The book I've been reading: narcissts and socipaths

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Nomad, May 21, 2011.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I have a relative (male) who I have wondered for years whether or not is a sociopath.
    Not doubt in my mind...he is a narcissist. This topic has come of late. Do NOT want to start a controversy. I can easily see where it is confusing and even can be frightening.

    The book I am reading is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Sout, Ph.D.

    Seems it is easy to get the two things confused....they are similar in ways. She does advocate that a person can be a sociopath and not be like what is typically described in the literature. I believe in the end she would say a person can have "sociopathic tendencies."

    She gives a case study of a woman who marries a man who she tongue in cheek says married her for her house. She had a good job and bought a nice home. They married and he rarely worked and lounged at the pool all the time. When they had a son, he quit his job and did nothing around the house or to help with the son. She hired a babysitter and the sitter was bothered by his behavior. She tried talking with- him and he constantly made excuses. Things just went from bad to worse. AFter the divorce, he used the boy as an excuse to hang around the house...particularly the pool. Pretty soon, the boy felt stressed and sad....having some inclination that something was wrong. She got angry and moved. It was very hard and confusing on the boy. He shows no remorse, never helps with his son or shows the slightest interest in him. The mother and son went through great difficulties, depression and stress. The man shows no empathy, no remorse, no love...makes no attempt to correct the situation...but instead tries to get them to feel sorry for HIM. He doesn't seem to miss them at all...but does seem to miss the pool. She indicates this man has "sociopathic tendencies."

    She says the only emotions that socipaths seem to feel are "primitive," affective ones that result from immediate physical pain and pleasure or from short term frustrations and successes. "Frustration may engender anger or rage in a sociopath." They also get a rush from making someone a fool.

    She says "narcissism is a failure not of conscience but of empathy, which is the capacity to perceive emotions in others and to react to them appropriately." Narcissists, she says are able to feel most emotions, including some guilt and sadness to "desperate love and passion. The half that is missing is the crucial ability to understand what other people are feeling."

    "Any input from the outside will spring back (to a narcissist) as if nothing had happened. Unlike sociopaths narcissists often are in psychological pain and may sometimes seek psychotherapy."

    Usually when the narcisst does seek help, it is because they are upset that they have lost friendships and this has caused them pain. They can not see it is because of their own lack of empathy with others and they are feeling "confused, abandoned and lonely. He misses the people he loves and is ill equipped to get them back." not particularly care about other people, and so do not miss them when they are gone, "except as one might regret the absence of a useful appliance that had somehow been lost.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm going to look for that book.

    Bff was a narcissist, or else she had very strong traits for it. I've been sure for many years she had more than one serious diagnosis going on. Looking at her genetic makeup, it's not surprising.

    M, ever behavior I've observed screams sociopath. He uses katie and the kids, sees them as objects, you can literally see it in his behavior as well as how he speaks about them.

    Katie has at least tendencies....not sure at this point if an actual diagnosis. But those tendencies are strong. Could be from being with M for so long........but I did see some traits of it when she was a child, not that I'd ever label a child in such a way but yeah.

    In Katie and M's case.........I think they feed of each other.

    Yup. I'll have to read that book.

  3. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    A lot of this sounds so very familiar! I fully believe that my ex-husband could be the poster boy for narcissisism, but there's a lot of the sociopathic behavior in there too. I used to think that he was just the most selfish, self-centered person on the face of the earth but the more I learn about narcissisism, I think that's exactly what he is! Absolutely nothing or nobody mattered to him except in how they could be used to benefit HIM, even his own family, even his children. He is also an alcoholic and now is heavily in to drugs too but I really believe that the narcissisism came long before the addictions. Nothing is important to him except what he wants and his creature comforts. He really believes that the rules don't apply to him because he's so "special", everyone owes him, nothing else matters, which has lost him his marriage(s), his home, his job, his family, even his children. And he's another one who, if his mouth is moving, he's lying, to get what he wants.

