Recently a man wrote me saying that his best friend has been more hurtful than helpful when it comes to helping him recover from his relationship with a sociopathic woman. He had the following comment and question. I am sure many of you will relate to this one, especially you guys out there.
I have a best friend who I talked to (of course I desperately needed to get my self-identity back). He instantly tried to help me by seeing my own flaws in the relationship and what I could do better, and stated that I overreacted. Of course, his “help” only contributed to her brainwashing and manipulation because it further fueled my questioning about myself, and further made me believe that I was at fault. This reinforced my guilt and shame in which I can now see that I had no reason to experience.
In this regard, my best friend became my worst enemy because he had no clue. I still believe he meant well, though. Of course, my friend has a good impression of her and have never felt the damaging effect of being in a relationship with a sociopath.
So now I question whether he really is my best friend, since he made matters much, much worse (probably without realizing). How can we get a friend to understand what we have been dealing with, and the damaging effect on our emotional life and our self-esteem / self-respect?
Many of the behaviors and manipulations of sociopaths are entirely beyond the comprehension of the average person…or mental health professional for that matter. This past week, someone else told me the story of how he came to realize that his significant other was a sociopath. It turns out that the sociopath faked having cancer. This man told a family member and ask the question, “Who fakes having cancer?” Coincidentally a short time later that family member saw an MSNBC special on con artists where faking cancer was discussed. The person called my friend to say, “Hey I think I found out what’s wrong with ______ she’s a sociopath.” Well the man had never heard of “sociopath” before and had to research it. To his shock his lover met every one of the criteria!
Don’t despair if your friend doesn’t get it. Who would ever guess that there are people who appear normal and even affectionate and yet who are only motivated by power, greed and sex? Although we understand some people have problems with conscience and empathy, we believe that at heart all people want and need the same things we do. Very few understand that sociopaths have different needs and drives.
That gets me to my proposal. I think eventually we will want to go beyond this blog and web site and have a conference or start regional support groups. I think we should consider a conference for victims. I have had the very good fortune to correspond and speak on the phone with some other victims. We can finish each other’s sentences because we know what comes next. The sociopath’s methods are all strikingly similar. Perhaps that is the best evidence there is as to the existence of the syndrome.
I recognize there are many people who do not understand what I went through and who may blame me for my own suffering and the suffering of others at the hands of my former husband. It has been very important to my recovery that I have been able to talk with other victims who know firsthand the mind games and distortions of reality sociopaths are capable of.