Swimming With Sociopaths

I once worked at a job where the person in charge was a textbook sociopath.

Intelligent sociopaths are artists in their own right. They have the capacity to understand human emotions at some tainted level and are smarter than many of the people with whom they spar. To someone of this ilk people are stupid. Their experience backs this up, they know how to win. They are often more successful, more popular, and certainly more feared than those sheep could ever dare to imagine, and things are only getting started.

Things were going well but somewhere along the line they got offended, or embarrassed, or lied to, and it was game-on. Good Sociopaths are thorough and on point and so things went on happily for a few years until people got comfortable, and then it was party time. The business was thriving because sociopaths with skills make very good managers, who just happen to lack empathy and are therefore incapable of caring when other people are hurt and incapable of sufficiently sucking up (and  they enjoyed every minute of it). It’s called making the hard call and damn it, they were capable. The very skill sets that make this person a seasoned predator are all too often the very same passions that successful companies are born and raised on. Sociopaths will commit everything, unrelenting and determined, if they really want something or want to make some poor victim pay because they accidentally cut them off in traffic or didn’t compliment their new hairdo or small-penis truck. People who fail to live up to expectations, and no one does, don’t deserve a break because they are all lazy, or all incompetent, or both. Weak people are going to be exploited, why would they allow this to happen to themselves if they had any self-respect in the first place? Leave your personal life at home and stop being weak. Swim with the sharks or just lie down and be prey.

They didn’t want it to come to this, but it did. They tried to be reasonable but you wouldn’t listen and please don’t ask for forgiveness, you brought this on yourself. The data doesn’t lie and sociopaths are adept at using information, when it seems to bend in their favour, as a weapon of mass destruction. No tears, or at least real ones, no regrets. Never any regrets.

As any web search will tell you, people who are sociopaths and psychopaths lack empathy. They really are different maladies, but for our purposes we’re just going to talk about them as one thing because they share common characteristics on one level. Sociopaths use relationships and people to achieve their ends, which for some reason always gets dark in the end and involves hurting people who are idealistic (stupid) enough to hope for the best in others. These predators are often good at knowing where to stick a knife while whispering sweet nothings in your ear. They gaslight. They are often sexy. They make promises you think they will keep but in the end it was probably your fault all along. They see no need to retreat. Your feelings are inconsequential and your grovelling only makes them enjoy the process more. Loser. I know because I conducted several studies with a recent sociopath who visibly grew stronger, the weaker I appeared to become. I pretended to grovel and there was absolutely no sign of empathy. I slumped into my chair and let my voice quiver and appealed to their reason and their pity. What pity. Reasoning with them only confirmed their suspicions. I’m not going to tell you the details because I know at least three people who may be reading who could potentially believe I was talking about them. You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

It is a common misconception that psychopaths are somehow more intelligent than the average person. While this is demonstrably not true, it may be more accurate to say that sociopaths and psychopaths are often more focused. They may, in fact, be brilliant when it comes to certain details that promote their agenda and fulfill their need for a dopamine rush at your expense. They have undoubtedly, after all, exerted significant energy studying how to do what they do, while you were busy having a normal life and being ridiculously empathetic and sincere like a chump. Often street-wise and adept at manipulation, predators zone in on certain aspects of reality which serve their greater need to prove to the world that they are smarter, better, faster. (Sounds like the opening to The Six Million Dollar Man). They are often successful in business, and it is estimated that as high as 20% of high-level movers and shakers are psychopaths (I know I’m using those words interchangeably, but this is largely because popular literature has reckoned them as equivalents. They aren’t). The heights of narcissism for this group would be astronomically high, very very high. It is little wonder, than, that corporations and titans of industry are sometimes portrayed as cold or unfeeling or driven by bureaucracy at the expense of humanity (this is absolutely accurate). Even if these percentages are inflated, a mere 10% would still be a staggering number.

You know who you are. But what you couldn’t realize in your unbridled arrogance was that I was faking it as well. There was a script, we took notes, and you performed admirably. Thank you for your contribution to this article.

And because there is absolutely no way to win against a narcissist-in-charge we all walked away to better times and healthier vistas while you continue to wallow in your miserable and petty life.

The best part is, you still think you won.

