To deal with sociopaths effectively, you first need to open your eyes. In The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, two weavers promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are stupid and unfit for their positions.
When the emperor parades before his subjects, all the adults, not wishing to be seen in a negative light, pretend they can see the clothes. The only truthful person is a child who cries “But he isn’t wearing any clothes!”.
You, too, need to see sociopaths as they really are. We are conditioned to keep quiet, which often means turning a blind eye to or putting up with abuse.
The boy in the tale represents those who see the problem behavior for what it is and find the courage of their convictions to make a stand. Sight becomes insight, which turns into action. Awareness is the first step in limiting the negative effects of contact with a sociopath.
Yes. I am a high scoring psychopath, I can recognise others, as well as sociopaths (secondary psychopaths), many other disorders and brain/personality variations. Besides being able to recognise others of a very similar ilk, we are very tuned to working others out. I can spot police, many school teachers, depression, ADHD, mental illnesses, personality flaws, people’s conscious fears, strengths and weaknesses, all sorts of things the average person doesn’t pick up on.
Sociopaths have a profound lack of empathy for the feelings of others.
They lack the internal feedback system by which normal people monitor themselves. (Most people call this “conscience,” which is probably as useful a term as any.) Sociopaths do not have this and don’t feel bad about abusing other people. It’s not that they feel bad and ignore it—they don’t feel it at all.
Sociopaths understand that they are different from normal people and learn to mimic normal behavior. This mimicry has a purpose: It gets the sociopath what he or she wants.
The sociopath hides his or her difference. After letting it show a time or two—and probably being punished by a parent as a result—the sociopath covers up the truth and keeps it covered. But the reason for hiding it is not embarrassment (the sociopath doesn’t feel embarrassment), but because it hinders him from getting what he want.
Since sociopaths have no empathy for others, making use of normal people feels just fine to them. Likewise, they feel no remorse.
Empathy, as viewed by the sociopath, is a weakness, and he considers himself superior because he isn’t burdened by it.
Because they lack an internal feedback system, sociopaths are excellent liars. For example, they can often pass lie detector tests, since those tests register the effects of our internal feedback system, which they don’t have.
A sociopath is likely to maintain a group of people who believe wholeheartedly that he is a good, kind, honest person. He’ll work in calculated ways to create and maintain that opinion in them.
The cop wanted her car keys. Kelli Peters handed them over. She told herself she had nothing to fear, that all he’d find inside her PT Cruiser was beach sand, dog hair, maybe one of her daughter’s toys.
“Twisting of meanings is a clue to psychopathy. They’re masters of doublespeak*, creating verbal traps and impossible situations that leave non-psychopaths bewildered.”
Harrison Koehli Red Pill Press, Publisher of Political Ponerology
*Doublespeak = Evasive, ambiguous language
that is intended to deceive or confuse.
“Nothing will change fundamentally until we educate ourselves about psychopathy and political ponerology and how it affects all of us. The virus of psychopathy will infect any new system, community or change in power until it is brought to awareness and looked at for what it is. Then the solutions will present themselves based on the knowledge and understanding we have gained. Educating ourselves and others about it is the best we can do for ourselves and future generations. It is vital knowledge in this day and age.”
Deny the abuse, Attack the victim, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.
This is roughly how it can be done (ad absurdum for emphasis):
You are stupid.
Are you accusing me of being stupid!?
You are accusing me of making accusations!
…but what you said was rude and untrue.
More accusations! And you are calling me a rude liar!
You are hostile and name calling. Leave me alone.
Why did you call me ‘stupid’?
You are harassing me.
I want an explanation. Was it something
I said that sounded stupid?
I told you to leave me alone! Stop harassing me! Look, everyone, I am being victimized by that evil person for no reason!
