tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)
[Originally posted Sep. 2007]

I had another interesting tidbit of dream that opened up yet more of my own subconscious symbolism. 

In the dream, I was a "tourist" with a bunch of white European-looking tourists, and we were in an airport customs check-in for-- get THIS-- NORTH KOREA! It began with me riding up an escalator, heading towards customs.

Naturally, I felt a little leery of visiting such a place, because my conscious-self was thinking of the actual North Korea and those poor people there living in hell, basically starving at the whim of a crazy child-man. However, I was there and decided to make the most of it. Afterall, I knew I was not out to cause trouble, just to hang out.

The airport was clean and almost deserted. I was surprised, but then I remembered hearing that they didn't have the energy or resources here (in the capital city) to employ many people. I looked out the 2 HUGE windows overlooking the city below, and noticed the few Asians watching us suspiciously. They were watching us, but seemed disinclined to bother us much. I spoke to an American guy who had lived there for a while, who said to be careful, though, because the North Koreans were always watching you and could still prevent you from going anywhere. 

The last part of the dream, I stopped by the gift shop, which seemed to be between the 2 huge windows. I saw a couple of Americans buying long swords for super cheap gifts to take home. I wondered that these North Korean people would let us buy WEAPONS here, but found a really neat short sword, etched with symbols, for myself in the process. I asked if I could buy it and the woman behind the counter had me read the little label-- it said that we could purchase weapons to take home with us as souveneirs, but that the "Minister of Defense" would naturally wonder WHY WEAPONS and would watch us much more carefully if we did this. At that point, the dream ended.

When I awoke, a lot of things came together for me. I've had a number of dreams with Asian looking people who don't speak my language very well. Eventually, I learned that these people represented MY IMMUNE SYSTEM and the areas where I ran into them represented the parts of my body where they could be found. I discovered, for instance, that the Asians in the subway systems and tunnels were the immune factors of my intestines. And, in those dreams, the place where THEY are is called "South Korea." Weird, huh? 

Now, I have this dream going UP an escalator, into a HUGE roomy AIRport with 2 giant windows, with a few Asian peoples, and it's called "NORTH Korea." I think I've just met the immune factors to my sinus cavities! The entrance/escalator was the NOSE. The windows were my EYES. The gift shop and big empty space my sinuses. There were very FEW immune factors there, and they seemed to lack energy. Which makes sense given that I had taken an allergy medication that day, which dried up my sinuses and lessened the immune response to allergens!

NOW that I understand these dreams... maybe the next time I dream of being in North Korea I can talk to my own immune factors representatives and TELL them that SOME tourists (things that come in the nose) are NOT "spies" (for the North Koreans were paranoid in my dream-- they over-reacted to things) but just harmless visitors. LIKE POLLEN AND MOLD SPORES (with their spikes or decorative swords!) 

So-- I had a dream explaining my own allergic reactions to things! If I could establish some communication with my OWN body DIRECTLY-- maybe I could really help my own health!

It's exciting to think about!
tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)
At last, I've had my next "teaching dream" that is supposed to help me work on my hidden issues (and chronic ill health, apparently.)

To begin with, I found myself in the lobby of a great hotel in a busy city. People moving and talking and working everywhere! It was crazy busy. A black woman rose from the floor, facing me directly, and I immediantly recognized her as one of my Guides. (The others take the forms of Andie McDowell, Mimi Rogers, & Lena Olin for some reason.) It was this gorgeous African American actress who was popular in the late 70s and 80s, though recently we mostly see her in TV commercials. She always wears her hair natural and very short, and she has exotic eyes. I have never held a particular interest in this actress, just as is the case with Andie McDowell, Mimi Rogers, and Lena Olin, but for whatever reason, she takes the image of this person. (**By the way, I've figured out the "code" to my Guides. More later.) Anyway, this Guide, a wise and older woman, literally emerged magically from the floor and faced me. She told me that the answers I sought in this Quest would be found down below, and she directed me to go down into the subways.  I was to find something. What's more, I was to be "in disguise" so that none of my Shadows or Rays could recognize me. Apparently, if they see me down there, they tend to try to engage me, and I needed to go on a spy mission of sorts, from what my Guide told me.

Read more... )
Last thing I wanted to mention-- the cameo appearance of 2 repeating dreams figures. Vex and Brannon. I have to wonder: what the HELL was my Shadow Brother negotiating with a Diplomat for? What would he want with a messenger from my digestive system? Hmmm? Weirdness. And he's normally so regal and dignified-- and yet here I was seeing him seemingly selling out and behaving most dishonorably with some factor of my inner physcial workings. Rather suspicious, eh?  Brannon, who looks like Tom Welling incidentally, and some others not recounted, regarded Vex's actions with outright disgust. So whatever Vex was doing, it must have been pretty bad to upset Brannon so much. I'm curious, but I'll have to investigate further into this matter later.
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
[Originally posted Nov. 2005- before Dream Quest Project]

I had 2 weird-ass dreams this morning:

In the first, I had discovered this HUGE insect thing living inside the electronics of a large screen television. It resembled almost a crab/turtle shell thing with fingers coming out as the legs, all gnarled and "knuckly". I knew it was supposed to be something gross and that I normally would crush such a thing to kill it. Only I didn't. I let it live peacefully. I even showed if off to friends and named it Knuckles.

I became friends with the 1 and a half foot long ugly bug. It curled up to sleep at the foot of my bed, fought with my cat, and became pregnant. Eventually, it left my house to lay eggs. At that point, I was able to talk to it, and the dream turned really strange. I asked it/her if she would live after laying, and she said no-- only an hour or 2. Rather than staying, she was going to fly north and see what she could see before dying. I cried and gave it/her an awkward hug, and promised to tell her story to her progeny when they hatched-- a la Charlotte's Web. End Dream 1.

The second dream I found myself helping to coordinate a bunch of sound stage people for some huge important symphony orchestra event. I was in charge of the rhythm section-- including timpani and kettle drums and about 200 giant drums about half the size of a van each! Too much. I was working closely with another woman who looked and sounded just like the actress Andie McDowell, and she really seemed to like me. The Andie character told me the giant drums were for "thunderous power" and that I belonged in the the drum section. (At one point, I was feeling a bit put out, because I wanted to work with the violin section instead.) Just before we were set for the performance, and everyone was getting all dressed up, she came over to me and gave me a bright sapphire blue rose corsage to wear on my wrist-- only she put it on my right wrist rather than my left. "I just want you to feel appreciated!" she smiled and went on. I glowed with happiness at that. End Dream 2.

Interp:

Both dreams involved hands. Both involved "strange love." Both involved creativity and the preparation for something big...

I'd say writing or projects involving my creative self are about to take off. The last time I had such dreams was right before I began a pagan Trad and Circle in 1996. (In those dreams I had fetus fingers!)

The "ugly bug" is about my reluctance to write because I'm ashamed of being judged by critics and detractors. I've never done well with negativity directed at me, and fear of ridicule and disdain is the main reason I never finish a writing project. The bug being nurtured, despite it's ugliness, is very symbolic of my own relationship to my writing -- I feel it's gross and disgusting, but I love it anyway and just don't have the heart to kill it. The dream indicates that that era of my life is about to end, and soon will be replaced with "new baby bugs"-- lots of them! Potential is ripe and ready.

The drums and corsage? Again with the tremendous creative power-- not yet ready to be played, all the time being set up for some momentous expression. Andie seemed like a Guide or Teacher or Helper who just wanted me to know that I still matter, and her little act of kindness, silly and trivial as it may seem, was a very powerful emotional thing for me.

Maybe I will finish a story.
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)

[Originally posted May 2008]

A person can directly confront all those issues piled up in the subconscious through dreaming. I took the term "Shadow" from a well-known archetype-- the Shadow is the part of us we suppress in order to get along with our world, our selves, and other human beings. Shadows are the result of SOME repeated message that told us "NO" to some past impulse, desire, or behavior. I realized that my Shadows actually live on in my dreams, and I met and spoke with many of them. I was intrigued to find that so many of them were healthier than I was! That made no sense if "Shadows" are supposed to be bad...

... but then I realized that it all depends upon the messages (and the messengers) that created the Shadows in the first place. Since a Shadow can only be created by a cast light, I named the personalities who personified the Programs of my past (thus creating the Shadows) "Rays." Rays also live on in our dreams as well, and I've had more problems with unhealthy Rays in my psyche than any Shadows.  Which makes sense given how I was raised-- not very well by alcoholic parents. And I was poor. And I was sickly. And I got picked on... Need I go on? That's a ton of crappy messages (which can become powerful enough to become automatic Programs) to create Rays from.
 

Read more... )
tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)

Most of us think of our bodies as mutely running machines. We think of our physical self as a vehicle that we reside in-- often as an extention of our "selves." Even if we think of our body as dynamic and vital and alive, we don't think it can "speak" and certainly we don't think of it as a community that speaks to itself-- yet this is just what my deep dreaming techniques have revealed.

