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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Portrait of a predator

This article about a brush with Rolf Harris caught my attention because I have been told (although I have no direct knowledge myself) that this description of Harris's behavior more closely fits that of an affable, well-known science fiction figure than most people would be inclined to believe.
Until I met Harris personally, I was a massive fan. I'd seen him doing Two Little Boys at his first Glastonbury and, like most of the audience, had shed a tear for my lost childhood. So when the chance came to interview him around the time he was doing Animal Hospital, I could scarcely wait to meet my hero.

That "Jekyll & Hyde" personality that was mentioned in the court case: this was exactly the impression I got. Before the interview, I'd seen him on camera being sweet as pie. But once the camera was off, he was cold and prickly and remote.

He didn't want to talk about his time compering the Beatles (for 16 nights in 1963, after befriending George Martin who produced his early records), nor about playing didgeridoo on Kate Bush's The Dreaming, nor about any of the other things he had done in his extraordinary career. There was no joy, no enthusiasm, no warmth, just an empty husk with a familiar beard.

But I'm sure I said nice things about him when I wrote up the interview all the same. It's how these bastards get away with it. 

I've spent a fair amount of time around a sociopath for more than two decades, which may be why I have a reasonably developed sense for spotting them in much the same way that some straight individuals have high-functioning gaydar. There is something about the false effect they broadcast for general consumption that I pick up on as not being quite normal.

What I notice most often is that predators are always watching people, always scanning, and always testing people's reactions to their every word and action. They are hyperaware, which state is often mistaken for intense personal interest by normal people. They perform, and often the performances are entirely convincing to those who can't see the artificiality of the movements. And they react very, very badly to being watched themselves; one of my red flags is when someone overreacts to discovering that I am dispassionately watching them.

It's important to understand that predators come on a spectrum. Most are not criminally inclined. But criminal or not, they all exhibit certain similar patterns of behavior. Anyone who wears a physical mask is going to show signs of it, and those who wear false emotional and psychological masks do as well.

Now, it's entirely possible that a Jekyll & Hyde personality is merely an ambitious suck-up who has no time for his lessers because he is too occupied with trying to find another posterior to smooch. But any time you encounter a false effect of the sort described in the case of Harris, there is a reasonable chance you're dealing with a predator.

One simple test is to allow them to catch you staring at them. If they overreact, or worse, if they go cold and expressionless, you'll have a pretty good idea you've identified one.

Labels:

109 Comments:

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 01, 2014 10:27 AM  

People with CHL and carrying are very much alert of their surroundings and catching someone observing them is a definite red flag.

Blogger Master Doh-San July 01, 2014 10:31 AM  

That's an amazingly accurate description of Hitlery Clinton's reaction when she catches people watching her. Scary.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 10:33 AM  

People with CHL and carrying are very much alert of their surroundings and catching someone observing them is a definite red flag.

Not any more than any other combat-trained individual. Martial artists in active training are also hyperaware. But they react to being watched in a manner within the normal human range. He might express irritation. He might be suspicious. He might make a face and walk off or he might demand to know what you're staring at. But he's not going to freak out like a women whose butt was just grabbed or instantly transform into a dead-eyed cold fish.

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 01, 2014 10:39 AM  

"But he's not going to freak out like a women whose butt was just grabbed or instantly transform into a dead-eyed cold fish."

That is a far cry from

"One simple test is to allow them to catch you staring at them. If they overreact, or worse, if they go cold and expressionless, you'll have a pretty good idea you've identified one."

Thanks for expanding and clarifying.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 10:45 AM  

Pierre-André Taguieff:

“… over the last thirty years of the 20th century, the word “racism” became an insult in everyday language (“racist!” “dirty racist!”), an insult derived from the racist insult par excellence (“dirty nigger!”, “dirty Jew!”), and given a symbolic illegitimating power as strong as the political insult “fascist!” or “dirty fascist!”. To say an individual is “racist” is to stigmatize him, to assign him to a heinous category, and to abuse him verbally […] The “racist” individual is thus expelled from the realm of common humanity and excluded from the circle of humans who are deemed respectable by virtue of their intrinsic worth. Through a symbolic act that antiracist sociologists denounce as a way of “racializing” the Other, the “racist” is in turn and in return categorized as an “unworthy” being, indeed as an “unworthy” being par excellence. For, as people say, what can be worse than racism?”

Isn't it rather losing its sting these days?

Anonymous RedJack July 01, 2014 10:56 AM  

VD July 01, 2014 10:33 AM

Not any more than any other combat-trained individual. Martial artists in active training are also hyperaware. But they react to being watched in a manner within the normal human range. He might express irritation. He might be suspicious. He might make a face and walk off or he might demand to know what you're staring at. But he's not going to freak out like a women whose butt was just grabbed or instantly transform into a dead-eyed cold fish.



I have noticed this also, and have been told by a few acquaintances that I do the same thing (CCL, hunter, etc.). But I also know what Vox is saying. I have run into people who react very strongly to me observing them. Perhaps it is the reaction similar to a predator realizing what he thought was prey has teeth too.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 11:01 AM  

I once saw Rolf Harris in concert. I was too far away to see his face.

BTW, can we still get the Gravity Kills etc screen savers?

I started reading A Man Disrupted recently and it is very good, IMO. I liked the bit about the Augment discussing whether it had been saved. I haven't finished it as yet, however.

Blogger Tiny Tim July 01, 2014 11:03 AM  

I think most people have sociopathic tendencies to one degree or another. It comes down to the heart and soul and what one chooses to do with each decision one is faced with during their day.

Some people will do the right thing to their own detriment because the cause is just while others always decide in their own favor regardless of the effects to others or what the cause is, even if it harms close family. They will sell their mother to make a dollar.

Humanity is deceptive and creeping ever so quickly into the abyss of selfishness. The zombie class is rising as it is being foisted upon us like a tsunami of overwhelming evil, subtle but no less evil. The closure of the age of enlightenment is fast approaching.

