after you rip off thier little 'appropriate' mask and expose thier sick power games they will implode or slink away and look for better more easy to dupe 'prey'.I hate sociopaths and I know it's controversial but I don't think they have souls,they have either chosen to be evil or are born that way,I don't care. I don't bother to ask what do they feel or think,because I don't care about sociopaths'welfarte'anyumore,they do not DESERVE to be considered.. They are humanities biggest spiritual/social disease in a human suit hurting every person they encounter..We'd all be better off if they were all dead or thier souless condition controlled or repaired. But sad thing is the effects of sociopathy can enchant it;s victims.So the victims will not be honest and look at the patters of behavior that are causing them pain and WHO is cauising it. One has to see the dynamics of a dysfuctional family to see how powerful the denial and enchantment is at protecting this sociopath causing so mush strife for his own sick jollies.There comes a time when people HAVE to realize sociopaths really do choose to be as they are and they choose it because they like being that way.Why? Who cares. They are a problem for everyone but thier own kind..Sociopaths are basically empty shells ,devoid of soul of emotion the very essential part that makes a human,a human being, so they abuse because they are bored.
And that's not my problem,until they make themselves my problem,after that I have no tolerance,pity or trust for these pieces of shit.

A book that can help.. THe Sociopath Next door..
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bluefish Donating Member (166 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-29-06 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Thank you
I really need to read the book. Your advice will not go unheeded...
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