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Monday, July 4, 2016

The second wave of sociopathic damage

I occasionally run across people who seem overly suspicious, and too willing to see me as some sort of con man, right from the moment they meet me. Whenever I meet someone like this, I think, aha, they've had some experience with a sociopath.

People who've been burned are smart to keep their guard up, but it's possible to keep your guard too high, and screen out a lot of non-sociopaths as well. And if you're on the receiving end of their (in your case unjustified) suspicion, it's hard not to be resentful about essentially being accused of being a sociopath yourself.

I exchanged emails recently with someone who had been burned (badly) by a sociopath. She didn't accuse me of being one, but she did wonder aloud what she was doing, after her earlier experience, telling her story to a complete stranger (me).

I responded, "I suppose an incredibly clever sociopath could conceivably write a blog which talked about how to see through sociopaths, just in order to lure in victims. But the odds of that would be awfully slim. And sociopaths generally don't satisfy themselves with quiet pursuits like writing, they want to be out and about actively screwing others over."

"Remember, I could be paranoid about you as well: how do I know you're not a clever sociopath who pretends to have been a victim of a sociopath in order to pull a fast one over on a guy who thinks he knows all about them? Anyway, my guard is up, but it's not that high."

I suggest others do the same: screen out the sociopaths, but don't make your sieve so fine that you weed out a lot of non-sociopaths as well.

One of the tragedies of getting involved with a sociopath is that you have to lose your innocence, and you're never quite as trusting again.


Shaun F said...

John - I agree with your assessment of the odds of a sociopath writing said blog. But I’ll go you one further and say “The odds are slim to none, and slim just left town.” Having dealt with two certifiable sociopaths, and some pretty serious narcissists, I have developed fairly discreet ways of testing people through questioning and observation - repeatedly (a good vetting process) before building friendship. Given I have friends, this is easy. But a sociopath, in a position of authority in a workplace - it’s like Caligula running Rome.

John Craig said...

Shaun -
Yes, sociopaths in a position of power are nightmares. Unfortunately, they tend to be good at getting into positions of power, since they'll stop at nothing to get there. And they're inevitably abusive once they get there, too. To a sociopath, the whole point of having power is to be able to wield it over others, and make their lives miserable.

Runner Katy said...

I think the mere fact that you are constantly putting yourself down, in writing, means you're not a sociopath, but maybe I'm still too naïve? I definitely question too many people as I get to know them, and feel more comfortable not trusting them for longer than I should, but once they break down my walls, I'll love them for life like I do all other friends.

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
Thanks, though, in all honesty, false modesty is a weapon in the sociopathic arsenal. I don't think I'm constantly putting myself down, but to the extent that I do, it's partly because I feel obliged to do it to offset the fact that I obviously have a lot of confidence -- many would say too much -- in my own opinions. Also, this blog is sort of about honesty, and if I'm not honest about my own weaknesses, that would make me a hypocrite.

You've been burned before, and the only reasonable reaction to that IS to be more suspicious of new people, at least at first. I've never gotten the sense that you're too suspicious, though.

Anonymous said...

After being harmed by a sociopath, most people are definitely leery of new people. I feel that most people are good and decent, but all of us have run into some bad apples in our lifetime. The trick is to recognize them for the jerks that they are and then try and move past them (hopefully healing in the process).


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Sociopaths always give themselves away if you know what to look for, the trick, as you say, is knowing what the signs are.