When I began my Dream Quest over a year ago, I was given some instruction by Nahili, the Shawnee medicine woman I worked with for a time in Ohio back country. Though modern western peoples are starting to "get" that many dreams have meaning-- we don't always apply this knowledge properly. Some conversations with Nahili opened my mind to the concept that dreams reveal the internal workings of our bodies to our conscious minds, and can even tell us things and be told things this way-- something that is common knowledge to shamanic cultures everywhere.

And so I started to dutifully record dreams that I realized were indeed about my body-- part of my body or even entire systems like the digestive system or the nervous system or the endoctrine (hormonal) system. Here is one example of what I mean-- my first recognizable immune system dream:
 

I was watching (and then one of) a group of young men who all stayed at a sort of resort/rehabilitation type facility. They worked on personal health issues and gave each other support. I watched them discuss, in a very New Agey way, all sorts of things like they were in some kind of seminar or cult or something. They were all feeling very optimistic and gung ho about improvements. They were all very lovey-dovey, very alike, and made me think of gay guys because they were so... tough and yet fragile? The headquarters where they lived were at the top of a hill in the middle of a wilderness park of some kind.Read more... )

There's a neatness to the symbolism here. Immune system dreams have a signature I've learned to recognize, in that they involve groups of people (who are discernably different than you: gay, foreign, cultists, whatever) yet who are on your side working with you and for you. I call the symbolism "the friendly foreigner immunity groups."  By contrast, hostile groups of people who are actively attacking you along with friendly types in a dream are expressions of invasion and represent germs and infections. For example, just before getting the flu a couple of years ago I had 2 or 3 dreams of raids and wars before I felt any symptoms at all-- sure enough, I got slammed with the worst flu I've had since I was 13 years old! Problems interfering with the proper functioning of the immune system can get revealed this way as well, as the above dream example demonstrates.

Another bodily system I evidently have major issues with is my digestive system. It appears to work just fine but for a bit of IBS (Irritible Bowel Syndrome.) However! My dreams have revealed that there is a major problem-- in fact, that my immune system problems seem to be stemming FROM my digestive system!? Witness this dream in which I which I was led to the entrance to a "spiraling mine shaft"  (and what do intestines look like?):




Read more... )


I wasn't sure at the time I had this dream what the mine shaft and tunnels represented, but later I had a second dream that brought the point home pretty forcefully. I went down into the tunnels of a subway system and road the train there, learning about problems with bad transporation issues and energy shortages.

It appears that in my case, much of my ill-health stems from malabsorption and inefficient delivery of nutrients and energy to where it's needed. Interestingly, as I began to follow the advice on what to do (like more fiber to help speed things along and extra vitamin and mineral supplements, and MOST especially taking yogurt like "Activa" and other helpful bacterial cultures) my digestive issues, immunity issues, and lack-of-energy issues improved dramatically. And all from just figuring out my own body-symbolism in dreams and trying to communicate with my own body (and those helpful Guides-- which are like your own personal Guardian Angels!) 


Other people I've counseled on dreams include an elderly friend who had breast cancer and another who had a stroke. Their dreams very vividly illustrated how their bodies were attempting to deal with the massive damage and changes of not only the initial disease or attack, but of the sometimes harsh medical treatments that came later. For example, the treatments for cancer can be quite brutal, and I talked extensively to my friend "Pat" -- and she was able to talk to her body in dreams and explain why she was poisoning it! (It protested vehemently, as you can imagine!) After she was able to explain that it was to kill the "Crazy Kids" (in her dreams, the cancer invasion was a bunch of hungry, crazy rock n' roll teenagers-- hey, she's in her 70s!) After that, the side effects from her cancer treatment went way down and her doctors were amazed. 

This dream work stuff can be really powerful.
tranquilityseekers: blue angel staff (education)
[Originally posted April 30, 2008]

My dream work has become so complex and in depth that it has been suggested that I write some sort of guide out for everyone to help them understand the whole Dream Quest project I've been doing for years now. 

The background behind this is that I discovered that my dreams affect and reflect my physical body, my psychological issues, and my spiritual journey in life. I worked with a Native American medicine woman for about a year actively, and her completely different take on healing the body, mind, and soul through a new approach to the dreaming world inspired me. I had already learned to do lucid dreaming (being awake, aware, and in control within a dream) and had a knack for interpreting dream symbology-- yet there was so much more I could do!

SO!-- I started a dream quest that really became 3 separate, ongoing dream journeys:

1.  A Dream Quest to help heal my body by learning to TALK to and LISTEN to various parts of my body (digestive system, immune system, etc.) through dream imagery.

2.  A Dream Quest to help heal my psychological injuries by learning to speak and listen to various aspects of my subconscious mind through the dramatic story-lines and characters within my dreams.

3.  A Dream Quest to help me discover my spiritual purpose and the mysteries of life and of the collective mind of humanity.

I have not written down all of the dreams I've had by any means, only the most dynamic and interesting ones. I notice that vivid or lucid dreams tend to come in waves, and generally when my life is a little calmer OR I'm asking for them. It seems there is a natural mechanism in place that helps us to avoid overloading our own system when we're under extreme stress like an emergency situation. When I'm more open and ready to listen and pay attention, the dreams that have a real meaning are remembered with greater frequency and in greater detail.

As I've proceeded on my various dream quests, I've learned more and more about my own personal symbolic system as pertaining to body, mind, and spirit-- and talking to others about their dreams seems to indicate that everyone has a very similar system with interesting personal variations! We all have similar immune system dreams, for instance-- and they ALL involve robots, doctors/nurses, and/or friendly or invading foreigners.  Everyone has psychological issue dreams with very distinct and recognizable "rays" and "shadows" and even "guides." Everyone has access to a higher level of spiritual reality through their dreams. Some of these things are universal-- and that is what Nahili's teachings led me to understand. Further, people from similar cultures tend to have very similar symbolic characters and structures in their dreams. If you can figure out the symbols and learn to listen to and watch what's really going on in your dreams, you can completely re-write your own reality, heal your body, work out those issues from your past, and live a life much more free and complete than ever before.


2015 NOTE: Years later and I still find this work (or maybe its more a type of focused play) fascinating. I found IFS or "Internal Family Systems Therapy" uses a strikingly similar set of characters for psychological healing as well. Exploring more avenues using that at this time...

tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
Every once in a while, I find an article somewhere that just nails something I've been thinking or feeling for a long time, and I feel compelled to share it and write about it. The most recent example of that is here:

www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/

The article begins and ends with the example of a psychiatrist/neurologist, Victor Frankl, who was imprisoned in the Nazi camps back in WW2, and what he noticed of those who were suicidal or gave up and died, and those who managed to survive despite the deprivation and horror. He counseled people while interred, and learned much about the deeper meaning of the human condition and the will to survive. Later, he wrote a very influential book, Man's Search For Meaning.

Article quotes:

"As he saw in the camps, those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." "

The choice to forge ahead through unbearable circumstances is possible, but you have to have a reason to do it. A purpose to make it all worthwhile.

"In 1991, the Library of Congress and Book-of-the-Month Club listed Man's Search for Meaning as one of the 10 most influential books in the United States. It has sold millions of copies worldwide. Now, over twenty years later, the book's ethos -- its emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self -- seems to be at odds with our culture, which is more interested in the pursuit of individual happiness than in the search for meaning. "To the European," Frankl wrote, "it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.'" "

This is one of those aspects of modern life as an American that makes me feel at odds and out of touch with most of those around me. It drives me absolutely bananas that there is an expectation, a societal pressure, to be happy-- or, if not, to at least fake it! To not do so marks one as somehow flawed. No, worse-- as intrinsically defective in some way. It is as if even reminding others of anything besides the one acceptable mind-state is a criticism of our very existence as humans.

That unhappiness may be stemming from entirely justified circumstances is overlooked completely. Why reach out and help the underlying cause of depression when its so much easier and cheaper (not to mention profitable) to just throw drugs at the issue? "Shut up and stop bothering us!" is the message I've always received when I dared to be less than content. I am absolutely convinced that this reflexive selfishness is a sickness that is being encouraged to our collective detriment, leaving countless individuals damaged, or at the very least, feeling empty.

"Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. "It is the very pursuit of happiness," Frankl knew, "that thwarts happiness." "

And why should this be..? Seems counter-intuitive. You want happiness, you go for it, you end up more miserable? Explain please.

"Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a "taker" while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a "giver." 

"Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided," the authors write."

Huh. Why am I not surprised? =^/

"How do the happy life and the meaningful life differ? Happiness, they found, is about feeling good. Specifically, the researchers found that people who are happy tend to think that life is easy, they are in good physical health, and they are able to buy the things that they need and want. While not having enough money decreases how happy and meaningful you consider your life to be, it has a much greater impact on happiness. The happy life is also defined by a lack of stress or worry.

