Some people go about the world without remorse or conscience. Sociopaths are incapable of empathy or guilt. I wonder, are they born that way?
 

Sociopathy:

Somehow I think they are born that way. They come into the world perhaps, with something indefinably missing.
I think they walk among us, looking no different than anyone else. But inside their hearts are not malleable.
 
Their countenance is intractable. They simply do not have the capacity to feel, to love anyone but themselves.
 

Who Might They Be?

Research suggests that as much as 50% of sociopathy is inherited.
 
The person standing behind you in the grocery store, at the Starbucks counter, may be a sociopath.
Have you ever known a child that seemed completely unable to feel for others? And then as they become more emancipated into the world, they wreak havoc on others.
 
Their rules are completely different. In fact there are no rules. Like a tornado, they sweep through people’s lives, ravaging everything in their path. 
 
There is a book called “The Sociopath Next Door.” I have the book but have not yet read it.
 

I have looked into the eyes of a sociopath. They seemed simply empty. And soul-less.

Raining This Morning:

I walked outside this morning onto the patio and it was still raining. A fine mist you couldn’t see. It is cooler, but it felt good. Like the rain was kissing my cheeks.
 
There is a mourning dove out there now. When you open the patio door and it is startled, you can hear the thwap-thwap of its big wings slowly flap until it’s airborne. 
 
The are such pretty birds, I think. Bobbing as they walk and somewhat ungainly in appearance and bearing. They’ve always been one of my favorites. And I feel so privileged to have one come visit me. 

Settling In To Read:

I’ve been reading a lot at night. The dogs settle in around me, and I read for hours, lost in the plot of a novel.
 
My current read has had me thinking about the power of our minds. How sometimes it puts us in a cell of our own making. 
 
No matter that the door is wide open, sometimes we stand just there. Unable to take a step toward the door.
 
Our feet seem glued to the floor. Because in our imaginations, that door will always be closed and locked. 
 

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47 Comments

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  2. Yes, sociopaths walk among us and even if we suspect someone we love is one, we cannot usually help but love them anyway until it is too late for us.

    Loved as family a sociopath who caused great chaos and destruction in our family. She is still able to convince many others she is innocent and the victim. Yes, sociopaths walk among us, beware and be afraid !

  3. My sister is one. I am always astounded by her ways. Still I cannot take it in. After mom being very ill for 11 years passed away. I was the one given the responsibility to divide things. My sister received 4 lots. She called me the other day demanding that I pay the taxes on her lots. She was angry and sent me a certified letter she had printed from the internet that had nothing to do with me. She actually thinks she can scare me into paying 3 years of taxes on 4 lots. I ignore her since that is all I can do. I have real problems like most people do and don't have time for her. How did she get this way I ask myself often. I spent years trying to find a way for us to be friends with one another but it wasn't meant to be.

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  5. Scary subject..My ex-husbands friends couldn't believe I had left him..But he's such a nice guy they said..They had no idea of what lies beneath..I have that book on my list of books to read..

  6. What about the ones who do to horrible things and then later when they are called on it beg for forgiveness? I know a man like this who goes through relationship after relationship. He is CRAZY jealous of the most innocent things. He blows up, accusing ridiculous things, and is generally nuts over not being the center of his woman's world. Then when they can't take it and want to leave he begs, cries, and pleads he will change. He never does. But it's never his fault (in his mind). It's sad but in 6 months almost completely destroyed my best friend. They not only have no remorse, and can't understand why others find them so wrong. Thanks, had to get it off my chest.

  7. Whenever something horrific happens like school shootings, it bothers me terribly. My daughter, a counselor, always tells me that you can't figure these people out. They don't and won't fit the molds they we think they should. So sad that people are like this. Perhaps the child someone mentioned is autistic. I know people were always judging my adopted son. Sometimes the children can be helped. We always send to immediately go back to a person's childhood and not the person's current state. All being said, it's complicated and too many factors to figure our certain personalities.

