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By January 26, 2007 Read More →

“How did he really feel?” and “What did he want from me?”

“How did he really feel?” and “What did he want from me?” are two questions that often haunt victims of sociopaths. The reason we are haunted by these questions varies but often stems from the habit of over-focusing on the sociopath instead of ourselves. That being said, victims also have a healthy ‘need to know’ that can help with recovery and healing.

I struggled with these questions in my own healing. I remain baffled by my observations of enjoyment of affection on the part of sociopaths. Early on, I told my own therapist that I had come to the conclusion that sociopaths exploit those close to them to the point of death, then, cry at the funeral. At the moment the tears are shed, I believe they do represent a grief of sorts. The feelings of loss experienced by sociopaths are however, short lived. Victims also have to beware because, although sociopaths are said to be incapable of feelings for those in their lives, they do become obsessed with them. Psychologists have not yet explained this obsession. If they don’t attach, why are they obsessed? Those who have read my other entries know that I believe that sociopaths do attach. It is what they do with attachments that is disordered.

How did he really feel?

In response to the picture of a sociopath crying at his victim’s funeral, my therapist said, “He feels what he tells himself he feels.” To help you understand what my therapist meant, I will explain what is known about how people usually experience feelings.

There are two components to feelings. The first is a physical sensation. When we experience a feeling we feel something in our bodies in relationship to that feeling. Think about loving someone close to you and sense how your body feels. Is it warmth in your heart? That is usually what people report.

There is much evidence that these physical sensations are disordered in sociopaths. Sociopaths do not generally experience the physical and hormonal changes that go along with feeling emotion. If they do experience them, it is to a lesser degree. Physical responses are blunted.

The second component of feelings is called attribution. Attribution is a cognitive process. When I feel that warmth in my heart as I see my children, I attribute the sensation to my love for them. Thus the physical sensation alone does not make emotion. Emotion is physical sensations and our interpretations of these sensations. There is also evidence that the parts of the brain responsible for attribution do not function properly in sociopaths.

There is one emotion that many sociopaths experience in a not so disordered way. This emotion is anger. Sociopaths do have blunted physical responses to anger. Despite this blunted responsiveness, they seem aware of angry feelings and make correct attributions about what makes them angry. Again, science has not even addressed, much less explained this observation.

Since the physical sensations and attributions that allow for the experience of emotion are disordered in sociopaths, their inner world is very different. They are left to make sense of themselves and others without the tools most of us use. Other parts of the brain fill in the missing processes. The person who is credited with first describing sociopathy in depth is Hervey Cleckley. He proposed that sociopaths are at least of average if not above average verbal intelligence. This makes sense because they have to use their verbal intelligence to make up for their lack of emotions. They do indeed feel what they tell themselves they feel. Scientists say they mimic other people’s emotions, yet again there is no real proof of this.

What did he want from me?

This question is easy to answer intellectually, but very hard for victims to accept emotionally. There are three pleasures we get from our love relationships. The first is pleasure in affection. The second is sexual pleasure. The third is pleasure associated with dominance and control. Sociopaths experience sex and dominance as enormously more pleasurable than affection. Therefore, they are in relationships to get sex and power, pure and simple.

If you love deeply and feel affection for others, you cannot fathom the inner world of an emotionally disordered person whose primary pleasures are sex and power. To understand another’s world you have to imagine yourself experiencing what the other experiences. You can’t do this with a sociopath.

Louise Gallagher said in her post The six steps of healing from a psychopath that the first step is acceptance. We have to accept that we can only know in part how sociopaths really feel and what they want from us. We can understand intellectually, but never emotionally.



1,105 Comments on "“How did he really feel?” and “What did he want from me?”"

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  1. goldie5 says:

    More time that gives me more time to learn and understand what he really was and to heal knowing he cant get to me right now does help at this point but when he does get out i know i cant let him get to me in anyway shape or form i gotta figure out where i go now from here how to live again and be happy

  2. still reeling says:

    Louise, sure I’ll share my email address…do you mean just put it right here in comments? That would be great. Like I said, not much experience with blogs, forums….only once before.