Blogger Some dude July 01, 2014 11:03 AM  

one of my red flags is when someone overreacts to discovering that I am dispassionately watching them.

Apex predator.

I imagine the reaction is akin to cougar sitting in a tree eyeing a rabbit for a tasty treat only to notice a tiger eyeing him in the exact same manner from three branches above.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 11:03 AM  

BTW, can we still get the Gravity Kills etc screen savers?

It's still there on the post. Just right-click to download and save.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 11:15 AM  

Don't hire women in tech companies, because it seems they are somewhat predatory as well.

Anonymous CLK July 01, 2014 11:17 AM  

ASPD can describe the majority of the people that frequent here ... and thats not meant as a insult... there is a price to be paid for intelligence, that price is often the loss of blissfulness that ignorance often provides .. and to some degree a self imposed isolation from those elements of society that you know are bad for you..

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 01, 2014 11:26 AM  

Tiny Tim: One of the movie lines that grate me is "follow your heart." usually, it is an advice given to a teenager.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

But the good news, Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

Human beings are capable of great evil and of great good. The question is, what liberates us for good or constraints us to evil?

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 11:28 AM  

Twenty years is a long time for a sociopath to tolerate someone who is aware of their nature. I imagine that once they confirmed your awareness, they began to spend as little time as possible with you and turned the mask up to 11 around you when it was necessary for them to work with you.

Blogger Nate July 01, 2014 11:30 AM  

hrm... my instinctual response to being starred at is to make eye-contact and then refuse to break it until the other person looks away. On some level I suppose I take it as a challenge.

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 11:36 AM  

What's interesting about that article is that Will Shetterly's only comment is a defense of Rolf. If SFWA want to put some distance between themselves and the molesters they harbor this is not the way to do it:

Fred Smith • 2 hours ago
A touch of 20:20 hindsight here.

A lot of famous people who exude humour and bonhomie, particularly comedians, are notably unpleasant people off-stage.

Will Shetterly to Fred Smith • an hour ago
Indeed. In most cases, it's simply because they're either nervous about going onstage or exhausted from having been onstage.

Anonymous Vidad July 01, 2014 11:40 AM  

"Anyone who wears a physical mask is going to show signs of it, and those who wear false emotional and psychological masks do as well."

I now know this all too well.

The fake emotional thing.

Grand promises of love, then cold and vicious insults and threats when the mask slips.

My INTJ personality and my conscience both find manipulation appalling.

OpenID rufusdog July 01, 2014 11:45 AM  

often mistaken for intense personal interest by normal people

I would have thought that warning bells would go off for most normal people when a relative stranger takes an “intense personal interest”, it would with me anyway.

One simple test is to allow them to catch you staring at them.

LOL, not the best suggestion you’ve had, “if you think someone is a sociopath just stare them down, see what happens”…maybe add a caveat or two in there like “Vox Day sociopath test only approved for Kung Fu masters” or something to that effect.

Blogger Anthony July 01, 2014 11:50 AM  

One simple test is to allow them to catch you staring at them. If they overreact, or worse, if they go cold and expressionless, you'll have a pretty good idea you've identified one.

Unless you're a beta male and try this on a woman.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 11:52 AM  

Twenty years is a long time for a sociopath to tolerate someone who is aware of their nature. I imagine that once they confirmed your awareness, they began to spend as little time as possible with you and turned the mask up to 11 around you when it was necessary for them to work with you.

I wasn't aware of it for any of that time. It was only later that I realized it, although I had always tried to keep a little distance due to general unease which I thought was my fault. However, once I did become aware of it, they not only kept a distance themselves, but turned the mask up to 11 with my friends, family, and acquaintances.

Blogger jamsco July 01, 2014 11:54 AM  

" I have run into people who react very strongly to me observing them. Perhaps it is the reaction similar to a predator realizing what he thought was prey has teeth too. " - Redjack

Or a non-predator thinking they're being preyed on.

"On some level I suppose I take it as a challenge." - Nate

Agreed.

Anonymous Dan Maguire July 01, 2014 11:56 AM  

I would have thought that warning bells would go off for most normal people when a relative stranger takes an “intense personal interest”, it would with me anyway.

An effective sociopath can mask the intense part and do a good job of feigning empathy. That's one reason why it's a good idea to keep your guard up when dealing with strangers.

The bastard cousin of the sociopath is the embittered middle-aged loser, who, if you're unfortunate enough to have to be in his vicinity, will regale you with tales of how he could have been someone if only life hadn't dealt him a losing hand, and how whatever you may have is the result of an unfair playing field. He's a sociopath, minus the talent and deceptive charm.

Blogger jamsco July 01, 2014 11:56 AM  

"However, once I did become aware of it, they not only kept a distance themselves, but turned the mask up to 11 with my friends, family, and acquaintances."

I imagine that somewhere in the middle you told them you thought they were a sociopath?

Anonymous Molon Rouge July 01, 2014 12:02 PM  

Who is Rolf Harris? Guess it is time to Dogpile.

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 12:03 PM  

I imagine that somewhere in the middle you told them you thought they were a sociopath?

Don't know the answer in this case, but this isn't necessary. Once you know...the sociopath figures it out really quick. Their natural manipulation levers stop working properly, They get nervous and paranoid and instantly identify you as a fly in the ointment that must be minimized or removed.

Anonymous roo_ster July 01, 2014 12:11 PM  

I think some here labor under the impression that sociopaths/psychopaths are universally hostile and thus dangerous. Not necessarily, though they _are_ broke inside. Some function well enough at various levels of society and practice the social rules the rest of us are born with. Usually awkwardly.

I think the danger comes from those that seek to actively manipulate folk around them in ways more or less subtle, clever, and intelligent. We see a lot of the "less" in prison, while the "more" learn to blend in with non-broken people and seek to manipulate from stealth, or positions of power, or when they are protected from consequences.

When I encounter/ID a functional sociopath, I treat them as one might a domesticated wolf. It may be unavoidable to interact with them, but I do not sleep until they have been caged or are far distant. As for the manipulative sort, the less contact the better.

