How to spot and survive SOCIOPATHIC abuse.
I wanted to write a blog about a subject I feel very passionately about - and that is the manipulative abuse many suffer at the hands of those with Anti-Social Personality Disorders, (formerly known as Sociopaths and Psychopaths).
I wanted to touch on what makes a person "sociopathic", the reasons behind their abuse and how you can spot it, stop it, move on from it and ultimately heal from it.
All of us will have at sometime in our lives, spent time with sociopaths. The chances are you will not have even known this. This is because sociopaths are master manipulators, pathological liars and brilliant mimics, (wolves in sheep's clothing). Once you've learned to spot their red flags however, you will begin to see them a mile away and so will have the opportunity and tools you need to protect yourself from their abuse.
I have witnessed first hand what sociopaths do to their victims, (who are most often very compassionate and empathetic people, known in psychology as EMPATHS). Perhaps you
don't yet even know you are a victim, (after all, the sociopath's abuse is very 'covert'.) So I'm hoping any victims out there might recognise themselves and their abusers in this blog and begin to take the steps required to protect themselves.
According to the official DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) https://www.verywell.com/the-diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-dsm-2795758 anti-social personalities fall into the Cluster labelled 'B' and include disorders such as Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic (or a toxic combination of two, three or four of these, known as Narcopaths, Dark-Triads or Dark-Tetrads). - See illustration.
When you study peoples personalities for a living (as I have done for 25 years) you learn to spot these malevolent personalities a mile away. This is because sufferers of them tend to be very binary and predictable in their behaviour and (to the trained eye) "Call themselves out" or "Tell on themselves" rather easily through their need for constant affirmation. For example, they will always blame shift (it's never their fault) and when their behaviour is questioned or suspected they will accuse their victim of doing all the evil things that they themselves are doing.
"Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty" - Joseph Goebbels
This is known as projection and is perhaps their biggest give away. Who can forget Donald Trump saying of Hilary Clinton...
"She's a Crook! She's trying to divide America!"
Sociopaths and Narcissists have a very heightened sense of entitlement. Only the very best is good enough for them. They expect to dine in the best restaurant, drive the best cars, wear the best suits, stay in the best hotels. They massively exaggerate their achievements and abilities (no one else in the World can do their job as well as they...or even do their job at all!) and they have a real lack of accountability for any wrong doing or hurt they may cause and an absolute inability to apologise, compromise or take one for the team.
Sociopaths hold grudges for a very long time and document everything for use in later abuse campaigns and always seem to be surrounded by a sense of chaos and conflict. Everything to them is a competition they MUST win, (Just look at the chaos that comes out of Trump's White House on an almost hourly basis). Sociopaths also love to write long elaborate emails and text messages explaining why they are right and everybody else is wrong.
It is possible to spot a sociopath's abuse right from the very off, as (once they've selected their empathetic victim) they will spoil them with affection and gifts. This is known as Love Bombing and most often consists of overt generosity and superficial charm, romantic 5* holidays and fine dining etc.
If it seems too good to be true...it usually is.
After this period of 'fake perfection' will ultimately follow a period of devaluing, which is almost always followed by discard. Along the way, the sociopath will leave their victims without warning or for any apparent reason, leaving them feeling confused, muddled and guilty. They also love to Gas-light their victims, manipulating them via lies and propaganda, leading the victim to believe that they are in fact the problem, that they are the crazy ones.
The 'devalue and discard' phases of the sociopath's abuse cycle often come once their victims begin to 'notice' and so "call out" their behaviour, or dare to even dis-agree or have the sheer audacity to hold a differing opinion. At this point, the Sociopath becomes very worried about being exposed and so 'drops' their victim like a hot potato (after all they're now useless to them).
This wouldn't be quite so bad if it meant the end of their abuse, but unfortunately it is only the beginning. As before the Sociopath brutally devalues and discards their victim (otherwise known as Stonewalling), they will almost always administer a pre-emptive smear campaign against them, demonising them via gossip and lies to their mutual friends and family members. The Sociopath does this in order to come out 'smelling of roses' and seemingly blameless, once the discard has been initiated by them. This way, because they 'got in first', when the true victim attempts to stand up for herself, she is made to look like the instigator of the fall out. "See, I TOLD YOU she'd say that!!".
This smear, devalue and discard pattern is a way for the Sociopath to maintain the control he feels was placed in jeopardy by the victims suspicions. Make no mistake, Sociopaths are control freaks, completely unable to go with the flow, compromise or let go of the oars. This control is one of their most transparent, obvious red flags. Literally everything the sociopath organises seems to have been done to a pin point military accuracy and any deviation from their itinerary will truly drive them crazy.