Most importantly from a social perspective, the pursuit of happiness is associated with selfish behavior -- being, as mentioned, a "taker" rather than a "giver." The psychologists give an evolutionary explanation for this: happiness is about drive reduction. If you have a need or a desire -- like hunger -- you satisfy it, and that makes you happy. People become happy, in other words, when they get what they want.
"


Socially, we've been conditioned to believe that the whole point of existence is this very thing. Before we die, we must consume and find happiness in consuming. On a finite planet with limited resources, raping it to the point of damaging our future survival is okay according to this mindset, because we're all going to die anyway. We're machines without souls (so goes the paradigm) so nothing else matters but drive reduction. There IS NO MEANING is what we are told in countless ways by those who seek to SELL us something. And it works. Most have bought this dark philosophy hook, line, and sinker.

"...meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. "If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need,""

Every religion the world over seems to have this basic idea behind the rituals, rites, and rules: help others and don't make it all about you all the time. Could it be that the fundamental wisdom of helping others and thereby finding meaning is almost universal with humans?

"...in the meaningful life "you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self."  ...People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people."

You have more stress and anxiety because you give a shit! Big shock. The older I get the more convinced I am that the meaning of life is to CARE. And then act upon those things you care about. Care with empathy and do something to express that, to alleviate the pain and assist in the many challenges of life in this world. When you do, the trials and tribulations that bring you down fail to touch you with the same power as before.

"Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment -- which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning. 

Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. "Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future, was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life," the researchers write. "Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future." That is, people who thought more about the present were happier, but people who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives, though they were less happy."

I feel as if this is validation and vindication of something I've felt most of my life. Since my teens at least! When I was facing so many hardships and craziness, ultimately what helped me to pull through and continue pushing forth my will into the world was the need to make a difference somehow. I didn't want my brief life on Earth to be for nothing. I wanted to contribute something unique from me to anyone who could possibly use whatever I had to offer. Just as my own spirit was buoyed and inspired by others before me.

That's one reason I find fault with the constant pursuit of a mentality fully concentrated "in the now." I know that keeping your attention on the present keeps stress at bay and improves your focus, and its good to be able to do that. But one must also set aside time to compare, contrast, contemplate, and put it all together. You look back on the past to learn from past mistakes, to understand what you failed to understand before as a younger, more naive, you-- and create a narrative about your own life. And only by realizing what patterns may lead to in the future can you prevent repeating mistakes or causing avoidable damage. Looking ahead means finding a path as you continue your own personal quest of meaning.

On a less high-minded note, I have noticed how often those I've known who only cared about pleasure, ease, and avoiding anything negative end up being users, players, and untrustworthy companions-- because taking the easiest path often led them to betray and cause pain at a moment's notice.

Its true highly thoughtful people may not always be jolly, but the kindest examples of humanity I knew were unafraid to weep for others and to offer comfort and practical help in some way. And it is their example, rather than the relentless messages of our current culture, that I grasped to my heart and reached for in spirit.
tranquilityseekers: (blessing)
Feeling off-kilter and odd today...

Its that peculiar restlessness that comes over me periodically. Don't know why and can't seem to find much otherworldly significance to it (believe me, I've been recording these moods for a while.) I think its more about a process of subconsciously generating something that will soon rise to my consciousness. A new story to write. A new project to launch. Something. Its funny how often I don't set out to create something, and instead find it manifesting almost whole cloth out of the ether. Maybe that's what going on.

Under the surface, all these shake ups and shadows and shouts and songs and sighs are moving things around in my mind-- but I can't quite see where the redecorating committee decided to place my mental furniture! Not right now. The curtains are drawn and I can see nothing within myself, but I can hear scrapes on the floor and the mumbling of the movers. I know something's up, but until the curtains are open at some point in the future, on some level I remain, temporarily, a mystery to myself.

One thing about middle age that I can very much appreciate is that I've learned a lot about my own psychological processes. I know I have periods of mourning, of creating, of releasing... no longer am I leery of these songs of the spirit-- even if they turn out to be dirges. I take in, digest, and -- well, I don't want to say 'excrete'-- although that is an apt metaphor for some end-result emotional products! LOL!

Life's experiences and lessons have a way of moving through our minds, often in convoluted and plodding ways... Though we can feel overwhelmed at times, I sometimes think the bigger problem in our society is that we no longer have patience for processing pain. Despite our reflexive avoidance, pain can lead to unexpectedly healthy insights and changes in our lives-- or to new creations that would not have manifested without the impetus that often only darkness can provide.

Yet I would be lying if I denied that it can be difficult to wait and see what comes next each step of the way. I think one of the hardest lessons to learn is that we have within us a source of essential spiritual wisdom that leads us through our journey if we but trust it. For some, that would be God or a Universal Collective Mind of some sort. For others, a Higher Self. Regardless, if we but let ourselves find some silence to let this wisdom through from time to time, I think we would would all lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

I swear I'm trying!
tranquilityseekers: blue angel staff (education)
I have been steadily doing self-therapy through quality psychological books and workbooks since the age of 17, and maybe longer. Right now, I'm going through the Emotional Resilience book by David Viscott, M.D.-- a psychiatrist. After reading the intro I was a little disappointed, because it seemed that his solution for over-sensitivity was simply to tell people the truth. I took a bit of umbrage to that, because I'm already pretty well-versed in expressing myself honestly, and I quite often get very badly burned in retaliation.

I finally picked it up and continued after skimming more through the pages a bit. Dr. Viscott does explain how speaking your mind can go wrong and what to do to avoid that more and so forth.

Okaaay....

Anyways, the point of chapter one was the process that occurs when we don't express our feelings at the time something happens and instead hold them in. Over time, your memory and the self-talk about the situation gets exaggerated and distorted, creating a situation ripe for "toxic nostalgia"-- which sets you up perfectly to seek repeating situations where you try to resolve the original issue OR you find yourself over-reacting and out-of-control when things finally do get blurted out later. Which makes everything worse, then you get rejected and angry at yourself-- so you hold it in next time until you can't anymore and the cycle starts again.

He also discussed how not being honest with yourself and others makes it easier to play victim and blame others for your own mistakes. Also, that often when people are unhappy they distract themselves with incidental trivialities to avoid dealing with what's really bothering them. People are so afraid of being rejected for expressing their true feelings that they cause themselves real pain, through guilt, anxiety, and repressed rage--.


I can totally see what he means with all that, and have studied such things in self-help work before, so none of this comes as a surprise. I've been trying to work out that "express and get rejected" thing in particular. I've learned to be honest, but gently honest-- most of the time. And for the most part it works out pretty well for everyday misunderstandings and grievances. But the sticking point seems to be power issues. For most people, if I get rejected, my life isn't thrown into disarray. But for dealing with issues with, say, my husband-- there is always this THREAT hanging over me that his moody reaction will lead to worse problems. He has his frustrations too, of course, and that doesn't help.

I'm pretty good at owning my own shit, though-- so that's a good thing! NOT, mind you, that I get much credit for it from others! In fact, one of the down sides of having insight is that you get to be very aware when other people are projecting their shit at you and playing victim (Mira, for example) and using any fault you admit to as ammunition and permission to just go on some relentless attack.

My issue now is that I have deep feelings of sadness and distrust towards others when it comes to deeper relationships. I can work on my own side of things, but I can't make other people do the same, and its reached a point where I don't expect anyone to even want to... which means I don't have the power to help the situation beyond a certain point. And I expect that point to be reached in almost every relationship, and thence to be rejected unfairly.

Yet the only advice for this situation from experts is "forgive and move on." Or, in extreme cases, dismiss and move on as I say! The part where I have been losing hope comes from the perception I've come to have that I will be be eventually letting go and moving on in every relationship prematurely due to irreconcilable differences. It doesn't seem as if there is such a thing as life-long relationships anymore. And that BOTHERS ME, dammit!

My expectations lower more and more over time the more psychological work I do on myself. That may sound the opposite of what you'd expect, but its true. The more I realize what goes on in people's minds and how to counteract it to be a healthier person, the more I realize the gulf that lays between those of us who make an effort and everyone else wallowing in their delusions and distortions. Since I have no power over anyone but myself, all I can do is try to explain things but be prepared to bear witness to other people's assholery!

I must confess a stark truth: I have no RECIPROCAL deep and meaningful relationships in my life.

I have deep attachments. I have great love for a few other people. I have respect and appreciation for everyone I associate with on every level. I do my best to be real and truthful and caring and playful with others. But I have nearly zero expectation of emotional reciprocation, beyond basic respect and affinity. (I know my husband, for instance, is trying-- which is why I'm not giving up there and why we're still friends and family to one another, despite ongoing issues.)

You might well ask me, "What does 'deep and meaningful' mean to you?" I think its pretty simple: a relationship where there is mutual respect and trust, leading to spontaneous expression, sharing of thoughts, and ongoing curiosity and concern for one another's personal sphere, and a willingness to engage on a level deeper than the everyday trivialities and distractions of life.

