Perhaps the hardest thing to comprehend, and accept, about sociopaths is just how different they are from the rest of us.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have tangled with sociopaths. Even when the mask has not only slipped, but shattered, even when they know the truth about what the sociopath has been doing all along, they still ask,
“But how could he do it?”
“He kept telling me how much he loved me; how could he cheat like that?”
“He said we were soul mates; how can he just up and leave?”
“How can he be so cold and calculating?”
“How can he look me right in the eye and lie?”
(Substitute “she” for “he” as necessary.)
Then, the people I talk to start making statements like the following:
“I would never think of taking someone’s money.”
“I would never intentionally hurt someone.”
“If I said something like that, I couldn’t sleep at night.”
“I would never tell someone that I loved them if I didn’t mean it.”
So here is the most important lesson to learn about sociopaths: You cannot interpret their behavior in the same way you interpret your own behavior.
Sociopaths are fundamentally different from the rest of us. They have a personality disorder, and this disorder reaches to the core of their beings. Here’s what this means:
- Sociopaths cannot feel empathetic connections with other people.
- Sociopaths do not have the ability to love.
- Sociopaths are interested only in power, control and sex.
- Sociopaths’ main motivation is to win.
- Anything that comes out of a sociopath’s mouth could be a lie.
- Sociopaths have no conscience.
You could think of them as aliens. I’m not saying that they literally are aliens (although there are people who believe that). But sociopaths are missing the characteristics, traits and abilities that make us truly human.
For most of us, this realization is a shock to the system. They look just like the rest of us. They appear to be so normal, talented, fun and exciting. They keep proclaiming their love. It’s so hard to believe that they are simply acting. It’s all a charade, a mirage.
What do you do with this information? You accept it. Sociopaths are what they are, and once they are adults, there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it. So far, there is no therapy, no magic pill, that will give them the ability to feel care and concern for others, or internalize a sense of right and wrong.
All we can do is know that they exist, learn the warning signs, and when we see them, run as fast as we can.