Living with a Sociopath is never easy… or fun… or safe… or smart… but if you love one or are related to them and you have no choice but to have to deal with them, there are a handful of things to keep in mind when and if you have to actually speak with them.
First of all — understand… in the Sociopath mind, every human is nothing more than a means to an end. Some seek status, others, servants. All seek one thing, primarily — control.
But whatever reason they are in a relationship with you, if you are in the “useful” stage of your social agreement to tolerate and enable their truly psychological dysfunction producing behavior, there are some things that can keep you… safer. [If not in body, then at least emotionally.]
The website Sociopath World — one written, presumably, by and for folks with ASPD who seek to communicate (functionally) with neurotypicals — shares the following list.
Things to never do:
1. Accusations. Sociopaths never respond well to accusations, it will always turn into a knockdown fight in which you will be bloodied much more than they ever will be.
2. Recriminations. (see accusations, above).
3. Emotions. Sociopaths generally don’t want to hear about how what you feel if what you feel is negative towards them. If you are in anything remotely like a fight, accusation, or recrimination, do not under any circumstances get emotional. The limited exception, as another reader has pointed out, is when the sociopath is feeling wronged by you, is hurt, etc., in which you should show exactly the amount of normal empathy you would show an empath under those circumstances (more on that in another post).
4. Ultimatum or any other power plays. Sociopaths see ultimatums, artificial pressure (e.g. emotional pressure), power plays, etc. as being either threats or games. I don’t think you will like the result of either approach.
5. Talk about being “right” or “wrong.” Sociopaths don’t really believe there is such thing as being right or wrong, there is only more or less powerful.
Sound familiar? If yes, we grok.
Most neurotypical, HSP, and Empath folks who reside with Sociopaths and have learned how to create a functional, hopefully non-violent relationship do quite well working with and or living with ASPD people who show Sociopathic traits by following this list of hints to assuage.
Sociopaths are typically that way due to trauma exposure in early life. The emotional processing unit of the mind essentially freezes in fight mode while creating a form of emotional flatline.
Some individuals are simply born lacking the neurological ability to process complex emotions. Those children tend to develop something called Conduct Disorder (or Childhood Conduct Disorder aka #CCD by hashtag on social media websites).
Children with CCD have a 50/50 chance of growing up and developing full-blown Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Those nurtured to behave in ways that are callous and or socially cruel and dismissive of other people’s fundamental human rights and emotions tend to become active, willful Abusers once they mature chronologically.
ASPD calcifies in the mind (from a medical standpoint) by or before a subject showing a lack of empathy and social aggression turns 28. When a child is in a toxic home and acts out, one must be careful as a parent, educator, mentor, therapist, minister, or authority figure to keep in mind that without proper pro-social training — meaning mentored experiences — At-Risk kids’ behaviors might be a reflection of peers — not of anatomically inspired toxic behavior.
Children who reach the age of 18 who have CCD are incredibly susceptible to the anti-social or psychopath influence of toxic peers. Few bio ASPDs present with NPD or even Psychopath traits unless their peer group cheers on, nurtures, and encourages them to display socially toxic and abusive and or socially neglectful behaviors.
If a child with CCD becomes an adult with Conduct Disorder, reading up on things like behavior management strategies for coping with Reactive Attachment Disorder and anger management and anxiety abating techniques for people with Borderline Personality Disorder can be helpful for the ASPD person and for anyone who is close to them (physically as well as personally or professionally).
By realizing that ASPD people who are properly socialized tend to become incredibly reliable and productive members of society while recognizing that they have a neurological impairment that caused them to lack the ability to connect with the world around them using emotion, everyone — Cluster B ASPD and neurotypical alike — can have their needs more efficiently met.
Think things through from the perspective of a person who suffers from an EMOTIONAL handicap or learning disability.
If you lacked the neurological ability from a structural anatomical standpoint alone to sense things in the world around you using anything other than pure instinct… and you had a normal, above average, or high IQ… what coping methods to blend in socially while avoiding letting anyone know you are EQ deficient would you develop to seek social and your own emotional control?
Family members who demean ASPD for not being functionally able to do things like care about the difference between right and wrong might as well stand in front of them and scream for them to change their height or eye color when they chose to berate them and to talk down. Once you figure out that they harm to feel powerful or to alleviate boredom, if you have to parent one life gets far more bearable (albeit being arguably more functionally dysfunctional).
Tips to keep one entertained and off your tail? Keep them BUSY.
Many ASPD have a high level of physical angst. Harnessed properly into doing something like a repetitive physical task where they can compete with themselves to do something like improving on their time or physical strength over time, they tend to “feel” psychologically and emotionally better.
Give them opportunities to succeed. Note step-up progress, redefining and creating PROGRESS points instead of simply far off goals. The reason why is discussed below.