The worst is yet to come for the poor victim however. Because once the Sociopath has stonewalled them, they then continue to attack their victims using immense passive aggression. This they do by garnering an army of 'apathetic' people (known as APATHS). In other words, people who are mutual friends/family of the Abuser and the Victim but who are (usually) totally unaware of the abuse that is taking place. The Sociopath uses these people as their 'Foot Soldiers, Minions or Flying Monkeys' in order to pass on their aggression. This is known as TRIANGULATION and is essentially sadistic machiavellianism. The deliberate dividing and conquering of family and friends. Most often than not, they will totally destroy a family or close social group, tearing them apart with their lies and slander. The Sociopath will continue to attack their victims using unsuspecting apathetic people but occasionally they might even team up with another Cluster B, like a sociopathic tag team. They simply cannot stand to see their victims happy and hate their empathy because they're envious of it. They long to be able to have feelings, like their victims do and so will suck all the goodness out of them whilst projecting all their own evil into them. This is why they are often referred to as 'social vampires' or 'soul stealers'. They are human beings, but they're simply not Humane.
Perhaps the saddest thing, is that people who suffer from anti-social personality disorders, tend to alienate and sadistically set out to hurt the very people who love them most and who love them unconditionally, (which tends to be members of their immediate family and/or their partners or children). Most often they will end up alone in later life, as they almost always get found out in the end.
Liars have to have very good memories.
Think about the Reality TV show "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here". In the early rounds, it's the contestants that show symptoms of Cluster B personality disorders that seem to do well. Their machiavellianism, gossip and smear campaigning amongst camp mates, alongside the sob stories and victimisation they displayed in the video room, seems to go down well with viewers at home. But eventually, people begin to see through the mind games and quickly go off them. Almost 100% of the time it is an empathetic contestant that is crowned the King or Queen.
So, that makes someone sociopathic?
This is generally (but not exclusively) because at some time in their very early childhood (usually around the time they were toddlers) they suffered a severe emotional or physical trauma, typically to do with abandonment, abuse or over indulgence (or perhaps a combination of both from two very different parents). For example, the Narcissistic mother may have abandoned the child for her own selfish means (her career or the love of a man for example) and in order to compensate, the kind 'empathetic' father, indulges the child to try to make amends. This trauma and confusion causes the child's emotional development to stop and it ceases to develop any further, (arrested development). In other words, they physically grow into adults, but emotionally remain childlike for the rest of their lives. (Note how Donald Trump is often referred to as a baby man or man child).
Because this 'arrested development' takes place before the child has learned to control what few emotions he has learned - and (more crucially) before he has developed EMPATHY. Then any kind of healthy relationship built on mutual respect and love is just not possible. The Sociopath simply does not have the ability to view situations through the eyes of others and therefore cannot comprehend a different point of view. (If they tell you that they can, then they are lying as a form of manipulation).
The sociopath tends to be afraid of commitment and will undergo many power battles with their partners. Often taking trophy brides (Melania Trump), and most often than not, when they eventually choose to settle down, it will be with a partner that is utterly dependant on them and even then it is only to 'project' the perfect family image. Their chosen partners tend to be themselves from dysfunctional families and are often referred to as co-dependants. They are unknowingly being abused and will ultimately be devalued and discarded at some point in the future.
I've attached two YouTube links for your consideration...
Unfortunately, It is highly unlikely that the sociopath in your life would watch these video's without switching them off before their natural conclusion. This is because they believe themselves to be perfect, entitled and blameless. In their eyes they are always right and nobody else's opinion matters. To they, it is EVERYBODY else's fault, 100% of the time, so why should they watch video's that tells them otherwise?!
The first video explains very clearly what I've touched on above, ie WHY sufferer's of Cluster B anti-social personalities ARE the way they are. In other words, what 'made' them sociopathic. Please do have a watch. (And perhaps subscribe to some of the many hundreds of videos on YouTube posted by psychologists or support groups for victims of Narcissistic and sociopathic abuse).
NB: if the link doesnt work, please copy and paste.
The second video explains very clearly WHY sociopaths DO what you do. ie manipulate, lie, scheme, smear, blame and generally try to destroy those closest to them, via sadistic (and mostly covert) emotional abuse and control.
