4/27/11

Sociopathy and You

Today we're going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: the notion of sociopathy. For those who do not know or confuse the word with what they may have heard on Law and Order or Criminal Minds, sociopathy is not psychopathy, in that sociopaths do not kill people (although those whom have come into contact with sociopaths may feel hurt on the same level a psychopath may inflict). 

Sociopathy is a personality disorder, complex in that it is not a singular idea of being different from a normal person, but possessing a group or cluster of symptoms at the same time. For instance an individual may lack empathy for his or her fellow human beings, unable to connect and understand what others may be feeling or experiencing. And while a sociopath is unable to experience said emotions, they are incredibly skilled in faking them. They wear emotions like a mask over the coldness inside them, superficial and fake, but all the while blending in with their groups, functions and friends because of their uncanny ability to mimic the most basic feelings. Sociopaths are highly manipulative and lie pathologically, stemming from their lack of conscience and remorse for their actions. Moreover sociopaths will generally lack responsibility for their actions and seek excitement impulsively.

Sounds like you would almost be dealing with an alien, an outlier of society that are so rare they're saved for cop dramas and the occasional Hollywood flick. But books like The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout put the numbers into an interesting perspective. Diabetes, a health condition so apparently popular it has its own commercials for testing equipment only affects 8% of the general population (source: American Diabetes Association). In the United States that would mean roughly 26 million people suffer from some form/type of Diabetes. Consider now that in Stouts book as well as other studies conducted, sociopathy is found in 4% of the general population, or one in twenty-five. Again, using the United States for a gauge, that would entail roughly 13 million people living in North America show multiple signs/traits/symptoms of sociopathy, as per the DSM-IV. Think about that the next time you attend a school sporting event, a PTA fundraiser, or shop at the mall.

So now that I have the science-mubo-jumbo out of the way, my reason for today's article: being a sociopath is not all that its cracked up to be. I'm not saying I am a sociopath, but I know beyond reasonable doubt I possess a great number of traits listed by the DSM-IV as told to me by my ex-girlfriend, a number of therapists and a few episodes of CSI. I lie pathologically, I use people for personal gain without regard for their feelings and I'm pretty narcissistic. I often live a parasitic lifestyle, leeching off the benefits of others whether it may be their resources or their money. I constantly groom an image of how I want other people to view me, and it is one of the few things I'll guard more than the secrets "friends" let slip in conversation. And I cannot change. 

Seems sociopathy is so far ingrained in one's psyche its impossible to change. Medication is irrelevant because there is no imbalance, simply a lack of existence for the most basic human characteristics: emotions, conscience and empathy. Talking it out with others serves no purpose, because again there is nothing to gain. You're simply stuck in a body, a bad movie in which you're both the audience and the character on the screen, and no matter how much you yell at the pro(an)tagonist to do something, they cannot hear.

Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight in order to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it? I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others that at last their true nature could not reveal itself;... In every man there is something which to a certain degree prevents him from becoming perfectly transparent to himself; and this may be the case in so high a degree, he may be so inexplicably woven into relationships of life which extend far beyond himself that he almost cannot reveal himself. But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.” - Soren K.

58 comments:

  1. "So deeply ingrained it's impossible to change." I'd like to think that the greatest part of the human condition is its vulnerability to change... but what do I know; my PhD isn't in a subjective science like psychology.

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  2. Great read, I think I'm at a loss of words right now.

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  3. being a sociopath isn't all that bad....i think...

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  4. Anti-Social Personality Disorder; interesting read, i'm learning about this stuff in university at the moment:>

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  5. Very informative and interesting read, thanks

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  6. wow,that was totally messed up bro
    great info,now i can recognize a sociopath when i see one lol

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  7. Interesting post...

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  8. never heard of this disorder before. great read though

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  9. Actually a friend of mine is a sociopath. At first i really thought that he is kinda blessed for being cool in every situation. At all he just cant show his emotions ....

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  10. Just wanted to say that I like the layout you have here, as well as this post. Very interesting point of view.

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  11. as you might have guessed, i found this to be a very interesting read. this raises many questions. with would you actually like to have this?

