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The sociopathic syndrome

I recently heard from a man, whom we’ll call “Jeff,” who wanted to know if the woman he was involved with, “Amanda,” was a sociopath.

It started as a friendly involvement, with Jeff trying to help Amanda out. Amanda, who was from a foreign country, called Jeff her “best friend.” Jeff eventually started to have feelings for her. But then came a series of unsettling experiences:

  • Amanda made pornographic videos, which were posted on the Internet.
  • Amanda worked as an escort. Jeff offered to pay her rent, so she wouldn’t have to be an escort, and Amanda agreed—and continued being an escort anyway.
  • Then Jeff asked Amanda to sign a contract promising that she wouldn’t be an escort. She signed it—and broke the deal again, with absolutely no guilt.
  • Amanda claimed to be struggling financially. Although Jeff wasn’t well off, he gave her money—and then discovered that Amanda sent a large sum of money back to her home country.
  • Jeff discovered Amanda was having multiple liaisons, often on the same day. One guy was married, one was a “sugar daddy,” and several were her “best friend.”
  • Other men were also paying her phone bill and rent.
  • Jeff stopped taking her calls, but did communicate via email. They agreed to get together to “talk things over.” Amanda cancelled.
  • When they did finally have a conversation, Jeff thought Amanda’s words sounded hollow. He also realized her words were used for manipulation, not for communicating the truth.
  • Jeff stopped talking to Amanda. But he knew that if he contacted her again, she would be nice and friendly, as if nothing ever happened.

So is Amanda a sociopath? I think so, and that’s what I told Jeff.

His next question was, “What are the most glaring indications that she is a sociopath?”

And that brings us to the point of this article: The most glaring indication of sociopathy is not any particular trait or behavior, but the overall pattern of traits and behaviors.

Sociopathy is a syndrome. What exactly does that mean? Here’s the Dictionary.com definition:

Pathology, Psychiatry . a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder, disease, or the like.

So, although Amanda is an escort, it doesn’t necessarily make her a sociopath. She took advantage of Jeff, but that doesn’t make her a sociopath. She had multiple sexual relationships, but that doesn’t make her a sociopath. Her words sounded hollow, but that doesn’t make her a sociopath. And, if Jeff and Amanda ever talked again, she would act as if nothing happened, but that doesn’t make her a sociopath.

Amanda is a sociopath because of her overall traits and pattern of behavior, including promiscuity, entitlement, manipulation, exploitation, breaking agreements, lying, shallow emotions and lack of remorse. All of these characteristics, taken together, add up to character disorder.



54 Comments on "The sociopathic syndrome"

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  1. Divorced from Gaslighter says:

    Hopeforjoy: My ex was capable of MAKING money, and he always paid bills on time and was very proud of his stellar credit rating. (If you have a wallet full of credit cards, charge stuff all the time, but make every monthly payment in full and on time, your credit rating will be MUCH higher than that of a person who has one credit card and uses it infrequently and then pays the bill off in full within a month.)

    His problem was that he refused any kind of budget. He was of the opinion that the solution to big bills was to increase your income, NOT to try to scrimp and save. His refusal to budget had the practical result that my wages were sucked into the credit card payments, either directly or indirectly. I was free to save money in a savings account, and watch my savings grow, but at some point there would be an “emergency” and he would withdraw the money without telling me, and use it to pay down some of his credit cards.

    Nobody who knew him would have guessed that his personal finances were as out of control as they were. That’s why I wondered if other people on this board had had experiences with people who were full-blown sociopaths BUT had a genuine ability to manage money carefully OVER THE LONG TERM.

    The classic sociopathic pattern seems to be that of always seeking something for nothing. My ex told me over and over that my goals of financial stability, good schools for the kids, and a nice house were going to be met, but FIRST we had to reach his personal goal of X, Y, or Z. My goals were always postponed, his goals were always the goals that were actually being achieved.

    Even after our divorce, he was making a ton of money, and paying almost nothing for child support, yet he accumulated nothing.