At this point, the aggressor, the one who instigated the conflict and made all of the assaults, may threaten his victim into submission or use the ‘silent treatment’ (also called ‘stonewalling’) until the victim gives up trying to hold the abuser accountable. He will characterize his victim as the offender and himself as the victim as he complains about the “harassment” he is being subjected to—without telling the whole story, of course. He may tell other people that the victim is menacing, irrational, or mentally unstable to start rumors that support his egocentric version of the situation, strengthen his credibility, and damage his victim’s reputation. He may use deceptive tactics, such as pretending to be hurt or worried and fabricate disinformation to manipulate other people to side with him, isolate his victim, and maximize the harm. If successful, the abuser gains sympathy and support while his victim is disgraced and may face social rejection. The abuser escapes accountability and, lacking empathy and remorse, is gratified by “winning” his power trip while his victim gets blamed and shamed and may suffer immensely from long lasting irreversible damage to his reputation, self esteem, and relations.
Do you recognize this scenario?
Please leave a comment and share your story!
Steve Becker, LCSW:
“You don’t have to be a sociopath to stonewall. Plenty of non-sociopaths stonewall. But many sociopaths are stonewallers, and the act of stonewalling itself contains the cold, callous attitude of the sociopath.”
Research shows that authoritarians are far more likely to exhibit sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and—to top it all off—a ferocious dogmatism that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds with evidence or logic.
Authoritarian, sociopathic, and narcissistic personality traits have many similarities.
Michael’s problems started, according to his mother, around age 3, shortly after his brother Allan was born. At the time, she said, Michael was mostly just acting “like a brat,” but his behavior soon escalated to throwing tantrums during which he would scream and shriek inconsolably. These weren’t ordinary toddler’s fits. “It wasn’t, ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m frustrated’ — the normal things kids do,” Anne remembered. “His behavior was really out there. And it would happen for hours and hours each day, no matter what we did.” For several years, Michael screamed every time his parents told him to put on his shoes or perform other ordinary tasks, like retrieving one of his toys from the living room. “Going somewhere, staying somewhere — anything would set him off,” Miguel said. These furies lasted well beyond toddlerhood. At 8, Michael would still fly into a rage when Anne or Miguel tried to get him ready for school, punching the wall and kicking holes in the door. Left unwatched, he would cut up his trousers with scissors or methodically pull his hair out. He would also vent his anger by slamming the toilet seat down again and again until it broke.
When Anne and Miguel first took Michael to see a therapist, he was given a diagnosis of “firstborn syndrome”: acting out because he resented his new sibling. While both parents acknowledged that Michael was deeply hostile to the new baby, sibling rivalry didn’t seem sufficient to explain his consistently extreme behavior.
By the time he turned 5, Michael had developed an uncanny ability to switch from full-blown anger to moments of pure rationality or calculated charm — a facility that Anne describes as deeply unsettling. “You never know when you’re going to see a proper emotion,” she said. She recalled one argument, over a homework assignment, when Michael shrieked and wept as she tried to reason with him. “I said: ‘Michael, remember the brainstorming we did yesterday? All you have to do is take your thoughts from that and turn them into sentences, and you’re done!’ He’s still screaming bloody murder, so I say, ‘Michael, I thought we brainstormed so we could avoid all this drama today.’ He stopped dead, in the middle of the screaming, turned to me and said in this flat, adult voice, ‘Well, you didn’t think that through very clearly then, did you?’ ”
Do you have a ruthless streak? Psychologists believe the “dark triad” of personality—Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy—might help you succeed in life. To measure your own dark side, click on the link below and choose how much you agree or disagree with 9 simple statements—and we’ll tell you how dastardly you actually are.
The questions for this quiz were inspired by questionnaires developed by Delroy Paulhus and Daniel Jones (Assessment, vol 21, p 28). Our quiz was designed solely for entertainment, and the results should not be considered a scientific measure of your personality. If you would like to learn more about Paulhus’s personality research and his serious explorations of the dark triad, read the BBC profile “The man who studies everyday evil”.
The dark triad is a group of three personality traits: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. Use of the term “dark” implies that these traits have malevolent qualities:
Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.
Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception.
Psychopathy is characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness, and remorselessness.
All three traits have been associated with a callous-manipulative interpersonal style. A factor analysis carried out at the Glasgow Caledonian University found that among the big five personality traits, low agreeableness is the strongest correlate of the dark triad.
Even if toxic people came with a warning tattooed on their skin, they might still be difficult to avoid. We can always decide who we allow close to us but it’s not always that easy to cut out the toxics from other parts of our lives. They might be colleagues, bosses, in-laws, step-someones, family, co-parents … and the list goes on.