=============

Being scrutinized while scrutinizing does occur upon occasion. A smile and friendly nod is my usual response. Why should I care if more than one man is paying attention to his surroundings? But, like VD wrote, if the response is cold/hostile or turns blank, it is worthy of note.

OpenID rufusdog July 01, 2014 12:11 PM  

There is a wiki on how to spot a sociopath, interesting stuff.

Anonymous RedJack July 01, 2014 12:12 PM  

Daniel July 01, 2014 12:03 PM
I imagine that somewhere in the middle you told them you thought they were a sociopath?

Don't know the answer in this case, but this isn't necessary. Once you know...the sociopath figures it out really quick. Their natural manipulation levers stop working properly, They get nervous and paranoid and instantly identify you as a fly in the ointment that must be minimized or removed.



It can even happen before you totally realize what they are. Once the sociopath sees that their tricks are not getting the response they want, they either move away or attack. I had it happen to me once, and only later figured out why.

OpenID rufusdog July 01, 2014 12:13 PM  

Spot-a-Sociopath

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 12:13 PM  

I imagine that somewhere in the middle you told them you thought they were a sociopath?

Nope. But I caught the mask slipping too many times. They knew.

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 12:17 PM  

Or a non-predator thinking they're being preyed on.

No, that's not right. Being looked at is not equivalent to "being preyed on." A non-predator will be uncomfortable or self-conscious or may go as far as telling the starer to stop or may even get up and leave if it is that "intense."

The sociopath will accuse you of trying to hurt him, or of you being broken inside, or scream that your parents never loved you, or else go so icy that you feel the air go out of the room. It is a very strange phenomenon, one that may you leave you wondering about it for days.

And the assumption that the unease on your part is "your fault" is definitely a tool in the sociopath's toolbox.

Anonymous Regressivus Maximus July 01, 2014 12:19 PM  

I find that frequent small lies, that do not serve to protect them or anyone else are a good tell. As minor as they seem, it takes something quite cold and callous to lie often, without reason. Reminds me of a spider spinning threads to gauge the strength or weakness of every element in its environment.

Anonymous Porky July 01, 2014 12:28 PM  

Nope. But I caught the mask slipping too many times. They knew.

A sociopath I once knew was unmasked by a relative of mine. From that day on the sociopath would not make eye contact with me. He moved away shortly thereafter.

Anonymous Dan Maguire July 01, 2014 12:28 PM  

Related to rufusdog's link, someone who is constantly relating anecdotes in which he or she is the hero, going up against long odds and all sorts of insurmountable obstacles, may very well be a sociopath. People who overcome adversity seldom go around constantly bragging about it.

Man, sociopaths really suck!

Blogger jamsco July 01, 2014 12:32 PM  

Regarding "Spot-a-Sociopath" (from Rufusdog)

I chuckled when I read #9:

"Sociopaths are known for giving intense uninterrupted eye contact. The person stares because he or she is completely comfortable staring at people to make them uncomfortable. Staring at others intently is a way to further his or her own means."

So it might go like this:

Person 1: I'm going to watch that person and see if they respond poorly to my observing them. Then I'll know if he's a sociopath.
Person 2: That person's staring at me. He's obviously a sociopath!

Anonymous Porky July 01, 2014 12:35 PM  

Another way to spot them is to hunt with them. Most hunters enjoy hunting.

Sociopaths just kill.

Blogger Booch Paradise July 01, 2014 12:42 PM  

Also a lot of things in that list are shared by simple run of the mill gammas, as they both share the insecuty that comes from delusions of grandeur while also knowing that they are a fraud. The difference is that the sociopath consciously knows that they are a fraud where as a gamma just knows it in their lizard brain.

For example, Scalzi, not a sociopath, but
See if the person is constantly lying: check.
See if the person is manipulative: check.
See if the person has a huge ego: check.
See if the person has few real friends: don't know, but seems plausible.
See if the person likes to isolate you: don't know, but seems likely. Most gammas I know like to avoid interacting with a whole group.
See if the person is immature: check.

Anonymous JI July 01, 2014 1:13 PM  

That's very interesting about how they react when being watched. Probably think the observer is one of them. Will have to try this out on a candidate I have in mind.

Blogger IM2L844 July 01, 2014 1:19 PM  

Probably think the observer is one of them.

LOL! Well, if you go around randomly staring at people to see how they respond, you might just be a sociopath.

Anonymous Shibes Meadow July 01, 2014 1:30 PM  

I was borderline sociopathic in my youth. I never deliberately hurt anybody, but I was willing to hurt others in order to get what I wanted. Fortunately, my Christian upbringing, as bad as it was, instilled in me a sort of moral "ground floor" beneath which even I could not bring myself to sink. Even at my worst, there were some things I simply would not do (e.g., mess with kids, hurt old folks, torture animals, etc.) for which I thank God.

I also always had a hefty sense of guilt, although I was often successful in routing around it.

(Even in my worst moments, I was merely a cad. I say "merely"; I used women like Kleenex, for which I now cringe inside. Oddly, the women from my past to whom I have since apologized all seemed bewildered at my guilt. Maybe women of a certain age like to be used and discarded.)

I think the two great "tells" for sociopathic behavior are 1) pathological dishonesty and 2) the inability to ever admit fault or wrongdoing. I once displayed both of these traits. Thankfully, in the fourteen years since my return to Christianity, I have been (and am being) regenerated from the person I once was. I wish to make it plain here and now, however, that a) I have done plenty of evil over the course of my life, and b) every bit of it was my own fault and no one else's.

As a depressive, self-hatred comes naturally to me. It is a daily struggle to learn to love myself in the healthy, normal, Christian sense instead of slipping into the mire of self-loathing for the things I've done wrong. That being said, I worshiped my self as a god for over twenty years -- a state to which I desperately hope never to return.

Sorry if this is TMI.

Blogger JDC July 01, 2014 1:30 PM  

Just watched a Sherlock on Netflix where the antagonist was (spoiler alert) a media mogul black mailer / sociopath. Sherlock describes him as having dead eyes, and the character lives up to that description. I've noticed that Danes and Finns have great dead eye stares.

