Thursday, July 05, 2007

DEFINITION: What is a Sociopath?

Well I woke up early this morning pondering one word in my brain - "sociopath" - in particular one's response to how they handle a break-up. defines it the following way:

Sociopath - a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behaviour is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Naturally, I turned to the web for some definitions of the word and then came across a sister-word psychopath which is defined below...

On my site there are daily examples of sociopathic break-ups...a recent one I came across from American gal SG, posted June 11 - has the following to say:

"I just cannot believe my ex, who is 36 years old, decided to trawl on [dating sites] without saying anything about wanting to break up!  WTF?  How hard would it have been to just say, "I want to break up," or "I want to see other people," or "I don't want to see you anymore"?!?!  He knows me well enough to know that such a conversation would have taken -- literally -- five minutes, because "I want to break up" would have been enough reason for me -- I wouldn't have seen the point in a drawn out scene with him (even though I would have done extensive post-game analysis with friends)."

No, as I said, I didn't write that - but I've sure felt that way before! Many of us have, I reckon. She goes on to say:

"I just don't get it, but I am so pissed.  I alternate between thinking he's disgusting and that I would never want anything, ever to do with him again, and wanting to understand what the hell he was thinking? If I thought I would get an answer that made any sort of sense at all, I would ask him, but I know whatever he says won't make any sense at all.  I am tempted to think he's a sociopath.  WTF?"

Oh the universal sound of Vanishing Act break-up and the anger that follows it...I too have had those sorts of "Why? Why? Why?" questions...They're very normal in fact, but the chances are even he doesn't know why he behaved so abominably.  And more often than not the answers wouldn't actually help you feel better. It doesn't change the outcome - namely "you're dumped!" so you just need to come to terms with it yourself and file it under "not meant to be". And if the person was "meant to be" he'd certainly not chosen that as his exit strategy.

NG, also in America (and with a soap-opera worthy break-up) chimes in with her take on the sociopathic breaks:

"After what I've been through with my ex, and after all the stories I've read on this website, I am beginning to believe that there is a sort of 'sociopathic' element to some of the dumpers who brought us here. How can someone spend time with you (in my case, more than ten years), eating, sleeping, travelling, professing love, going through the ups and downs of life, etc., and then discard, you, their significant other WITHOUT A WORD? It is the 'unthinkable' that became 'reality' for most of us"

So much food for thought huh? Well it has been for me and it will be finding its way into SYBD's Little Book of Break-ups currently being completed....

Now for the definition I promised you.

From Wikipedia:

What is a psychopath?

A psychopath has no concern for the feelings of others and a complete disregard for any sense of social obligation. They seem egocentric and lack insight of any sense of responsibility or consequence. Their emotions are thought to be superficial and shallow, if they exist at all. They are considered callous, manipulative, and incapable of forming lasting relationships, let alone showing any kind of meaningful love. They typically never perform any action unless they determine it can be beneficial for themselves.

Since psychopaths cause harm through their actions, it is assumed that they are not emotionally attached to the people they harm; however, according to the PCL-R Checklist, psychopaths are also careless in the way they treat themselves. They frequently fail to alter their behavior in a way that would prevent them from enduring future discomfort. Dr. Joseph Newman contends that the behavior displayed by psychopaths is the result of "an inability to process contextual cues." [23]

It is thought that any emotions which the primary psychopath exhibits are the fruits of watching and mimicking other people's emotions. They show poor impulse control and a low tolerance for frustration and aggression. They have no empathy, remorse, anxiety or guilt in relation to their behavior. In short, they truly are devoid of conscience. However, they understand that society expects them to behave in a conscientious manner, and therefore they mimic this behavior when it suits their needs.

Most studies of psychopaths have taken place among prison populations. This remains a limitation on its applicability to a general population but that has not prevented fiction writers from popularizing psychopaths in the movies.

Cleckley defined psychopathy thus:[24]

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