We live our lives in groups and unless we’re willing to go it alone – work alone, live alone, be alone (which is sometimes tempting, but comes with its own costs) – we’re going to cross paths with those we would rather cross out.
Continue reading the article for some powerful, practical ways to ease co-existence with toxics:
“Often these monstrous individuals are initially charming, displaying false empathy to the point that even when their victims instinct senses danger they ignore this feeling as irrational. These people have a natural talent for manipulation and are self-absorbed individuals with no conscience or feeling for others and for whom rules have no meaning. These depraved manipulators can appear unstoppable. Their non physical violence against innocent victims appears to be planned, purposeful and emotionless. Any attempt at reason will fail as these people appear to operate outside the code that governs normal, rational behaviour towards others.”
Individuals with psychopathic traits are often attracted to affinity groups—religious, atheist, political, or social groups of people who share common values, beliefs, or interests. The collective trust that members of these groups have in one another and their common belief system provides a perfect cover for the psychopathic person. A psychopathic individual can be highly skilled at accurately mimicking the group’s beliefs or values while in the presence of its members. As a result, trust is easily gained and his or her true motives or covert activities are less likely to be discovered or recognized as malicious.
An affinity group that has been victimized may have members who are unable to face the truth about a covert bully. Often, they will rationalize his or her behaviors and continue to believe that the person is basically good at heart.
Unfortunately, it is common for the group to side with the psychopathic person if he or she has targeted an individual member to exploit, abuse, or ostracize. With a well established virtuous public persona and respect from the group, skillful manipulation and deceit, and a careful choice of target, the aggressor will turn the tables and have others believe the victim is the guilty party.
Want to see if someone is a psychopath or not? Try yawning at them. If they yawn back, you’re okay and proceed to befriending them if you wish. If they don’t, perhaps steer clear—they could be distinctly anti-social.
Scientists reveal that people with low empathy levels don’t copy the gestures of others.
Scientists have found that the more psychopathic characteristics people have, the less they are affected by ‘contagious yawning’
Researchers from Baylor University tested 135 students for anti-social traits
Those who scored highly on ‘cold-heartedness’ were less likely to yawn when shown video clips of facial expressions
Most people will yawn if someone around them yawns. Normal mammals are said to be unable to resist ‘contagious yawning.’
US President Barack Obama yawns during the East Asia
Summit plenary session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012
The researchers from Baylor University in Texas published their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Dr. Sam Vaknin explains: “Even the victim’s relatives, friends, and colleagues are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills.”
“In contrast, the victims are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.”
Predatory Aggressive Personalities (i.e., psychopaths or sociopaths) consider themselves superior to the rest of the human race. They view individuals with inhibitions rooted in emotional bonding to others as inferior creatures and, therefore, their rightful prey.
Aggressive Personalities include the Unbridled Aggressive, who is frequently in conflict with the law; the Channeled-Aggressive, who generally limits ruthlessness to non-criminal activity; the Covert-Aggressive, who cloaks their cruelty under a veneer of civility and manipulates others in the process; and the Sadistic Aggressive, whose principal aim is to demean and injure others.
But by far the most pathological aggressive personality is the one I prefer to label the Predatory Aggressive Personality. All of the aggressive personalities are among the most seriously disturbed in character of the various personality types, and the Predatory Aggressive Personality is the most seriously character disordered.
“If you ignore everything you were told when you were 4 and trust a complete stranger with your money, your belongings, or your life just because they have a nice smile and lots of candy in their van, you’re a sucker and you deserve everything that’s coming to you.”
Sociopaths are manipulative, and some are dangerous. If you know someone with several of the following attributes, your best bet is to stay away from them.
1 Superficial Charm
3 Pathological Lying
4 Manipulative and Cunning
5 Shallow Emotions
6 Lack of Remorse, Shame, Or Guilt
7 Incapable of Human Attachment
8 Constant Need for Stimulation
9 Lack of Empathy
10 Poor Behavioral Controls / Impulsive Nature
11 Promiscuous Sexual Behavior / Infidelity
“Are you lonely, popular, caring, confident, laid back, anxious, adventurous, bored, traumatised, naïve, competitive, depressed, sentimental, accepting, argumentative, compassionate, impulsive or shy?”
