Manipulators most often are covertly aggressive using tactics of deceit, manipulation and control as a steady diet to get what they want. When they want to control, or get what they want they become very cunning, subtle, underhanded and deceptive. Add charm to the mix and you have the perfect vehicle that defines a Sociopath. You’ve heard the term, “He’s a snake in the grass” haven’t you? The analogy is of a snake slithering undetected through the grass to catch their pray unawares. Sociopaths are much the same, they are often intelligent, charming, warm and caring people, at least on the surface. I’ve always said, “beauty is skin deep but ugly is to the bone.” On the surface Sociopaths appear to operate as normal people but peal that surface back and within is a darkness in place of the soul.
Playing innocent and playing dumb are both tactics of denial Sociopaths use to get what they want. If you become aware of their manipulation, they immediately play the victim, villainizing you in an attempt to punish you. This plays out well before others, I have found myself viewed by others as insensitive, unloving, hateful, and unchristian for simply confronting them or refusing to participate in their game.
Sociopaths are people with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviors and a lack of conscience. They inveigle others to do their bidding and are always on the hunt for apathetic people who will be empathetic to their cause. It’s not that they are unfriendly or reclusive but that they are antagonistic and unprincipled which is what makes them so volatile in relationships.
Sociopaths are remorseless, one of their characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma which makes them more charming or interesting than the other people around them. In the family dynamic, they are almost impossible to detect because of the emotional attachments between siblings, Parents, Children, etc. In family groups there are enablers who not only fix things but continue to create an atmosphere where the bad behavior is acceptable. Everyone else in the family has to join in and support it, and they do. There are cycles where everyone has a part to play and the abuse continues on and on. They get really upset if you refuse to participate and or tell them you will no longer allow them to “mediate” (meddle) or discuss said abuser with you……. Stop the cycle and everyone goes a little psycho…….
Sociopaths always enlist the help of those who are called “Apaths.” Apaths are those who are “hangers-on,” they are caught in the middle of the Sociopath and the Empath and most often are what I would like to call enablers. The Empath is the individual who is the chosen target of the Sociopath. It is the Apath who being apathetic does the sociopath’s bidding. Being apathetic in this situation means showing a lack of concern for, or being indifferent to, the targeted person. In our culture the collective denial and double standards is often a feature of social life. So, although in a sense the Apath is a victim of the Sociopath, being empathetic to the Sociopath, they become the vessel through which the Sociopath’s games are enacted against the Empath, the true victim. In this triad, the Apath always operates with a serious lack of insight, that is, a working knowledge of Sociopathic behaviors and lack the discernment. The main qualifying attribute of the apath that renders him or her a willing accomplice is poor judgment resulting from a lack of insight. This may be linked to the reduced empathy for the targeted person. Often, but not always, the apath may have an ax to grind with the targeted victim which only makes the punishment more severe. The apathetic person might bear a grudge, be jealous or angry, or have a sense of being let down by the individual concerned, and in consequence may be as eager as the sociopath to see the target defeated.
Let me give you a little example. This involves my family, so not to cause embarrassment I will refer to my sablings as brother 1, sister 1 or 2, etc. as I have four sisters and two brothers. Within the last few months my Father suffered a stroke which lead to his death. He spent eight days in a hospice hospital where he then died. As usual, family came from out of town to spend his last few days with him. I have to say, losing a parent is hard enough and watching my Father slowly die was not easy, it was stressful and heart wrenching. Added to this mix was Brother 2 who is a chronic alcoholic and Sister 1 who exemplified bizarre behavior, both which only added to the already existing stress.
I received a phone call from Sister 3 informing me that Sister 2 would be bring my Son (who I believe manifest Sociopathic tendencies) to the funeral. I stressed that would not be a good idea, my son and I have not spoken in four years and our relationship remains broken to this day. I will not give the details here, suffice it to say he has done much damage to my marriage and personal life through the years. My sister pressed me to the point where I exploded on the phone. I later explained to her I did not want him to approach me or speak to me at the funeral. Like I said, this was a very emotional time and I explained to her that I may not be able to restrain myself if he did. There is much more I could say about my family’s involvement and their continuous interference. Some of my cablings seem content in their apathy all while my Children continue to drive a wedge between us, and it’s working.
I have to say, as I have tried to distances myself from my Son who shows clear symptoms of a Sociopath, I appear somewhat crazed by my family members and others. I react with anger; thus most misunderstand I am simply protecting myself from further manipulation. My family members are incapable of identifying with all that I have suffered over the last 30 years at the hands of both Psychopaths and Sociopaths. I have had to go through much counseling to achieve the mental health needed to function with normalcy. Now that I can recognize manipulation, I refuse to be victimized by it thereby I will have outburst of anger in an attempt to stop them in their tracks. The level of anger depends on the amount of pressure coming from the Sociopath and others. Most just don’t get it, I will not be moved, I will not give in, I will stand firm, I will never give up nor never give in to any form of manipulation again no matter the cost or the loss. It’s kind of funny as my Son once called my “The Wall.” How right he was, as in this area, I will not be moved.
It’s easy for those who sit in their ivory towers, who have never suffered much in life, who have never suffered the loss of their children, who never has had to make the hard decisions to scorn me with their white washed reasoning’s. It’s quite another to walk in my shoes, to experience what I have experienced, to lose what I have lost, and to know what I know. One can truly make a fair assessment of Sociopaths if they are willing to do the research on these matters, however I have discovered most are simply too lethargic. It’s too much work to gain the familiarity needed to make a comprehensive judgment, it is just too easy to take the painless road to insensibility and apathy. The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about, yet refuse to investigate.
You cannot effectively communicate with a person that uses emotional reasoning, projection and blame so disengage. When you engage in this level of distress, you will lose control and react emotionally thereby giving the high conflict person (the sociopath or A-path) the weapon he or she needs to hurt you. By disengaging you will stay in control of your emotions and the high conflict person will lose control.
You may never be able to make your family and friends understand why you are avoiding a particular individual. Sociopathy is surprisingly difficult to see, and even harder to explain. Avoid him anyway.1
Sociopathy in the Pulpit
Dealing with Sociopaths in the family structure is devastating enough, finding yourself under their authority in the work place or in the church is equally alarming. Sociopathic attributes are common in business leaders and within the church walls. Attributes such as superficial charm, egocentricity, persuasiveness, lack of empathy, etc. The top ten jobs most attractive to psychopaths and sociopaths are:2
- Media (Television/Radio)
- Police Officer
- Civil Servant
Don’t be naïve, this doesn’t mean everyone behind the pulpit is a sociopath, but the statistics are high that the pastor you sit under every Sunday and Wednesday is possibly either a psychopath or a sociopath. Take it from one who knows, two out of the three pastors I have sat under in the last 35 years were, the other was a narcissist. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe there are some honest to God true blue men of God out there doing the Will of God, but you can be sure they are part of a remnant.
Judge for yourself, look at the world today, can you not say without certainty that society is out of control and it all stems from poor leadership? Take politics as an example; presently we are watching one of the most bazaar political campaigns for the presidency we have ever seen in America. Ever wonder how those running for office can be the most ruthless, backstabbing, dirt digging opponents? And it’s all before the public’s eye. One of these individuals are going to be the next president of the United States.
And then there is the church!
- The sociopath next door; Martha Stout, ph.d. p.160