It's nice to know the rules when playing any game...nicer to know when other players don't play by the rules. Continue reading to gain awareness on the "sociopath" (I refer to them as "no-rulers").
If you don’t know already, there are quite a few people walking about that don’t feel much guilt or shame. WELCOME to the world of the sociopath. Sociopathy falls under the umbrella of "antisocial personality disorder" or ASPD and makes up an astonishing 4% of the population (16% if looking at CEO's and Supervisors). In other words, 1 out of 25 people are unable to feel guilt or shame. Brrr - did you just get a chill? The other 96% of the population have a normal range of empathy and emotion so are able to connect with one another on an emotional level. To the sociopath, this ‘connecting’ idea is as foreign as your idea of you being blind (I’m assuming you’re not blind if you’re reading this). You don’t really understand what it's like to be 'blind' even though we could probably fake it if we had to. It's the same with humans with APD (sociopaths or psychopaths) they don't understand what 'feeling' is like...but can sure fake it when they want to.
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...probably a sociopath. In other words, they've learned to fake it - emotions, that is. Like the magnificent coyote thrives in their ever shrinking natural habitat, the sociopath learns to adapt behaviorally. Just like you would figure out a way to blend into a heavy metal concert by going in bouncing your head up and down to the beat (and occasionally joining a mosh-pit or punching the dude beside you), sociopaths mimic the behaviors of other people in order to blend in.
Oh! And this is important. The difference between sociopaths and psychopaths is merely the sociopaths ability to feel a wee little thread of feeling. Sociopaths can connect a little bit, with family (kids, spouse, parents, siblings) – a little bit. Psychopaths have no feeling of shame or guilt – none – zero – nada. Every psychopath is a sociopath but not the other way around.
Isn’t that fascinating?! Seriously, this should be taught in school. Why? Well, imagine if all you did was play chess. Chess, chess, chess to the point that you’re a master chess player. All of your life, you’ve learned different ways to excel in the game. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone standing on the side reaches over to the opponents black piece and jumps over your castle, taking your queen. “You can’t jump over people in this game”, you say but they CAN because they are allowed (by their lack of conscious) to play the game with a different set of rules. It sure would be good to know that 4% of the world plays by a different set of life (chess) rules, wouldn’t it?
Now that you know that the player is out there, you’d probably be interested in knowing how to spot him or her (yes, women aren’t immune and shame on you for assuming they were). And that’s the issue…they're extremely difficult to spot. Luckily, some Sociopaths have offered insight into their world to the point that we now have more intel. This understanding began with people who were incarcerated (only 20%). Recently, (with the help of online anonymity) higher functioning…those who were smarter and less likely to get caught for their crimes, have opened up about their alternate lives along with the behaviors that come along with a muted sense of right vs wrong.
Curious about someone you know and feel like answering 13 questions? https://www.psychopathfree.com/test/1
Look For these 15 signs:
1. RARELY flustered or at a loss for words; This is a skill that has been honed over years of practicing the art of lying. Even when caught 'red handed' this population will have excuses, reasons and justification that flows easily from their tiny lips. All of this adds up to you believing what they tell you because you think to yourself, "someone lying wouldn't be able to come up with a reason that fast."
2. They're not dumb: This is a characteristic that allows them to adapt and manipulate others. There are, of course, less intelligent sociopaths out there and the higher IQ ones are likely annoyed that they are giving them a bad name by the sociopathic blunderers. A sociopath might say, “a good sociopath doesn’t go to jail, let alone stay in jail.”
3. Lack of empathy: Asking a sociopath questions related to feelings are akin to a asking a therapist questions about calculus. It’s pretty fuzy and in both cases and in brain scans, the same area of the brain will light up in confusion. Go ahead and laugh, it’s funny. They're especially ignorant in their younger years but they learn the right things to say as they get older (have had more time to study you).
4. Secretive: Sociopaths don’t share intimate details unless it’s to manipulate in their behalf. They tell half-truths and the half they tell you will prop up their image. Or, they will utilize 'triangulation' as well, splitting people against the other, making themselves look better while you're non the wiser. They are masters of character assassination. Gossip is their friend and they'll always use it to prop themselves up in your eyes.
5. Charming: This is a skill they develop to attract people into their game so they can excel in life. You'll shake their hand and match their smile and then you'll walk away thinking, "what a great lady" ('or guy' depending on the sociopaths gender). They are clever and funny, always seeming to have the right thing to say. Fun part is - they've said the same lines over and over to hundreds of other people. They fine tune their lines over time figuring out what works and what doesn't work...old sociopaths are the best at it.
