Sociopaths as much as anything exploit your faith in them…over and over again.
In many ways this captures the essence of sociopathy in particular, and exploitation in general: The sociopath, or exploiter, seduces your faith, only then to intentionally violate it.
The more seriously you take him, the more you are vulnerable; the more vulnerable you are, the more the exploiter is licking his chops.
And so the sociopath, or any exploiter, wants you to take him seriously! Indeed it’s his modus operandi to accumulate currency and credibility with you—the more the better, as this better ripens you, better fattens you, for the payoff he’s chasing.
Not all exploiters “get off’ on the suffering you’ll incur arising from their exploitation. Sadistic ones will; they’ll derive a portion of their satisfaction, if not their motivation to exploit, from your pain.
But more often the sociopath is flatly uninterested in your “expense.” He neither relishes, nor regrets, it deeply. What interests him, again, is his payoff; his prospective gain, not your loss, concerns him principally.
And so a core aspect of exploitation lies in the exploiter’s purposeful grooming of the faith of his victims, only then to purposely betray that faith.
And in cases of sociopathy there is the additional heartless indifference to the victim’s experience of that betrayal. Indeed, one measure of the depth of his heartlessness and audacity is the sociopath’s tendency to repeat this cycle regularly, abusing old and perhaps fresh victims.
When you think about it, what sociopaths and other exploiters prey upon—our faith—is what most of us are naturally inclined to give. We want to have faith in others. We want to believe that others will have our backs, not stab our backs in order to take something from us and then leave us, heartlessly, to grapple alone in confusion and despair.
We want to believe that, God forbid, were we lying on a deserted roadside, grievously wounded, that that stranger approaching us will have the intention to help us, and not, while issuing kind, reassuring words, to lift our wallets.
And so it’s no big accomplishment to exploit others. Sociopaths and all exploiters are going after something that’s as easily coaxed as it ought to be honored and safeguarded—our faith.
(My use of “he” in this article was strictly for convenience’s sake, not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaviors described. This article is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)