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 01, 2014 1:32 PM  

JL: When you get into an elevator with other people, stand in front of the door but turn around facing the other folks. A sociologist suggested that as an experiment to a student, when I was in college. That should do it.

jamsco: Yep. Sounds like a feedback loop. It ends in everyone cowering and running away, or in a melee.

Anonymous Vidad July 01, 2014 1:36 PM  

"Once the sociopath sees that their tricks are not getting the response they want, they either move away or attack. "

Yep. I experienced this directly.

"The sociopath will accuse you of trying to hurt him, or of you being broken inside, or scream that your parents never loved you, or else go so icy that you feel the air go out of the room. It is a very strange phenomenon, one that may you leave you wondering about it for days.

And the assumption that the unease on your part is "your fault" is definitely a tool in the sociopath's toolbox."

Damn straight.

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 1:40 PM  

Hey, Booch, you sure McRapey isn't a sociopath? Unless you know him personally, the only evidence of it you will find is when a sociopath would be in full mask mode; online, on stage, or on television.

Any guy who thinks he's clever for posting his rape process and assumes everyone should love him for it is not entirely right in the head.

Anonymous Laz July 01, 2014 1:43 PM  

"People who overcome adversity seldom go around constantly bragging about it."

Is this your way of saying politicians aren't people?

Blogger SirHamster July 01, 2014 1:46 PM  

Had one as a neighbor once. Believed a few lies about needing to borrow money, before I started to notice the stories didn't add up.

As a Christian, I wrote the money off, confronted him on the lies and forgave him, leading him to say things and cry tears, but I still have a sinking feeling that too was just an act. My conscience is clear, at least.

Anonymous RedJack July 01, 2014 1:51 PM  

Porky July 01, 2014 12:35 PM
Another way to spot them is to hunt with them. Most hunters enjoy hunting.

Sociopaths just kill.


Great observation. I have been hunting with people who are just like that. They want to kill, not hunt. Most of us grow out of that.

However, one of my close friends loves the kill, but isn't a sociopath. Just extremely violent. He was in the Army and the Rangers (till his knees blew out). Not exactly a stable person, but he does have a moral code, is extremely loyal to friends and family (often to his detriment), and does feel empathy at times.

Blogger Booch Paradise July 01, 2014 2:22 PM  

Daniel, if he actually were, I'm fairly sure he'd learn from his mistakes.

Plus there are some checkpoints that he is the opposite of.
See if they are able to stay eerily calm in spite of circumstances: nope.
See if the person makes uninterrupted eye contact: can't say for sure, but I really doubt it.

I'll admit that I've never personally interacted much with a full blown sociopath to my knowledge. But I've know plenty of gammas, and McRapey falls right in line with how they act.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 2:41 PM  

I was borderline sociopathic in my youth.

No, you weren't. You were merely selfish. If you were sociopathic, you wouldn't have felt any guilt or shame. That's what makes the sociopath; his complete lack of empathy or remorse.

Blogger JCclimber July 01, 2014 2:56 PM  

Silence of the Lambs:
describing Hannibal Lector, when he at the tongue of the nurse while hooked up to a heartbeat monitor, and his heart rate barely elevated.

That's a psychopath.

It is disheartening to run into them in real life, when you realize that most other people have no clue to that person's sociopathy.

"Look, that person is lying their a$$ off", "no, I can tell when someone's lying".
Right. You can tell when normal people are lying, not when a sociopath is lying.

This is why they overreact. They've been caught enough times in their past to know that a truly dispassionate observer will find them out. I'd imagine the cold fish response is them withdrawing deep into analytical mode as they try to figure out how much of a threat you are to their power, and how to neutralize that threat if necessary.

Anonymous Athor Pel July 01, 2014 3:10 PM  

One odd thing I remember reading about sociopaths is that because of their inability to feel emotions as a normal person would, they figure that in order to fit in they must emulate the mannerisms of those around them. That is All mannerisms, meaning body language, facial expression, tone of voice, every thing. They are actors, thespians, by necessity.

This necessity leads to people watching and lots of it. Some may stare in order to induce a particular reaction like is described further up the thread, but most sociopaths watch others intently so they themselves will know how to act in all social situations. The rarer and more emotionally extreme the situation the more intently they watch.

It's like a conscious machine learning how to be human.

Let that sink in.

Anonymous GreyS July 01, 2014 3:10 PM  

For example, Scalzi[...]
.
See if the person has a huge ego: check.


I never took Scalzi like that whatsoever. He always seemed to me the be the opposite-- Very lacking in self confidence. Constant posturing. Constant trolling for adulation. The manipulation (of those easily manipulable) comes from a yearning for acceptance. If OMW is a complete ripoff of [whomever- I forget and haven't read OMW] then a writer who rips off in such a way is surely lacking in self confidence big time.

Anonymous Salt July 01, 2014 3:14 PM  

If you catch someone intently watching you just remember -

"I want to do you, I think you like me"

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 3:35 PM  

It is disheartening to run into them in real life, when you realize that most other people have no clue to that person's sociopathy.

Precisely. It's astonishing to see how people will swallow lie after lie after lie, then attempt to defend the person lying to them once they have no choice but to recognize the lies.

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 01, 2014 3:55 PM  

I am appreciating this thread more and more. It is giving me a eye opening lesson in sociopathy. Athor Pel, I like the occasional people watching but your description is really scary.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 3:56 PM  

The reality of social pathology is beginning to get much wider exposure thankfully.

Good books to read.

The sociopath next door by martha stout.

Political ponerology by andrej liebowitz

Snakes in suits. (Forgot authors name, sorry)

Anything by Dr. Robert Hare, Harvey Cleckley.

It is very important to remember the vast majority of psychopaths do not act like the hollywood stereotypes.

JI's comment up above is intriguing. One thing that psychopaths all say consistently is they can immediately recognize each other in a room full of people.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 4:03 PM  

"A room full of *normal people"

OpenID rufusdog July 01, 2014 4:28 PM  

Richard Kuklinski.