  8. Hi Brenda,
    First off, I love your photo of the embroidery floss…perfect. Simple things just seem to inspire me.
    As to the sociopath question, as a former special education teacher, I think it is a combination of nature and nurture. There is likely a genetic component but I think parenting is a big part of it. Just my 2 cents!
    Have a happy day!
    Cheryl

  9. As I read your post, I was getting ready to recommend the book, "The Sociopath Next Door." I read it years ago, and it is so informative. I happen to know someone like this who has tried time and again to wreck my life, and others in our town as well, for absolutely no other reason than she "didn't like us." Many have reported this person to the police, but she is smart enough to go just up to the line without crossing it so as to be doing anything illegal. It's terrifying and amazing at the same time that someone could be so cruel.
    The book says that these people act out because no one calls them on their actions and stands up to their bullying. Who wants to poke the monster? It's a wonderful book to read, and the police even borrowed it from me and said it was spot-on.

  10. There is still much debate on the nature versus nurture component of antisocial personality disorder. Many people who we personally may feel are sociopaths are not truly so. They certainly may be heartless and without empathy, but may be a narcissist rather than a sociopath. Strong biological and genetic components have been found in sociopaths, but life events can also play a role in triggering the traits. These are definitely very frightening personalities. xo Laura

  11. Many years ago I had a boyfriend who I thought was THE one. He was everything, and the be all to end all. My mom saw through him, because of her line of work. She was a welfare social worker. Anyhow, we went together for a few months, and I started to notice changes in the way he treated me. Changes that I didn't appreciate. It's hard now to remember what they were, but I know that is how it began. I finally broke it off with him. Or tried to. He began stalking me. He was everywhere I was. How he knew where I was going to be I have no idea, but he was there. Lurking in the shadows sometimes others he was blatant and stood right in front of me. The saving grace was my job. I worked at a hospital, and no one was allowed to come into the area where I worked without an escort. I just notified the guards that he was not to be brought back to me. It continued for a while of him showing up unexpectedly. I stopped going out. I had my phone number changed, One time I asked him why he was doing this to me and he replied, "Because I can." I don't why, and I have never questioned it, but he eventually stopped his assault of terror on me. I suppose he found another victim. Truly a terrifying experience. One question however, is what is the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?

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  13. They are without remorse, conscience or empathy. They are masters at mimicking the emotions of normal people and manipulating people. This is why they seem so charming..until the mask falls off. I spent 8 years with one of these people and was stalked for 4 years afterward. He was always careful to take the terror just short of crossing the line. By the time he was finished with me, I had little dignity and no sobriety. I am now 10 months sober and slowly rebuilding my life.

    Two other good books on the subject:
    Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen
    Women Who Love Psychopaths b Sandra Brown

  14. I think this topic is so fascinating. There are people that we all know who are probably sociopaths. I just watched a movie about Steve Jobs and I came to that conclusion about him. I also think Bill Clinton is one. He's so charming and can look people right in the face and tell a blatant lie. Do you think I could be right?

  15. I have read "The Sociopath Next Door" and it really creeped me out! When I worked at the public library one summer, it was the most requested title. Book clubs throughout our little town were reading it and talking about it. It wasn't until my daughter (who is a nurse) told me that she thought one of our family friends was a sociopath that I took the time to read it. Wow! It caused me to do my own little mini-study on the topic.

    From what I recall, sociopaths are some of the most charming people you will ever meet. They say all the right things and seemingly do all the right things because they are students of human nature. They don't actually have the same feelings that most people do, so they learn what the "normal" response to situations should be. This is how they "hook" people–"Oh, he's so charming and sweet!"

    After a while, sociopaths start using people for whatever they can get out of them. They have no conscience so they will never feel badly about their behavior. One of the top indicators that a person may be a sociopath is his/her need for sympathy. They want people to feel sorry for them. Because of their manipulative nature, they realize people will do what they want if they can make others feel sorry for them. How ironic–they feel no sympathy but they thrive on others feeling sorry for them.

  16. I truly believe that all of life is the struggle between good and evil. And the very worst part about evil, is that it is sometimes so hard to recognize. I hate to think that some people are born evil. Surely we all have the choice between right and wrong, but if a person starts making those wrong evil choices it seem to just spiral down into madness. Sometimes all we can do is pray.

    1. I don't know that some have that choice. If you have no feeling from day one, it would be hard to discern what is right and what is wrong. You have to have feelings for that. Depends on how sick someone is when it comes to choices. Sickness can mask a lot.

