Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I'd rather know about sociopaths

In a recent post, I alluded to an article on a web site about how to tell if you are dating a sociopath.  That part is not hard.  I mean, I don't try to judge who is or is not a sociopath, but I know something unhealthy when I experience it.  I know that when I have that feeling of nothing I can do is good enough in the eyes of that person, that that is a person to walk away from.

But I have two other questions.  Sometimes it's not so simple to eliminate someone from your life.  Maybe they are connected to your job or to your family.  So my first question is how to cope if you've got one in your life.

My second question is am I a sociopath? Some people would say that some of the traits apply to me, such as:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Staying calm in dangerous situation
  • Having few friends
  • Never wrong, blames others
  • Intense eye contact

On the other hand, some traits don't apply to me at all, such as:

  • Charm and charisma
  • Big ego
  • Thrill seeking
  • Recklessness
  • Illegal behavior
  • Lying
Or if I'm not a sociopath, what about someone who is? I know people who exhibit some of these traits who sincerely want to be a good person.

A friend once told me that he believes most really annoying people desperately yearn to not be annoying people.  They hate the rejection, but they just can't act another way.  He was talking more of people with no superficial social skills, while a sociopath would have superficial social skills, but I think the same concept applies. 

What if someone really wanted to be a good person, but they just had a personality that was hurtful to other people?  

And how much do we even know how much we hurt other people? If people are afraid of us, they may try to hide it.  

If someone thought they were a sociopath, they might try to go to psychotherapy for help.  But they might find it was no help, and they might quit after a while.

So I don't know who is a sociopath and who is not a sociopath, but what I want to know is:
  1. How do I cope when people behave poorly toward me?
  2. How can I make sure I don't behave poorly toward other people?
Those questions are intertwined, because the question is, when do I accept people for who they are, and when do I stand up for myself?  How do I say "stop treating me that way" without putting the person down?  

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