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Thursday, November 27, 2014

To anyone who's ever been hoodwinked by a sociopath:

What you should take away from the experience is this: that you're a decent person. You're probably not a saint, but you're a far, far better human being than the sociopath who took advantage of you.

Most people instinctively believe that other people think and feel pretty much as they do. And someone like you, if you've never experienced a sociopath before, assumes that everyone else pretty much thinks and feels the way you do. So you never suspect that anybody could be as dishonest, disloyal, and vicious as the sociopath who fooled you.

Sociopaths know that other sociopaths will instinctively see through them, and therefore don't make good marks. So they gravitate towards nice, innocent people. Ergo, if you were taken unawares by one, it's actually testament to your good character.

If you get taken a second time, well, that may be proof of stupidity as well; but we all get one pass.

Just remember this: you, unlike the sociopath, had at least one parent who loved you.

You, unlike the sociopath, will not leave a trail of bitterness in your wake.

You, unlike the sociopath, can have long term friendships.

You, unlike the sociopath, have an emotional repertoire which extends beyond hatred, fury, spite, and occasional glee.

And you, unlike the sociopath, can enjoy relative peace of mind.


Anonymous said...

Have read this? Empaths are natural targets of the sociopaths.

I think empaths are also often the "the truth teller" and it makes sense the sociopath would want to get rid of this person,or make the empath appear crazy.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
Just took a look. Not sure of the difference between empaths and apathy, though the author does have a point. Also not sure that 40% of the population are "truth tellers." I think everybody can be swayed by sociopaths when they're unfamiliar with their methods.

Sociopaths definitely don't like people who tell the truth about them, though.

Lucian Lafayette said...

John, that is very good advice. A sociopath will never know peace in their life.

Dr. Martha Stout published the Sociopath Next Door several years ago. This book posited the idea that sociopathic behaviour is much more prevalent in society than we once thought. While it rarely rises to the level of a Ted Bundy or Charley Manson, she maintains that a startlingly high (I want to say 15% but don't hold me to that) fraction of the population could qualify as sociopaths. If it is truly that high, you need to be aware of how to deal with these types in almost every aspect of your life.

John Craig said...

Luke --
Thank you.

Yes, sociopathy is far more prevalent among the "law-abiding" than most think, and is rife in places like Wall Street, Hollywood, and Washington DC. These sociopaths specialize in obeying the letter of the law while avoiding its spirit.

Traditionally experts have said that 2-3% of the population is sociopathic; I think it's higher, something like 4%. There is a much higher percentage who are narcissistic, but that's a less extreme syndrome.

Joe said...

Yes, I believe this is a true statement, "Sociopaths definitely don't like people who tell the truth about them, though." How about the statement that was along the lines that a person taken advantage of (or hurt) by a sociopath can at least feel good about themselves knowing that they at least had one parent that loved them? What if that sociopath is your sibling? It happens a lot...

John Craig said...

Joe --
Good point. I was being too simplistic (although it's generally true, as most psychologists say that sociopaths become that way mostly because they didn't form a bond with another human being -- usually the mother -- within the first year of life).

Anonymous said...

psychopaths have good peace-of-mind, though...they (I might say "we") think that everything they do is great, and that their crappy band sounds better than Elvis, and that somehow when vicissitudes arise they will find the three magic beans in their pocket-litter (characteristically possessed by the fundamental heroes of all authentic fairy-tales, commercials and jukebox songs)

John Craig said...

Anon --
Sociopaths are narcissistic, and sometimes they float around on a cloud of egotism, but that's not quite the same as having peace of mind. See:

Joe said...

Hmmm...yes, it all makes sense now.

Alter Ego said...

John, are you aware of Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz who passed away recently? I've been wondering for a while if he's a sociopath. Here's an excerpt from a review of the documentary "Surfwise" that's about him and his family (a fascinating flick BTW):

"Crammed into their tiny space, the children watched and listened as their parents noisily made love every single night (not a great thing for the kids’ own later sex lives). Driven--and sometimes abused--by their ultra-controlling, narcissistic dad, they became excellent surfers but were ill-prepared for adult life when finally, in their 20s, some of them began to leave 'home.'"

Here's a link to his obituary in NYT:

Would love to hear your thoughts after you watch the movie . . .

John Craig said...

Alter Ego --
Just read the obit, and he doesn't strike me as a sociopath. I haven't seen the documentary, but usually in an obit of that length there are at least a couple of hints if the deceased was a sociopath, and I didn't see any (other than the yellow flag of multiple wives). And I saw two hints that he wasn't. The first were his panic attacks; generally sociopaths don't suffer from those types of neuroses. And secondly was that he gave u his career as a doctor to surf; generally sociopaths are always striving for higher status positions and titles, not purposely going in the opposite direction. Again, I haven't reviewed his life comprehensively, but from the little I've seen, I'd say the answer to your question is no.

Alter Ego said...

Thanks for your thoughts, John. Perhaps Paskowitz was a garden-variety narcissist (and more than a litle crazy) but not necessarily a sociopath. Please do view the documentary and share your thoughts after you've done so. . . .

John Craig said...

Alter Ego --
Sure. If I see it (no promises) I'll let you know what I think.

Anonymous said...


Have a look at the tedx talk by philip zambardo.

The guy strikes me as a sociopath , if not a psychopath

John Craig said...

Craig --
I read the Wiki biography and am listening to his TED talk right now. I remember hearing about those Stanford experiments way back when. Certainly anyone who sets up such an experiment and is attracted to the study of prisoners and sadism is under suspicion of being a sociopath. And the fact that he has spent a good part of his career trying to prove that "good" people can become bad, and "bad" people can become good would seem likely to be the work of a man who wants to prove that he's not really any worse than anyone else. But, there was nothing else about him in the Wiki bio or that I've seen in his speech that makes me think that he's necessarily a sociopath. So I'm going to withhold judgment for now.