    The weird thing about your post was that I was scanning quickly through the posts and I thought, “Did I write that?” I LOL’d when I saw that you did.

    I feel exactly the same way about corporate America. Have for years and have fought tooth and nail using every resource possible for my job while I watched the ego-manics and narcs stay put and the rug get pulled out from under me and others who just did not deserve it. I never wanted to do anything but work and I *did* get disgruntled many x when people around me wouldn’t shut up…it drove me crazy. I just wanted to focus and get into that kind of high that fulfilling work provides me.

    Yes, I am terrified to get laid off again, but I do want out of that place because of Godzilla and many others. No one trusts anyone else and it’s just awful there. All are miserable. Horrible environment. Hell, I just want to *work*! It seems like that’s a bad thing these days….not sure what the heck they want. I know what they need, though…bring the drone work back here where it can get done right and stop the greed!! My old company is going to go under because of sending all its hard-working people overseas. I hope it does even if I lose my pension which is so small, it’s pathetic.

    I feel as you do Louise…no more corporate America. I will stock shelves at Whole Foods before I go back to that crap.

    OK, TRUTH! You said:
    “My feeling is that spath damage is so complete on every level, that it takes a long, long time to not only process what we’ve uncovered, but to heal from it – REALLY heal.

    I often wonder how long it’s going to be before I can see another sunrise or sunset and say, “You know, I have to paint that before I forget it!” Or, whether watching the Spring antics of all the critters will warm my heart, again. I wonder when I’m going to feel unadulterated joy.”

    This is all so true for me, and I’m sure for many others here. I do not understand exactly why because I hate Godzilla and want nothing from his sick, sorry ass, but getting his essence out of my mind and from under my skin is painful. Being who I am, I still fantacize about the possibility that he will come back and magically, I will have the “explanation” I so desperately seek. He will not be a path, blah, blah, blah…off into the sunset. Such crap.

    I do/did want to cheat on my husband. But I comparmentalized Godzilla into a special place in life and heart where I think I could have just had some fun times laughing, being affectionate, and having someone appreciate what I have to offer. Some would consider this cheating. At
    this pt in my life, I don’t. I wanted him to be happy at home and raise his child in a healthy way. I just wanted some fun and games on the side. Scrabble anyone? A drink after work, a stroll in the park at lunch time, movie and analysis over dinner? I know where things like that can go, but wow, I so wanted it. My husband doesn’t like to do these things and he’s a touch-phobe…I just thought I was being give a gift and I wasn’t going to question it…first time ever in my life.
    Wow, some gift.

    Truth, I used to feel that “unadulterated joy” you speak of. I used to be able to just feel happy out of nowhere, you name it..flowers, lightening bugs, any baby animal, my dogs’ antics, the beauty of a strawberry plant, etc. I know it’s depression or maybe it’s just normal preparation for the inevitable end…I don’t know. I felt that way before Godzilla and much of it was due to my anger over my lost job and the years of that black cloud of layoffs hanging over my head. That’ll do you in big time. But boy, I so miss those feelings. I want it back too, Truth! That’s the stuff that kept me going.

    As far as your high expectations/inner child..I hear you. But where do you think that unadulterated joy came from??? I do think you have a wonderful inner child that though damaged still brought you the joyful moments of which you speak! I had a lousy childhood and was genetically predisposed to allow every negative experience to affect me. So that has colored my life as well! It has been damned difficult with yrs of therapy to even finally get some of it to move from head to gut. I’m still paranoid and so ultra sensitive, it’s ridiculous, and care WAY too much about what others think but I am so much better! I have learned it is NOT ALL ABOUT ME!

    Truth, you are strong and you are highly intelligent. You will take the time you need and one day out of nowhere, you will delight to that butterfly in the front yard and colors all around you will burst forth again…this will happen. Screw expectations.