We're all time-crunched and limited with what we can offer others, but everyone needs at least a few people, maybe 2 or 3, in their lives that invest that much into growing with us as a friend and/or lover. I don't seek nor expect every relationship to be at that level of depth and investment. Of course not! There is room in every life for many different kinds of relationships. I'm dissatisfied, however, because I don't have even ONE that I feel meets that basic desire. Not one. I don't think its asking too much, but I begin to despair that its ever going to happen.

I put all this work into myself to be a better person and have a higher quality of life, but then I find I am pretty much alone for it and can't use it for much of anything except expressing myself in blogs where a few people peep in, read, and sometimes even comment. I would LOVE for there to be a 'real life' person near by who would simply listen to me about the sorts of things I write about here! Just that would transform my life. But there is no one in my 'real life' who cares to hear it. I haven't given up attempting to share these types of things with others. But having your thoughts and feelings met with polite indifference most of the time just fucking hurts and I get tired of it.

I would accuse myself of being too demanding, except that I'm not asking for anything I'm not offering. The result, I'm coming to witness over time, is that I'm ending up being something of a rescuer-- one with few material resources, some kind words and insight, but stretched to the limit with how much time and energy I have to dole out. I don't mind having some connections or relationships like this-- people have hard lives, face crisis, need emotional support and new ideas and I'm happy to offer what I can.

However-! I need a mutually supportive relationship. Where giving and taking is more equally shared or traded back and forth as we meander our way through life. Apparently, I'm not appealing enough, attractive enough, interesting enough or SOMETHING enough to persuade anyone else that the investment would be worth it. At least that's how it appears to me at this time.

My dilemma is how to handle the deep sadness that results from this. Do I continue to struggle and strive for better someday with someone? Or do I just accept this as my fate and settle into an existence of unmet longings? I go back and forth-- but over time, I'm giving up.

I just don't know how to give up without the sadness hanging on. I either need to learn to accept and not be sad about it, or make a friend who is more at my level of personal development. Until one or the other happens, I'm just going to be in a funk, apparently-- a years long funk.
tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)
Every now and again, I'll be listening to music, just flowing with it and not thinking about anything in particular-- when a sudden epiphany will come to me whole cloth and I just suddenly have a wider understanding of something.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about trauma and its effects upon people's lives. I've come to know so many people, mostly women, who lead devastated lives because of abuse from their past. For most, there is an uphill battle that requires too much strength to overcome alone. So their lives remain isolated, contracted, diminished from the great splendor of what they could otherwise create, produce, experience, etc.

I've been there, and I'm still working on my own issues of this nature. Although I've come a long way-- to the point of being a very different person-- I still have some distance to go and the memories of my own diminished life are very close to me. When I meet and come to know others undergoing the same struggle, I can't help but feel as if I am a "Sister Unarmed." I say that rather than "sister in arms" because what we have in common is a lack of fighting ability.

People who have had their self-esteem devastated by unrelenting criticism, physical and/or sexual abuse, long term neglect, and more seem to get trained to surrender rather than fight. Fighting back wasn't allowed in situations where someone else had control and enforced it with impunity. What's left are the ruined promises for a life, and a soul stuck in a perpetual state of surrender.

And THERE is the rub: How does one combat that which requires a fighting spirit-- when it is that very thing which has been systematically expunged from one's psychological repertoire? 

Healthy, self-defensive RAGE is needed to survive so many difficult circumstances, and many of us have had most of that suppressed and repressed into a state of near oblivion. Now to summon it seems next to impossible. Even when we try-- it feels so scary to "allow" into our behavior. We so fear becoming that which we hate and fear ourselves. We dread the consequences of something so justifiable as standing up for ourselves in even the most extreme of circumstances.

I want to change that. For myself, and for the others I know who have this issue. We need to learn to summon, control, and USE our anger for our own benefit. To demand others treat us fairly. To command respect. To take what is rightfully ours. And to prevent further abuse, denigration, or disrespect from anyone who has more than a momentary effect upon our lives.

May it be so!
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)

The last post of the series on emotional and social self-defense. Hope this series proves valuable to everyone and you may consider it my heartfelt gift to you, my readers. Thanks for taking the journey with me.


The last few tips are all about what to do when you find yourself in a dispute with a sociopath and their minions. You've put yourself out there, kept the personal stuff close to the chest, dared to live fully, stayed alert and paid attention, learned the system and found your place, and cultivated support-- yet someone comes after you.

One thing you'll notice right away? Gossip is both your worst enemy AND your best friend in these situations. Yeah, you heard me right. People talking to other people is how most of these things go down, so refusing to participate in keeping up with personal news between people will always put you in a very poor political position. Note that. Embrace that. Learn more about that below.



A Good Person's Guide To Living In A Bad Person's World


10.  Always keep your options open and refuse to be cornered.

If we've been doing what we're supposed to, we already know who the sociopath is likely to be, and who they're playing against us. We know how things work in the group we're in and who is likely to back us in a dispute. Now that trouble is brewing, we're aware its on its way and we've hopefully got a little time to prepare. Now what--?

I'm going to add that this goes for whenever we find ourselves dealing with apaths that could be turned against us. Sociopaths are at their most powerful with the most helpless. We must do everything we can to NOT be at the mercy of them! Being trapped is what we have to avoid at all costs. That means giving up our implicit trust in anyone we haven't tested in certain situations before.

Perfect example? When my husband and I moved to Ohio to help his apath/minion father who had cancer and needed help with his business. Not a bad guy when he's with good people-- but capable of complicity when paired with or surrounded by bad people. Mona was a sociopath, so guess what ended up happening to us? Yeah-- SCREWED. Our mistake was in putting ourselves at the mercy of this pair before realizing what they were capable of-- a mistake I never intend to make again.

Point is, it would not be possible for someone like Mona to have tormented us so thoroughly for so long had we had a Plan B going in. Taking stock of every situation where we may be vulnerable is crucial-- and yes, it takes some raw cynicism to implement, but the consequences for neglecting this step are too high. Always have a Plan B, and C and even D if its possible.

One way to do this is implement "if-then" scenarios. If the sociopath takes tactic X, I will respond to it via A. If they implement tactic Y, I will react with my B plan. If Z, then C and so forth.

Which leads to our next step...


11. Always have a plan and play big, not just long, in implementing it.

A recent anonymous commenter pointed out that in her experience with narcissists, she learned they can never plan ahead more than a couple of steps-- because they rely so much upon watching your reaction before implementing another step. That's good to know for the rest of us. We can cover our butts if we're smart. Always be looking for more options in case things go wrong. And if they do start to go wrong, start to implement your own plan right away. Assume you're being targeted and line up your evidence and your support people.

Speaking of lining up support people..! One grim lesson I learned during personal disputes that clobbered me until I changed my tactics: other people tend to believe the first version of any story they hear. Its not right nor fair, but its how most human beings operate. Once they decide upon a side-- they will then tend to cling stubbornly to that side because to change their mind would require admitting being WRONG to begin with and most people's egos simply can't bear such a challenge. That means that when trouble starts, you need to make sure your side of the story is known EARLY. I always felt that getting other people involved in my business with another person meant I was stooping to playing dirty. Well, let me tell you, playing fair meant I lost every single time. I've come to the conclusion now that telling my side of a dispute is okay as long as I am scrupulously truthful. I don't advocate gossip (which is other people's business) but telling my own business is justified and even necessary.

We must be willing to see the Dark Game (that we never wanted to "play" in the first place) through to the end. If we're targeted by a sociopath, one of us is going to be leaving the organization in most cases. We must plan long term so that person isn't us! This means taking that set of contingency plans and then creating another set for whatever happens next, and then yet another set of plans for what happens after THAT and so forth! Staying flexible (see #10 and don't get cornered) and adapting our plans as we go, and we can remain several steps ahead and come out on top for a change.

Further, we shouldn't just plan long-term, we should also refuse to be meek about dealing with being targeted. Sociopaths win by virtue of surprise and because good people tend to hesitate to accuse, let alone strike back-- by the time most empathic targets are actually outraged, the "game" is all but over already. This is another reason why gossip is one of those things we not only have to deal with, but must embrace as a part of life. When you're plugged in to your group's "information network" you will have several benefits:

1- You'll cultivate sources of information and soon be able to assess the accurate ones versus the self-serving ones.
2- You'll hear whispers of trouble brewing long before it actually strikes you.
3- You'll have a way to get "your side" out there should trouble erupt.

Social scientists have figured out that gossip actually evolved as a strategy to empower people to defend against sociopaths. NOT KIDDING! It creates and enforces social "norms" like not stealing from your neighbors, not cheating on your significant other, and not hurting people for fun. Again, gossip is one of those things I used to avoid like the plague-- how could I care about all those silly dramas going on all the time in the social background? And of course that means I missed early clues and had no one on my side when I was targeted. Sociopaths use gossip like champions to find, cultivate, and recruit followers-- and then to turn the social tide against their targets. By avoiding gossip, we just give all that power away to them when we don't have to.

