We know that there are many unapprehended sociopaths who, exploiting others’ vulnerability, have greedily taken things from them, material and otherwise—valuable, precious things they neither deserve nor deserve to enjoy, yet which they may feel they both deserve and deserve to enjoy, and often perversely do enjoy.
And we know that many of these sociopaths possess smug, contemptuous and notoriously “shameless” attitudes about their exploitation—these attitudes, and the patterns they form, reflecting the essence of their disorder.
And some of these sociopaths may indeed, in a certain sense, get the proverbial “last laugh?”
Picture the sociopath lying on a Carribbean beach, or lounging on the patio of his upscale Antigua villa, sipping a martini with stolen wealth, smiling as if he’s fooled, and owns, the world!
But we must not forget to ask, especially in these cases, what kind of “last laugh” is theirs? And, of course, we must never forget who is doing the laughing!
Because the sociopath’s “last laughter” is a very different kind of last laughter. It is the last laughter of the emotionally damned…of a venal, pathetic, hollow individual.
And so his laughter itself, his mirth at having conned so successfully—should he feel something like mirth, flaunt and revel in it—graphically, screamingly reflect his emotional disorder!
Sure, he may look and feel as if he’s conquered the world, and deserves to toast himself, and be toasted; and be treated like the superman he may perceive himself to be. But again: one must never forget that this isn’t the celebration, even the contemptuous arrogance, of the narcissist who has earned his way to easy street.
No, while this may be the “last laughter” of a perhaps very clever individual, of a very skilled, perhaps even talented con artist, much more importantly we need to remind ourselves (and even his victims need to remember!) that, however extensive and traumatic the damage he’s inflicted, his is the “last laughter” of an incurably sick individual; of an individual whose “sickness of soul” consigns him, at best, to a hollow, shallow experience even of his pleasures, including those he’s stolen through his remorseless violation of others’ boundaries.
And so the unapprehended sociopath’s smug, contemptuous indulgence of the “easy life” he’s injured (and robbed from) others to falsely seize—that is, his “last laughter”—in the end exposes only one relevent phenomenon—the depth of his emotional perversion and its umbrella, warping effect on his whole personality, including his sense of humor.
(This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is not meant to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors and attitudes discussed.)