  17. Brenda, There are many people out there that can smile the sweetest smile as they are pulling the rug from under you. I try not to get sucked into that kind of thing. You have to watch how people relate to others and not just you. We still have to pray for them too. I feel sorry for the children of people like that. Maybe it's part born too and some learned. xoxo,Susie

  18. I guess my Dad could be one, but I think he was just a sick miserable person. As a child he always tried to "get' his dads attention and when his dad dies my died admitted himself into a pysch ward. Didn't help. Dad was just a mean, unhappy abusive mentally and physically. He loved to create havoc and bit his kids against each other. He certainly was a pathological liar….he had a HIGH need for attention that could never be met.

    1. I'd be willing to bet that your father was a very sick man. Doesn't at all condone his actions. But I'm really surprised he admitted himself into a psych ward. They usually won't give up that much control.

  19. I think that when we study this personality, we start to recognize some of these traits in a lot of people we know. Sometimes I wonder if I am one. 😉 😉 I think my daughter is married to one. At one time, she thought so too. She is so naive and I worry about her so much. She lives 8 hours away and I cannot know that everything is ok, even when she tells me that it is. I pray for her a lot. I could write a book about the few years they have been together. I am told that her husband's dad was the same way… he died when her husband was younger. It leads me to believe that these people are born this way; like you said, just missing something. Something that cannot be fixed. 🙁

  20. Hi Brenda
    I am new to your blog and I love it. I have the book The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. It is a great read but scary because there are so many sociopaths, people in high places etc. They seem perfectly normal but watch out. I really believe my sister may be one which makes me very sad.

    1. I was too. Actually to two, I now believe. Because now when I look at our child, I see her exhibiting the same behavior. Which makes me think it is inherited.

  21. I've known 2 for certain and possibly a few others. I often wonder if these people subconciously feel the need to be devoid of feeling for reasons we cant comprehend.. I agree this can be exhibited at a very young age and that always puts my mind on the trail of hormonal issues and brain chemistry imbalance,, On the other hand, if they did FEEL as the normal person does, what action might that drive them too??
    their lack of feeling might allow for cruel actions but a major influx of intense emotions could cause actions just as bad and possibly far Worse…
    scary any way you loo at it.

    1. I don't think they have a subconscious. I think to have them you have to feel. And that's the problem, they can't feel. They are completely devoid of empathy. And heaven help you if you trust them.

  22. Ooh, Brenda, have you been watching spooky movies? 🙂 Well, I don't want to believe people are born that way but speaking of children, I know of a little 9 year old boy who is just not normal. The look in his eyes, he never smiles, he has outbursts at home where he just tears the house up breaking things and his parents are literally afraid of him. They do not discipline him at all. I think some of the problem may lie there, but I remember when he was a little baby you could not make him smile or laugh…he had an old look in his eyes. It's a baffling thing. I've always told my husband that child is going to grow up into a serial killer. Any way, let's just turn on some spooky movies and get lost in them.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  23. Funny I went to bed thinking similar – just finished watching the UK (so much better than the US version) of Being Human.
    It's quirky, well written, has amazing actors, is dark but with perfectly executed comic relief……….I thought it was awesome. And the root of it all was this very thing. Made me think deep into my humanity. This is a modern Good vs Evil series, one of the best I have seen. It takes a few episodes to get into it – and the later seasons are even better, more contemplation and less violence……worth staying with it big time. It does get quite graphic and horrific, but I turn away, but the meat n taters of it is so well done!

    I highly recommend watching it if you subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Instant Movies – that's what I used – and they give a 30 day free trial so it needn't cost you anything. I am not compensated for this, just sharing the info is all.

  24. My daughter is in HR at her company and recently had an experience with a person who "seemed" perfect. His credentials were from the highest universities in the country, his experience was amazing and his smile won over everyone. She had reason to help the man in some personal issues and she worked with the CEO to do what they felt was best to keep this amazing man at the company. Then, he was involved in an absolutely horrible incident with a woman who directly reported to him. My daughter was in shock how things unraveled and what opened her eyes the most was the lack of remorse. She said that she had read about socio-paths before, but never been closely involved with one. We were on vacation in Kauai when things fell apart and she was so glad that she had her boyfriend and her family around her to wrap her in a cocoon and tell her that there was no way she could have known what he was. Fortunately, he was gone from the company before she returned from vacation.