I definitely think this is a skill that takes time and practice to hone, but rest assured oh empaths-- you'll get targeted multiple times and soon have ample opportunity for said practice if you haven't already!


12. Recognize and use the ego and greed of others to create a path to success.

Its true that being empathic means having some vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. However-! The good news is that the sociopaths and apaths of the world have their own list of weaknesses. Empathic people put the general welfare and doing what's right above serving our egos, so we are not as prone to the fallibilities of hubris and desire as the other types. Knowing this can help up even the score and even tip the scales in our favor should we choose to use that knowledge.

For example--! I have a sociopathic niece who targeted me when I was in my 20s and she was a teenager because she didn't want to lose control of Gerick. She even started dating a guy who was a friend of mine to make me jealous (which I wasn't because I never thought of that friend romantically.) When she showed her true colors to me (giving away her plans during a fit of rage) I was in a quandary because both my boyfriend Gerick and my male friend really fell for my niece's charm and to start with they disbelieved my reports of her changed and hostile secret behavior towards me. (I mean, she was vicious!) But I also knew she was touchy about certain things, because her ego was so caught up she couldn't take the slightest shallow criticism, even something imaginary, so I barely tweaked her on those things (during normal conversations and such) knowing she would over-react. She did, and eventually outright attacked me in FRONT of my boyfriend and friend and outed herself for me. They both realized she was psycho and she was dropped out of our collective lives. I had never before operated in such a manner, thinking 6 steps ahead to 'help' someone reveal their true hatred of me publicly, but my long-term plan (took 5 months) worked and I was able to live my life in peace without her having influence over 2 people in my life I had become close to. I used her ego weakness against her. Her attempts to do the same didn't set me off, however, because her opinion of me had no bearing on my opinion of myself. I was immune to something she was very vulnerable to. (Lest you feel sorry for her, all this went down nearly 20 years ago and she DID turn out to be a life-long sociopath, so...)

Greedy people often make stupid mistakes. Narcissists often make stupid mistakes. Narrow-minded people make stupid mistakes. The idea is to open an opportunity for them to make that mistake to begin with! Tempt them into ruin, in other words, while making sure they out themselves either publicly or to authorities or at least to those we care about (boss, family, friends). Exposure of the sociopath is the best way to win when they come after us-- let them show others who they really are so we don't need to prove we're right about them. If they do the work for us, we can stop their plans and injure their reputation enough that others no longer blindly follow them.

This step is a hard one for most of us, I think, because we'll constantly doubt that we're doing the right thing. Even when we know we don't have a choice if we're going to stop someone who is coming after us-- it can feel very hinky. In the end, such a step is up to each individual, but when we find ourselves in a personal war we didn't start, sometimes its either THIS option or unconditional surrender.


13. Pick your battles and never let your opponent have control.

If we've got a long-term assertive plan going, and we're seeing it through, we just have to stay focused. Mini-dramas related to the main issue with the sociopath will erupt and we might find we're tempted to get into it over trivial distractions. But we can't get drawn in-- those things the sociopath sets up will be looking for our REACTION. At that point, they've taken control of things yet again. Pull back, reassess, and continue with your original objective while tweaking it as necessary.

Ideally, we can see where its prudent to peddle our influence and watch things come out in our favor. Where an outcome in our favor is less likely, we may choose to duck and cover for a while. Sometimes letting the sociopath think they're winning for the short term will buy us time or help to illustrate to others what the sociopath is capable of (if we are certain their actions will be witnessed or recorded in some way-- legally of course!)

Pick your battles where we have witnesses to their behavior. Pick the battles where they leave evidence of wrong doing. Choose to engage only when we are reasonably assured of a "win."


14. Once the sociopath is exposed, strive to cut off as many avenues of influence and contact as possible.

This is going back to Martha Stout's advice again in her book The Sociopath Next Door.  Once we realize a person is a sociopath, its best to protect ourselves and our loved ones by staying away from that person. Even if they're family, we don't allow them to come to our home or to have contact with our kids. Even if its not "proper," we should refuse to invite them to weddings and holiday gatherings. Avoidance is our best initial plan, as sociopaths tend to go for what's right in front of them and convenient.

However, at work or in neighborhoods that may not be possible. It may also be too late to prevent repeated contact (as in families or in wider social groups) and so we may well find ourselves victimized or targeted and forced to strategically plan a defense as indicated in the above steps. Once we've managed to expose the sociopath and/or helped them get themselves into trouble once more we have to pull back and deny contact.

This can be hard. The sociopath is not likely to take defeat well, and may be intent upon revenge. Of course, socially, once exposed most sociopaths are outed from the group, and the same may be true at work. We might have to take legal action if things escalate further. But regardless, not communicating or continuing contact is crucial. The more a sociopath can say, the more they'll strive to make us react to them to try to draw us back into their Dark Game under their rules once more. Don't fall for it! Resist the temptation! Get away and stay away! If that means we have to change residence or jobs, then so be it. Few sociopaths will keep up a campaign over a victim or target that bites back. They'll likely move on to newer, easier prey. However, exposing them means they may be more likely to get exposed again so we can feel good we've done our part at least! In most cases, cutting off contact WILL work eventually. Often swiftly with the lazier ones or the ones who wish to avoid punishment.

Personally, I would add that its probably a good idea to keep track of our former enemies for at least a little while until it seems likely they really have moved on (or gone to prison, or died). Sometimes someone from our past will pop up and surprise us (witness Veg Hag!) and we should be prepared for another round if necessary. I suppose I've learned that none of us should ever be surprised when it comes to sociopaths or apaths bent upon revenge, and just skipping the profound shock part would be for the best.



AND THAT'S IT for now!

I feel sad to think of how much we all have to do just to keep on our toes in case assholes come after us. What a bunch of wasted energy and concern! Its not fair in any way, shape, or form! Yet the truth is that, realistically, peace is always and ever a temporary gift that we must treasure. We would like to think peace is normal and dealing with psychos is abnormal, but maybe that's not realistic all the time. If we can face the truth and learn to be "pro-actively defensive" then perhaps we stand a chance of winning ourselves more peace down the line compared to most.
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)
A couple more thoughts about yesterday's tips for getting ahead of the bad guys, especially points #3 and #5...

I have had several discussions about revealing one's talents and passions (especially non-religious and non-political) with several people, and found many who greatly hesitate to share with others. Some have admitted outright that they want to hide themselves from those who might feel inclined to attack them for even daring to stick their neck out enough to show they like something, let alone do something well! Its difficult to convey my deep sorrow for this state of things in society. I'm sure ours is not the only culture to sanction that we hide what makes us happy and, yeah, maybe a little special-- but I'll never be able to stand behind such an attitude.

But not because I don't get it. Rather, because I spent most of my life hiding myself and what I love from the world and it was a miserable way to live. Being able to push yourself forward despite fear of the assholes of the world is, by contrast, highly satisfying. Do I "invite" abuse because of it? Sure. But I did when I hid as well, and-- if anything, my very meekness was more of an invitation than any talent or treasure I could imagine.

From another side of things, when someone opens up to me about their own passions in life, they instantly become more "real" to me. I suspect that is why #3 is advised to begin with. When we know a person's joyful, fully engaged side, we view them differently. They stop being a person in theory to us, and become more 3-dimensional. We can't help but appreciate them more and see them as more precious. We may even share some of those passions. So it makes sense to reveal our strengths in this way to the outside world because when we become more REAL to others, it becomes far more difficult for a minion to be played against us. Most minions/apaths have limits-- they're aren't sociopaths, after all! Making ourselves seem less "deserving" of whatever it is our tormentors have cooked up for us is a part of how we beat them.

So, please-- don't hide thinking you'll protect yourself from abuse. Hiding is what makes abuse more possible. Grow it. Show it. And BLOW IT for the sociopaths who would otherwise have a much easier time painting a target on your ass! And to think that's just a positive side-effect of simply doing part of what you were born here on this Earth to do! How sweet is that?!

As for #5-- keeping an open mind and insisting on dealing with any truth you find... well, I think perhaps nothing inflames my passion against injustice more than dealing with someone who refuses to see what is plain before them simply because its too negative for them to deal with. I say this fully knowing it for the hypocritical statement it is because I've done it too!

But I've avoided and prevented terrible things when I've studied people and situations and faced what I found, regardless of the "ick factor." I've been able to grant assistance and pursue justice only when I faced the truth. Being raised by a mother who did the "see no evil, hear no evil" thing really forced me to deal with the negative consequences of feel-good supposed "neutrality" early on. REAL neutrality means waiting for the facts before making a conclusion-- it doesn't mean neglecting to do anything about a critical problem that needs addressing!

Not only will this help us to defend ourselves directly from sociopaths after US, but it will allow us to become supporters of others who are being victimized and targeted by sociopaths. Truly a win-win strategy!

