Antisocial Personality Disorder Feed

When, "I'm sorry" isn't an apology

When people say they are "sorry", but keep doing a hurtful behavior - they aren't sorry.

I'm just saying...

I see this a lot with antisocial folks.  Since they feel no remorse, they can't really be sorry.  But they say the words "I'm sorry" because they have learned are socially expected.

So everyone says you should forgive them - because they said they were sorry.

But you can't, can you?  Because they haven't actually apologized, they've just mouthed the words.  And because they keep hurting you.  If someone says they're sorry, but continues to hit you in the head, how can you forgive them?

You can walk away from them.  You can stop allowing them to hit you in the head.  You can let go of the hurt and the betrayal and the sadness and the anger.  You can get over it and get on with your life. 

But you can't forgive them, because they haven't truly asked you for forgiveness - or earned it.




What They Say vs. What They Do

In abusive relationships it is not uncommon for the victim to feel that the abuser loves because they say they do.   

Abused children believe their parents love them because they say they do.  And children will believe this even when the parent has a long history of beating the child or profoundly neglecting the child.

This is why it's important to watch what people do, rather than what they say.  The predators and abusers of the world often display "empathy gaps", gaps in their ability to feel compassion or empathy for others.  Their words are very charming and full of "love", yet their actions tells a different story.  



Psychopaths, Autism, Empathy and Mirror Neurons

V. S. Ramachandran is a neurologist and an author.  If you're interested in the mysteries of the human brain I highly recommend you read any of his books.  In a lecture from 2006* he talks about "mirror neurons".  Scientists have found motor neurons fire in a monkey's brain when the monkey reaches for a peanut.  Interestingly, a subset of these neurons, called mirror neurons, fire when the monkey watches another monkey reach for a peanut.  Mirror neurons in humans work the same way.  The motor neurons fire when we poke a person with a needle, but a subset of these neurons, the mirror neurons, fire when we witness someone else being poked with a needle.  These mirror neurons appear to be our way of empathizing with another.  They are the mechanism by which we put ourselves in someone else's shoes and are the basis of our empathy.  As such, they may be the basis for human ethics.  

Ramachandran notes that autistic children appear to suffer from mirror neuron dysfunction, resulting in a lack of empathy and an inability to relate to others.  A separate article about mirror neurons notes that psychopaths and sociopaths have impaired functioning of the mirror neurons.  Psychologists have known for some time that people with antisocial personality disorder (the clinical term for sociopaths and psychopaths) feel no empathy and have no regard for the rights of others.  Narcissists too share these traits.  Though they both see themselves as human, they fail to see the humanity in other people.  They regard people in their lives as objects to be manipulated to get what they want, not as human beings.   People with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders are unable to relate to other people as being like themselves.  People with these personality disorders feel no empathy for other people, they cannot identify with other people and they feel no remorse when they cause harm to others.  

We knew that a horribly neglectful or abusive childhood could result in antisocial or narcissistic personality disorder, but we didn't know the mechanism.  It is now believed that such a childhood can result in these neurons not being used, so they fail to develop normally.  This failure to develop in childhood results in an adult with dysfunctional mirror neurons and the resulting antisocial or narcissistic traits.  If these neurons can be rendered dysfunctional by lack of use, perhaps we can develop interventions which use them, restoring their functionality and healing people with these personality disorders.

It's an interesting theory.

* Ramachandran's part of the lecture begins about 39 minutes into the presentation.  


How Could I Be So Stupid?

Have you been manipulated, lied to, controlled by a toxic person?  The person may be a psychopath (antisocial), a narcissist or a borderline.  They've betrayed, exploited and misled you.  They've seduced you with their charm and beguiled you with their lies.  They've stolen your money, your life, your heart.  And you're left wondering, "How could I have been so stupid?"

I am reminded of an old Spanish saying that I absolutely love,

"The lion believes that all are like him."

An honest person expects people to treat them honestly.   Someone who is not a thief may not lock up their belongings, because it does not occur to them that other people would steal from her.

Naturally, you need to check yourself for a susceptibility to flowery speech and manipulation.  If you have a low self esteem you may be especially susceptible to someone showering you with compliments while they simultaneously mistreat, dismiss or disregard you.

But aside from that, one of the struggles of people who are dealing with psychopaths, narcissists or other manipulative people is the nagging question, "How could I not have seen this?", "How could I have been so stupid as to pick out this person?", "Why am I so gullible?" If you are really kicking yourself thinking you were inordinately naive or dumb for having been duped so completely you might find the following explanation helpful.

I found this description of psychopathic manipulation in an article on manipulation and controlling behaviors:

Psychopaths know well and have nothing but disdain for the characteristics of good-natured people and use those very qualities — including most people’s willingness to trust and afford others the benefit of the doubt and the conscientiousness most people have and discomfort they typically have when they think they might be the cause of anyone else’s pain — against them. Possessing a narcissism so malignant (“Narcissism: Pathological Self-Love”) that they consider truly decent folks as inherently weak and inferior, they feel “entitled” to prey on such folks, and deliberately play on their sensitivities and sensibilities to con, exploit, and otherwise victimize them. Worst of all, they do these things for the pure pleasure of it. It’s not fear, insecurity or emotional pain that drives them, just an incapacity to care and a craving to dominate.

Your gullibility and naivete is normal - because you are an honest person.  One other thought you might want to consider.  The alternative to being gullible and naive may be worse - to become cynical, jaded and suspicious of everyone.



Why a Therapist is Against the Death Penalty

A therapist against the death penalty?  I'm sure no one is shocked by this.  We are famous for being flaming liberals.  However, my primary objection to the death penalty may not be what you suppose, i.e. that criminals can be rehabilitated.  I do not believe that people like John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy could have been rehabilitated.  However, I still do not think we should have been given a death penalty.  Why?

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Introverts vs. Antisocials - Being Quiet and Enjoying Being Alone is not a Mental Illness

I hear a lot of people referring to themselves or others and "antisocial" and expressing the belief that this means they are "abnormal".  I think it is important to clear up two major misunderstandings about this way of thinking.

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Living with a Sociopath

If you have never had a sociopath in your family, you have no idea how much fun you are missing out on.  The technical term for a sociopath is Antisocial Personality Disorder if you want to look the diagnosis and technical description.  But the diagnostic criteria doesn't do justice to these folks nor describe the mesmerizing effect they have on other people.  

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Personality Disorders

A lot of clients I see are diagnosed with Axis I disorders like Schizophrenia, Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder when in actuality, they are suffering from a Personality Disorder.  Personality Disorders are rarely discussed because they ultimately cannot be medicated and require long term psychotherapy.  Insurance companies do not cover them and, at least where I live, the county mental health authority does not treat them.  So in order for people with Personality Disorders to get any help, they are mislabeled as one of the "Big Three" (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression) - disorders which are covered by most systems.  I think this is a great disservice to patients and clients.  People have a right to know what is really going on with them and what the proper treatment provided.  What are Personality Disorders?

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