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