Moving along then on----


A Good Person's Guide To Living In A Bad Person's World


6. Become "essential" & know your real currency.

Oh LOOK! We're getting into the nitty gritty of politics now! And for those of us who aren't big on political games-playing, these types of things are required learning, even when it feels faintly ridiculous. (Which it does to me. I despise social games.)

You know how a lot of us don't like putting our necks out for fear of getting our heads chopped off? Well, bad news-- this is once again advising directly against that turtle-like strategem!

Becoming essential means finding our place to fit, our role to fill, and then doing a great job at it so that others need us close by! If we know where we can excel at a job, a social group, in our family, etc., then learning where we can fit and then making the most of it benefits everyone. If we're not so easily replaced, we're not as tempting a general target because all those selfish apaths and minions are loathe to take any action which spells more work and headaches down the line for THEM!

Knowing our real currency likewise means understanding and utilizing our own special brand of talent or style that others value. This can be our sense of humor and ability to put others at their ease. It could be our eye for detail, spotting problems so they can be fixed early. Everyone has those areas where they excel. Once we know our own, we can put it to use in situations where attacking us hurts more than just us. Once again, thwarting the sociopaths and their potential minions becomes a happy side effect of just doing what we'd like to do anyway-- our BEST.

Did you notice that, again, this is taking the bad guys' playbook and turning it to use for good rather than evil? Two can play the game of "you need me." Why should the jerks be the only ones to take advantage of this?


7. Create a passionate nucleus of supporters.

You know who's hard to attack? People with fans. When others are likely to stand up for you whenever someone starts launching verbal grenades in your absence, personal campaigns are difficult to get rolling.

Machiavelli in his 52 Laws of Power had a rule along these lines. He said, in so many words, "People protect you better than walls." Your best defense isn't hiding and locking down, its coming out and opening up!

How to do this? I see this as a 2-part ongoing process: Firstly, you have to keep your eyes open for other empathic people-- and start supporting THEM. Watch and listen and wait and you'll see who the truly good people are. Find them and spend time with them, befriend them, and be there for them-- and especially pay attention to make sure they are naturally inclined to reciprocate-- not keep tabs on who owes who a favor! Fellow empaths will not take easy offense, will not have overly precious egos, will extend empathy and understanding, and seem willing to go out of their way for you and others.

Secondly, once you find these treasures? Keep them as friends and positive contacts for as long as you can-- forever, if possible! In our super busy distracting world, its easy to let the non-trouble-makers get lost in all the chaos of day-to-day life. The squeaky wheels get the grease, while your most powerful potential supporters, causing little drama, get forgotten. Do NOT let this happen!! The older I get, the more I realize how precious and valuable good people in our lives really are! We can't drop people due to distance, lack of excitement, or our own colorful personal lives! When the chips are down (and they WILL BE, inevitably, for everyone at one time or another) its your wonderful empathic friends who show up and help you make it through.

Chances are, a lot of good people out there are just as lonely, frustrated, and feeling taken advantage of as we are- so when they meet us and find that they aren't alone in the world, they're going to feel very passionate about protecting us and keeping us going. This is an amazing gift-- the ability to love and become attached-- that only WE possess. No sociopath in the world can garner this kind of support-- and so we need to stop neglecting those like ourselves in this world. We used to watch one another's backs in our history-- and we're going to have to get in the lifelong habit again if we're even to have a future.

Mutual admiration and affection is the most powerful force in the world-- never fail to appreciate that!

....oh, and we shouldn't let pride stand in the way of our asking for help from our supporters either. That's another mistake too many of us make.


8.  Master the system and figure out a way to make it work for you.

Every social group, every workplace, every organization, every family-- have an established method for doing things. Knowing that system is key to making sure we have knowledge we can use to get ahead and/or prevent disaster.

And again we see a page from the assholes' playbook! But its true that its easier to use what's already in place to protect ourselves or get a crucial point across than it is to rebel against what's likely to change only very slowly and painfully. The jerks of the world study up on the social systems of things in order to take advantage of it (which I can confirm from grim experience once more) and so should you.

The good news is, most organizations have policies for dealing with problems-- they have to, because problems are common and have to be dealt with lest they bring an organization to its knees. And we shouldn't just learn the overt rules, we need to study in depth the "unspoken" rules -- they're the ones liable to trip us up. For example, its generally not a good idea to go to the Human Resources department except as a last resort, because it tends to get you labeled a troublemaker and get you put on that invisible "first to go during a layoff" list!

Other things to study-- who really calls the shots. Its not always the boss. Who helps who and when and why. What gets noticed and by whom. Once we begin to figure out the ins and outs of a group, we can insert ourselve into that system and become a part of it (see #6 above.)

Its true a lot of systems are unfair and set up that way-- but if we don't know how it works, by whom, and why, we'll never make it better down the line (and we can often do more than we think at first.) Even if we see ourselves as subversive operatives we'll need to know how the system works. Becoming a secret agent, if only in our own mind, is often essential to not being blindsided by others who have knowledge of loopholes and exceptions we never knew about.


9. Stretch your way to success-- don't be afraid to try new ideas and methods.

Once we know how the system works and how to get it to work for us, then we can push the envelope a bit to make improvements. In life, this is even more true as we establish ourselves and our reputations.

Too often, we get caught up in habits --in roles we take on without thinking and fail to fully evaluate and test. Keeping ourselves adaptive and dynamic is very important. It means we can't just duck our heads down and pray for the storms to blow over though-- in that lays the path of the apath! Don't be sucked into the ennui and apathy most others fall prey to!

I'm not advocating we all go out and start a revolution. Rather, I'm stating that creativity (as threatening as it can be for many) is often our only way to "beat" an unfair system, whatever form it happens to be taking in our lives. If one strategy doesn't work, perhaps another can. This is another reason why being fully awake, aware, alert, and engaged is so important. If we're just going through the motions, we're unlikely to have the impact its gonna take to best our next encounter with a sociopath!

Finally, don't be afraid to reach for success to begin with. Again, too many make this mistake. Life is hard enough without out holding ourselves down and pretending abject mediocrity. Who does that serve besides our detractors, critics, and enemies? So why are we being so self-effacing again!?

Exactly!
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)
At last! The final set of posts for this series!

We know there are assholes. We know most people will choose to follow the assholes, or at least turn away when assholes play. So what are the rest of us to do? For too long, we've been struggling to get by knowing the odds are against us when it comes to assholes and their slack-jawed followers and the supposedly neutral "see-no-evil" types who still take the asshole's side by refusing to take sides.

Once again, some great advice from Phil McGraw and his book, Life Code: The New Rules For Winning In the Real World.  The listed items are his entirely, maybe a little tweaked, but explanation and commentary is mine. I had to look outside my own life experience for some clues, I admit it-- I have too often been entirely flummoxed. So I'm hoping to start with this list, see how it works, and maybe a few years from now revisit and revise if needed. I'm not sure how well this will work, but I'm willing to take it under advisement and see if it does me any good.

McGraw calls this list "the Sweet 16"-- but I'll call it...


A Good Person's Guide To A Bad Person's World

(Because we all know who has been winning right? Not us, that's for sure.)


1. Keep things “close to the vest.” Learn to cultivate a little mystery for yourself.

As we learned in a previous post, one problem in the sociopath-victim dynamic is that sociopaths and many minions are out actively looking for our vulnerabilities. Good people don't often keep a lot of secrets because we don't feel we have a lot to hide, but assholes are looking for all sorts of things to exploit. These days, its harder than ever to be discreet, but apparently well worth some effort.

You'll notice that this is taking a play directly out of the bad guy's playbook and using it for self-defense against the bad guys. This isn't just about raw facts, but about admitting to what really bothers us and where our vulnerabilities lay. Giving away too much too early makes things too easy for the bad guys to nail us later-- and not in the fun way.

Most trustworthy people are too trusting themselves, assuming that trust is a given until one proves they don't deserve it. Instead, we need to assume that ANY new person we're dealing with should not be trusted until they've proven they've earned our trust.

Read that last sentence again carefully. Mind-blowing, right!? How could we all have missed this one? But we did, didn't we?

A little mystery just means being courteous without spilling your life story after knowing someone for 2 days. Empaths LOVE to connect to people, and we LOVE to share who we are and compare notes about life with others. This is a wonderful gift that we need to offer to people further down the timeline, and probably in bits and pieces, rather than all at once. Sociopaths aren't very patient (see: Impulse control issues) and will be unlikely to hide their true character for long. We must WAIT until we know a person a little before sharing. Our more Mysterious selves are likely to be embraced over our Too Much Information selves anyway!

* THIS I should have branded backwards on my forehead so I wake up to the reminder every day when I look in the mirror!


2. Have (and reveal) a defined image of your character.

So we know we need to play it close to the chest, at least to start, and not give away our personal details quite so quickly-- but how do we fill that social gap?

One mistake most good people tend to make is that we assume, rather incorrectly, that because we give other people the benefit of the doubt and try to play fair-- that others will do the same for us. That's projection in a more positive light, basically. Unfortunately, since the majority of the human race is NOT good (or evil) we're actually leaving too much room for misinterpretation.