    You never know!

    1. They are often highly intelligent and educated. Which makes it even scarier I think. My ex had a very high IQ. I remember all the years I thought: I can change him. I can help him. That is foolhardy.

    2. That's the funny thing – a lot of these people are extremely talented, funny, and smart. They are charming beyond belief, until they have you under their thumb, and then you start to see the dark side. I tell my daughter to be VERY careful about dating. Everyone is wonderful for the first 6 months. After that you can see if they are real or not.

  25. I know a young woman who is a sociopath.Upon first acquaintance, she is charming, sweet, kind and thoughtful. As your experience with her widens, you begin to understand that she is the true center of her universe and all things are right only in her relationship to her. Any lie was true because it benefited her. Any action right if she took it. I do not think one is born that way, but builds up a protective covering due to perceptions. I know she felt abandoned when her mother spent several months at the bedside of her critically injured younger sister and she had to live with her father. I do not understand the workings of her mind, but see the havoc she is creating in her children. I am sure the causes are not so simplistic.
    Lana is right, her "soul is an empty,black pit". Heartbreaking for those who did and do love her.

    1. I have someone similar, who I love very much. And I don't think she was born that way. I think she just became that way over time. Or maybe I was missing something crucial all along. That frightens me to think that. And now, she frightens me. Truly frightens me.

    2. Brenda I agree. I think they can become that way. I definitely had bad judgment with a old friend who frightens me. I recently had a old friend from 25 years ago re enter my life with the exact purpose of ruining my life. She was jealous . She would call with long involved stories about why she needed to borrow money. She bashed my boyfriend and attempted to force me to leave him. She had a goal I found out eventually of my bank accounts (which were not much ) I had worked hard for years to put my life in order and was happy. She could not stand I was happy. She started with subtle manipulation of all my home friends and activities. She was not like that formally yet this was someone who I saw as a friend and did pretend to be still normal and functioning as a normal person, while behind me was systemically making every attempt to destroy my life then had the gall to do it in front of me, she came into my home while I was on vacation and broke the toilet, the locks, then called expensive repair people and left me with the bill. and screamed when I did not allow her shenanigans to work. destroyed my property and spread lies about me in our small town. One afternoon she came to my front door turned on the hose full blast and sprayed my living room as the window was open. I was shocked and then realized she is a sociopathic sick individual. She frightened me to, considering what else she was capable of. I was told by others to watch out for her that she was evil and had such definite determination to ruin others. I found she was banned from many business in town and had spent years as a hermit on a garbage filled home that she allowed no one near. with dozens of animals she hoarded and never cared for . I banned her from my home, my phone and my online life, then she began stalking my home, driving by several times a day. I moved and the day I left she began to send threatening texts demanding I meet with her before I leave to "get what is coming to me". for hours. My friends took me to a safe location afraid for my life. . People can change or perhaps they were that way before and it was below the surface. I believe they prey on those like us that are good people and have normal lives they wish to destroy. It can be systemically intentional and it is with evil intent. I was not her first victim and I am sure I will not be the last. I am just glad that you and I lived through this without harm and are thriving, happy today. This is one reason why I trust few and never will. You never know what is really below the surface. We learn to keep our core group close .

  26. I was in a relationship with one. I even remember telling him that his "soul is an empty, black pit". It was one of the most painful and difficult times of my life. Amazing how people like this can hurt you without regard or guilt whatsoever. I used to be shocked and appalled at the things he would do until I realized that he just had no conscience and could not fathom what pain he inflicted on others. So glad I got away.

    1. My ex (the last one) was doing things throughout the marriage that I would have thought incomprehensible. I could not have gone on through the years as he did, without any regard for me at all. These people are manipulative and only think of themselves. What will make them feel good right this minute. Doesn't matter if it's wrong or hurtful. Just doesn't matter. And then when he told me, like he was talking about what flavors of ice cream he liked. I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. You can't reason with them. They just don't have feelings.

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