The subtlety of sociopaths

From gaslighting – sociopath’s manipulation. at, this hypothetical discussion might seem slight, but imagine the same conversation with many different details coming at you from many different angles, day in and day out.  The aim (fully conscious in my opinion) is to pull the target into the morass, destabilize their footing, leave them in confusion.

John and Mary are a couple and live together, Mary does not smoke cigarettes, John does. Mary has nothing against John’s smoking in the flat, but one day she gets ill, has some breathing problems and the cigarette smoke starts to irritate her. On Monday, Mary, because of her illness, asks John not to smoke in the flat but to go outside. John agrees and when smoking, he goes outside. Friday evening, John, sitting next to Mary in the living room, lights up his cigarette, the argument starts.

M: John, I asked you not to smoke here, I do not feel good with that.
J: (already with a pitched voice) What? You didn’t say that you do not want me to smoke.
M: Yes, On Monday I asked you not to do that.
J:  (almost shouting) No, I do not remember this discussion, but you told me yesterday – you were to buy the toiled paper and you did not do that. (gaslighting starts to work now).
M: Yes, I already did that – check the closet, but It was three days ago.
J: No, it was yesterday, and there is still no paper (still repeating that there is none, even if Mary assures him there is the paper)
M: No, It was on Tuesday, remember – it was when my friend came, she went to the toilet and could not find the paper – then you told me to go and buy.
J: (Mary shows the paper) That friend of yours is stupid, and I am sure it was yesterday… (cigarettes or paper?, no, there was nothing about smoking. Go on Johny – tell Mary how stupid is her friend…)

The story is made up, a little absurd and peculiar, but this is more or less how being in a relation with a sociopath looks like, and how pointless the arguments are.

Mary should feel guilty, John did nothing wrong… anyway he must stay in control. Depending on the situation – the aggressor ends up with a triumph on his face or just looks angry and pity. If he does not succeed he will be behaving like offended – he was the victim here and that was Mary who was his aggressor.

Thanks to many articles and experience, I learned how to recognize when the gaslighting is taking place and what to do when it happens – it is not easy… sometimes it is hard to feel that moment and you get into the argument – pointless argument in most cases. Those quarrels, in many cases start when the victim is trying to explain some difficult matter or defend against the aggressor and the aggressor feels the moment to put his sociopathic skills into work.

Once being a victim, after the realization moment, one should calm down and use the anti-sociopath formulas to get out of the argument:
– I will not quarrel with you, this is pointless.
– You make no sense, I will not continue this discussion.
– Please, stop, you make no sense, I will not talk about that any more now.


7 thoughts on “The subtlety of sociopaths

  1. Gaslighters’ study – part next

    Some more practical examples of using gaslighting against some experienced warrior

    This time the aggressor was demasked in an instant, another previous case was reminded, which then, I had thought, had been just my mistake.

    Previous case:
    I came back from some party, which I had spend alone (without him). In the morning, as usual, I am browsing through my “important” stuff, do I have my wallet, phone, keys, etc… ( I always put those in the same places, call it my habit). I could not find my wallet even if I searched through all the house – so I called my bank service to block my credit card and my IDs, cause I had thought I lost them (thankfully I could not block my ID through the phone).

    After that, being very nervous, I went to the living room to smoke a cigarette – and guess what – there is my wallet on the sofa! “Yeah, I had not looked there, but it was there!” I thought. Still, in my head there was this feeling that something is not right…. YEAH! Just ordered another card and the life went back to normal…

    This case:
    Evening, we spend some nice time with his friend and came back home, it is 10pm. I had a little “lady’s out bag” to have my “important stuff” with me.

    We went home – I put my stuff in “my places” (I have this habit anyway not to loose things, and I put the keys to my “everyday backpack”), The empty “little bag” went to “it’s place”. Then, with my backpack, I was to go to get some beer for the evening, in the mean time, I went to the toilet, then went to the shop.

    I did the shopping and then I realized that I do not have the keys with me…. “WTF?” So I just went home and try the “ring ring home phone” – noone is answering – after some time some ppl opened the door and I got to my floor. I “rang rang” and he opened. When I asked why he had not answer the “flat phone” he said, he was in the toiled. The keys were on the living room’s table, and he started being very aggressive and shouting. I told him that I know what is on, how it happened that the keys are on the table if there were in my bag (???) – he just (still shouting) went to another room.

    This evening also I “caught him” on another situation – I gave him (isn’t that peculiar) a (gas)lighter, then when I wanted it back he said, he do not have it, after reminding some facts, he said that he did not remember….

    heh…. my imagination?


  2. Fortunately, the only sociopaths I have met have been in work places. It is very uncomfortable to work in an environment with even one sociopath who manages to create battles and cover up their tracks using empaths’ guilt to skirt their misdeeds.


    • my ex boss is a sociopath – the job was great, but when being “attacked” all the time, even if my work was done well, there was no way to have a nice day, i had many breathing problems because of that. Fortune in my misfortune – as the computer was my device – my dominant palm got broken that time and i could not do my tasks – if it did not go that way, i do know now if i would be able to end that s**t then.


  3. A.R. Collier is correct. Avoiding argument makes no difference. After my mother died, my father married a psychopath. I was not allowed to respond verbally to anything. I was desperate to avoid confrontation, my days spent either at school or at work (she gave her own daughter an allowance, but not me, because “your father doesn’t believe in giving money to a child, and I don’t want to interfere with a man’s upbringing of his own child), but she would send my father to “correct/punish” me, always regarding some vague transgression, like “being inconsiderate” or “disrespectful” or “cheeky.” If I protested, “but when? How?” or even failed to keep my facial expression as neutral as possible, it would lead to a furious outburst from my father “are you implying that my wife is lying to me?” If confronted with a false accusation, and I tried to offer the proof of my innocence, my father would respond: “I’m not interested to hear what you have to say.” She convinced the entire family that my father was a helpless victim of a bad daughter. She convinced my father to keep it secret that I had won two bursaries for the university, and long after I had left home, the family continued to persecute me with her false accusations.


    • woo haaa! quite a story… just try to move out and live some nice life:) family problems are the worst as I think, my mum had some traits also, I managed to find some formulas to deal with the problem. She was asking way too much questons. Now, on the phone, I just say “bye” and disconnect.

      Does your mum’s mum (grandma) still lives?


  4. But whether Mary continues the argument or not makes no real difference to John, whose only real point is to smoke while sitting beside Mary in the flat and refusing to feel guilty about it. If Mary continues the argument, John continues the gaslighting. Once Mary gives up, John wins and smokes in the flat guilt-free. Either way, he is going to smoke in the flat – either way, he is not going to feel guilty about it. Mary’s basic choices are not whether or not to argue, but rather, whether or not to live with John’s smoking in the flat or to put him and his cigarettes out of the apartment and change the locks on the door. The second response will win the argument for Mary, for now, as John will undoubtedly agree that it’s better to smoke outside and still have a bed to sleep in afterwards. But if Mary doesn’t change the locks on the door and refuse any further contact with John, the argument will continue to rear its ugly head time and time again until John either wins his right to smoke in the flat or finds another place to live. He will never agree to feel guilty about it.

    – buster


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