    He was very concerned what people thought of him and went out of his way to show people outside of the family what a great guy he was. Someone who just met him or didn't know him very well would think he was a really nice guy but it was all a big front. It was like he was trying to win people over to his side, to validate him, to back him up. He catered to our daughter who was really the last hold out and who was the one who ended up being the most hurt in the end. He had no use for our son at all because he was never as susceptable to his BS as our daughter was. He had no problem using our son's name and SSN to run up a bunch of bills, ruining his credit for years, because HE needed something. When his mother died, our son was still in high school and he insisted that he fly to Florida with him and spend a week there, even though our son barely knew his grandmother and was missing school and the class play he was in. He refused to let him return home early after the funeral to be in his play because HE wanted company on the flight back! There is no reasoning with thinking like that. He borrowed large sums of money from our daughter and sister in law, money he swore to pay back, money they couldn't afford to lose, and never paid it back. When they refused to loan him more, he wrote them off as being disloyal to him, never looked back and never regretted it. Same with his brothers and sisters who fell for his hard luck stories and loaned him money time and time again until they, too, finally cut him off. They haven't heard from him since. He really felt that if they had any extra money, they should share it with him because they had it and he didn't and it just wasn't fair!

    I just wish I had realized all this about twenty years sooner and I could have saved us all a whole lot of turmoil and heartache!
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    yup, yup, yup. My husband is most definitely a narcissist. Very interestingly, he always projects narcissism onto others, especially me and his other ex.
  5. elizabrary

    elizabrary Member

    I believe Kat is a narcissist. But I used to work in the prison system and dealt with sociopaths on a daily basis. Most of them were narcissistic sociopaths- some great guys as you can imagine. I learned quickly to not take anything personal with a sociopath. They deal with everyone the same way and everyone is means to an end for them- a way to get what they want. They literally cannot understand the complex emotions we experience, much less that they cause us to feel that way. Basically you are dealing with a reptile in human skin, so keep it all business because as soon as you show emotion they have won. You will never know the "real" person because they have learned to become whoever you need them to be. They are masters at changing their personalities and behaviors to survive and even thrive. Most of them know something is "off" in them and figured out pretty quickly how to adapt in dealing with "normal" people. Most are also very intelligent and charming. I have seen these guys use their own kids for everything from a way to transport drugs to a tool to manipulate the ex who is desperately trying to get free of them. They don't even love their own kids- they just don't have the capacity. There is a chip missing in them that cannot be corrected. You will drive yourself crazy trying to get them to understand how you feel, let alone that their actions made you feel that way. They literally cannot understand it.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    It seems that all of us who have encountered these narcissists and persons with sociopathic tendencies are deeply affected! It sure does leave an impression! OMG! AND isn't it interesting that there are so many males with the disorder?
    Now, I've ordered a book on narcissits.....
    I'm still formulating my opinion about it all. husband doesn't think someone can have sociopathic tendencies and thinks people like that are just extreme narcissists and only people like Ted Bundy are sociopaths. The author is making a case that there are people with sociopathic tendencies.

    Case in point...and would like to get some opinions re: my relative....
    His wife gets a diagnosis of cancer of the throat. She stops smoking immediately. She gets treatment and does considered "cured," at some point.

    The husband, the narcissist is a smoker. The wife and doctor tells him it is important that he either quits or at the very least does NOT smoke around her. He says nothing. Instead, he cuts back in the house, but still smokes in the house. She sleeps in the same bed as him and retires early. He likes to stay up late and watch late night TV. While she is sleeping, he lights up EVERY NITE in the same bad and chain smokes. Her clothes stink of cigarette smoke. It takes her a little while to figure it all out. She doesn't have the you know what's to throw a fit and leave. (SAD!) He is a charmer. He refuses to stop. Wont smoke in front of her, but it is OBVIOUS by the ashtray and the smell, that he has smoked half the night. She gets cancer again...this time terminal. He never apologizes, barely helps her through it all and during the entire time tries to get the entire family to feel sorry for HIM.
    Thoughts? I say narccisst with sociopathic tendencies! UGH!

