Do sociopaths realise that they are sociopaths?

A question that I had in my email today, was asking ‘do sociopaths realise that they are a sociopath?’

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All people are obviously human beings. That is what we have in common. A diagnosis of a personality disorder is only that. It is a label, given by professionals in the psychiatric field, for a person that displays common traits of behaviour.

A sociopath will probably be aware that they are different. They are observant, and watch other peoples interactions, that they later mimic.  A sociopath couldn’t know that he or she was a sociopath, unless they had seen the  DSM checklist criteria, that outlines what a sociopath is. They might realise that they are different. They will probably know that they see things differently to most other people. But unless they have seen that checklist or received a formal diagnosis, there is no way that they could apply a label to themselves, if they didn’t know what that label was.

If they knew, would they be able to change?

When I was first dating the last person in my life, I don’t think that he knew. In fact, before we split, I yelled at him

What is wrong with you?

He simply yelled back

I don’t know!!

I don’t believe that he did either. Afterwards, we were friends for a considerable time. Almost a year. We saw each other every day. He understood what a sociopath was, and he agreed that it was an accurate description of what he had been doing, and why.

I think from that point on, he did try to manage his behaviour. There was a slight improvement. However, the fundamental traits, and patterns of behaviour repeated. Despite that he knew, and he also knew that I knew too. But those character traits repeated. Over and over, the same thing.

So no. There was no difference, fundamentally in his behaviour. I started writing my blog. Which broke down the behaviour. He read what I wrote. Things would go ok, for a short while. But then there would be burn out, and the same pattern of behaviour repeated itself.

Compulsive pathological lying

A sociopath finds it easier to lie, than they find it to tell the truth. If you are an honest person, you would think and act the reverse. You find it uncomfortable to tell a lie, and should feel a sense of relief when telling the truth.

The sociopath is reverse in behaviour to this. As he finds it more difficult to tell the truth than tell a lie, he quickly reverts to lies, manipulation and deceit, after a short period of time.

The  sociopath has poor impulse control, and finds it difficult, not to cease an opportunity. He also has a lack of empathy, guilt remorse or shame. So does not feel guilty if he is lying to you. Even if he knows by previous events how much his lies have hurt you, there will be no change over a period of time. He cannot, and does not feel sorry for hurting you. If he says that he does, he is lying. He might feel sorry that he is about to lose  source of supply, if you are still valuable to him. But that is all.

The way to look at this,and to understand would be to imagine that you (as an honest person) were asked to live your life, and to spend most of most of your time, lying cheating, conning, using manipulation and deceit to use  others. Can you visualise this? How long do you think that you would be able to keep up being dishonest, and compulsively lying? How uncomfortable would this make you feel? Could you keep this up for a long period of time, day after day?

If you have an imagination, like me, you would be able to see how difficult this would be to keep up for any length of time. You also, would revert back to your default setting of being honest, as this is how you feel comfortable behaving.

This is what the sociopath does in reverse. Being aware of sociopathic behaviour, and wanting to change (as some do, after hitting bottom numerous times in their life) or at least for a while. There might be an impulse to change. But it wouldn’t last long. Normally, they would have a motive to do this, only when they are losing source for supply and haven’t found another source for supply elsewhere.

Lack of long term goals

The sociopath lives in the moment, and finds it difficult to make long term goals, to plan for the future. He tends to  be

  • Impulsive
  • Immature
  • Lives in the moment
  • Doesn’t particularly think (or care) about long term consequences of actions

As he doesn’t think too far ahead, and doesn’t think about consequences of actions, he repeats the same behaviour over and over again.

Why does he promise to change repeatedly if he can’t?