I remember those two shows on…HBO I think it was. Very interesting stuff. I don’t recall if he was a sociopath or a psychopath (I think the differences between those two terms is vague and not agreed upon at best), but he was a stone cold killer, that’s for certain. I always thought a sociopath was someone broken emotionally but didn’t torture small animals in his basement for fun like a psychopath would…like psychopath is sociopath + violence.

Makes one wonder if these people are born or made…maybe a bit of both I suppose, Kuklinski had a ROUGH childhood.

Blogger Anthony July 01, 2014 4:43 PM  

Shibes Meadow: I was merely a cad. I say "merely"; I used women like Kleenex, for which I now cringe inside. Oddly, the women from my past to whom I have since apologized all seemed bewildered at my guilt. Maybe women of a certain age like to be used and discarded.

The ones that a man like you were could catch, probably do. Not sure if it's an age thing.

Anonymous kh123 July 01, 2014 4:48 PM  

The epitome of.

Watch how after he confronts the officer reading the indictment, the look on his face as he scans the room.

Most chilling part is how he can play the reporters with a well timed joke after the mention of his being charged with the rape and murder of a 12 year old girl.

Can easily see that face playing the same game in the Oval Office.

Anonymous NateM July 01, 2014 4:57 PM  

Waiting for Scalzi to post the results of some online psych quiz. For no reason whatsoever

Anonymous Shibes Meadow July 01, 2014 5:01 PM  

VD: Good point.

Anthony: That was a fascinating personal opinion. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 5:02 PM  

One thing that psychopaths all say consistently is they can immediately recognize each other in a room full of people.

It's because they're always scanning everyone so intently. I suspect that's how they know I'm not one of them. I may be watching people too, but without their level of intensity. I'm just curious, I'm not looking for an opening.

Anonymous Curlytop July 01, 2014 5:07 PM  

The first things I noticed about Obama when he announced his candidacy in 2007 were the dead shark eyes and fake clown smile.

Anonymous N5 July 01, 2014 5:22 PM  

Google and check out the police interrogation videos of murderer colonel Russell Williams. Chilling.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 5:41 PM  

I don't know. I read rufusdogs's link by there is something that naggingly bothers me: how do you disentangle sociopathic behavior from the normal behavior you would see in any hierarchical structure? I mean, stranger danger sociopathy is not really something to worry about unless you are being targeted by a serial killer. Stranger interactions are too brief to allow the sociopath to really work.

That leaves social interactions within institutional structures. Here I can see sociopaths getting a foothold because the circumstances allow for repeated interaction and proximity due to the institution. However, all institutions are hierarchical, even if informally so. This changes people's behavior and how they interact.

My point is, it seems that if you are not transparently honest about everything about yourself, and therefore naturally finding your own level, then you are a sociopath. So, if you are anything less than a natural alpha but you are aping alpha male traits, then you are a sociopath. Is this really the meme that we want popularized?

Sociopaths are really just individuals who hate people but they find themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of having to deal with them. So socios try to be nice as minimally needed. The rest of this psychobabble is just an elaborate method of categorizing people you don;t want to deal with.



Blogger JCclimber July 01, 2014 5:52 PM  

map, methinks you don't really understand what a sociopath really is.

It's not Aspergers or something along those lines.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 6:06 PM  

JCclimber,

I don't think I am confusing it with Asperger's. I am also not discounting anyone's spider-sense if they encounter dangerous people. I just find the info on "how to spot a sociopath" to sound too similar to a neurotic, hysterical woman's take on what a sociopath is...ie, an unattractive man who has the audacity to hit on her.

Anonymous Daniel July 01, 2014 6:09 PM  

No map, you've missed the fundamentals. Sociopaths don't hate people: they are indifferent to human connection. They lack basic emotions. Three men on a bench waiting for the bus: First normal man sits quietly. Second normal man complains loudly, irritating the other two. The sociopath at the end of the bench? He considers what -- if anything -- must be done to cause either of the other two men to get him his bus faster.

Whether they are strangers or "good friends" the sociopath on the end is indifferent to whether his manipulations of others cause inconvenience, pain, or even death. He doesn't go out of his way to cause harm, and in fact, it is far more convenient for him if his manipulations of others don't carry secondary effects of harm, but he absolutely doesn't care if the best route for him means pain for others. Now typically it doesn't work out pain-free, because the emotional fakery is fraught with normal pain points for normal people.

It isn't psychobabble. It is experience. There is a big difference between people I hate and sociopaths.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 6:10 PM  

JCclimber,

In fact there is a youtube video at the bottom of the wikihow article that, when viewed in youtube, has the following info. As you can see, the wikihow article endorses a definition of "sociopathy" that goes against any communistic or socialistic interpretation of human behavior:

Applying simple Common Sense within evaluating the Behavior / Attitude of Human Beings in the context of our collective Social Environment called Earth, toward each other - we can see that by definition, not considering each other as Equals and Living within what is Best for All = is Sociopathic behavior -- wherein the only thing that exists within our consideration is our own 'social path' consisting of those whom we have placed value in as 'special' and 'worthy of consideration'.

This is obviously a dangerous, irresponsible and unstable way for Human Beings to exist, as within such a starting point, one exists in Spitefulness towards others, and indeed toward all Life itself - holding only ones family and friends to have 'value'.

If we are to make this world a better place for All Life - Spitefulness and Self Interest cannot exist = because that simply creates abuse, conflict and neglect.

Become a real Psychologist and start exposing the real problems of Humanity that require Correction - develop Self Honesty and Common Sense.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 6:26 PM  

Map

And here is our first open sociopathic comment of the day!

J/k. Look Map, go read the books I recommended, ESPECIALLY "the sociopath next door" before you embarass yourself any further.

Normal humans have a huge, diverse range of personalities, behaviors, etc, they can be complete assholes all the way to simpering wimps.