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  2. Divorced from Gaslighter says:

    Hopeforjoy: I did the weight loss program online (free) at settingcaptivesfree.com, and the same website has other free programs for people trying to quit smoking, or give up pornography or alcohol, and there is at least one program there that is for people struggling with sexual issues. It is very definitely a Christian program, so if your daughter is not open to that, then just ignore this suggestion, but the weight loss program did help me with some food issues.

    How old is your son?



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  3. Hopeforjoy says:

    Divorced from GL,

    My son is 16 years old. My daughter is 18. She wouldn’t be open to that because she isn’t Christian. She is a good soul though and I know she’ll find her way. She went through a lot with her unhealthy father and has no contact with him now.



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  4. Hopeforjoy says:

    Divorced from GL.

    I was watching Dr. Drew tonight and he talked a little about food issues and childhood trauma. He wished more was talked about the trauma that so many experience as children.



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  5. Louise says:

    Hopeforjoy:

    I loved your post at 10:24PM, May 1.



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  6. Louise says:

    Redwald:

    I love it!! 🙂



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  7. Truthspeak says:

    Divorcedfromgaslighter, I have never met a spath who was able to “save’ or “budget” unless either was to THEIR benefit, alone.

    What I have noticed in the spath encounters is that there is an unreasonable sense of entitlement – to government programs (SSI), to someone else paying their way, to loans that won’t be repaid, and to other people’s personal assets. The Entitlement isn’t even so much as having paid into a program, it’s that they somehow DESERVE whatever it is that they want. The exspath became SO engrossed in his sense of entitlement and ownership of my personal assets that he went so far as to write in his OWN signature on my personal drafts.

    If the “saving” and “budgeting” is anticipation of something that the spath has schemed (divorce, trip to Europe, tangibles, etc.), they will discipline themselves enough to accomplish that, though often at someone else’s expense. What they want is what they believe that they are entitled to, bottom line. In all ways, the spaths that I’ve known are utterly irresponsible UNTIL (or, unless) they begin to hatch a plan that meets their own needs/wants.

    Good discussion on spath finances. And, VERY good to note for future reference: financial irresponsibility is a huge, flapping, waving, screaming Red Flag for me!



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  8. skylar says:

    Truthspeak,
    that’s right, they CAN save money but only if they can keep telling themselves that it’s a necessary part of a con.

    My spath met a meth addict spath and he “trained” him how to discipline himself so that he could “be somebody” and then sent him to marry my sister as a trojan horse, while they pretended not to know each other. (In fact, for their wedding present he gave them tee-shirts that said, “You don’t know me.” A HUGE tell)

    So this meth addict makes his debut into my family as a cop with terrible credit rating and barely anything to his name, not even clothing. He takes my sister’s pristine credit rating and uses it to buy a condo and later a house, get a law degree and finance numerous vacations. Meanwhile her nest egg is disappearing. He make tons of money and is getting a government pension but he’s admitted that his goal is to die broke and in debt because he doesn’t want anyone else benefiting from his life’s work. So his houses are upside down and underwater, he’s borrowed from his pension, they live paycheck to paycheck and the nest egg is almost gone. New cars all around. He’s turned my spathy selfish sister from a person who hoards money to a person who hoards the crap that money can buy. It’s all a grand scheme to leave her broke and in debt the same way that my spath left me.

    When he admitted to her that he didn’t believe in leaving anything for anyone, she thought that maybe it made sense — since it is a selfish attitude, so she could relate to that. What she and all selfish people don’t get, is that if he would do it to others, he would do it to her.

    So yep, there are all types of spaths. For me, what defines a spath is that they get pleasure from seeing the pain and downfall of others. Just like Lucifer. And of course, just like Lucifer, they hide this fact under the guise of something else.

    Even when they don’t hide their pleasure in another’s pain, they still mask it by justification: she deserved it, or he had it coming. Whether they believe it or not, I’m not sure but to them, it’s what FEELS right.



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