Mary Shelly's gothic novel Frankenstein, is perhaps the greatest and earliest novel written about Cluster B personality disorders (and long before they were officially diagnosed). The title character (The Narcissistic Doctor, Victor Frankenstein) wants to create the perfect life, (which he see's as an extension of himself), to do all the things that he could not. Something that he can 'show off' to boost his hidden low esteem. When he see's his finished creation however, he feels dissatisfied and disappointed in it, ashamed even. He doesn't like what he see's and so 'abandons' the creature before it has any chance to receive any nurturing or love. As a consequence the creature's emotional development becomes arrested, before it can learn to control it's emotions or have any chance of learning empathy. The creature therefore gets sent on it's way, without any moral code whatsoever. It wasn't born a monster, it became a monster due to emotional neglect. Because it was abandoned by it's maker. Because it couldn't win it's creator's unconditional love.
When the creature starts to plot it's revenge, it doesn't decide to attack Victor Frankenstein directly, but 'passively', by hurting all the people that Victor holds dear. This passive aggression is the default tactic of the sociopath. Frankenstein therefore, is not a book about the making of a monster. But rather it's a book about what it takes to make us Human.
Like all sociopaths, DONALD TRUMP is like Frankenstein's monster. When just a small child, Trump was sent away by his parents to military school because he was 'getting on their nerves'. He loved his parents so much, particularly his father, whom he doted on immensely. But young Donald was merely a distraction to them. His father was far too busy trying to build an empire, trying to build up the brand name TRUMP. Young Donald's emotional development most probably arrested there and then and as a consequence he never learned the art of empathy. To this very day, he remains just a small abandoned boy inside the body of a 70 year old man. No matter how much money he amasses. No matter how much power he gains (he's now the most powerful man in the World), he will NEVER be satisfied, because the only one thing he EVER wanted, (his parent's unconditional love) is simply unattainable.
Despite them being dead for years, Trump is still obsessed with impressing his parents, still trying to get them to notice him. According to press reports, the only family photograph he has framed within the Oval Office, is that of his father. There is no picture of his wife,, adult children or even his 10 year old son. The fact that he has his father's name in giant letters on the side of his aeroplanes, hotels and his golden penis shaped skyscraper in the middle of Manhattan, is the biggest cry for attention on display in the World today.
"Look daddy...I made it! I had to destroy many many lives in the process...but Now will you notice me?!"
Once armed with this knowledge, it's easy to be tempted to sympathise with people such as Donald Trump. But then one remembers that he is a very dangerous, malignant narcissistic sociopath, filled with hate and personal vendetta.
So, what can be done?
If people (Sociopaths) go through their entire lives, considering ONLY their own feelings, then true friendships simply cannot exist. Because true friendship requires a requited love that is unconditional, a love that doesn't come with terms attached or silly ultimatums. A sociopath or narcissist will simply not allow you to sit on the fence or remain impartial. As far as he is concerned 'It's his way or the highway!' And because they are incapable of unconditional love, it is only by having therapy and developing the Empathy that they didn't have the opportunity to do as children, that they and their families can truly start to heal.
Unfortunately, there are TWO very big obstacles that prevent this healing from taking place.
(1) Cognitive Dissonance -
This is just another term for 'Denial'. Often families know (or strongly suspect) that their loved ones have anti-social personality disorders but simply don't want (or choose not) to believe it. Instead, they convince themselves that everything will be fine and that eventually it'll all be okay. "He's just stubborn" they might say. Unfortunately, this is the proverbial Elephant in the room and the very foundation of dysfunctional families. It is see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Families must review the evidence before them and not be influenced by the charismatic, blame shifting, victim playing tactics of the sociopath.
(2) An unwillingness to undergo therapy -
The second obstacle to healing, is that sociopaths and narcissists are highly unlikely to ever agree to have therapy or counselling. Once again, this is because they truly believe themselves to be perfect, entitled, unaccountable and blameless. To them, it is everybody else's fault, 100% of the time, so why should they have counselling?!
In truth, what usually happens in dysfunctional families, is that everybody else (particularly the neuro-typical, emotionally healthy people) ends up having therapy themselves. Perhaps they even subscribe to anti-depressants. Which the sociopath covertly takes great comfort in, often whilst pointing the finger. "See, I told you they were the crazy ones!'"
However, there is nothing quite as powerful to a Sociopath than an Educated Empath. Sociopath's choose empathetic people as targets of abuse because they're empathetic. Because they are everything they are not. They are trying to extract your goodness like a social vampire. What is more, the empath is more likely to allow them to do it. To forgive and forget, to go back for more, to not judge so easily and to turn the other cheek. However, eventually enough becomes enough and it gets to a point where the pain of remaining in the abusive relationship, out strips the pain of leaving it and the educated empath marks the sociopath's card. Once you've discovered their evil game, have called them out and have the ability and intent to 'expose them' for what they are at any given moment, then you become like Kryptonite to the sociopath. They simply cannot control you anymore and it kills them. This is because without the false 'perfect' self image they project to the World, they would simply wither and crumble.