The solution to that is-- in a nutshell, and as squicky as it seems-- to subtly advertise what kind of a person we are. Good people who try are too modest, while assholes and sociopaths brag away. As pathetic as it seems, advertising works, and people believe what they hear repeatedly. We assume we shouldn't have to tell people that we're decent, but guess what? WRONG. This isn't just about beliefs that are subjective, its about what kind of person we are and who knows about it.

Other people besides us have had to learn to play the game of life defensively. They're looking to know who to count on and who to keep an eye on-- and if they can have a better idea of our worth as someone who is not going to cheat or bully others, we may have another potential supporter of our own. People believe a sociopath's lies because they want to believe them. Maybe its time we give them a truth they want to believe a little sooner than TOO DAMN LATE.

I think another reason its important to have a well defined 'image' of our character is for ourselves. We need to tell ourselves, and reaffirm to ourselves, that- damn it- we are honest, hard-working, fair-minded people who believe in reasonable treatment and freedom for everyone and will stand against anything that threatens that. Too often people like us are put down and told that doing the right thing is too scary, too embarrassing, and too much for us for handle. Reminding ourselves that- damn it- we're not going to be talked out of being better people is good self-affirmation for a world that doesn't tend to support us except in self-congratulatory theory.



3. Allow others to perceive your uniqueness, and refuse to undervalue yourself.

Another way to fill that social gap when it comes to being polite, discreet, and yet keeping a defined image of our character is to refuse to hide our best qualities. Personal information can stay under wraps for better times and better people, but there is no reason to hide our sense of humor, our can-do attitude, our cleverness, our sweet disposition, or our joy in life! This is all about revealing our genuine strengths by demonstration, rather than our vulnerabilities by report.

Once more we see how modesty, especially artificially sanctioned false modesty, can really do damage to our place in the world. I don't think this is about bragging about accomplishments or traits so much as it is about allowing ourselves and who we are to come forth. Don't talk about your joy-- show it. A person can brag about how wonderful they are (and sociopaths do!) but that will NEVER have the impact of showing that you actually possess those unique traits that make you a valuable and special person.

If you have a talent, enjoy it and share it with others --maybe teach some skills or find others of like-mind to collaborate with. If you have a passion, follow it. Too often, we assume that others won't appreciate what we bring to the world, or are worried that we'll make others feel bad or envious, and so we hide those very things that make us interesting and cool to know. Our quirks and passions are a part of our existence that no sociopath could ever bring to the world-- and when we share them, we give others a chance to know us better, and thwart the sociopaths just a little by default.

I know so many empathic artists, dancers, writers, musicians, chefs, interior decorators and singers who may not ply their passions professionally, but nonetheless have fabulous contributions to make through their hobbies. Modesty and shyness ensures the rest of the world misses their gifts. This is one area where pretenders and fakirs just can't cut it. I truly believe one reason we get targeted is because the assholes know that other people might well be intrigued and appreciative of what we can bring to them and the world as friends, peers, and citizens. If we share our creative, passionate, and unique selves, we've already cut into those nefarious plans before they can prevent that from happening!

We've been fooled for too long into believing that if we don't make money at it or win contests with it our passions and talents just don't matter. By undervaluing ourselves, we allow others to undervalue us. Why make it easy for them? Seize our joy in life and our unique way of being in the world, and we bring value to others and create another incentive for people to understand who we are and perhaps hesitate in undervaluing us themselves. Hiding modestly to prevent attack is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. Bring it OUT and PROUD and attack becomes much more difficult. You may attract the attention of the envious, but you attract far more supporters who will back you. If you're already daring to be YOU, you're already ahead of those who wanted to prevent that from taking place.

* This is a piece of advice I can vouch for because I've played it both ways and for sure hiding not only didn't protect me, it curtailed my very reasons for living. Nothing feels better than being yourself completely. It may take practice and getting used to-- but its well worth the effort.


4. Learn to claim and accept praise, and acknowledge it in a gracious way.

This took a while for me to master, because I grew up in a home of ceaseless criticism. I rarely heard praise, and so never learned how to react to it. Eventually, I realized that denying another person's praise of me was cruel to both them and myself. It didn't help growing up with a con man who only and always lied when he flattered others to manipulate them. But there is a difference between flattery and praise-- a big one.

People don't go out of their way to praise others too often, so we should always pay attention. Regardless of how its given, we need to accept it graciously. If the intent was to control us, we'll know because its too effusive or not accurate or coming from a known or suspected liar. If we know our own value, we'll know when others are genuinely in admiration and we'll be able to accept a compliment properly and even enjoy it a little.

Though many of us may have been trained to undervalue ourselves (especially women) and to believe little in our own worth, shrugging off a compliment will do us no good. All it takes is a sincere thank you and a smile. Is that so hard? Okay-- maybe to start, but its a little habit well worth improving.

* Also from experience, I can say that denying others' praise means they'll eventually give up supporting you. Sincere praise is an acknowledgment that someone believes in you at least a little. Never spit on that!


5. Always keep an open and investigative mind. Seek to know rather than to assume, and deal only with the truth.

Once more we peer into the asshole playbook for tips to use for good rather than evil!

Its all about not giving away trust that should be earned. And its about not being so certain about people that we stop paying attention. Keeping an open and investigative mind means not assuming people are either good or bad, but rather quieting our projections and letting ourselves observe and take notes.

Good people tend to believe the best of others because they want to believe it. How is this better than bad people believing the worst of others because they want to? Both are totally screwed because they're putting their expectations OVER reality!

What we need to do is stop believing anything about anyone!! We rather need to start looking for, acknowledging, and dealing with the truth of what we find. No more wishing people to be better or worse than what they are and making decisions based upon either overly optimistic or pessimistic viewpoints. We need to assume we know nothing and that any given person we meet could be good, bad, or somewhere in between. Then we need to watch, listen, and evaluate. As we've seen in previous posts, sociopaths and their minions give themselves away before too long. The signs will pop up and we'll know where we stand.

* This is another one I really, REALLY need to work on. I have denied negative signs from people I WANTED to like before and always to my own detriment. One thing I learned was that my own intuition tends to be ahead of my rational mind in this. I tend to instinctively not like people who are too negative. My mistake comes when that makes me feel guilty and I talk myself out of my own bad feelings. What I should do instead is note: "Hey, I'm not liking this person. There is often a reason for that. I shall pay close attention and see where this is coming from."

An excellent example-- the ONE person at my last job I never liked, a co-worker, stumped me because I couldn't figure out why I didn't like her. She was a little lazy and self-pitying, but nothing that stood out in any way. It was years before I discovered she was basically spying on the employees for her mother, who was on the corporate board of the company! I don't know what my intuition picked up on-- but it was on the money from day one while the rest of me was scratching her head!


More to come in next 2 posts! This is running long as it is!
tranquilityseekers: blue face (spiritual)
Those darn sociopaths-- and their minions! How do we spot them?

I think the obvious sins are excellent reasons to step back and question any person's integrity: people who steal, lie, and cheat can't be trusted. We tend to make excuses for people we like, but apparently ignoring the big stuff is just asking for it. I'm sure this should go without saying, but since most people try to hide their crimes, if you DO manage to catch someone, chances are they do it a lot.

Another obvious one is watching what a person does with any power, whether that's as a boss, a parent, a teacher, or in any other position of authority. Sociopaths are drawn to positions of power over people-- the more helpless and less likely to be listened to the better. They flock to working with children, animals, the elderly, and the mentally, emotionally, or physically challenged. They also enjoy jobs where they can push their weight around, as police officers or prison guards for example. This is certainly not to say that most people in such positions are sociopaths-- only that we all must be aware that sociopaths take great delight in scoring such employment, or even volunteering to 'help' the needy. We should never feel surprise that a priest or nurse is discovered to have been abusing their charges. Its better to regard anyone in a position of power with extra scrutiny to begin with, and to pay particular attention if something smells off.

Those are pretty easy to do and so far in my life I've been on top of the above advice. However, its the more subtle plays that always cold cock me and leave me stunned. What are those things that have been noticed sociopaths (or those who learned from them) DO to recruit their minions and set targets up for a fall?

Most of the following list is paraphrased from Phil McGraw's book, Life Code: The New Rules For Winning In the Real World & Martha Stout's book, The Sociopath Next Door. I highly recommend both books for everyone walking the earth! They really helped me pin down those details that I kept missing over the years and have excellent advice that makes sense and is easy to follow.


HOW SOCIOPATHS PLAY THEIR GAME


1. They infiltrate people's lives, gathering data about them as if building an official file.

While most of us learn about those we meet as we go pretty casually, Sociopaths are far more studied in their approach. This is one reason they tend to be several steps ahead when they target an empath, who finds they already have turned the empath's potential support against them. Sociopaths will gather information like a spy (or a really considerate friend) to use later as they choose. There are many books out there about schmooziing, networking, and getting ahead through using social channels, and they all advocate that people collect data on others for political purposes-- even just to make a good impression by remembering a co-worker's kids names and birthdays. Take that a step further and you can see how such a tactic will come in handy later against a sociopath's targets and/or enemies.