Selfish Lovers

*warning – Adult Content*

I talk with clients about sex all the time. It’s a cool job. You cannot live in my world very long without someone telling you the juicy bits. People who wonder if I can keep a secret assume I hear an average amount of gossip, and they would be wrong. I get paid to listen to your secrets. I gave up finding happiness through selling you out a long time ago.

It’s usually uncomfortable to tell me your story, at first. We have been conditioned to feel ashamed of our private functions, if not a little embarrassed. When it comes to sex, it is easy to feel like you are dirty, or kinky, or just different. This week, slightly tongue-in-cheek, news agencies released the stats on average penis length (5.17 inches). Reports called attention to the stigma around even having such conversations. It may sound disgusting but every boy has measured. Someone should have said it. We are products of repression.

It won’t as too much of a surprise to you that, looking out from my chair, there are a lot of problems in the bedroom. I hear the lists everyday, and it can be fun to be a fly on the wall of my office. You would be surprised how many couples, for example, don’t feel sexually compatible. That is a heavy thing to admit to a stranger. Lots of couples have issues with technique and I get paid to research that kind of stuff. Many people have plumbing problems, use your dirty imagination. Lubrication and miscommunication and a lack of vacations add to the discomfort. Couples often have a great deal of difficulty telling each other that this “doesn’t feel nice” because there is usually so much “water-under-the-bridge” and feelings are easily wounded.

Here’s one for free. No one taught me how to satisfy a woman except my occasional exposure to pornography. Talk about what you like, it can be a huge turn-on. I love learning.

Selfishness is largely a Math issue. When I critically analyze my Giddy-Up time, what percentage of my efforts go into helping my partner feel loved? Then subtract my selfishness. Disregard anything that is potentially selfish but mutually enjoyable. The Math works the other way as well. Do you feel loved? Safe? Living with selfishness can be a prison sentence. It can become difficult to remain emotionally healthy while living life with someone consumed with their personal satisfaction.

Now add the intriguing little tidbit that some of us find our sense of self-worth through helping other people. Those people attract selfishness and narcissism like catnip. I’m not saying it’s your fault, just the reverse. This does not negate the fact that predators seek out the vulnerable and if you live to serve others they are going to use that to use you. The spouses of narcissists, psycho or sociopaths, of the raging and the ragingly selfish, are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It says something of a society when selflessness becomes a liability.

Selfishness can be a much larger issue than just a problem with Mattress Polka. Many of us know the sting of life with a selfish and miserable spouse, or the narcissist, or the Drama Queen or King. It always seems to be about them, and not just in the bedroom. Some narcissists are great lovers, but for all the wrong reasons. Use your imagination. Living with someone who is self-absorbed is maddening.

g5MPb2BFlEC468oFxKvOWQGYFlZmJKvPED33WBpqoB5a7kF4OVMUSjzQywJzbY6bI wish I could tell you there is a fairytale ending, but I would be lying. Convincing someone to live more unselfishly, someone who has spent their entire life developing a value system with only their photo in the room, is an affront to their reality. The only solution that works begins and ends with me. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to change you but it won’t work. I hate that but the article isn’t over yet.

There is a mighty hope that we tend to forget in the drama.We can become more and more whole. As Victor viktor-frankl-quote-those-who-have-a-why-to-live-can-bear-with-almost-2Frankl and others have illustrated far better than I, no one can take away your ability to grow. That is very deep once you get yourself around it. Even in the most abusive of scenarios (and I’ve heard at least as many stories as you), some people learn to hope in spite of it all. I have to believe that anyone can learn, one minuscule step at a time. I have known that soul-crushing despair and wish for death but somehow, over years and years, things have changed. No, it wasn’t worth it, but life has a way of changing my paradigm whether I feel like it or not.

Then the day arrives when we talk about your dysfunction. We need to learn about next time. As the man said, if I keeping doing things the same way I can expect the same results. Most of us believe we learn from our mistakes. Most of us are wrong. It’s shocking, isn’t it, that both your current guy and your ex both like the History Channel? Huh. You’ve come from the bottom but it may happen again. Some of that hurt didn’t just float away. We have all learned entirely screwed up coping mechanisms, unless your parents were perfect, as mine are (Hi Dad). I have long whined that we graduate into adulthood with little or no emotional skills. I didn’t understand my feelings, much less my history, my dysfunction, and my unresolved issues. We were just big and dumb kids, more firmly convinced than ever of our own moral and intellectual certitude.