6. Sexually deviant: Since they lack guilt, remorse, and (much) emotional attachment, sociopaths tend to have affairs along with having questionable sexual activity (some studies have shown a higher level of testosterone in both male and female sociopaths). Beauty part is - they're so good at lying and avoiding (bad) exposure that the affairs are rarely proved although often suspected. If their secrets do come to light and they are confronted, the sociopath will eventually 'win' when it comes to convincing others that they're not to blame...they may even go as far as to say that they are a good person and they could have done a lot worse - so you should probably thank them.
Fun fact: Sociopaths (male and female) are reported as having higher levels of testosterone which correlates directly to deviant desires (along with aggression and criminality). Remember, the main reason they don't take away your life is because of potential negative consequences. On this tangent, I imagine that the military with the most sociopaths will have an advantage in war - not only would they be immune to feeling bad/nightmares/PTSD, they would also be able to think clearly and calmly in high stress situations because...they lack the emotion of fear. Sometimes my mind wanders but the notion feels valid, nonetheless.
7. Master Manipulators/lying - a lot: Psychological triangulation and splitting are sharp tools utilized by sociopaths. Lies of all shapes come easy to the sociopath…they can even FEEL genuine and look you straight in the eyes while telling you whatever they think you need to hear that will help them win the game. They could rob your house and then convince you that you owe them 8,000 dollars for helping you identify how someone could rob your house.
8. Sensitive to criticism: Here’s a fun one – somehow the sociopath needs admiration of others. It may be that 'looking good' or their ‘image’ is the most important aspect of their lives. They'll lie as easily as they breath in an effort to continue being seen as honorable, creditable, respectable, saintly even.
9. Calculated and patient: A good sociopath is in no hurry and will play the ‘long-con’ like a professional in order to get what they want which may even be to take away what someone else has...depending on their mood at the time - or how many side cons they have going on at the time.
10. Criminal behavior: This is just a gimme in the sociopath world. Why NOT be a criminal as long as you don’t get caught. White collar crime, here they come! Of course, it's not just one type of crime but I imagine that most sociopaths would have less boredom and more esteem when focusing on financially motivated crimes committed by businesses. It's easy to be dishonest if you don't have a conscious.
11. Narcissism: The sociopath will have a STRONG love of self along with a really grandiose image…they think they’re the cat’s meow. Some say that this stems from an overcompensation of having low self-esteem during childhood. Others say that their self awesomeness image stems from a deep seated anger developed at an early age from rejection. Don't feel sad for them, though - remember - your pity is their best tool against you.
12. Entitlement: The sociopath will believe that others owe them. You OWE them. And they’ll carry on and on about the debt, or title, or praise, etc. until they get it with complete belief that they are entitled to it (whatever it may be). Having no guilt or shame could easily come across as confidence which would be a powerful way to get something even when you haven't earned it.
13. Bored: A sociopath gets bored with a life of no/very little emotion (think of eating the same meal everyday for the rest of your life - bleh!). Because of this, they seek out risk – they exhibit high adrenaline behaviors. This tendency plays part in many aspects of their lives including criminality, immorality, fighting, entering conflict easily (legal battles, etc), drug use, etc and can also play out in constant high adrenaline activities.
14. Selfish. Not a team player: Because sociopaths don’t connect, they often will burn relationships readily including partnerships. This antisocial characteristic is a direct result of not being able to connect and doesn’t mesh well with typical workplace environments as a 'worker bee'. Often, you’ll either see sociopaths who are in high levels of management (where they don't have to take orders), have their own businesses (where they very typically engage in fraudulent activities) or have no employment at all (live off of others, inheritance, etc.), criminality, etc.
15. Victim: Sociopaths utilize pity to manipulate you.. If you know someone who never does anything wrong – or who throws accountability out the window – has an excuse for everything – doesn’t do what they say they’ll do – etc. Remember, when you hear something and can insert the 2 words, "poor me" after it, you're listening to a victim. Of course, they're not really the victim - but it's a powerful way to manipulate. Maybe the most powerful and they'll use it relentlessly.
Side note: Victim stance is the #1 thinking error I come across in therapy so not all people who utilize VS are sociopaths.
