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Thursday, July 31, 2014

How sociopaths excuse their sociopathy

Sociopaths never seen their sociopathy as a disadvantage or a weakness. They often don't even see it as a moral failing. They simply see themselves as superior. And there are certain classic, distinctively sociopathic ways they talk about themselves, all of which put their own actions and character in a good light. If you've ever known any sociopaths, these lines -- or slight variants -- may sound familiar.

This first set of justifications are only yellow flags, the kind of things which might also be uttered by garden variety narcissists.

On their tendency to fly off the handle:

"Hey -- I get angry because I care." (Implying he cares about the organization or cause, when in fact he only cares about himself.)
"I'm passionate about my work." (Translation: I have no self-control.)

On their impulsive natures:

"What's wrong with a little spontaneity in your life?"
"I don't want to be a stick-in-the-mud like Sam."
"Sometimes you have to just go with your gut."

On their grandiose sense of self-worth:

"Do you know who I am?" (Have you never heard of my greatness?)
'I'm the last guy in the world you want to mess with." (True enough.)
"This place would collapse without me." (In fact, the place would probably do better.)

On their low threshold of boredom:

"I like action, I like to stir things up a little, see what happens." (Translation: I like to upset people just because it amuses me.)
"I'm an adrenaline junkie."

On their manipulativeness:

"I'm a leader. I know how to get people to do things."
"Don't worry about that guy, I can handle him."
"I got her wrapped around my finger."
"They all think I'm a god." (When this is plainly not the case)

The statements from here on tend to be red flags.

On their dishonesty:

"I just wanted you to be happy, so I told you what you wanted to hear."
"Hey, the bosses want profits, this is what I have to do."
"If they're dumb enough to believe me, that's what they deserve."
"One man's truth is another man's fiction, it's all perspective."
"Okay, so I lied. So what?" (Said in an angry, challenging manner.)
(They also like to tell you what others say about you behind your back -- even if it's not true.)

On their bullying:

"I'm a take no prisoners kind of guy." (Spoken with great pride.)
 "I know I can be a little obnoxious." (When the actual behavior is far worse.)
"I hate that guy!" (For no good reason, about multiple people.)

On their disloyalty:

"Hey, it's a dog eat dog world out there." (Because people like him make it that way.)
"Guy woulda done the same to me, believe me."
"Someone needed to teach that guy a lesson."
"I believe in doing it to the other guy before he does it to you." (Even if the other guy had no intention of doing so.)
"It's time for a change. We can't have a guy like that in charge." (I should be in charge.)
"If he thinks I'm going to put up with that shit, he's crazy." (Regarding some reasonable request.)

On their criminality:

"Hey, I got three hungry mouths to feed."(So I have to rip these people off.)
"There are two kinds of people in this world -- sheep, and wolves." (As if he had no choice but to be one or the other.)
"I know I've made a few mistakes in the past, but they don't define who I am."
"That was the old me. I'm a new person now." (Somehow they always seem to think you'll believe them when they tell you they got a personality transplant.)

On their lack of shame or embarrassment:

"Why should I feel bad? That motherfucker had it coming."
"No point in dwelling on the past."
"What's done is done, no point in worrying about it now."
"I just did what everybody else wanted to do." (Said with a shrug.)
(Or, they may just change the subject.)


Anonymous said...

I've heard:

You made me lie! (uumm no... you lie consistently when it will help you)

No one fucks with me! (true because if they do, the socio will destroy them)

and all I've done for you! you're inconsiderate! (when the socio screams at you daily, accuses you of things that they do)

do you think you're indispensable! (when the sociopath is)

This could be narcissism but it's close to sociopathy.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Good ones. Yes, those ring a bell.

And yes, sociopaths (or narcissists) will always accuse you of whatever they're guilty of.

And yes, narcissism and sociopathy overlap (all sociopaths are narcissists but not all narcissists are sociopaths).

Anonymous said...


just fyi

you gotta funny kid john.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you, I'm very familiar with Kuklinski, have watched that entire TV special on him (you can see it on Youtube now). The Hoffa story was new to me though. I'd never heard it before, though I'm not sure I'd take the word of a sociopath about it. I think we'll never know for sure about Hoffa though.

Thank you re: my son too.

Anonymous said...

Check out any Kevin Spacey interview on youtube for a good example of a sociopath.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Is he one? He's certainly a great actor. This is besides the point, I guess, but I have seen that Youtube video of him where he is on that show Actor's Studio (?) and does all those imitations of other actors, all of which are remarkably convincing.

Marie Curie said...

My (limited) understanding of psychology is that many people do in fact lie - but I suppose the difference w/sociopaths is that they don't any sense of shame/guilt regarding their lying whatsoever that the rest of us might. They're perfectly happy to show their face and lie to you (and to have the opportunity to brag about how they "pulled the wool over that one's eyes?")

John Craig said...

Marie --
Yes, all of us lie, but we nonsociopaths mostly engage in "little white lies" or lies that we feel we have to say if our backs are against the wall somehow. Sociopaths will just lie about anything, anytime, and will do so in such a forthright manner (meaning, they'll look you straight in the eye and have no catch in their voice, etc) that those who are not acquainted with them will likely believe them.

Also, sociopaths engage in "sport lying," which is what you're referring to, lying for the sake of lying, so they can enjoy the feeling of being "smarter" than you since they've fooled you. Also, sociopaths are much more likely to lie in order to "burnish their resumes," to get momentary credit or even glory based on falsehoods. Only a sociopath can enjoy basking in someone else's admiration for something he did not do.

Marie Curie said...

I once had the "Don't you know who I am" conversation (followed by a screaming rant - fortunately on the phone so not as "in your face") - but I think the person was just a garden-variety narcissist.

It does seem like it's a complicated diagnosis to make, and one that you'd need considerable time to determine with any accuracy (before labeling someone as such?) For example - there may have been a sociopathic neighbor who lived above James Garner (and urinated on Mr. Garner's balcony when he didn't get offered a competing role). Oh, said man was also a wife beater/cheater, but maybe I've said too much? I'm sure that Mr. Garner took it in stride with style and maturity, as he seemed to w/most things.

When you start realizing that you have been duped, you do want to understand why (to make sure it doesn't happen ever again!)

Oh, and I did chose to post as Marie Curie to remind you that women are not necessarily mushy-headed - however, we can unfortunately be duped just as easily as you were.

John Craig said...

Marie --
Yes, much better to get that rant (or any rant, for that matter) over the phone than in person.

You're right, it does take time to figure someone out, although when you get more experience they get easier to sniff out.

I never said that all women are mushy-headed, only that a certain variety of mush-headedness (an excess of maternal instinct, if you will, which drowns out all common sense) does seem to be a province of females. That said, two of the smartest people I've ever known (my sister and daughter) have been female, and I would never attribute stupidity to an entire gender.

And you, like your namesake, do sound very smart.

(There -- was that pc enough for you?)

As far as comparing me to that female, yes, i was duped. But the person I was duped by was not a convicted murderer (that would have excited my suspicions just a little). And had someone taken me aside while I was with her and explained to me what sociopathy was and how she exhibited it -- as I did with that hybristophiliac -- I think I would have seen the light, and not insisted on my sociopath's honesty.

That said, yes, I was still incredibly stupid.