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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why you should never envy a sociopath

There are times we are enraged by sociopaths who get away with murder, even literally. At such times, people often grumble, "Well, he'll have to live with himself," as if his conscience will somehow bother him.

In fact, that's no consolation.

Having to live with themselves is never a problem for sociopaths, since they feel no guilt. Did it bother Ted Bundy that he killed all those girls? Of course not. If it had, he would have stopped doing it.

However, there are plenty of good reasons why we should never envy sociopaths.

Sociopaths never have peace of mind: serenity is beyond their grasp. They will alway have something gnawing at them. They exult in their victories, and feel glee at others' misfortunes, but gloating and schadenfreude are by their natures fleeting satisfactions.

Sociopaths can never quietly appreciate any sort of art, or beauty, unless they are exulting in their possession of it. They need to be out and about, actively screwing others over. They are like sharks, which will die if they do not keep moving. Put yourself in Ted Bundy's shoes: what must your everyday frame of mind be if you regularly feel a compulsion to kill complete strangers?

Sociopaths will never feel love. They are never overwhelmed by heartfelt adoration of another human being, even their own children. (They may feign it, but that is not the same thing.) At the same time, they can never receive enough love or attention; that need is so great they will concoct a lie just to be able to bask in someone's temporary admiration.

As a matter of fact, sociopaths can never get enough of anything. You or I might feel happy after a windfall; with them, it only whets an already ravenous appetite.

Sociopaths may fly high, but there's a good chance they're heading for a steep fall. And that fall is almost always self-induced, whether through carelessness, arrogance, or overconfidence. Icarus is a metaphor for sociopathy.

While sociopaths often spark negative emotions, they themselves are constantly filled with envy, resentment, and hatred. Think of the one person you've hated most in your life. Now think of the one time you were so consumed with rage against him all you could do was fantasize about destroying him. Now, imagine spending your entire life in that moment.

Rage is not the most unpleasant of emotions; paralyzing fear and depression are worse. But neither is it a pleasant emotion. And when your emotional repertoire goes from jealousy to fury to spite to hatred to occasional glee, you are not only unpleasant company for others, you are for yourself as well.

A certain type of sociopath never smiles. Ponder for a moment what that means.

So be happy you're not a sociopath, since they will never experience anything remotely approaching peace of mind. Dislike of them is justified; envy is not.

14 comments:

jova said...

you make some good observations.
It always seemed to me that sociopaths are missing out on what it means to be human. I can't imagine having no empathy for others, it would make my life less meaningful and relationships would be less satisfying.

In addition to these downsides , sociopaths are much more likely to end up in prison. I assume sociopaths with 100 IQ and below (which should be 50% of the sociopaths) would have a difficult time fitting into society , since they may lack the intelligence to hide their pathology.

John Craig said...

Jova --
Thank you. I agree, that's a good way to put it: they are missing out on what it means to be human.

And you're right, they are far more likely to wind up in prison. Sociopaths are something like 3% of the overall population, and they are estimated to be between 25 and 33% of the prison population. (And, obviously, higher on Death Row.)

And yes, the smarter they are, the better at hiding their sociopathy. You and I have met some of the high end ones on Wall Street, the lower IQ ones do things like carjack and rape and are thus much more likely to wind up in jail.

Anonymous said...

I once taught at a Christian school and one of my student's, her father was on death row. This man lured and killed a young woman (setting up a fake job interview with the young person) - he tried to sexually assault her, killing her when she fought back. He is also suspected of having killed his ex-wife (who supposedly drowned in a bathtub). Years and years later, when this student had reached adulthood, I looked up information about her father (doing this online), finding a psychiatric diagnosis for him - he had antisocial personality disorder (aka a sociopath/psychopath). When I learned more about this man, he had already been executed.

-birdie

Quartermain said...

Have you heard of Thomas Sheridan?

He also worked in the financial sector and encountered many sociopaths. He also wrote on psychopathy and has a blog.

http://thomassheridanofficialblog.blogspot.ie/

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, I think if the percentage of sociopaths in the general prison population is 25 to 33%, the percentage on Death Row has to be in the 66 to 75% range.

What was that student like, or did you not get to know her well enough to be able to tell? She couldn't have been completely normal.

John Craig said...

Allan --
I just took a look, thanks. Hadn't heard of him before. Very interesting, and he certainly knows his stuff. I found this page to be the most informative one:

http://thomassheridanarts.com/articles.php?cat_id=1

One of the most interesting things he talked about was how many of the people on the "sociopath victims recovery" forums were in fact themselves worthless, non-empathetic vultures. The implication was that some of them may have been sociopaths themselves.

Anonymous said...

When I taught at the school, all I knew about her father was that he had killed a young woman and was in prison (my online research let me discover that he had been on death row). His daughter was very tall and very big (looking a lot like her dad, noting this after I saw his prison photo). She was raised by her paternal grandparents (her dad's mother and his stepfather). Apparently, his own father died in a tragic way when he was a baby, (finding this out via an online newspaper article). My student was friendly but, immature for her age (fourth grade).

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Ah, fourth grade, too early to tell. My guess is that there's a decent chance your student was a potential sociopath herself. Her mother was completely missing from the picture, and she was raised by the same people who raised her sociopathic father. Not exactly a prescription for a well-adjusted, decent young lady.

Anonymous said...

This girl came from an upstanding family in the community. Hopefully, she turned out okay. I read that she tried to get her father off of death row, hoping that he could get life instead. That didn't happen. Some of the material that I read (online this afternoon, refreshing my memory) described her father as a predator, going after prey (females), wanting to act out his fantasies.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
How could she have come from an upstanding family when her father was on Death Row and her mother was nowhere to be found? Maybe each had some relatives who were successful, but yikes…..

Anonymous said...

"A certain type of sociopath never smiles."
I've always thought that sociopaths would smile more than most people, since they are incapable of being sad. Also, it would be hard for one who never smiled to blend in. BTK is the only sociopath I can think of that fits that description. Are there others that you know of?

John Craig said...

Anon --
There are a lot of sociopaths who smile (fake smiles), and there are even more who beam with self-pleasure. But I've also known a couple who simply never smile, and I've found it to be a dead giveaway that something is amiss. Of the three guys I'm thinking of, two were all dominant alpha types, and simply never smiled. The third was capable only of howls of glee when someone else did something stupid or got hurt. Certainly none of them ever flashed a nice-to-see-you type of smile.

Anonymous said...

Do sociopaths stalk? Or are they too emotionally unattached to others to do so. I mean, if people mean so little to sociopaths, would they bother to stalk? I'm trying to figure out if the person stalking me is a sociopath or not.

John Craig said...

Anon --
That's a very good question. The answer is a qualified yes. The reason it's qualified is because not all sociopaths seal, and not all stalkers are sociopaths (some are just crazy and delusionary and think their affections are being returned when they're not). And many sociopaths will just cut their losses and move on to their next victim when they see that they've been "found out" by their most recent one.

But sociopaths also crave control, and sometimes when they're broken up with, they will stalk their ex, simply because they want to maintain control. A good example of a sociopathic stalker would be OJ Simpson. He followed his ex-wife around, and when he saw her with another man, he snapped and killed them both.

One important distinction here: don't think that because sociopaths don't "care for" or "love" others that this means they will give up control Stalking isn't about actually loving someone else, it's about being obsessed with and controlling someone else.

So, sorry I can't help you with your dilemma, you'll have to figure that out on your own. Good luck with getting rid of him though.