I’d like to look at the continuum from imprisoned failed sociopaths to SAPs (socially adept sociopaths). Basically they are all adherents of the credo, ‘you call it cheating, I call it winning.’ The failed sociopaths have problems with the cheating part (i.e., getting caught), the SAPs can be phenomenal at it.
In my opinion across the spectrum they all have characteristics in common. They are all like a child in a candy store. Their wants are as big as their eyes, with the same childhood sense of entitlement. They want everything they see. A low level sociopath will simply reach out and start taking and end up in jail. A SAP will be able to restrain this reaching until safe opportunities present themselves. But the basic desires are identical. There is also a whole panoply of related arrested development characteristics. In my opinion, all sociopaths are in a state of immature sexuality. Essentially they never progress past childhood sex play, orgasms are simply thrown in. Similarly, their personality, reasoning, moral, etc. development are also stunted.
Though they may not choose to do so, all sociopaths in my opinion see nothing intrinsically wrong with seducing a 13 year-old girl neighbor into prostitution, incest, “Dress Grey” raping of a straight or closeted gay buddy (i.e., individuals who would be unlikely to press charges due to the publicity), spreading AIDs with no concern, torturing a child in front of a parent, or a parent in front of a child, viewing others as tissue paper to be used and discarded, etc. I believe this to be true no matter how well educated, well dressed or well spoken a sociopath may be.
What then separates the SAPs from the failed (and caught) sociopaths? I see the situation as being the balancing of two countervailing pressures. One pressure, drive actually, is to reach out, take and dominate. The other pressure is simply the need to get away with it, which has both internal and external aspects. Failed sociopaths lack the internal resources to restrain themselves (apparently, some people, including many professional researchers, consider only these individuals to be true sociopaths — they couldn’t be more wrong). Other sociopaths have the internal resources, but only if the external environment (i.e., the threat of some punishment) necessitates it. The continuum is really a scale of talent at being hypocritical. The advanced SAPs are simply magnificent hypocrites — able to bide their time, be patient, realistically assess their position in the food chain (the concept of the food chain is central to sociopath life stories), restrain their arrogance, desire for dominance and rudeness and wait for opportunities without consequence for indulging their sociopathic wants, etc. Hypocrisy is simply their main lifetool, as swimming is the main lifetool for a fish.
It is always educational, when evaluating a possible sociopath, to note how the individual consistently behaves around those “lower in the food chain” — it can be quite amazing. If a superior is a devotee, sadly they will often believe the sociopath and not their eyes.
Apparently, the current rage in the field is the argument over whether sociopathy is a normal-to-special-trait continuum (similar to tallness) or a present/not present trait (such as blue eyes). It is the latter. The only way that so-called scientists can make the former argument is that they have no idea of what they are talking about. See the story of the five blind men and the elephant. This is quite apparent from the amazing quote from J. Seabrook’s “Suffering Souls, the Search for the Roots of Psychopathy” in The New Yorker, “Unlike most academic psychopathy researchers, Kiehl has spent many hours in the company of his subjects. When he meets colleagues at conferences, he told me, “they always ask, ‘What are they like?’ These are guys who have spent twenty years studying psychopaths and never met one.” http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/10/081110fa_fact_seabrook
The following websites are examples of individuals being driven to share their knowledge, come to grips with their experiences or warn the unwary.
Dealing With Diabolical Danielle Weblog
A “Beware of Poison Ivy” site.
Holy Water Salt
a blog about irradiating evil through “light”
Both a personal experience and general knowledge site.
Charmed, I’m Sure
Seems to be notes of personal experience intended to be used in a documentary.
Questions About the Book
The emotional devastation of falling for an emotionless sociopathic mimic.
A big get together — shared stories, outrages, speculations. The testimonies here may seem unbelievable to the inexperienced or uninitiated but they’re very real. A few quotes below (emphasis added):
I too raised a psychopath, who has murdered once and tried to murder me. I also raised two young men who are fine men. . . .
. . .
This past year when my P son and his cronies were trying to kill me (at least, but probably other members of the family would have been targeted after I was gone and when I fled and they couldn’t find me, they tried to kill my son C) in any case, I WAS FREAKING OUT, TOTALLY INSANE, UNABLE TO THINK OR FUNCTION. . . .
. . .
I understand the pain of realizing (finally) that your child, the child you planned for, gave birth to, nursed and loved is a monster beyond redemption. I understand the emotional and yes, PHYSICAL PAIN, of turning your back on that child (even though they are now an adult) and emotionally burying that child in your heart, as if they were dead, to at least preserve the memories you had of when the child was an infant, a toddler, and a young child that was the shining light of your life. I sort of feel like my child died and his organs were donated, but the MAN who has his organs is a monster, and not my son, any more than it would be if his kidneys or his eyes had been donated instead of his whole body.
