Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Sociopath Next Door

I've been doing a lot more reading than stitching lately and have been particularly interested in books about personality disorders. This was one of the best of the group. Basically, sociopaths are people without a conscience, people who can do anything and not have guilt or remorse. But contrary to what many think, not all sociopaths are making lampshades from human skin, nor are they only dictators of small countries. There are many shades and flavors of sociopaths and the one I wanted to talk about is the "covetous sociopath". Oh my, I've met her! In fact, I'd swear one of those pairs of eyes on the book cover are hers.


Sociopaths do not always have a covetous nature, but when they do, a fascinating and frightening picture emerges. Since it is simply not possible to steal and have for oneself the most valuable possessions of another person ie: beauty, intelligence, success,or perhaps a strong character the covetous psychopath settles for besmirching or damaging enviable qualities in others so that they will not have them, either, or at least not be able to enjoy them so much. Here the pleasure lies in taking rather than in having.

The covetous sociopath thinks that life has cheated her somehow, has not given her nearly the same bounty as other people, and so she must even the existential score by robbing people, by secretly causing destruction in other lives. She believes she has been slighted by nature, circumstances, and destiny, and that diminishing other people is her only means of being powerful. Retribution, usually against people who have no idea that they have been targeted,is the most important activity in the covetous sociopath's life, her highest priority.

Since this clandestine power game is priority number one, all of the covetous sociopath's deceitfulness and tolerance for risk are devoted to it. For the sake of the game, she may devise schemes and perform acts that most of us would consider outrageous and potentially self-destructive, in addition to cruel.

And yet when such a person is around us in our lives, even on a daily basis, we are often oblivious to her activities. We do not expect to see a person direct a dangerous, vicious vendetta against someone who in most cases has done nothing to hurt or offend her. We do not expect it, and so we do not see it, even when it happens to someone we know or to us personally. The actions taken by the covetous sociopath are often so outlandish, and so gratuitously mean, that we refuse to believe they were intentional, or even that they happened at all. In this way, her true nature is usually invisible to the group. She can easily hide in plain sight among genuinely intelligent, professional people.

When people do not provoke in the sociopath a desire for something they have, or for something they are, then she does not target them. To the contrary, she may be especially charming and courteous when she believes that certain underlings, as she thinks of them, are useful in maintaining her sheep's-clothing disguise, a disguise that includes a presentation of herself as an extraordinarily nice, caring, responsible, and pitiably overworked person.

Sound like anyone you know? Beware...


A said...

Yep. Sounds like a few people I know. Very interesting! The sad part is that they never would see themselves in this description...but at least maybe those around the person can have a better understanding....
Thanks Deborah!

lena-lou said...

Oh My Word !! I know one, I have one !!!

Thanks for pointing this out as a personalitity description, I feel so relieved as I have been questioning my thoughts on said person for too long, this description makes it fall into place.

I have to agree with your previous commenter they would NEVER see their own self like would they ? I did not but it is so true !! Do they have a follow on book with how to deal with this type person when you cannot ever really escape ;-)

Siobhan said...

Oh my gosh, this is fabulous, Deborah!! I'd be killed if I read it out to DH because he'd recognize MIL in it, but wow, I swear this was written after doing a case study on her!

Anonymous said...

ohh....sounds like my aunt!!! sometime i wonder whats wrong with her!when i talk to my dad he tell me that she was always like this, even when she was a child. Believe me you made her profile!

scorpion53061 said...

I believe a great many sociopaths have actually been created by those around them. I do think there is a biological component to it as well (a predisposition). More about this here.

Surrendering to the sociopath we created - our kids

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