I recently heard from yet another Lovefraud reader who realizes that she’s been in a relationship with a sociopath. She’s in the phase of trying to wrap her brain around about what these people are, and sent me the following email:
What happens to these people? These sociopaths? How do they end up in life? Do they just go from victim to victim? Have any of them ever realized the affliction of which they suffer? Do they ever realize they are not capable of love? If they are not capable of love, they will never be happy, right? So…you could present “Red Flags of Love Fraud” to a sociopath and they would not see themselves in it, correct? Do they ever see the error of their ways? There is a rather cryptic site called Narcissism Cured, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.
I’m thinking they die alone and unhappy. They don’t have the capacity to find true happiness if they don’t have the capacity to love. Chemically, what goes on in their brains? Is research being done? Does it run in families?
Many readers, I’m sure, have the same questions, so I’ll address them one at a time.
What happens to these people? These sociopaths? How do they end up in life?
Many sociopaths eventually crash and burn. But it can take a long time—decades—during which they create havoc for just about everyone in their lives.
There is evidence that sociopaths die younger than people who are not disordered, due to their reckless lifestyle. Even some so-called “successful psychopaths”—those who ply their exploitative trade in the business world—may eventually face a comeuppance. Think Bernie Madoff.
Unfortunately, the sociopath you encountered may never pay directly for what he did to you. You may eventually hear that his life fell apart, that he’s burned all his bridges and is in trouble and alone, and you may feel like he got what he deserved.
But don’t wait for it. You need to find your own way of getting past what happened, so that you can move on.
Do they just go from victim to victim?
Yes. Sociopaths live their lives by exploiting people. They view every social interaction as a feeding opportunity.
Have any of them ever realized the affliction of which they suffer?
Yes, some of them realize that they are sociopaths. I have heard from people who tell me they’ve been diagnosed with the disorder. Some of them seem to be perturbed—they’re probably the ones who are fairly low on the sociopathic scale.
Others view themselves as superior beings. They don’t view sociopathy as an affliction. Rather, they see it as a competitive advantage.
Do they ever realize they are not capable of love?
Some of them know they are missing something. But having never experienced love, they don’t quite know what it is. It’s like asking someone who is colorblind to describe red or green. They have no frame of reference.
If they are not capable of love, they will never be happy, right?
Sociopaths are motivated by three things: power, control and sex. So when they feel like they have power and control, or when they successfully pursue sex, they would probably describe themselves as happy.
So…you could present “Red Flags of Love Fraud” to a sociopath and they would not see themselves in it, correct?
They may very well recognize their behavior. But they probably won’t see anything wrong with it.
Do they ever see the error of their ways?
Sociopaths feel totally entitled to do whatever they want to get whatever they want. So if you hear words like, “I’m sorry,” “I know I’ve treated you badly,” or “It’s all my fault,” well, they are not expressing genuine remorse. They’re worming their way back into your life so they can exploit you again.
There is a rather cryptic site called Narcissism Cured, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.
All sociopaths are narcissists, although not all narcissists are sociopaths. The difference appears to be in the degree of malevolence. Narcissists are so focused on themselves that they don’t notice when they hurt people. Sociopaths often hurt people intentionally.
Once a sociopath is an adult, there is no proven cure. I think the same thing applies to narcissists.
It may be possible for someone with a personality disorder to learn to control the expression of his or her disorder. But keeping a lid on bad behavior doesn’t mean the disorder is cured.
I’m thinking they die alone and unhappy. They don’t have the capacity to find true happiness if they don’t have the capacity to love.
Perhaps. They may also live by the motto, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
Chemically, what goes on in their brains? Is research being done?
There are chemical and structural differences in the brains of psychopaths (the term used by most academic researchers). There are also differences in the ways that parts of psychopaths’ brains communicate with each other.
Research is ongoing. Maybe the scientists will eventually find a way to change the brain to correct the disorder. But will a psychopath submit to treatment? If they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them, why should they?
Does it run in families?
Psychopathy is highly genetic. This means people may be born with a predisposition for the disorder. Whether the disorder actually develops has much to do with environmental factors, especially the parenting that the individual receives.
If a person is born with the genes for psychopathy, if often means that one of the parents is disordered. Unfortunately, psychopaths make terrible parents, so conditions are usually ripe for their children to also become disordered. In fact, some psychopaths intentionally try to turn their children into little Mini-Mes.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the Red Flags of Love Fraud. Becoming romantically involved with these individuals always has the potential of leading to children—children who may also become disordered.