But that’s another article. I want to conclude by encouraging all of us, myself included, to keep looking after our mental health, and not just with gluten and working out. I work in an industry where everyday people spend thousands of dollars fighting off the end; but who give little or no thought to the only thing that really matters, my inside. And not just your bowel problems. We are all getting uglier, deal with it. But don’t forget to work on the stuff that will define and dictate the rest of your existence.

You may not prevent decay, but we all need to fight Stupid.

Making It Work After Someone Cheats

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Not everyone can do it. I’m not sure I could, to be honest. Many couples choose to stay together after infidelity and I salute them. Remaining together is one thing, trusting ever again is another. So if you are in this situation, what can you do?

Earning trust back is a monumental task requiring an incredible amount of humility from both partners. It takes way longer than people want to admit. I have, however, seen couples who are committed to making things better, in spite of the horror and the obsessive thoughts, jealousy, and pain. Sometimes.

Working as a counselor I have, as you can imagine, my share of marital issues to wade through with people. Nothing comes close to the difficulty of rebuilding trust and safety. Trust and safety – two words that constantly come up when I talk to clients, especially female ones.

People don’t generally understand how devastating infidelity can be. For the partner who has been rejected (yes I said that word) the process can take years, if ever. There are nights and days of obsessing about the “why” of it all, about how they have failed as a lover and a spouse. There are hours and hours of anger and more obsessing. Even being touched by the cheater becomes loaded, and potentially volatile. The spouse who has cheated is often subjected to months and years of the “short leash”. They are forced to phone more often, report in more often, talk to potential attractions much less often. Sometimes there is punishment and condescension, anger and vengeance. The one who is on the short leash usually grows tired of the lack of trust. Why can’t your partner ever seem to move on?

Spouses who cheat, especially men, are prone to verbalize how tired they are of not being trusted. Many will, after some months, flatly refuse to jump through any hoops or even talk about the infidelity… yet again. They are sick of the same tears, the same logic, the same belittling. A surprising number of relationships break up a year or more after the actual incident. Things just won’t seem to go away and both partners are not getting what they need.

If you have been betrayed in this way the first thing you need to understand is that there is no template for how to respond correctly to such a nightmare. It’s so easy for counselors to give out prescriptions for happiness but the sad truth is that most of us are permanently damaged. There can be forgiveness, even reconciliation, but the relationship will change. For some of us leaving is the only emotionally healthy option.

If you or someone you love is tortured by infidelity, either their own or someone else’s, encourage them to talk to a professional. The most important part of moving forward is personal healing, no matter what the outcome. Learning how to process what has happened is the key to healing. Time doesn’t hurt either.

No one really knows what you are going through although some of us can understand that pain. Whether it’s your parents or your partner you owe it to yourself to do everything necessary to be whole again. You’re worth it, in spite of how you may feel right now.

Spitting At My Wife

English: A sign forbidding spitting in Shijiaz...A couple is in the shower and he is brushing his teeth. Lately showering together has become routine and he is feeling playful. On a whim he spits his toothpaste onto his wife’s back. Playful. Fun. Spontaneous. Funny though admittedly gross.

Not so much.

Most guys would find that hilarious. We have a deep and intrinsic understanding of gross stuff you can do to your friends without needing bail money. Farting is hilarious. So are wedgies. Flinging poo – no I haven’t done that but it’s not funny! Seriously.

Ha ha… poo.

What could be more funny than getting your best girl with fresh tooth spit? Hilarious. So why isn’t she laughing? Granted, at the right time and place I know lots of women who can be much grosser than this. Hilarious. In this particular case, however, she was looking for a little intimacy, a little steamy assistance. Shocking as it may seem, some women don’t get off on being spit at. I know, I’m only talking hypothetically, but apparently it’s true. Even your innocent peeing down the drain doesn’t seem to amuse her.  Go figure. Girls are weird.