Psychopaths/wetikos/wendigos etc. Are in a "wild card" class of their own. Athor Pel comes closest to describing them. They are conscious robots with a clinical approach to life, a small amount of self-preservation, but totally lacking even a Vulcan's moral logic. The world literally revolves around them in a way that infinately transcend all the self absorbed tweens to duck faced cock carousel hopping grrls.

They are demonic black holes in human form.
Encountering one with the mask dropped is a horror that is unequaled. Any pretense that all humans are both good and bad and "just raised wrong, just hurt, just misguided" evaporates.

There are plenty of Sick and degenerate humans who commit Evil, but none come close to the Pure Evil of the Wetikos. The Wetiko makes no truck with remorse, guilt or even basic introflection.

It is a creature solely of appetite, a crocodile or vampire bat or a lammprey has more altruism.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 6:48 PM  

VD

"I'm not looking for an opening"

Unless it is a *pretty lady or a possible business oppurtunity.

If you are married, apologies.

It is one thing to be a "social climber" even a nasty one, quite another to be a psychopath. A normal member of Mankind with ambition of course wants to climb up the social ladder, better jobs/career/mate choices etc and all that entails.

But a psychopath/wetiko doesn't do that.he/she does it for the lulz and seeing how many they can mind fuck and gaslight.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 7:00 PM  

My point is, it seems that if you are not transparently honest about everything about yourself, and therefore naturally finding your own level, then you are a sociopath.

Your point is completely and utterly wrong. It is so ignorant that it doesn't merit anything but dismissal.

Unless it is a *pretty lady or a possible business oppurtunity.

To repeat: I'm not looking for an opening.

Anonymous Susan July 01, 2014 7:06 PM  

@JDC

I saw that particular Sherlock episode. One of the few times that the character of Sherlock Holmes ever admits to being creeped out by an opponent. That particular actor's younger brother is is also very good at the intense staring.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 7:11 PM  

VD, (hello, Maestro)

and everyone else. Look, I am not suggesting that any of your instinctual impressions of a sociopath are wrong. If someone is giving you a bad vibe, then you should follow your instinct.

I just have trouble with these clinical definitions that you may use in normal circumstances. Yes, I have read "Snakes in Suits."

Here is an operational definition of sociopath that may make more sense. A man meets a woman at a funeral. They hit it off very well. It turns out that the woman is a relative of the deceased. After the funeral. the man loses touch with the woman. He really wants to see her again. What does he do? He kills one of her relatives.

That is a sociopath.

Sociopathy and psychopathy is best identified from looking backward from a truly predatory act to the motive behind. reason in the reverse does not really work.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 7:29 PM  

Map, that is a crappy analogy, I've read it many times on teh interwhebs and it makes no sense. A psychopath will do as a normal Man will and find out the object of his/her game desire through "normal" channels, the difference is, a normal person will thank the relative/friend and pursue, the psychopath will kill them for maximum effect.

Anonymous VD July 01, 2014 7:34 PM  

Sociopathy and psychopathy is best identified from looking backward from a truly predatory act to the motive behind.

AKA: hindsight is 20/20. Of course it works better that way. The problem is that it is useless. A sociopath is an individual who lacks human empathy. Any metric that can identify an individual who lacks empathy is at least potentially useful.

Since sociopaths can readily identify each other, logic dictates that this identification is based on observable behaviors. So, it is only a matter of observing enough sociopaths to see what observable behaviors they have in common. I have noticed the "scanning" behavior, which is also common to non-sociopathic predators; there may well be others.

I suspect the common movie trope of the non-sociopathic bad guy revealing his himself through an untimely look or facial expression is based on a dim awareness of the difference between sociopaths and normal individuals.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 7:43 PM  

takin' a look,

I think I pretty much said the same thing. It is the pursuit of a result unbounded by morality that identifies the sociopath.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 7:43 PM  

VD

"To repeat, I am not looking for an opening"

I am not talking about predator opening, I am talking about networking with like-minded folks business-wise and maybe having a nice time with a girl. Psychopaths are "networking" solely for their own advantage, a normal Man networks to see something greater than himself be born. Even the most craven gamma wants to "create" something beyond himself. Psychopaths "create" a world that is exclusive to their appetites IRL, with no possibility of something new being born.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 7:50 PM  

VD,

"AKA: hindsight is 20/20. Of course it works better that way. The problem is that it is useless. A sociopath is an individual who lacks human empathy. Any metric that can identify an individual who lacks empathy is at least potentially useful."

But people are murdered by non-sociopaths all the time so this is not exactly a "hindsight being 20/20" example.

Absent the obviously criminally predatory behavior, there seems to be too much overlap between the "tells" of a sociopath and that of a normally gregarious and extroverted person.

That said, I've never encountered the "staring" that many of you have mentioned. Where did this occur? On a train? In the workplace? Who stares other people down on a train in this country and in this day and age?

Anonymous Aeoli Pera July 01, 2014 8:17 PM  

Low-ability aspie detected.

Anonymous Trolli July 01, 2014 8:22 PM  

Hahaha, I love it...

"Sociopaths identify each other"

Vox (et al) "yeah, I can totally identify sociopaths, but, um, not because I am one... I have identified and observed them so...crap"

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 9:08 PM  

" Trolli July 01, 2014 8:22 PM

Hahaha, I love it...

"Sociopaths identify each other"

Vox (et al) "yeah, I can totally identify sociopaths, but, um, not because I am one... I have identified and observed them so...crap"

Unless Vox is a psychopath, no, he cannot "easily" identify them. We are not animals, we are Men, ALL animals can identify the "wetikos" among them without exception, Men cannot, Animals can have a bewildering plethora of personalities and responses to such, but only Men have "Humans" amongst them. There is something about the species complex of *Homo* that allows psychopathy to flourish.

Blogger Tiny Tim July 01, 2014 9:12 PM  

Troli, gaydar also goes off around here on a regular basis... but, ahem, not because anyone on here is gay. Don't you forget that.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 9:30 PM  

"map July 01, 2014 7:43 PM

takin' a look,

I think I pretty much said the same thing. It is the pursuit of a result unbounded by morality that identifies the sociopath."