    P.S. Sorry about my spelling...I tend to type fast when I come through here!
    Lasted edited by : May 21, 2011
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Nomad, I've seen my ex do exactly the same thing! I'll never forget this ... years ago we attended the funeral for his brother-in-laws younger brother who committed suicide in his early 20's. Very sad. We did know him, saw him maybe once or twice a year, but weren't really that close. After the funeral he managed to carry on so loudly and so publicly that all attention was on HIM and the father of the boy actually came over and tried to comfort HIM! How sick is that?!?!

    He left me and our kids to fend for ourselves so he could go live with a bimbo who had already been with practically every man that we worked with. Nothing like a little public humiliation to make your day, right? After we divorced, he married her. Of course, she would have married the first agreeable one with a steady paycheck that came along. When he lost his job (rules didn't apply to him, remember?) she left him to move in with his best friend whose wife had just died! So he packed his things and went back to Florida to be closer to his siblings (the better to mooch off of them). Just a few weeks later our daughter was getting married in S. Carolina and he rode up there with his relatives for the wedding. He spent the entire three days there telling his sad tale to anyone who would listen, how she had wronged him, how difficult this had been for him, how he was suffering soooo much! Just wallowing in the self-pity! And everyone he told would just nod and say,"Un huh" ..." and look at him oddly. That was because every one of them realized that this woman had just done to him EXACTLY what he had done to me and the kids! He was the only one that was completely oblivious to it! It just didn't register at all with him because to him, the kids and I didn't mattter but this had happened to HIM and everyone should feel sorry for him!
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Good riddance
    by the way, why oh why do these folks seem to gravitate toward Florida?:(
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    In this case, we had lived in Florida a very long time before we moved to Tennessee. His brother and two sisters were still in Florida so he went back there where he sponged off of them shamelessly for several years before they were finally convinced that they were enabling him and they cut him off financially.
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Just hit a real goooood part in the book! I will paraphrase
    13 Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths (in everyday life)
    1. Accept that some people literally have no conscience and that not all these people look like Charles Manson. They look like "us."
    2. Just because a person has a highly valued role in society (for example a teacher, priest, etc.) ignore this. Instead TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
    3. When entering a new relationship, practice the rule of 3's....three lies means you are OUT! Cut your losses..get out/move forward.
    4. Question authority. Don't automatically trust. Trust YOUR instinct.
    5. Suspect flattery. A sincere compliment here and there is fine. Flattery is extreme and is designed to appeal to the ego. It is designed to manipulate.
    6. Redefine your concept of respect. Fear is not respect.
    7. Do not join the game.Don't compete with a sociopath or even engage him. Instead move away and protect yourself.
    8. The best way to protect yourself is to AVOID him and refuse contact of any kind, including communication.
    9. Question your tendency to pity tooooo easily. You become a sociopath's target if you are like this. And don't feel a need to be polite.
    10. Do not try to redeem the unredeemable. You can NOT control this person. Swallow hard and run like hxck. This is not your mission. Your mission is your own life.
    11. Never agree out of pity for any reason to help a socipath conceal his or her true character.
    12. Defend your psyche. Don't let them convince you that "humanity is a failure."
    13. Living well is the best revenge. Move forward and enjoy life.
  11. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    My maternal grandmother was a classic narcissist--manipulative, selfish, used family members and pitted them against each other toward her own ends. Made my mother's life a living hell and even in very old age was trying to pit the rest of us against each other wrt things she *might* will to us. My last conversation with her, when she was 93 or so and on the way out, was a thorough dressing-down for all the !@#$ she had put us through and was still trying to put us through. She died half a year later, and good riddance--she spread unhappiness and division wherever she went.