No one told me that I would have to spend the rest of my life trying to understand my partner. I earnestly had no idea that I would be donating so much of my time learning to interpret someone else’s words, emotions, body language, and intentions. I do this for a living and I am only now beginning to understand even the most obvious aspects of a female’s psyche. Relationships are ridiculously tough and anyone who is not growing in their understanding of their partner is doomed, in my estimation.

Negotiating a good relationship is damn near impossible some days. Moving forward when you are angry or feel misunderstood, and live with someone who is not willing to be humble enough to learn, well that’s another thing altogether. Throw in passive-aggressive personalities, emotional immaturity, money problems, neediness, addictions, chronic pain, mental health issues, family problems, entitlement, insecurity, past trauma or sexual abuse, unresolved conflict, lack of sleep, misunderstanding, or someone who is angry or emotionally unavailable, and you have a recipe for conflict, confusion, and potential misunderstanding. Compound this over several years and it is no wonder, then, that couples grow bitter, interpret every issue as confrontation, or build their own little damaged worlds.

Relationships are hard. Many are worth it. Do the work. Reap the rewards.

In Dating Game, Narcissists Get The Girl

via WebMD:

THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) — Men with high levels of narcissism — an unrealistically positive self-image coupled with feelings of entitlement — have an easier time than others attracting a potential mate, new German research says.

“Narcissism is linked to mate appeal in a real-life situation,” said Michael Dufner, a researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, who led the study.

The research is published in the July issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Dufner and his team first measured narcissism levels in 61 men with an average age of 25, who were invited to join a courtship study in Germany. “We focused on narcissism as a personality trait, not the personality disorder,” he said. “This means that everybody has a certain narcissism level — for some it is higher, for others lower.”

Next, the researchers asked the men to approach women they did not know on the street and get contact information. It could be a phone number, email or Facebook contact.

Research assistants followed the men (which the men were aware of), observing the interactions. Dufner decided to focus on men in this study because men traditionally court a potential mate in this way, compared to women’s typically more subtle approaches, such as flirting, he said.

“We tested if individuals with higher narcissism scores are more appealing,” he said.

On average, the men approached about 23 women. To rule out the possibility that the more narcissistic men were more selective in who they approached, the researchers analyzed each woman who was approached on her physical attractiveness and manner of dress. The narcissists weren’t more selective.

The narcissistic guys did get the girl more often. The higher the level of narcissism, the more likely they were to get more contacts.

“The effect was not due to high self-esteem, but indeed the narcissism,” Dufner said. The physical attractiveness and social boldness of the narcissists were the two likely reasons for their appeal to women, he said.

Dufner offered some caveats about the research, though. “We were not able to directly test the causality underlying the association between narcissism and physical attractiveness,” he said.

One possibility, he said, is that physical attractiveness may be a partial cause of narcissism, as other researchers have suggested.

For narcissists — and the women they seek — the news is not all good, Dufner said. “Narcissists are charming and appealing at first sight, but they are not long-term romantic partners,” he said.

The study findings confirm what many experts have long suspected, said Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who has written about narcissism. “Narcissists are very good at initiating relationships,” she said. “On first impression, they come across as confident and charming. The problems arise later on, when you realize that he doesn’t actually care about you — it’s all about him.”

Twenge was not involved in the study, but reviewed the findings.

Caution is the byword for those attracted to narcissists, both experts agreed. “In the long run, narcissists made bad relationship partners,” Twenge said. “They lack empathy and have a difficult time taking someone else’s perspective.”

Twenge said she does understand why women fall for narcissists. “The initial appeal of narcissists comes from their assertiveness and confidence,” she said. “These are stereotypically masculine traits that many women find appealing.”

 For more on this check out my article “Dating The Bad Boy”

If You Are Successful You Can Do Whatever The Hell You Want

579281_10151511787388258_450744459_nTiger Woods is on top again. In honor of his recent success, Nike, who never dropped Tiger as a sponsor in spite of his foibles, has launched a new advertising campaign strategically called Winning Takes Care Of Everything. Apparently it doesn’t really matter if you are an adulterous letch as long as you can hit a little white ball into a hole better than anyone else in tacky pants and spiked shoes.