“If so, then boy have I got just the trick for you! Get your very own custom-made psychopath experience, with guaranteed success rate, for one of us at least. Order now, and get free emotional trauma to take with you when we’re done. While stocks last.”
If there is one question all victims of psychopaths have asked themselves at some point in the period after their psychopath has moved on, it has to be “why me?” Or more specifically; “what was it that made me a target?” Read more…
Rosa says: Isn’t it amazing how sociopaths can run around smearing people, telling insidious lies with impunity…THEN…when WE try to warn others (with the TRUTH) about possible danger of the socio, it’s “Kill the Messenger” time…and we are the “Messenger”. What’s up with that?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
What you are describing is the standard abuser protocol called DARVO, an acronym for Deny, Attack, Reverse roles of Victim and Offender. Your question and your righteous outrage are about psycho/sociopaths’ ability to harm others easily and repeatedly—with impunity—sometimes with devastating consequences for their victim. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the victim’s friends and family may withhold support or reject him/her at the worst of times because the abuser had the evil foresight to secure their sympathy and support, and at the same time, destroy the victim’s reputation and credibility.
The reason why pathological aggressors are so successful with this cunning scheme is quite simple: they are exceptionally skilled actors with a lifetime of practice in lying, manipulating, persuading, and deceiving. The psycho/sociopath will callously aim to crush his victim, unperturbed by any ethical concerns. The victim’s moral standards will limit his options, and lacking the persuasive powers of a psychopath, he may fail to convince others of the truth of the matter.
Another reason why many of us are conned again and again is because we cannot fathom that a friendly, intelligent, respectable person to whom we may have extended exceptional kindness, trust, and generosity; would be capable of acting so atrociously. It is incomprehensible to most of us that there really are human beings who don’t have a conscience and we fail to see the patterns in our experiences that verify the ‘unpleasant’ facts that challenge or contradict our long held beliefs.
Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is the founder of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. She is a former psychotherapist, community educator on pathological love relationships, clinical lecturer and trainer, TV and radio guest, and an author. Her books include the highly popular How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists, as well as the clinically relevant Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals.
Sandra is recognized for her pioneering work in women’s issues related to relational harm from dangerous and pathological partners. She specializes in the development of Pathological Love Relationship training for other professionals and the development of survivor-based support services.
The Dance – Sociopath and Empath They LOVE to watch their empath target squirm. They LOVE to watch as they manipulate everyone around them into believing it’s all the fault of the empath. They LOVE the feeling of absolute CONTROL… Continue reading…
Narcissists and Empaths: The Ego Dynamic | Let Me Reach
One popular theory is that Narcissists prey on Empaths and Sensitives because of their overly giving nature. While that is primarily true, there is another reason that goes even deeper, and it has to do with ego… Continue reading…
The Transitional Target | Narcissist, Sociopath, and Psychopath…
Targets often experience cognitive dissonance, trying to project their own reasoning onto an unreasonable person. But their behavior is neither accidental nor unintentional… Continue reading…
Dark Souls—Better the Devil | Empaths | Abused Empaths
There is no question when it comes to attracting Dark Souls, in particular sociopaths and psychopaths, that they can target and con anyone. However, it’s very difficult for anyone to understand that the psychopathic personality goes out with the sole purpose of intentionally victimizing anyone they come into contact with… Continue reading…
In The Sociopath at the Breakfast Table, the authors describe an incident or exchange involving a sociopath as a sociopathic transaction. Here’s the typical arrangement:
Sociopath — the one with the personality disorder.
Empath — an individual who is highly perceptive, insightful and sensitive to another’s emotions.
Apath — someone who is apathetic and likely to do the sociopath’s bidding.
This threesome is required for a sociopathic transaction to be effective and it usually unfolds something like this: On seeing the sociopath say or do something underhanded, the empath is forced to make a stand. The empath challenges the sociopath, who throws others off the scent by shifting the blame to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath’s perspective. Ultimately, the situation usually ends badly for the empath, and sometimes also for the apath (if his conscience comes back to haunt him or subsequently he becomes an object of abuse himself). The sociopath often gets off scot-free and can continue to abuse with impunity.