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  12. I wish I had known this information earlier. I eventually found out and was corrected about it, but being the stupid kid I was, after watching a bunch of those cop shows, I thought I was a sociopath and was worried.

    I didn't know that many people had that though, that's a lot more common than I thought.

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  13. post about me...

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  14. Society (and especially business) rewards sociopathic tendencies. Have fun!

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  15. complex post, but interesting

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  16. the definition of a sociopath makes me worried that i am one. I think i use to have those types of symptoms, more so back in the day than now.

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  17. Informative articles like these help educate the public from what they think are as you said, mental disorders that people think turn you into serial killers. I'm bipolar too, sometimes it's tough to explain, but this does it.

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  18. interesting to read
    Medication is irrelevant? Try weed

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  19. Nice post man, keep it up :D

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  20. Wow, I never knew about this...

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  21. @wolle: He said medication, not evil devil plants that destroy lives and give you aids.

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  22. I'm longing for the next year, when I'll be reading psychology :D

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  23. I know many sociopaths . . . good read. followed

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  24. Long but interesting read

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  25. That's deep stuff more people should read and understand.

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  26. I love how your blog actually has ORIGINAL CONTENT!
    I wish other bloggers would be just like you.

    Check out my blog for original content..don't forget to support me!

    I support you!
    have a cheezburger bro!

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  27. omg that was surprisingly accurate, wait dude..were u spying on me? ^^ nice post

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  28. A person cannot be born with a personality disorder. Humans are born to love and be loved. Personality disorders are acquired through the course of one's life; they are shaped by a combination genetic factors, environmental factors and are triggered by a major stressor. As they are learned, they can be unlearned.

    Sociopathy should not be used as an excuse for one's actions. It is a cause, and one which can be alleviated.

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  29. First time hearing about sociopaths! Thanks for helping me expand my knowledge about this disorder!

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  30. Sociopathy is an excuse for being just an all around shitty individual. I say this as someone who also has a lot of the qualities listed and been called a sociopath several times.

    Basically, just stop finding excuses for being a douche and work at being a better person. Not saying it's easy, but yeah.

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  31. i have such conflicting opinions, one one hand its a legit disorder, and on the otherhand i feel its maybe too broad and overused.

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  32. i'll kick ther asses :D

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  33. Ever watched the movie "Girl Interrupted". It has a sociopath in it, played by Angelina Jolie. Sociopath Agnie is quite a terror!

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  34. Very nice post, interesting stuff.

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  35. hmm now I'm not sure whether im so "sane" or not

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  36. I've been wondering for a long time, is it really a disorder if so many people are affected by it? Can something people are born with be a disorder?

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  37. You know it's funny. I've got a friend that is exactly like this. I never really compared it with sociopathy.. Huh.. The more you know.

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  38. Love the post... really makes you think...

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  39. finally! a good psychology blog

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  40. Sounds like a cop out to me but. Then again they can't care so?

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  41. wow at a loss for words as well. i have some of those traits http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

    kind of alarming to read that

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  42. deep thoughs. cool, love it

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  43. If I might make the recommendation, you might really enjoy the book "Without Conscience" by Robert Hare.

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  44. 4% of any given population! loved the post, following!

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  45. Sociopathic tendencies are requested from the business society. I could not believe that when a friend told me that

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  46. very interesting. I find it can be fun to lie sometime, but i try to keep it relatively harmless.

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  47. whoa, that's such a good read! thanks!

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  48. I worked for one of these people for some time. interesting job.

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  49. interesting post man, i know a few people like this

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  50. It's hard for me to say of I know any Sociopaths. I'm not sure I even believe in Psychology all that much... most of the time it's people just being people. Not to mention that Psychology totally seems retarded to me with entries in the DSM like anti-social disorder or internet-troll disorder. Seriously??

    http://www.bananaconda.net/

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  51. very interesting blog!

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  52. fantastic post man; very informative. im following you for future gems.

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  53. I'm a sociopath babaaahhhhhhhh

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  54. This post had an existential theme. Nice. Love that Kierkegaard quote at the end.

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