No, you didn't, you really have no clue. You still think there is some sort of "redeeming quality" vis a vis the psychopath.

To get an Idea, watch this episode of "Angel"
"http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/I%27ve_Got_You_Under_My_Skin"
The demon WELCOMED death, because the boy he possessed had a black hole hunger that nearly ate him.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 9:31 PM  

So is lack of empathy defines sociopaths it would seem that quite a lot of blacks qualify for that definition.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 9:37 PM  

Democrats believe in improper gun control and improper penis control.

Anonymous Vidad July 01, 2014 9:53 PM  

Funny thing: the sociopath in my life liked to claim I "lacked empathy" and "love for people."

He claimed he had a deep, deep love for everyone, hence his being drawn to "ministry" work. He took an empathy test and scored almost 100%. When I took the same test, he claimed I had the ability to "fake responses" to get whatever results I wanted.

Now I'm seeing it was projection on his part.

Anonymous Vidad July 01, 2014 9:54 PM  

@takin' a look

I just bought The Sociopath Next Door. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous Vidad July 01, 2014 9:56 PM  

@VD

"It was only later that I realized it, although I had always tried to keep a little distance due to general unease which I thought was my fault. "

Yes. I felt that unease for a long time before finally seeing the mask slip. Could never figure out what was "wanted" of me.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 10:09 PM  

"Vidad July 01, 2014 9:54 PM

@takin' a look

I just bought The Sociopath Next Door. Thanks for the recommendation."

De Nada, Martha Stout hits home hard. She can both maximize the emotional aspect as well as the clinical aspect so people can understand. However, she doesn't do what Dr. Hare does, explain how truly _alien_ this genetic freak-type is.

Psychopaths are "morally insane", but there is NOTHING wrong with them, they are an intraspecies predator. They thrive and survive easily, reproducing easily enough, what happens is they destroy the society around them.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 01, 2014 10:15 PM  

Psychopaths are "morally insane", but there is NOTHING wrong with them, they are an intraspecies predator. They thrive and survive easily, reproducing easily enough, what happens is they destroy the society around them.

That describes another group I have heard of but cant quite remember at the moment.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 10:26 PM  

" The other skeptic July 01, 2014 9:31 PM

So is lack of empathy defines sociopaths it would seem that quite a lot of blacks qualify for that definition."

sociopathic behavior is very common in tropical zone humans. This is because we are the fastest maturing of the apes in timescale, children are essentially mature and on their own within 3-4 years, sleeping in a creche or wherever if it is a tropical zone. Temperate to Arctic zones demand a LOT more, so Fathers and Altruistic family on both sides plus friends are much more likely.

Compare Tropical Elephants with Arctic Mammoths. A Loxodont or Elephas can wean her child within 2 years easily and have another calf by then. A Mammuthus cannot wean off for at least six years simply because the calf needs her milk through all the seasonal food-shortages.

Blogger Tiny Tim July 01, 2014 10:29 PM  

It is a generational curse borne of the parents and replicates through generations conditioned by repeated traumas to the children's psche?

.The only way to stop the curse is to stop the resentment. Hate is the failing that opens the door to this spirit, which has life and is always seeking a new host. Hatred is the inter-dimensional pathway. It destroys the old and corrupts the new.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 10:34 PM  

"The other skeptic July 01, 2014 10:15 PM

Psychopaths are "morally insane", but there is NOTHING wrong with them, they are an intraspecies predator. They thrive and survive easily, reproducing easily enough, what happens is they destroy the society around them.

That describes another group I have heard of but cant quite remember at the moment."

"snorts" yes, no disagreement here, However, their own children are getting tired of the "wimp libel"

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2014/06/should-auschwitz-be-a-site-for-selfies.html?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=facebook&mbid=social_facebook

Really, they should look up Lazar Kaganovich or the Chinese Elite such as Rewi Alli, Israel Epstein and go, "AWESOMESAUCE!" We made the nazis look like nuns at a picnic!

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 10:38 PM  

" Tiny Tim July 01, 2014 10:29 PM

It is a generational curse borne of the parents and replicates through generations conditioned by repeated traumas to the children's psche?

.The only way to stop the curse is to stop the resentment. Hate is the failing that opens the door to this spirit, which has life and is always seeking a new host. Hatred is the inter-dimensional pathway. It destroys the old and corrupts the new."

"rollseyes" okay, So we DON"T need to talk about Kevin.

Anonymous map July 01, 2014 10:49 PM  

takin a look,

"No, you didn't, you really have no clue. You still think there is some sort of "redeeming quality" vis a vis the psychopath."

No, I do not think psychopaths are redeemable. I am commenting on the wikihow entry that rufusdog presented above.

http://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Sociopath

At the bottom of the page is a youtube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc68K2ZHksw

Expand the text by clicking "show more" and you will get the posters statement about what he thinks a sociopath is. I can't regard this as the correct definition.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 11:50 PM  

Map, check this out.

http://twelfthbough.blogspot.com/2010/10/emotionally-fluent.html

and this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKvhKI6Kxew

it is broken up in several parts, but you can get the gist of it.

Anonymous takin' a look July 01, 2014 11:58 PM  

"But is it true that all people have emotions?

What about sociopaths? They have emotions about themselves. However, they do not experience empathy.

They have [emotions], but in relation to themselves, not in relation to others. In fact, such individuals are unable to feel "social" emotions such as sympathy, empathy, gratitude, etc. This may explain why sociopaths are so willing to inflict suffering and pain onto other people without so much of a blink or remorse. For them, the emotions of other people have no meaning at all; they "are unable to construct and emotional facsimile of others." What kinds of emotions do sociopaths have ? They are quick to become angry, are aggressive, irritable, and are very sensitive to shame or humiliation. They are also get pleasure by means of dominance and are exhilarated by this.