There are two reasons why he would promise to change

  • If he feels that source for supply is coming to an end, and he hasn’t sourced additional supply elsewhere
  • He might put on a new mask, and really believe that this time, he can do it and make that change

But as already discussed, this is difficult to do. The sociopath often finds it difficult being honest. If you look back into the sociopaths history, he likely had a difficult childhood, and lived in a home where he witnessed dishonesty. A child needs for proper growth and development, a safe environment. A child learns most from the examples set by his parents. By observation. Observing interaction between both parents. A child learns from example.

If in childhood the child learned that it was normal and part of every day life to lie, this becomes ingrained into their personality. A child might be forced to lie to

  • Cover for what is really going on in the home to friends/family/teachers
  • Protect the parents
  • Cover for one or both parents actions
  • Might witness parents living a lie (in terms of infidelity of one or both parents, or if parents had a substance addiction problem)

As adults, we are comfortable (usually) with what we defined as ‘home’ in childhood. This is where we often learn our defence mechanisms. We learn, what part of us is acceptable to display to the world. How we should behave and  how we should act.

The sociopaths behaviour, is therefore so ingrained within his personality, it is difficult to ever make change. How can you make someone care about something that they really do not care about? You cannot give someone a range of emotions that they do not have.

Even if the sociopath were to discover that they were a sociopath, they still wouldn’t really change as

  • They feel more comfortable with the lie than telling the truth
  • They receive dupers delight from conning and being deceptive
  • Dishonesty was likely learned as far back as childhood
  • They repeat patterns of behaviour, as they have poor impulse control and find it difficult to resist temptation
  • They don’t feel bad about lying and cheating, as they have a lack of empathy, guilt remorse or shame
  • They are immature, and selfish, thinking only about themselves, they cannot put the needs of others first
  • They have a lack of long term goals and lack ability to plan for the future
  • When things go wrong, they simply put on a new mask of charisma, and adapt to the new situation. Again, this is for their own benefit (despite if they say that it is for yours)
  • Others are simply tools to be used for source of supply. which means that partners can be easily replaced. As long as the new victim can offer source of supply
  • They have a grandiose sense of self and entitlement

So if the  sociopath acknowledges that he is a sociopath,and will change…

This might be an initial desire on his part. To keep current source of supply, but the  sociopath will not be able to sustain this change. You would be asking that person to be different to who they really are.

If the sociopath has moved onto someone new, the  same pattern of behaviour will repeat again, just with somebody new. There will be a trail of disaster in the future, just as there was in the past.

Once you know, it is like discovering that santa isn’t real. Do you next Christmas believe in Santa, because you wanted it to be true, and it was a nice feeling? ….

Words © datingasociopath.com

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44 thoughts on “Do sociopaths realise that they are sociopaths?”

  1. One interesting phenomenon that is relevant to this piece is the recent emergence of blogs by people claiming to be psychopaths and sociopaths themselves. If you search around you can find them. I’ve wondered if they are people who really do have these conditions or just people who think they do or are pretending to. But it’s worth taking a look at them as just another bit of evidence in your quest to understand whether any of them know “what they are.”

    1. Yes they can be interesting. Only thing you have to go careful of – is that they are compulsive pathological liars!! And narcissists. So how reliable is what what they say? As they do and say things for dramatic effect. Am sure that if they had an audience on a blog they would do the same…. they love to shock and to dupe people….

      1. I agree, you have to take it with a grain of salt. As long as you look at it through a critical eye it can be interesting.

      2. Yes,I find it interesting too. I enjoy the psychology. I shouldn’t but I do find the behaviour quite fascinating. Just have to remember that they put on a mask to achieve their objective for source of supply. I guess it could be narcissistic source for supply to massage ego. But then they always get carried away with lying, and are so convincing, that they can actually believe those lies themselves. Last one I dated his accent would change for different geographical locations – as he threw himself into character. he was literally in his head becoming that person, being so involved within the lie, he almost made it the truth (in his own mind) this is why they say that they can be so convincing that they can pass lie detector tests, as they can actually convince themselves it is the truth!! Let me know if you see any good ones?

      3. I think it’s very understandable to find the behavior fascinating. You’re far from alone. People in all facets of our society are fascinated by it. And that’s a good thing as they are starting to learn more and more about these conditions through the success of everything from TV shows like Dexter to books on the subject coming out one after another. This is exactly why I started our site – to document this growing awareness.

        Sure if I come across any good blogs like that again I’ll try to remember to let you know.

  2. I just sent this link to my Ex (sociopath) with a fake email address prob a bad idea? But watford lost the play off final and i got a bit drunk. I dont think she has a clue what she is when she has been drunk rarelly she has said to me she is confused why she cant get on with people and seemed upset which i kinda think was real she was very confused. i think Id love her to know what she is! This article was so true makes me feel good! thanks lots :)

    1. You are welcome Rob, but – sociopaths usually get on really well with people. They are very charismatic, and can be whoever they want to be. They are the chameleons, they are able to read people well, and can mirror, to be whoever that person wants them to be. If she didn’t get on well with others, are you sure that she is a sociopath? Normally they do (until they cause mass carnage and have to move on – again).

      1. Oh yes im sure from everything i read. Well actually what i meant before was she got on amazing with guys was so flirty and all over them but she would make friends with girls or guys she had no interest with but would fall out after days or weeks. It seemed anyone she coundnt possible get with after a little while she would fall out with after a short term hence been a loner with no friends. If she wanted to she could charm anyone just bat her eye lids so to speak i think she found it way harder with girls though! It sud be noted she is only 19 so is maybe still learning all the ways! What I meant was she has never had real friends and she went out one night with new work mate girls and was kinda looking forward to it but when i picked her up when she was drunk she said she didnt understand why girls never really liked her deep down. I put this down to the fact that girls can see through her easily my mates gfs thought she was really weird and not nice!

      2. WIthout a formal diagnosis it would be impossible to know. 19 is really young. She could just be finding herself. A lot of young people are unfaithful, also learning the way to be in relationships. Sometimes you have to make a lot of mistakes before you learn how to behave in a relationship.

        Females are also different to males,in terms of bonding. Females often talk about people, whilst males talk about things or actions. A guy would be more likely to ask you to come out play a game of pool, rather than sit and talk deep and meaningfuls.

        For females, histrionic PD is quite similar to sociopathy in males http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histrionic_personality_disorder

        It is impossible to know, without a formal clinical diagnosis. I would say to you, that you cannot change her….. but you can change YOU!! :)

        Remember NO CONTACT and that includes sending anonymous emails!! :)

  3. Well it wasnt just unfaithfull as i said in other messages she manipulated me with baby names, first wedding songs and buying holidays clothes 1 day before she went off with some random guy she met a week before. I just read about that link it does sound an awful lot like her but she was a compulsive lier and thought you derserved everything that was not hers ie my money her step mums mansion etc as well though it does say on that link that Histrionic personality disorder can also be linked to anti social personality disorder etc now im just confused :S I realise she is young but i can assure you what and how she acted is not just for being young she has all the signs of all this stuff which i suppose is linked massivley(she even lied and said she was 21) ok no more contact that wa smy irst in 5 weeks since we broke up but i wont ever read the reply if there is one dont even remember the password!

    1. You know she will know it was you.

      ANd if she is a sociopath she would definitely know it was you! They seem to have some 3d vision of the world, they know EVERYTHING and if they don’t know the answer they will go to great lengths to find out. They are not big fans of letting mysteries lie!! :)

      1. I would like to see more research on this 3D vision you mention, which can seem to others like a sort of ESP. How do they always seem to know these things? The lessons of that research could lead us to solve many problems :) I kid…sort of.

  4. Going on from what you said to me last night about Histronic personality disorder i read this today (below link) which I found interesting and wondered if you had read it before or what you thought it kind of made sense to me. I’m realising there is more to it than just labelling someone a Sociopath but it all seems pretty linked in to all these similar disorder I mean to be in a relationship with any of these people is terrible!

    http://therawness.com/my-cluster-b-philosophy/

    1. Hi Rob,

      I write my blog from a viewpoint of someone who has been in a relationship with a sociopath. I know the character traits of all of those personality disorders. But my blog is not about personality disorders – it is about dating a sociopath. As that is what I was involved with.,

      There are some which cross over – for example NPD – which is narcissistic personality disorder, all sociopaths are also narcissists, but some sociopaths are more narcissistic than others.

      What I write, is not a diagnostic tool to see whether your partner or ex partner is a sociopath/psychopath or anything else. I understand them all quite well because of my work….. I write about dating one, so my blog is -hopefully for people who google search dating a sociopath or sociopath or something like that.

      I hope that makes sense!!

    2. My goal here, is not to psychoanalyse your ex. I always say that I cannot diagnose your ex partner.That is for someone to do with that person. My goal here is to write about healing and recovery.

      People who come out of the sociopathic relationship are left with their heads spinning and confused they have been very manipulated and controlled. they do not know what is right and what is wrong.

      There is a very specific pattern that all those who have been involved with a sociopath understand. its identical pattern every time. I hope this makes sense? I know and understand about the other disorders. I don’t write about them here.as this is not what this blog is about!! :)

  5. Oh yes I totally understand what your blog is about. I suppose just because what you said to me yesterday I found it interesting to think of cross over’s with other personality disorders. What you just said about coming out of a relationship with a sociopath with your head spinning, confused and manipulated etc is exactly it I suppose with the 0% closure everyone of us on here is just trying to find answers to lead to acceptance with the ultimate goal of moving on to a happy life again! Before the interenet and blogs like this I dread to think how much harder to deal with things would be id be a million % confused! Cheers!

    1. Rob, there is a lot of overlap between the Cluster B disorders, sociopathy and psychopaty. A lot of people debate the proper definitions. You are correct that relating with any of them can be a daunting experience, although with slightly different features.

      Sometimes these conditions overlap enough that it can be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. For instance, in her fantastic book Evil Genes (it’s on the Resources page of our site if interested), Barbara Oakley actually uses the term “borderpath” to describe her sister, who had traits of both Borderline Personality Disorder and psychopathy.

      It’s very interesting to try to tease apart these differences and it’s great that people are learning about these various disorders. When it comes to healing, though, it’s a very similar experience I think after a relationship with people who have any combination of these. The common thread is they affect the person’s ability to empathize with others.

  6. Thanks PN that all makes so much sense :) Its just so hard to think these people have no care or empathy for what they have done to us i find this nearly impossible to believe (though I know its true) after 5 weeks i still feel sick to the stomach. Going away tomorrow to Turkey for a week with a friend to try and heal trying to be positive hope i come back refreshed from the deverstation i feel. Thank you both for all your answers a true help always :)

    1. Yes Rob, most who have experienced this understand that sick, shocked feeling of realizing someone you thought you shared love with lacks empathy. The next level is realizing the implications of such people beyond just our own personal relationships. It’s quite a rabbit hole. But I wish you luck in healing and coming out even stronger and wiser than before.

      1. As to the world leaders issue, that is part of what led me to study ponerology. That’s where this whole question of psychopathy, sociopathy and related disorders really expands into the larger questions on all levels. Fascinating stuff.

      2. I am interested in this too PN, also especially looking at it from both a spiritual context, and about personal growth and learning.

        Watching people in Government right now (I am in the UK) it is quite incredible to watch. Certain people follow identical patterns of behaviour, you just know what they are going to do next (and they do).

        Its incredible how certain people can be such obvious high functioning sociopaths in public, and they actually get away with it.

        Personally, the actual growth that someone can have from being in a sociopathic relationship, is also very interesting too. I have watched a lot of people in recovery – ho often come out the other side, renewed. It really is an enlightening experience.

      3. I agree on all counts. That’s why I made this such a main issue for me. I think when people learn about it it opens up new insights on all levels in all areas. It’s an epiphany.

  7. I ran into the “SP’s” (his new nickname) sister Saturday… Interestingly, she walked RIGHT up to me & gave me a big hug. We talked for about 15 minutes & the only mention I made of him was to tell her that my family & friends were NOT pleased to be forwarded an email three weeks ago from me with more abusive nonsense from him… (He had wrote me that he hopes they find my body parts all over the highway from riding on my new boyfriend’s Harley & how he won’t feel bad about it at all). I told her what the email said and that I had simply forwarded it to my friend at the police department, my family & everyone I knew… She just shook her head and looked so sad… I feel badly for the family! They have GOT to know that he has some serious mental problems. I just don’t understand how they can love that evil man enough to put up with what he does to nice women that they obviously care about. If it were MY brother, I wouldn’t put up with it for a minute. No way. Are these people in denial???? I know the SP is… but what about his FAMILY? They’ve seen this pattern over and over…. and over…

    1. I guess it is unconditional love within the family. It sounds like you handled it well. Sociopaths Don’t like being controlled or losing control. So hopefully his sister will tell him his email has been forwarded to both police and your family…. They fear losing control and exposure. Hopefully he won’t mail you again.

  8. sociopaths are the equivalent of being morally dyslexic. They start out with good intent and their faulty neurotransmittors cause them to ‘overexcite’ and they become the opposite. Think of bipolar disorder, only involving morals. and conscience. They need medication. I’ve heard dilantin and progesterone work. I’ve seen gabapentin work but it makes them nervous. Just like 5htp works or anxiety, tho i am not advocating it’s use, just relaying info, so can other drugs work for sociopaths but the secret is in finding a safe drug. I have also heard that cytomel might help them. It helps bipolar.

    1. Thank you!! That’s really interesting. I like that analogy of being morally dyslexic too. I have also witnessed that, seen the starting out with good intent, and it all go disastrously wrong – over and over again, repeatedly like groundhog day. I have also witnessed the overexcite too. Thanks for your comment. If gabapentin made them nervous, surely that would make things a whole lot worse, as my experience has been paranoia too (unless that was faked for control) I am not sure. I wonder if they will find something that works one day? I find it absurd that there is a whole section of the population that can never be treated? …

  9. …and there are lots of sociopaths in the world. More than non sociopaths. Emailing their letters wont help the sociopath and ain most cases wont stop them. Most police are sociopaths from what I have read anyway and they usually side with the sociopaths. .

    1. Not always, it depends on the police to be honest. And where you are in the world. I do agree that there are a lot of psycho’s in the police. In the uk they now have a sheet where they ask you questions to determine if the person is a psycho/sociopath. This is relatively new though in the last 10 months. They were called to my house a lot with my sociopath ex and his lunatic actions. Police officer answered my phone and told him NOT to call me – he called another 3 times whilst she was there! …. one before him was locked up in a cell for the night. Police called and said on his release – he wont call you again. Within 2 mins the phone rang, he called. They live in a world of their own.

  10. I just heard the best thing to explain a sociopath they “know the words but not the music” Im sure you have put that quote before somewhere but it sums it up so well, ironic as im listening to music for the first time today since it happened which deff means im happier! Still loving all the new blogs since ive been away thanks :)

    1. Absolutely Rob, I hope you had a good holiday!! Yes I saw it like watching someone on tv who was miming to live music, they appeared to be singing but the words were just out of synch….. Hears hoping your holiday has left you feeling refreshed!! :)