    In your next post, which was brilliant, you described how your expath ripped your life apart, then expected money from you. Honestly, truth, this I cannot even fathom. Just the physical and financial damage foisted upon you, not to MENTION the emotional battering and its effect. It’s way over the top, truth, way over the top. You and the rest in this boat have every speck of gratitude, respect and compassion that I am able to muster. I am in awe. And I know things are going to improve because you and the rest will make them improve as we all must. And we will *let* them improve, knowng that time will heal if we let it.

    You said, “Any feeling, thinking human being would attempt to communicate and express their remorse for having used and abused someone else – that’s what NORMAL people do. Sociopaths are not “normal…”

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, an infinite string of yes’s and a standing “O”. I have thought about this ad nauseum. They are so good at what they do, at least Godz was, that I allowed him to just wrap me around his finger, even though he really didn’t want to. Like I said, he wanted me lined up for a quick f/bj (sorry, but the truth is what it is) when he wanted it, maybe a foot rub too, (GROSS), and when he could see I wanted something entirely different, loving and normal, he was stuck. He knew I was into him so had to pretend and I just believed every second of it (so ashamed and humiliated but it’s getting better) and allowed myself for once to enjoy what I thought was admiration, appreciation, etc.

    In the end, I am curious about what he wanted when he called me on his last day, but I know for sure it would have been bs or something meaningless. It’s pathetic that I thought his controlling ways, strange advances, stares, etc., were proof of his “infatuation,” or even deeper caring!!! It’s tough, very tough, but honestly, I don’t like him at all anymore, he disgusts me so thoroughly. And I feel the same way about all of your paths. They suck, honestly, they are monsters. I wish they were all rotting at this very moment, living together in a snake pit with no food or water. I’ve gotten very nasty in my old age due to the state of this country and the greed – it disgusts me, now this. SCREW THEM.

    BBE, your posts, very on point. You’re right about busy work….it doesn’t cut it. Purposeful, absorbing work that feels like an achievement at the end of the day. Honestly, I can’t think of many feelings that are more satisfying. Obviously I completely agree, having lived it, with your thoughts on office politics. Thoroughly well, sociopathic!!!!

  3. still reeling says:

    G-d if anyone is reading all that stuff, I meant to say “I do/did NOT want to cheat on my husband.

  4. Louise says:

    still reeling:

    No, don’t put your email address here. Please email donna at donna@lovefraud.com and she will “introduce” us. Thank you!

    Yep, I feel exactly as you do about corporate America. I witnessed all the time the people who didn’t work as hard as I did getting promoted while I was overlooked. OW was one of them…she got promoted 2-3 times during a time period that I didn’t get promoted at all and it was all because she is a flirt and a manipulator. She knew exactly what to say to get what she wanted. If that means she was working “smarter” insteader of “harder” well…

    I FINALLY did get promoted in March 2010, but this was the first promotion I had gotten in seven years and then in July I left…haha! So in 12 years at the company, I was only promoted twice and they were both very small promotions. I do have to say that I do not have a college degree so that really held me back especially in corporate America where virtually everyone is educated. But OW doesn’t have a degree either and trust me, it was NOT because she was working harder than me….hahaha, THAT is a joke. She’s a mess. I often wonder if she has changed at all in these past two years that I have been gone, but why do I even think about that? We know THEY do NOT change just as WE do NOT change. We all are who we are. At least we are consistent…they are consistently bad and we are consistently good!

    I hope you are having a good weekend. It is kind of cold here today and wet…yuk. It’s supposed to be warm next week again…yay.

  5. Louise says:

    still reeling:

    Did I scare you off? :-)

    When I said “introduce,” I didn’t mean that we would know each other’s identities…only email addresses. It would be the same as sharing back and forth on here…we could just be more open and share more and I thought that would be good since we both seemed to have the same experience.

    I hope you are well!

  6. goldie5 says:

    I guess ppl on here only like to talk to the ppl they already know us new ppl post and dont get responses im thinking i should shut up and just leave this site i already know now hes a sociopath and to have no contact and what the signs are nobody here is going to heal me i gotta figure out that myself and keep talking to my counslor so im outta here hope maybe whoever did read my post could relate to what i said

  7. After more than 1,100 comments, this thread is closed.

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