If people saw the real person underneath the Great and Powerful (like the pathetic little man behind the curtain in The Wizard Of Oz), then the little man would shrivel up and die. Therefore, if you have the ability to expose them or even just hold a mirror up to their actions, they will do all within their power to destroy you. As far as they are concerned it is kill or be killed. This may sound overly dramatic, but make no mistake, these people are evil personified. They are pathologically sick - and unless you too are sociopathic, you are NEVER going to beat them at their own game.
If you wrestle with a pig, you'll both get dirty...but the pig will love it!
Therefore, my advice to those of you who have been (or continue to be) abused by a sociopath, is to just be true to yourself at all times. Do NOT let the sociopath bring you down to his level. Be love, give love unconditionally to those who deserve it and cut off the supply of narcissistic fuel that you have been providing for your abuser. Stop 'enabling' the abuse. By allowing these abusers to continue their attacks, you become complicit in them. You see, a narcopath needs your reaction. If you do not respond to them and quickly, they see it as a highly personal attack and the ultimate criticism. Ideally they want your adoration and praise, but if they cannot get this, (because they've done nothing to deserve it), then they will settle for your anger and your rage. They will push your buttons and pull your strings until you snap and react, and then they will tell you that you deserved the abuse that follows. For the sociopath, a bad reaction is better than no reaction at all, for no reaction is the ultimate insult.
The victim must learn to switch off this reactor. If you imagine yourself as a fuel pump and the sociopath as a car running on empty, should you not fill up their tank, then they're left with only two options. (A) They'll break down, or (B) they will be forced to go elsewhere for their fuel. For they simply cannot exist without it.
For most victims of sociopaths, this means going No Contact or in cases where this is not possible, (such as when your abuser is a close family member or work colleague), have as minimal contact as possible. If possible, victims must also cut contact with all the Sociopath's 'flying monkeys' that do their bidding for them and pass on their aggression. It is also advised to leave social media, (another favoured tool of the Narcissist and a foil for the sociopath's passive aggression).
You must have faith that any smear campaign that your abuser WILL have administered against you, will have fallen on deaf ears of those who 'truly' know and love you. You have to hope that people take you as THEY find you and not how the Sociopath WANTS them to find you. And if your mutual friends/family members believe the sociopath's lies and slander, (instead of taking you as they find you), then they were not your true friends to begin with.
Often a sociopath will give the impression of having 'lots' of friends. And in particular friends of great social prestige. This is a false image and another 'red flag give away'. A narcopath surrounds himself with lackey's to garner his narcissistic fuel and do his bidding for him, (after all you will NOT be their only victim, they have lots of scheming plates to spin). Whereas an emotionally healthy (Neurological-typical) person will tend to have much fewer (but real) friends. How often have you heard Trump say "He's a friend of mine!"
Another sure fire give away, is that the sociopath will often independently befriend your own friends (and most likely behind your back). This is because the more they get to know about you and your past, the more ammunition they have to use against you. Ask yourself, has the person you suspect to be a sociopath befriended your ex-girlfriend? or called up your best friends despite barely knowing them? If so, this is a huge red flag. Abort!
If (for reasons stated above) it is not possible to go no contact with your abuser, then until such a time as they learn true empathy via therapy (which as discussed, is highly unlikely), he/she MUST accept the now educated empath's boundaries and social contract.
"I have the right to not be abused and so will agree to see you on MY terms and not yours".
This of course is most often met with contempt by the controlling, entitled sociopath.
I hope this has helped in some way. Sociopathic/Narcissistic abuse is one of the worse things a person can go through emotionally and most often leads to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and I truly empathise with you if you recognise any of the above.
If you have been getting abused (or being unknowingly used by a sociopath for their passive aggression), then I hope you now recognise this to be the case - so that you can now take the relevant steps to STOP it, MOVE ON from it and begin to HEAL.
Finally, to end on a positive and loving note. It's not ALL bad news. Being abused by a Sociopath is exhausting and it can destroy your life. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. If you have the strength to spot it, stop it and heal, then you will have learned a very valuable lesson in life. You will have learned what TRUE love really is. And you will have the Sociopath to thank for this, because it will have been him that showed you just what true love ISN'T!!
The people I know who have moved on from Narcopathic abuse are amongst the strongest people I know. They are Super-Empaths and if you ever meet one, hold on to them for dear life, for they are Earth Angels and the best and most loyal friends you could ever wish to have.