When you consider how young the potential audience is for such an ad, how many children idolize Tiger or want to get a new pair of Nikes, it is singularly irresponsible, even immoral, for a company that has made its billions off the backs of the general populace, to blatantly try to convince us that adultery is fine, ruining the lives of innocents is just peachy, as long as you make a comeback.

Narcissists Who Cry: the other side of the ego

Many of you have been in a relationship or been a friend with someone who was an extreme narcissist. These types of relationships are filled with drama unless you totally please the narcissist, which is impossible. The typical extreme narcissists are full of themselves and are overtly pompous. I would like to focus on a kind of extreme narcissist that most people fail to recognize. First, let me explain what extreme narcissism is all about.

Extreme narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self. It focuses on personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how one’s self is perceived by others. Some basic narcissism is healthy. This kind of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself, or what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.

The egotistical narcissists are typically created in one of two ways. One way is through excessive pampering on the part of the parents. Parents create an attitude in the child that he/she is better than others and entitled to special privileges. This creates an arrogant child who lacks a healthy dose of gratitude and humility. It describes the proverbial brat that no one likes.

Another way that extreme narcissists are created is when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child. It creates a dysfunction in the ability for the narcissist to connect emotionally to others. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction and wound. This wounded person constructs one or more false fronts in order to survive and insulate themselves from people because of distrust and fear (Lopez De Victoria, 2008).

A narcissist is a completely self-absorbed person. There can be no other gods in an extreme narcissist’s world, regardless if they say they believe in God or not. In practical terms, a narcissist is God in his/her own imagination. Ego rules supremely in the narcissist’s life. In light of this, what energizes a narcissist is whatever fuels the ego. Ego loves pleasure and gain. In most cases, these can come from one of two ways of feeding the ego. One way is through aggrandizement, which means “to make bigger.” Ultimately, the extreme narcissist feels he/she is most special and, therefore, entitled. To the extreme narcissist, people are actually things to use.

Another way that the narcissist’s ego gets special attention is through the role of being a victim. Welcome to the victimized extreme narcissist. Most persons recognize ego as arrogance. At the same time they fail to see the subtle deception of ego when it takes the role of a being a victim. As kind and compassion-driven human beings, we easily are fooled by this form of extreme ego. We are constantly hearing the voices of the needy in the media through a variety of forms. The disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hurting, the refugees, the abused, and the list goes on. What we often do not see is that we are many times shamed by these voices for not doing enough for them. All along it is easy to be manipulated as we respond from our hearts. The deception of the ego is that the narcissist can hide behind misfortune and victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will say that you don’t care enough for them. They will make you feel that you have not done enough to help them. The ego wants attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning itself as a “poor and helpless” victim. It does this; all the while it soaks up the attention and control over others. In the eyes of an extreme narcissist, their situation is always right and totally justified. Instead of taking responsibility for self and consequences, the extreme narcissist tries to make others feel responsible for their plight. Because extreme narcissists are incredibly adept at the game of manipulation, they will always find a way to turn the tables on you. They will try to make you responsible and feel guilty for not helping them or taking their side and cause.

Extreme narcissists often shift gears from visible grandiosity to acting that they are better than others because they suffer more than others. You can see an extreme narcissist who hogs the limelight and credit from achievements and self-praise also getting similar recognition from milking an injury or a seeming misfortune that has occurred to them. Victimized extreme narcissists are on the constant prowl looking for any gullible soul that will believe their version of calamity whether it is real, exaggerated, or fictitious. What they claim that makes their calamity different is that it is worse for them. Beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of a pompous egotist. The moment they see that you don’t “fully” cooperate and act with extreme concern for them, serving and pampering them, they will eliminate you from their list of “loving” folks. They may even badmouth you and gossip or slander you as being selfish and uncaring. Imagine that! I have seen these types over and over again in work I have done in the field of pain medicine management. It is usually the individuals who are humble, full of gratitude, and joyful who are the ones most capable of coping with their injuries and pain. Those who are selfish, moaning, and full of self-pity take much longer to heal or sometimes never heal but go further downhill in their health. My recommendation is to avoid treating this person’s misfortune as the ultimate suffering of all humans. Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists.

References

Lopez De Victoria, S. (2008, August 4). How to Spot a Narcissist. Posted on Psych Central Web site.