As vertical thinkers, ASPD – Sociopath tend to see endpoints without having a physical awareness of or appreciation factors for the process. Goal-oriented, socially competitive, and driven to dominate in order to feel powerful and in control of their world if they set a goal or you give them a milestone to achieve that they fail to make immediately, many times they will become obsessed with winning, cantankerous, tunnel-visioned, and prone to claiming things like they will be nicer when BLAH BLAH BLAH goal is mastered or fixation object acquired.
If you have a child, for example, struggling in school… if the goal is to get all A+ grades but they are performing on a low F level, how motivated do you think they are going to be to even try to improve? And — if they develop OCD traits as a stress management tactic that is toxic — if all they do is study, study, go go go… are they likely to be relationship partners who are healthy to be around for anybody?
Start with shifting ASPD behavior to the pro-social wherever the person with the affectation is in life on any given day, hour to hour, and/or minute to minute.
Are they controlling? Yes.
If you decide to stay with one, will your own human rights and emotional needs be overlooked, abused, trivialized, ridiculed, dismissed, demeaned, and your kindness abused? Absolutely.
But getting a CCD kid to realize they have the ability to go from an F to a D this semester and a D to a C in the near future on their own with simple, non-emotional, non-confusing mentors to assist them saves lives. Not just the aspiring Sociopaths.
It’s a personal decision whether or not any person who is not Cluster B wants to participate with toxic people socially.
And… conversely, it’s up to an ASPD Sociopath person who only resorts to violent behavior to gain control of other people (rather than for sadistic pleasure) to decide if giving up the hedonistic, socially immature, and reckless self-indulgent habit is something they WANT to do for their own best interest short AND long term.
Sociopaths live in the moment. They are the first to tell you something does not matter because “it’s in the past”.
Sociopaths who have family members and peers willing to realizing that using emotive language with them encourages bloodlust behaviors in their core nature to surface to the detriment of the pack as well as to the Sociopath can help provide a pro-social network for the person whose behavior is… different.
Training to work in career fields with low to no social interaction, that are repetitive or challenging manual labor tasks, and or to provide services for folks like being police officers, postal workers, or surgeons can help folks with ASPD affectations to their mind and body cope.
In return for family members, loved ones, and romantic partners being willing to go without the emotional support of their ASPD loved one, the Sociopath destined for long-term social success needs to learn to ask each individual they socialize with what that person needs and wants to feel supported… then strive to do it.
For instance, a person who is ASPD might show up to mow their mother’s grass once a week without demand as a sign of respect and non-trauma bonded affection. Or, they may work 40 hours a week for themselves and an extra 10 in order to do something nice every week with or for their children or romantic partner.
By listening to one another with the intent to understand and to collaborate, ASPD – Sociopaths, meaning those who are not necessarily violent by nature but will use it to get what they want when they want it if they have been nurtured to engage in bullying or violent behavior, and their loved ones or professional peers can — as the Sociopath persuasively plea — “go along to get along”.
Saying things like “grow a heart” or telling people they are going to hell for bad behavior to a Sociopath is likely to do nothing but cause them to look at you like you are exhibiting ignorant, foolish, and irrational and persecutory attacking behaviors.
If you are not familiar with ASPD, it’s a social mistake to criticize one for lacking empathy. It’s no different than making fun of a person who has a physical handicap or something like a need for insulin to berate someone for their neurochemistry.
Those with Sociopaths in the family who have been active in incremental success producing therapy will all tell you that once they accepted medical facts that some brains cause people to experience the world around them differently, what the ASPD can’t intuit we can. But what’s more, the die-hard horizontal and spherical thinkers among us who continue to seek to effectively communicate with Cluster B types and vertical thinkers have the ability to essentially TRANSLATE.
In order to grasp what a Sociopath feels and wants people to know, take emotional presumption out of your linguistic analysis.
If they say they are hungry, they are hungry. If they say they are tired, they are tired.
Sociopaths tend to say what they mean without hinting or using passive-aggressive conversational control tactics.
If they say they are tired and you project they must be pretending so they can avoid or somehow otherwise mislead you, unless they are CHEATING, understand they need a nap or go to sleep immediately. They seldom will say things to make other people feel better while avoiding disclosing what they truly think or feel.
Granted, if they say something mean and verbally caustic to a target — if they have been nurtured to Gaslight in order to maximize damage after launching a covert or sidewinder attack they will tell the victim and any witnesses that the victim has no sense of humor.
The target knows the verbal abuser and stone-cold social predator meant every word he or she said that was caustic, but folks who are not educated about how to hear Sociopath-speak tend to reverse project — never suspecting someone could be Machiavellian.
Be mindful — if you choose to declare this list a working habit for communication with a Sociopath they are likely to test limits and boundaries. Expect them to do things like pretend to not understand what you are saying when discussing the difference between right and wrong. They are attention-sucking and overtly lying when they do that over the age of twelve, pretending not to understand the difference socially between right and wrong.
Sociopaths with normal to above average IQ know the difference between right and wrong. They choose at any given moment to choose whichever one they thing sates their impulse in the short term in order to maximize personal gain while actively striving to alleviate boredom.