Relationships In The Eyes Of A Sociopath
People justify compassion for others by reminding themselves that other people have feelings too. We can find sympathy for people in different countries from just thinking that they experience the same emotions we do. We find love for those with disabilities because we know they sense the same things as others. For most people, emotions and how we feel them are caused by the cellular connections that are made before we are even born; this similar characteristic gives us the definition of what it is to be human. Emotions can change as someone goes through life and can get stronger through certain situations. People who don’t feel compassion for others are seen as inhumane. People who don’t feel love are seen as miserable or not human. People who are born with malicious impulses, or without the ability to understand love, are not considered people. If a person were born with a different set of feelings, does that make him/her a different type of human, or not human at all?
Sociopaths are diagnosed with having antisocial personality disorder (APD), meaning they don’t have the ability to care for others. Sacramento County psychologist L. Michael Tompkins says the biggest difference between people with APD and average people is that they have a weak conscience. Like any other disorder there is a spectrum of how severe it can be. Some don’t care for others at all. Others know the feelings they are supposed to have, yet they can’t make their brains do it. Not all people diagnosed with APD act out like Jeffrey Dahmer, a man who killed and ate 17 men over the course of 13 years. While others who are diagnosed with APD may understand the do’s and dont’s of our society, that doesn’t always prevent them from sensing the same urges. The Mayo Clinic explains that, “Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong, in some people, certain symptoms — particularly destructive and criminal behavior — may decrease over time. But it’s not clear whether this decrease is a result of aging or an increased awareness of the consequences of antisocial behavior.” People diagnosed with APD know what they are supposed to feel, and understand what they can’t do, and they recognize that are different from others.
The personality of someone with APD plays a major role in how they act during relationships. Relationships in general is a risky game akin to poker, because there are a lot of steps that come as a part of a relationship and many people are completely clueless. The feeling of emptiness even when all needs are fulfilled is what some people with APD feel. It comes from a lack of human interaction; it’s not usually seen as a lack of love, but more an absence of people close to them. Jessica Kelly has APD and was diagnosed with it in her late 20s by her therapist after the gentle atrophy of her marriage. She explains her relationships with other people as “much more possessive, there is no real emotional state involved, but there is a feeling of it would be unfortunate if the other person left.” In many cases of people with APD in relationships, the attraction to the other person is similar to the average person’s attraction to their smartphone; it’s nice to have but isn’t necessarily the most important thing in the world.
People diagnosed with APD are most successful in relationships with a partner who experiences feelings the same way. An average person will crumble in the hands of a sociopath for many reasons. A person with APD may be charming , as sociopaths are characterized as people who are incredible at manipulating others. Robert D. Hare, PhD and author of Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: A Case of Diagnostic Confusion, further explains “antisocial personality disorder is now defined by persistent violations of social norms, including lying, stealing, truancy, and inconsistent work behavior.” Coming out of a relationship with a sociopath causes some people serious damage and in many cases those people turn to therapy for help. Sociopaths will love, hold, praise, and make their significant other feel like a million bucks. With almost all relationships this is called the “honeymoon phase.” Once the person has the other, they don’t feel the need to try as hard to keep them. Some people with APD believe that if their partner leaves they could just say or do something to make them stay. Not to keep them in their trap but just to not go back to previous emptiness. A lot of people still believe that sociopaths love them when it is evident that they can’t because of how they perform when making love. With intimacy some people with APD focus more on themselves and their pleasure rather than the other person’s. It’s nothing personal; it’s just the way it is. Some, however, really like making things more physical because that is the only way they get to feel anything that they know pleasures the other person too; it is their way of forming a connection. These people aren’t bad people; their brains function differently.
Over the years sociopaths have been painted with a negative brush and only recently newer research has shown that they are just like any other human being. They are not evil, they are not on a spree to kill, they are just people with a different way of life like we have people with different skin colors. Many are aware that people may think they are dangerous or just too different. Still, some sociopaths want a companion even though the idea of love may be foreign to them. These people have the same right to explore emotions, however limited, with others.