    I've also had experience with a young sociopath in the family and it was notably different: actively violent, very addictive, also lied and manipulated at every turn and pitted family members against each other, but to a degree far more virulent than my grandmother. Much more wily and willing to play for sympathy, feign willingness to change (always belied by constant and immediate return to predatory behaviors), and so on. Violence, or the threat of it, was the card he played when all else failed. He only cared about his (similarly amoral) friends and the rest of us were just grist for his lifestyle of ceaseless decadence. An entirely different & much worse breed of cat from my grandmother. My sense is that narcissists exploit spouses and their children, while sociopaths really home in on their mothers, as they intuit that this is the one person who is most likely to always "come back for more," deliver what they want, etc. And the attack is a clever blend of appeal to sympathy and threat of violence/mayhem if they don't get what they want.

    Another thing to watch out for is shallowly expressed commitment to "good" causes/passions that they seem to believe will gild/burnish their reputation in the family or community: strong but thinly supported/researched positions of advocacy for popular causes or activities, without any real effort or commitment or sacrifice. I.e., they give lip service to it but no effort or practical commitment. It's just window dressing to offset the crappy things they do the rest of the time. But it tends to win over, however briefly, those who wish to believe that he/she is actually "good" or trying to be. And again, this is different from narcissists, who don't seem to deploy this tactic with any regularity (or at all).

    Another striking feature of the sociopath that I noted is utter 2-faced-ness: they present one face to those in a position to help them but a completely, much less humane, personality to their friends and fellow partiers. I once confronted the sociopath in my family about this, telling him that I didn't know which person I was dealing with, and he replied very casually and breezily, "People are complicated." Not a satisfying response, but it's how he defended his duality of self-presentation.

    Best strategy, once you've IDed someone as a sociopath, is detachment: get clear of him and don't "buy in" to his strategems. That's my sense, anyway.
  12. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I should add that my comment about sociopaths primarily exploiting their mothers isn't based just on my own observation--if you read the posts on in the forum on "psychopath in the family" at, you see it all over the place. Many of the stories are very sad: aged mothers with middle-aged sociopath sons, many of whom have been in and out of prison, still dealing with their appeals for help, money, shelter, etc. It seems never to end. And I'm not implying that that's in the offing for anyone here--not at all. But since the topic was sociopathy, I thought I'd chime in with my own experience and thoughts.
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    The male narcissist with- possible sociopathic tendencies (as near as I can figure it) in my family is very sick right now. I have largely ignored him for the past several years, but his recent illness has stirred things up. True to form, he is attempting to use his assets (long story there....assets he did NOT actually earn) against others in the family.
    Also true to form, his mother (single mother) was VERY forgiving when he was a little boy. Accountability was not big in his life. And when he was a younger man, he was often unkind to her. I think he was even more exploitive and cruel to his wife and child. No empathy in any, way, shape or form....and prone to extreme violence. Also very big on seeking sympathy from everyone in the family for his shortcomings...of which there were many.
    Thank you for the website MrS. I agree wth you and the author of this book...the best way to deal with a sociopath is to run like the dickens.
  14. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    "Also true to form, his mother (single mother) was VERY forgiving when he was a little boy. Accountability was not big in his life. And when he was a younger man, he was often unkind to her."

    This is almost exactly the story of the sociopath in my family, although she wasn't a single mother until he was 13 or so (his father died). I remember her telling me, when he was 11, about teacher after teacher who didn't understand his intelligence, and how she yanked him from school to school to protect him from these "biased" or "insensitive" teachers, even home-schooling him one year, when it was pretty clear to me that the underlying truth was that he was lazy and his teachers were trying to inform his mother of that. And he got away with MURDER at home behaviorally, never being punished or held to account for his misbehavior, so he was already a pretty rotten kid by 10 or 11. At 14 he went full-on ODD and then quickly into CD and was violent toward her, ran a reign of terror in her home, and so on. You could see it all coming years and years beforehand due to how she had raised him.

