I think too much - Tactical Ninja
Mar. 16th, 2012
09:47 am - I think too much
Yesterday I read this story - it's a guy talking about how he discovered that his sister is a sociopath. It's in sections in which he describes a series of events relating to his sister and his ex-wife. I found it through a link that said "Five easy ways to spot a sociopath" and the guy's shtick was that there isn't an easy way and that you should read his story to discover the sorts of behaviours to look out for.
However, as I was reading the story, something seemed a little off.
The first red flag popped up when I read about how his ex-wife had been diagnosed with a mental illness and how he still had the diagnosis - with little quotes implying that the diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia. Now, my ex husband tried very hard to convince me that I was insane*, and I'm looking at this thing going "OK so maybe the ex wife is schizophrenic or maybe not, but how does this have any bearing on this story except to paint the ex-wife as not credible?" And, what would he stand to gain from that?
The story continues on to describe a 'conspiracy' between the ex-wife and the writer's sister, in an attempt to get custody of the two children. It's an easy story to believe, including the sister communicating with the ex-wife and claiming she hadn't, locking the writer out of her computer so that he couldn't see emails, apparently badmouthing him to his own family, and involving school counsellors. From his perspective, this was all about the ex wife not wanting to pay child support and the way he tells it they are evil scheming plotting sociopaths who will manipulate him and his children to get what they want.
However, I went into this after reading a bunch of pages like this one. So while I was reading, that was in the back of my mind, and red flag after red flag went up. His description of his ex-wife and his sister imply that he thinks they are less intelligent than himself. His descriptions of his son are very clinical and lack indicators of affection. He seems to have an uncanny recall of who said what to who and when, and the 'facts' always favour him. He paints himself as the innocent victim - I noted that his son's withdrawal and lack of friends coming to visit are first attributed to bullying and then to asperger's, and that his response to his father's concern is an attack on his own parenting. He seems to enjoy manipulating situations to catch his sister out lying. He charms the school counsellor that talks to him once but doesn't actually know him. And he goes out of his way to provide evidence of the two women's evilness - for his ex-wife there's the mental diagnosis that he's kept all these years and is happy to quote publicly on the internet, and detailed descriptions of her child support payments and various failed relationships. With his sister, there's a description of the way she interacts with her teenage daughter that is meant to imply that the relationship is dysfunctional, and a disparaging of her reaction when caught out lying.
And the whole time I'm reading I'm thinking "There is something really wrong with this."
Because this story could be read another way. Say your sociopathic ex had you diagnosed with a mental illness and used it to get custody of your children (yes, this is the sort of thing that sociopaths do). Say you knew your son was having problems in school and you suspected that it was because he was now bearing the brunt of living with a sociopath. Say your ex's sister agreed with you and wanted to help you get the kid out of that situation, but you both knew that a direct approach was pointless because you'd tried it before. Say you talked to the family and they agreed as well. How would that look? I reckon kind of similar to the guy's story, you know?
This guy takes gloating pleasure in catching all these people out in their machinations, and he does it by being a better manipulator than they are, second-guessing their tricks with his own, charming the peripheral people that are required to ensure there's always doubt as to who's right, undermining the credibility of his 'enemies' at every turn, making sure the audience knows that he could have hacked the emails but was far too honourable, setting himself up as the victim, convincing you that he is in the right and all these weird circumstances in which everyone in the world is against him is because they are all evil, not him.
So I'd like to suggest that an easy way to spot a sociopath is to read this guy's story and feel that niggling feeling that all is not right with this person. And that feeling? That's how you spot a sociopath IMO.
I can't tell if the guy genuinely thinks people will believe him, if he's playing some kind of game to see how many of the plebs he can fool, or if it's just some kind of clever mindfuck that shows you how to spot a sociopath by dangling red herrings until you realise that you're being spun by one. Dunno. I'm resisting leaving a comment.
*NB I should point out here that I don't think my ex husband is a sociopath - he didn't display the calculation that is required for that - but he did think I was crazy. And once that accusation was made, every 'non-rational' thing that I did was fuel for that fire. Express anger? Crazy. Be upset? Crazy. Want something different from what he thought I should have? Crazy. Etc. It'd be really easy to convince someone they're crazy if you were manipulative enough. See also: Gaslighting.
Well, that was a lot of time and effort for something that only a couple of people will probably read. But I find this sort of thing really interesting. I'm not saying I'll never get sucked in by a sociopath, but as life goes on I'm getting better and better at spotting them and thus avoiding them. At least, I think so.
Last night I varnished my balls. They are well shiny now, and also protected from the paint chipping off when they knock together. Tomorrow I'm supposed to be shearing a bunch of lambs. Go away, clouds!
And tonight will be day 6 of Dr Wheel's birthday, which this year goes for a week. <3