16. Staring: Sociopaths will stare at you. Creepy, right? Some call it a 'predator stare' because they look at you like you're an object - something to use - much like a predator would. This behavior has been reported as "tantalizing" when the person being stared at is the identified sexual target. Others can sense the danger behind it. As humans, 'staring someone down' indicates a challenge especially if you are the leader of the group. When a sociopath stares at you, humans tend to feel it; it's meant to be an intimidation. This often leads to others having an almost subconscious 'curiosity' for the sociopath which positions the predator well for whatever game they're after. In the animal world, it's a sign of danger. Trust your inner animal.
For fun, try catching the eye of someone across the room and after they notice you, don't look away. It's an odd thing - unless you're a cat. Those things will stare anything down because they are generally evil...laugh, this is meant to bring up your awareness, not to scare the crap out of you. Cats though...
Isn't this fascinating?! Kind of freaky, yes but awareness is necessary in order to climb out of chaos. The sociopath feeds off of chaos. Why? because confusion is a handy tool for manipulating (sensing a theme here?...). For socio and psychopaths, chess pieces don't have specific rules on the way they move. For this shameless population, chess pieces can be moved anywhere they want, in order to get what they want. They'll use pawns to move like a queen. Kings to move like a queen and if that doesn't work, they'll blow up your house and blame it on someone else. Remember, they aren’t playing by the same set of ‘consciousness’ rules as the rest of the 96%.
Eventually, after a few years (or many years, God help them) people around the sociopath gain awareness and are able to see the truth and when that happens, the sociopath simply move on to the next ignorant group that may not be so insightful in order to start another game. Or, if they're particularly invested in the place, will hunker down and play nice in hopes that time will forgive them in the eyes of the ones they've wronged. After all, humans have a very short memory and are easily distracted.
Once upon a time, I was in a game with a sociopath. Of course, I didn’t know it and for YEARS I was lost in their game. Years. Ignorance was not bliss. Words won't describe how that time of life felt but I can easily recall the powerful moment of realizing that someone had toyed around with my life and the life of my family (kids included) for a long, long time – why did they do it? Did they simply want what I had? Was it to distract themselves with some form of amusement? Or, was it just because they wanted to see if they could? I don't know. However, I do know that the experience almost broke up a family. Almost - but not quite.
Some people have a belief that what doesn't kill them makes them weaker. I've of the opposite opinion and, looking back, I’m thankful that it happened. I learned a lot about sociopaths and psychopaths but more important, I learned a most significant truth about myself - I discovered that my perceived value and identity - my whole foundation of happiness, even my ultimate goal of having an ETERNAL FAMILY could be stolen away...and I - would - survive.
From that experience came a level of independence that I didn't even know was missing. I experienced true freedom as everything I placed value in vanished, leaving me with nothing but myself to live for. The result; I can do a lot more now. I'm no longer SO AFRAID of losing external parts of what I value which results in living confidently. So, in that regard, thank you Mr. sociopath or psychopath or whatever you are - come think of it, I'm hoping they don't demand payment for wrecking my life investment. Haha, get it? Let me explain; because sociopaths are entitled and lack the ability to empathize with emotional pain, they'll believe that the end result: my awareness and new-found inner strength - was all because of them! Naturally, they'll take credit for me being innately resilient and could argue that I owe THEM. And if I don't pay a lump sum, they'll get to play victim! Brilliant! A win-win for them.
Sincerely though, I imagine a sociopath would be quite pleased to know depth of the chaos and destruction they cause in other peoples lives – they're are fond of thinking they're on someone’s mind. It strokes their ego in the best way. What they are not fond of is…negative exposure. NEGATIVE EXPOSURE. Bad publicity. UNFAVORABLE PERCEPTION - they definitely don't want to be known as the town JERK.
Having a good reputation is the ultimate goal for a psychopaths life-game.
For more info and if you want to take a look at the thoughts of an anonymous, well-known (yes, those two are dichotomous) and very intelligent sociopath, check out their website www.sociopathworld.com Spoiler alert – the sociopath and founder of the website is active LDS (or ‘Mormon’) paying a full 10% of their income to the religion and teaching in Sunday School. See?! It’s fascinating! Especially since I'm also active in the LDS religion and, come to think of it, at it's core the religion teaches compassion and forgiveness - the perfect environment for any psychopath.
Now the question you have to ask yourself is, if you've ever known a sociopath (and you definitely have), how much of your chess game being messed with?
Thanks for reading and make sure to check out and subscribe to "The Jed Said” YouTube channel found on youtube.com/meaningtolive
Till next time - awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC