I had spent a lot time in professional working environments working with statutory homeless. This included many diagnosed psychopaths/sociopaths. I had worked alongside mental health teams, had trained for and worked with victims of domestic violence. I completed a course at University in Counselling and another course in life coaching.
Yet, none of these experiences, had given me the depth of knowledge that I had of understanding sociopathic behaviour more than being personally involved with more than one. It is a depth of understanding that was not available to me in a working or educational capacity.
I spent the last year in support forums for victims. This led me to understand the patterns of behaviour, how they were universal, and how stories were almost identical. For a long time in the relationship I was under the mask of illusion, I didn’t want it to be true – but pain forced me to seek the truth, in a way that I wouldn’t have in a working capacity.
I had been thinking in recent times that perhaps I should return to university and obtain a qualification specifically for what I write. Reading the course outline material for many universities, I couldn’t find anything that would offer the depth of knowledge that I wanted on paper.
It was from this, from spending the last year talking to victims/survivors, that I realised that those who have been involved in relationships with the disordered, likely have a better understanding than those who have not.
Why victims/survivors have a better understanding than those with theoretical understanding
1. Sociopaths/Psychopaths are compulsive/pathological liars and very charming
You would know yourself from being in the relationship just how persuasive your partner was. How they could very easily switch on the mask of sanity and convince you that it was ‘you’. The sociopath in the therapy setting, is no different. I know personally of a few members of staff (female) – who worked in service of probation/prison officers/therapists, either directly or through word of mouth, whose careers were ruined by being taken in by a sociopath/psychopath who lured in their worker. At the time as that has never happened to me I wondered how that could happen? After all, we all have professional boundaries with clients. (I should add that I didn’t meet my partner(s) in this way!!) Sociopaths are very good at grooming their victim and luring them in.
2. Sociopaths are very good at playing victim and acting the ‘good guy’
You as the victim, would see the sociopath all of the time, not just for a limited amount of time, that is pre-arranged. You likely saw the mask slip many times. The sociopath no matter how good he/she is, will have a relapse into ‘usual’ crazy behaviour, they cannot keep the mask of sanity going for too long a period. Usually, this is when you try to assert your independence or get out of the relationship and then you will see the narcissistic rage occur, the sociopath will become overbearing or controlling. The psychologist/therapist/worker will often not see this behaviour. They might hear reports of this from other people. But will rarely witness this. If they do, the sociopath is very good at glossing over, apologising and making it out that everything was just a mistake, they are very sorry. If you haven’t experienced this repeated behaviour over and over, you could be (and you the victim probably were many times) lured into yet again the illusion of deception.
3. Sociopaths are very good at mirroring
The sociopath in a psycho-therapeutic setting will also mirror the worker. I have been on the receiving end of this. Workers from other agencies tell me a particular client was a pathological liar. Yet the client managed to convince me that it was all a mistake. He came across as such a ‘nice guy’. Even I had thought perhaps the other person had it wrong. Perhaps he was misjudged, he was a nice guy, just very misunderstood and had had a very rough time in life. I made excuses for the behaviour. I lost count of the amount of times that we had undertaken a risk assessment for someone whose referral form said ‘psychopath or sociopath’. Yes we had expected someone very different to the person who was in front of us. Because sociopaths are very good at ‘mirroring’ they are able to seem ‘just like you’ and this includes to the person that they are working with. Due to this –
4. Sociopaths appear very normal
I had never worked with one who matched what I had expected, when I saw the outline and diagnosis on the referral papers. I had a lot of anticipated judgement, which was never proven in reality. Looking back I realise that it was because a sociopath uses various techniques to appear very normal. In fact compared to other issues that I worked with, the sociopath often seemed the most normal of everyone. The sociopath portrays the mask of sanity, being very ‘normal and moralistic’ very well.
5. Sociopaths are very manipulative and deceptive and enjoy creating the mask of illusion
Back to dupers delight and the joy of conning. The sociopath enjoys playing the game, and they do this with a worker too. Just as they do in the relationship, they are able to do this even more so in a therapeutic setting as
- Time is limited
- The worker doesn’t know the sociopath well enough to know see the repeated pattern of behaviour – the worker sees only what the sociopath chooses for them to see, which is often false and a mask of illusion
- The sociopath will play the game with the worker – but as time is limited it is more probable that this game will go undetected
- There are no emotions involved
Victims see the real deal
Victims are able to see what is really going on. After the honeymoon period when you were groomed and lured into the relationship with false empty promises – after the assessment and seduction stage, the gaming begins. The victim is left in a constant state of anxiety. When people are anxious they are hyper alert and aware and therefore will pick up everything (as they are on guard for being hurt again).
Victims can see the real deal, because they ‘feel’ the real deal. When the sociopath does an action in the therapeutic setting, it is unlikely (although it could) but it is unlikely to cause the worker pain. They are not emotionally involved. They simply move onto the next person. The victim however, being emotionally involved holds onto the pattern of behaviour. Will analyse it in their mind to try to understand it. The victim feels pain.
At first, when not understanding what is happening or who their partner really is. The victim is confused. This is reinforced by the sociopath who will use the victims lack of knowledge of their behaviour to manipulate and blame the victim. Once the victim has knowledge and understanding, the truth is seen very clearly.
As the victim spends a lot of time with the sociopath. They are able to see lots of patterns of behaviour which are often repeated but wouldn’t be shown in the relationship with the worker.
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced this? Do you think that somebody in the workplace would have a better understanding than a victim? Or do you think that professionals know best? Why do you think this? I would be interested in your views.