The memories of the “morphing” years when he quit being the shining child and became the monstrous adolescent, then murdering man, those were the most difficult years of my life and I held on to toxic hope for 20 years after I should have “let go”—but I guess I thought the letting go was so painful I couldn’t handle it, but I know that the NOT LETTING GO was MORE PAINFUL and became so painful it was LET GO OR DIE. I chose, finally, to let go and live. It was so hard, harder than anything I have ever done.
Unlike Todd, I have my own monster out of my house, but I keep the guns CLOSE because I never know as long as he is alive when he might send another of his friends to try to kill me, for revenge, if no other reason. Both of my other sons and I are armed, or within reach of a gun at all times, day and night
She uses the kids as pawns. She molested her son, he told his therapist (at 4 years old). Drew pictures of her vagina, doesn’t like hair in his mouth, wet the bed, the whole nine yards. She got out of it. We’ve been in custody hearings for a year and a half. The judge feels SORRY FOR HER!!!
I’m with Holywater (10/10 9:53 am) when she says:
“I think once you’ve been around a p you know the difference- they’re not insane, and once the mask slips, or you catch a glimpse, it’s nothing you’ve ever seen before unless of course you’ve known other p’s.
I recently was asked to prove my p was/is unfit for a position, nothing I said/experienced matter…lucky for me I track him- so I proved through concrete evidence “he says one thing, does another”
Recognising a p is not rocket science.”
It’s that “oh, moment” you look for . . . . To decide if someone may be a s/p I at first follow a rough checklist but then I wait for a gestalt type emotional/mental “click” or “oh, moment.” It is only at that point, if the answer is yes, that I can say ‘yes, that person is a s/p.’ And I agree it is not rocket science, anyone with normal emotional intelligence can do it.
I also agree that to communicate with others you have to concentrate on the s/p’s behavior. The “oh, moment” of recognition is not transferable to others. They have to go through their own emotional/mental processes to get there.
The New Yorker writes about researchers’ struggle to study psychopaths
. . . Although the story is comprehensive, one of the points made me think that we at Lovefraud have a better understanding of psychopaths than researchers.
“Unlike most academic psychopathy researchers, Kiehl has spent many hours in the company of his subjects. When he meets colleagues at conferences, he told me, “they always ask, ‘What are they like?’ These are guys who have spent twenty years studying psychopaths and never met one.” . . .
This is scary—many researchers in psychopathy never met one? We should consider ourselves better informed, because we’ve all had extremely close encounters with these predators. And we know exactly how the ones who are not in jail behave.
She Said She Had Breast Cancer—But She Lied
“Suzy Bass had less than a year to live. The Knoxville, Tennessee, high school math teacher was battling stage IV breast cancer, and it had spread to her shoulder and heel. . . . “Everyone just loved her immediately. We could tell her anything.” . . . Webb’s students dedicated their prom fund-raiser to her . . . A week before the big dance, though, the school received a series of troubling phone calls. Bass, they said, was making the whole thing up. . . . A week after getting exposed, Bass pulled down her Facebook account, changed her phone number and disappeared. In her wake, she left a community of angry, bewildered people with many unanswered questions: How did she do it? How could we not have known? And the biggest, most puzzling one of all: Why?”
I first learned of pseudologia fantastica from a Discovery Channel documentary, Why We Lie. The only reference to the documentary I can find is at a business ethics site (they are extremely harmful to the workplace): Why We Lie
Though the word wasn’t used, it was apparent that pseudologues were also sociopaths — guileless manipulative ability, inspiring pity, geniuses at making others feel sorry for them, the truth was of no concern, amoral, etc. Apparently some researchers agree, some don’t — but there’s very little material on pseudologues. Wikipedia entry
From the few (two to be exact) I believe I have known I would say they are definitely sociopathic, but with a twist. Most sociopaths are not impaired at all in terms of reality testing. Pseudologues however don’t seem to realize there is a difference between reality and the stating of it, apparently unaware that reality is actually real. Furthermore, apparently their brains are structurally different. Habitual Liar Brains Look Different On Scans
The ones I knew were extreme sociopaths, they might as well have been emotionless machines that could calculate the proper emotional response incredibly quickly. In acting terms, the reaction was however a beat off, a noticeable delay — but why notice if the sociopath is saying everything you want to hear or has drawn you into their fantasy or has captured your caring nature to take of them.
Latest pseudologue (9/10/10): One more cancer hoax story: Jessica Vega, http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/09/08/jessica-vegas-cancer-hoax/. While the article doesn’t mention pseudologia fantastica or sociopathy directly, it does mention antisocial personality disorder which is a great advance.