This trait allows them to lie without remorse, to lie skillfully. However, in our experience dealing with various narcissists and sociopaths, we observe that they have two main weaknesses: 1) They have to keep track of their lies, which may be very time consuming depending on the complexity; and 2) They must deliver appropriate emotional responses to things that they have no (socially appropriate) emotions for.

"Remember this. For every one lie you tell, you have to invent two or three to protect yourself from the first one. Secondly, you've got to have a great memory, because you have to remember 'What have I said previously that could contradict me now?' Neurologically, truthful people don't go through that rationalization process.... Research shows us under MRI scan that when we fabricate, embellish and make things up, we use three parts of our brain. Whereas if you're recalling information [ie: an honest answer], you are only using one part of your brain." ~ Steve Van Aperin

Sociopaths are vulnerable to mistakes in tracking their lies and delivering appropriate emotional responses. These are HUGE disadvantages if EMPATHS (feeling people) would simply clue in and notice. Empaths typically don't clue in because we are not taught about sociopaths and how common they are (approximately one in twenty people). Therefore, we tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Sociopaths use that tendency to buy time, to fix their mistakes."

Actually, the Psychopath doesn't really FEEL anything, his/hers EQ is.....weird, it is totally divorced from the rest of the world, there are no empathy or mirror neurons firing here. What the Psychopath "feels" is total, isolate, hunger, everything MUST subsume to his/her worldview, you are simply an object, existing when present, non-existing when not. No different than a chair or a speck of dust which the robotic demon in human flesh may or may not take notice of.

Anonymous Augustina July 02, 2014 12:05 AM  

I wonder if sociopathy can be induced. I had dealings with a devout Christian man who manipulated an organization I was involved with. He strung us along for years and bled us dry. When the whole thing came crashing down, I couldn't understand how that man could sleep at night.

Did he have any empathy? Did he have a conscience? Was he a psychopath/sociopath? I read a book on psychopathy, and in some ways he seemed to fit. Then I heard someone claim that he was involved in a highly controlling religious movement.

In a cult, a person gives up control over their own actions and thoughts. Essentially, they give up their conscience to the cult. They decide the cult is the way to live a good and moral life, and they no longer should decide for themselves the rightness or wrongness of their actions. The cult directs their actions. Obedience is everything. A person who keeps his own active conscience will not fit in and will either be beaten down psychologically or driven out.

If you think about it, people involved in cult like movements have done some horrific things throughout the twentieth century (and still do, of course), and yet they weren't all born psychopaths.

I came to the conclusion that cults induce psychopathy/sociopathy.

Anonymous takin' a look July 02, 2014 12:16 AM  

"Augustina July 02, 2014 12:05 AM

I came to the conclusion that cults induce psychopathy/sociopathy."

There are two books for you to read, "Political Ponerology" and the Uncensored Jewish Bible, the Soncino Babylonian Talmud.

Blogger The Deuce July 02, 2014 1:26 AM  

I came to the conclusion that cults induce psychopathy/sociopathy.

Additionally, it's often claimed that sociopaths lack conscience, but I don't think that's quite right. Sociopaths constantly try to shift blame, and they constantly rationalize and justify their actions to themselves to avoid admitting to themselves that they have a problem. That suggests not a total lack of conscience or moral awareness, but rather a deeply suppressed one.

Anonymous lurker July 02, 2014 2:01 AM  

"However, once I did become aware of it, they not only kept a distance themselves, but turned the mask up to 11 with my friends, family, and acquaintances."

That invariably happens as the gig is up. The people the sociopath has ensnared are confused by it though.

"It's because they're always scanning everyone so intently."

They scan as much as crows do.

"So is lack of empathy defines sociopaths it would seem that quite a lot of blacks qualify for that definition."

Most all flips(filipinos) are sociopaths which ties in with the next comment...

"I came to the conclusion that cults induce psychopathy/sociopathy."

Therefore leftism produces sociopathy especially in leftist societies.


Anonymous S Micallef July 02, 2014 2:05 AM  

What a technique! Stare at someone longer than socially acceptable and if you don't like their reaction (too much or too little "too cold") then they're a "predator".

Anonymous Idle Spectator July 02, 2014 2:22 AM  

Precisely. It's astonishing to see how people will swallow lie after lie after lie, then attempt to defend the person lying to them once they have no choice but to recognize the lies.

No kidding. It reminds me of Ted Bundy. "But he was just the nicest guy!" Yeah, because he is trying to fool you, you fucking morons.

I've noticed this seems to be worse in women though. Maybe it is the whole attraction to the Dark Triad thing.


Psychopaths are "morally insane", but there is NOTHING wrong with them, they are an intraspecies predator. They thrive and survive easily, reproducing easily enough, what happens is they destroy the society around them.

Yes. Think of them more like a person missing internal parts. Outwardly they look normal..


What a technique! Stare at someone longer than socially acceptable and if you don't like their reaction (too much or too little "too cold") then they're a "predator".

Perhaps Vox should have put in a caveat. The staring test is not to be tried by the autistic or mentally retarded.

Anonymous Define your terms July 02, 2014 2:36 AM  

@ those commenting on what they think a psycho-/sociopath is:

I suggest reading some of the books suggested above (and I'd include Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test too). There is a quite specific medical definition, it's not just a pejorative for people you think behave abnormally. Its one of those words that doesn't mean what most people think it means but everyone thinks they know what it means.

Anonymous Dr. Idle Spectator, UMass Psychiatry July 02, 2014 2:53 AM  

There is a quite specific medical definition, it's not just a pejorative for people you think behave abnormally.

One of the easiest ways for showing psychopathy is scoring above a certain number on the Hare (PCL-R) Checklist.

The gold standard for psychopathy case studies is still The Mask of Sanity from 1941 by Hervey Milton Cleckley. The general public can read it, and see if the people described in the book reminds them of anyone they know.

If so, get the fuck out.

Blogger Unknown July 02, 2014 8:25 AM  

The quoted description could also fit an introvert. There may be considerable overlap between introverts and sociopaths, but not every introvert is a sociopath.

Anonymous Heaviside July 03, 2014 4:26 AM  

Check your privilege neurotypical scum.

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