    2. find it absurd that there is a whole section of the population that can never be treated? … agreed. Gabapentin makes them nervous in a good way. I don’t think it was paranoia. It seemed more like they were waking up to true emotions. I will never forget it. They sounded like they were afraid. Sociopaths are typically not afraid. They seemed kind of like a regular person who has regular anxiety. I wonder if they have too much adrenaline as well as too much dopamine. I know a person with anxiety who is a sociopath, also. Maybe gabapentin and a valium would help? I know they are normal somewhere inside. It must be horrible to live like that. If it is true that their emotions turn then they are prisoners of their own brains and bodies. There really needs to be a cure. Something. Crreate a day for them. Help them. We need to stop ignoring them. just thik what a cure would mean. The end of a lot of subjugation and ugliness. No more clammoring for the top. Maybe that is why people aren’t looking for a cure. If you find someone who can sure them they wold be rich, tho.

  11. Haha yeah that sounds pretty much on the spot seriously weird! Yeah was great thanks bit up and down first two days as was meant to be on holiday with the ex at same time but made some really good friends out their. I think an important part of getting over a sociopath is to realise that most people out that are actually really decent and there is still lots of hummanity in the world :) just not with a sociopath and we have just been unlucky (though have to beware of attracting another always)

  12. I brought this up to the ex, after reading up on this for days on end when things were not making sense and the behavior was so out the realm of anything I have ever experienced. I mentioned in convo she has some of these traits and asked if she had ever been diagnosed. She fit 99% of them btw… well she said no, she said she walked out of every therapists office within 15 mins because she knew more than they did… ha! typical… I actually got her to go to therapy, I went with her the first 2 times. She controlled the conversation, spun it, left info out and minimized everything. I just watched the therapists expressions.. She went right along with it most of the time.. I figured this is not going to end well… The one time I didnt go in with her, she tells me she told the therapist I mentioned she might be a sociopath.. The therapist says, ” Well, you want to find out? here, lets take the Sociopath test” hahahhaahahahaa… really? I couldnt believe my ears… at that point I knew it would never go anywhere… I think she knows inside, she knows something is different. Explaining empathy to her was like explaining Quantum theory to a 3 year old.. it was exhausting.. at that point I knew I was in deeper than I wanted to be… ever.

  13. I just ‘lost’ my sociopath.
    Do I get to mourn? Yes. But no.
    The person who he decieved me into believing,
    knowing, caring about-isn’t even dead.
    So I can’t go through the steps of loss really–

    He never existed.
    We didn’t break up.
    We didn’t grow apart.
    It wasn’t a expected death.

    He just vaporized.
    I was dating a figment of my imagination.
    And I am devistated..
    And hate him so much and myself for being
    so available to let him rape my
    heart, emotions, esteem,
    and my future-

    and he’ll do it agiain to someone new.
    Me and his last 2 girlfriends-are friends now
    AND wow–what a bastard.
    (and I horribly miss the illusion of him still)

    1. Jen, WOW, your post pretty much just stated everything I am feeling and going through with my still current SP husband who “vaporized” with a patient he just met last week during inpatient treatment after he …doesn’t even matter all that he did. Never truly knew who he really was after all the lies…don’t know how to mourn..just have current pics of him & his new victim on facebook…I just keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other, guess that’s all I can do. Just appreciate seeing in writing the exact way I am feeling, could not convey or express to anyone…you did it for me. Thx

    2. And really missing the illusion of him…hardest part to climb out of, that feeling that I was something special, even though his actions & behavior never showed it & deep down I knew it wasn’t real. Now have try to live with the guilt of what he is doing to her, the same thing that he did to me, and to his first wife with a heartbroken 16 year old daughter he has never supported & abandoned. Guess she is really the true victim, much more so than me or the numerous women before during the interim of producing an offspring he also was incapable of loving. So very sad. I just want to make the cycle stop but know that is not within my power. If it is, please tell me how?

    3. This is exactly how I feel. Although it didn’t happen quickly, like vapor. He continued to play me for as long as he could get away with. When he realized that he was found out, he coiled. On to his next victim. Whatever kind of loss it is, it is real, and devastating. Thank you.

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