    Not all sociopaths are "made," of course--but some are, and this is how it can happen. I think that there has to be an innate inclination as well, though, as his younger brother, raised exactly the same way, is a really fine easy child, a wonderful kids. It's a blend of nature and nurture, I think, except where the "nature" side of things--i.e., innate inclination--is so strong that "nurture" doesn't matter, as in outright psychopaths.
  15. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well, I sure as heck won't run from M. My running days ended when I turned 18, be darned if I'm gonna start back up now.

    But I also don't put up with his bull hockey (censored) either. Which is why I think none of us have not seen him since xmas. Fine by me. I could never see him again and I'd be thrilled.

    He called his mom for the first time in more than 10 yrs because he'd gotten it into his head he has some inheritance coming to him. Not hi Mom, how are ya, sorry I couldn't bother to look your number up and call ya.......(took me less than 5 mins to find it and she's in texas and we're in ohio!) Then later on bragged about how he's used his foster mother since the day he was placed with her. I bet she's glad they left Mo. ugh That had nothing to do with love........that was pure intimidation from the get go.
  16. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    "Not all sociopaths are "made," of course--but some are, and this is how it can happen. I think that there has to be an innate inclination as well, though, as his younger brother, raised exactly the same way, is a really fine easy child, a wonderful kids. It's a blend of nature and nurture, I think, except where the "nature" side of things--i.e., innate inclination--is so strong that "nurture" doesn't matter, as in outright psychopaths."

    Makes perfect sense to me!

    I think the author of the book would say that it usually takes a combination of forces to produce the sociopath.

    Some of these likely include: genetic tendencies, stress or trauma in childhood AND either a lack of logical consequences in parenting or even worse a parent who puts their child on a pedestal. Perhaps it is a perfect storm "kind of thing."

    My relative fits this description well.

    It is unfortunate that this happens. I know even as a child, I use to look at this mother and wonder "what in the world is she thinking????" Her young adult son would terrorize family members and she barely said a word.

    But, as a mother myself, it does kinda bug me that so much of this is put "on" the moms with little to no mention of fathers.

    Where are the dads in all of this? And a single mother with a child with these tendencies is up against A LOT!

    Divorced or not, fathers should be a part of raising children and parents need to act as a united front making sure the child receives not only proper nurturing, but logical and appropriate consequences to inappropriate behaviors/choices.

    When Dad passes is very hard. In my own family, first there was a divorce and then the father died. Not sure it really mattered though...this man was uninvolved and his mom was not strong enough to cope with her very difficult son and it just escalated from there. All so very sad.

    All these years later, family members are trying to deal with it all.

    I refer particularly to 8-10 on that list below! It worked for me.
    Lasted edited by : May 22, 2011
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Interesting book and thread, Nomad.

    I understand about the phrase "sociopathic tendencies." It is so hard to tell the difference between narcicissm and sociopathy sometimes.
    I know that narcicissm can run on a spectrum. I don't know if sociopathy can.

    We have a lot of people in this world who are both, and they often do well in the corporate worlds, and sometimes the military, where their "antics" can be shoved onto the next person in the next branch or state.
  18. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Dance with the Devil
    Barbara Bentley

    Violent Attachments *mostly for therapists, but good information on people who stay in violent relationships with sociopaths and why. Not as easy to spot them and get out as some people think.
    J. Reid Meloy

    The Sociopath Next Door
    Martha Stout

    Women Who Love Psychopaths

    Snakes in Suits
    (Psychopaths at Work)

    Without Conscious
    Roberd D. Hare Ph.D.
  19. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Star...........looks like Travis will be doing some searching for me at the library.

    And that I have more heavy reading to do.

  20. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Not exactly the same topic, but a few years back I read an excellent book called "Why Does He Do That," about abusive,controlling men and relationships:

    It's not specifically about socioapaths, but I think that many abusers fall into the narcissist category, at the very least. It's a good read if you have anyone in your family who's been through abuse.

    The list you posted is an excellent one. in fact I'd like to print it out and give it to Youngest.