One reason so many sociopaths do this seems to be as a coping mechanism for their lack of intuition and natural rapport with others. They don't relate to people, but they have to negotiate a human world, so-- like aliens studying us to learn our ways-- sociopaths study up on everyone they meet that they'll have ongoing contact with or who they target as their next victim. It pays to be prepared, right? Evil people like to plan too.

Watch out for those asking too many questions, or who seem a little too curious about you. Especially if you hear of them asking about you from other people! This is a subtle one, and easily missed, but knowing its a first step is crucial down the road.


2. They use promises and flattery to draw people in, telling others what they know they want to hear.

Being forced to become keen observers of the rest of the human race, sociopaths look for what draws the best reactions in others. People like to feel liked, and special, and to believe that a potential relationship will benefit them in some way. Sociopaths quickly learn this and use it, which is where many of the more intelligent of them develop their abilities to CHARM. They will seem to say and do all the right things, maybe even seeming too good to be true. They engage with other people and pull them in, managing to create the impression that they want to help you out just because they think you're cool.

This is one reason why so many abused women get drawn in to incredibly bad relationships-- they start off so well they may seem like a fairy tale. They are wined, and dined, and told how beautiful they are... and its all just an act to bring them in closer.

Its good to be wary of a slick salesman. Anyone who gives you too many gifts, compliments, and promises should be given a very thorough second look. Though empaths give without thought of reciprocation, sociopaths expect something in return and will not hesitate to call in their chits when they want to. This is one way they pull in minions as well-- offer them the moon, then threaten to pull it away if the minion doesn't go along.

[I feel I got a great education on this from my father and so I have developed a natural revulsion for people who "court" me too enthusiastically.

Funny side note: I used to be really bad about complimenting people because growing up with a con man made compliments seem smarmy to me. I've since learned that honest kind appraisal is okay, but it took me a long time to feel comfortable with it.]


3. They are focused on gaining the approval of others and maintaining a certain impression.

Once their target or minion is hooked, a sociopath will draw people in tighter by creating a persona they feel certain will go over well. Of course, since its designed to gain approval, this persona will adapt and change to different people. However, in general they go very much out of their way to seem acceptable, even admirable, to most people most of the time.

This is where those with better acting abilities manage to build up a good reputation. In this way, they're able to duck scrutiny from the greatest number of people, and most certainly from their targets and minions. While in this mode, they wear a mask everyday-- that may only slip if they are under stress or provoked. Therefore, if you see an ugly side come out of someone who otherwise seems okay, especially if its in response to an attack upon their ego-- once more it pays to take a step back and re-evaluate!

This persona will lack depth and color, however. Other than being crazy bold and daring (see entry 2 days ago!) they don't seem to understand things like nostalgia, sentimentality, reverence, grief, regret, or real appreciation. Their persona will be all action and charm, without humanity, rather like an advertisement for a person rather than an actual person. Because our society really encourages shallow existence, most of us forget to notice when someone among us seems empty or flat inside so long as they make a good show of things. We're trained to accept this to our collective detriment. Spotting how fake they are usually means trusting that voice inside that we tend to shut up prematurely.


4. They create artificially intimate relationships in which they define the other as "the conspiratorial confidant."

This one is from McGraw, and its an interesting little tidbit that I never noticed before and really makes a lot of sense to me now!

The best example of this I think most people can understand is how things go down on Survivor, the TV show. Everyone has to figure out how to make allies by suggesting that they're the closest to the person they're currently whispering to-- but then they do the same with several more people, creating an "us against them" sort of mentality, trying to convince everyone that, really, they're on the side of the person they're talking to-- not any of those other people.

Sociopaths (and those who learn from them) have figured out that sharing "secrets" are a great way of creating artificial intimacy. The sociopath will elicit confidences from a person, hoping that person will reveal their secrets and vulnerabilities, maybe because they're enjoying the attention of being asked so many questions. Meanwhile, they've offered up more fodder for the sociopath to exploit. In exchange, the sociopath will reveal other people's secrets -- as opposed to their own. Thus, the sociopath creates the atmosphere that pressures their minion or target that they must keep those confidences or else risk losing that status as confidant. The sociopath (or minion) may also claim that they need some advice, or to get a concern off their chest as an excuse for malicious gossip. Its all part of a ploy to make their target or follower think that they're special and honored by the sociopath-- when in fact they're getting set up to fall or to be used in the fall of someone else.

Again, this is definitely a female trick most of the time in my experience. Women who use dirty social tactics always seem to include this into their repertoire -- and sadly I must confess I have often fallen for this one in the past. It works because we all do this with our most trusted friends, so when a person draws us in this way, we feel that we're becoming their trusted friend and hesitate to question the sociopath, since to scrutinize a close friend seems paranoid and disrespectful. Its really quite sinister when you think about it!

Of course eventually the truth comes to light that we're being taken in and our secrets are being used against us. (One reason I don't keep too many secrets-- there is little that will shock anyone at this point.) The sociopath turns the tables, all their secrets are either bullshit or involve terrible things they've learned about other people (which are often not true or at least a twisted version of the truth) and sometimes a person (often a minion) ends up in something very like a contract with the devil, damned no matter which way they turn.


5. They maintain, by contrast, an aura of mystery about themselves, and misdirect others who probe too deeply.

Not shy about trying to learn about other people, sociopaths tend to be more reticent in sharing information about themselves. If they're experienced, they've learned that far from keeping others at a distance, their conflated mysterious persona actually draws people in who hope to become that special confidant that is allowed to peek behind the curtains. (Naturally, this dynamic plays in to #4 above.) Once more, we can see how our culture plays into this dynamic by encouraging us to think that mysterious people are somehow more worthy of pursuit than candid people.

In actuality, mystery is crucial because what's behind the curtains is not a pretty picture! The more people learn about a sociopath, the worse that picture becomes. Sociopaths often have criminal histories, terrible credit, and a string of enemies created from their previous malicious operations. To prevent others from learning of their many terrible traits and soiled pasts, sociopaths prefer to change the subject when questions arise. They may insult a person who won't stop probing for more information about them or even answer with no more than a blank stare.

Better yet, a sociopath who is well-prepared can blackmail anyone who discovers their dastardly secrets by threatening to expose the secrets of that person or of someone they love. Again, see #4 above for more on that! If nothing else, many sociopaths will guilt questioners out of pursuing answers by insisting that people who love each other or are best friends or work together should TRUST one another. They'll go on and on about how wrong it is to be so suspicious of others, placing the onus of blame on those who rightfully intuit that the sociopath is not as they seem. (This even if they themselves are downright paranoid. More below on this.) Its all a ruse to put everyone off the scent so they can continue their illicit activities.


6. They refuse to admit to blame (unless it will gain them something) and prefer to point fingers at others when confronted.

No one is blameless all the time, yet a sociopath would like you to think they're the exception. Several experts have discussed how ducking responsibility and assigning blame to others is almost always a part of how sociopaths (or those trained by them) operate. Even if confronted with proof of misdeed, a sociopath will find a way to still make it someone else's fault. They cheated on you because you're a terrible lover, they took your money because they deserved it after all they've done for you, they stole your prized art piece because you're spoiled and don't appreciate it enough. Any way they can turn reality on its head to keep it from being about their lack of a conscience they will use, forcing you to defend yourself for THEIR evil deed!

Partially this is to avoid punishment of course, but more than than its because sociopaths literally don't comprehend feeling sorry for anything. The concept is utterly foreign to them. Regret for getting caught, and wishing they had been more clever about things is the closest they will ever get. Actual sorrow for causing harm never occurs to them in any way. Therefore, trying to make them own up in some personal way is worse than fruitless. They may offer an empty apology, complete with crocodile tears, in order to lessen a punishment, but their heart will never be in it-- because they don't have one.


7. They cause trouble passive-aggressively, or suddenly suffer from 'selective memory,' to avoid being confronted for their misdeeds.

Using loopholes and 'plausible deniability' is the stock in trade for a sociopath. Its a great way of getting a point across, or of cheating to win, or hurting someone and yet being able to deny any harm was meant. (See #6 above.) Of course many sociopaths can and will be actively aggressive, but that's tricky with strangers, co-workers, and anyone who is likely to retaliate. The solution of course is hostility hidden in various 'accidents.' Best of all, when people complain about what the sociopath is doing, the sociopath can claim they're being unfairly scapegoated and make their accuser seem crazy.

(Can ya tell I've been through this one too!?)

Selective memory works much the same way. By claiming they merely forgot various obligations, they can blow off anyone or anything, and forget promises as conveniently as they like. In this way, they can claim innocence, even turning things around on the person confronting them, and avoid being directly blamed for much of what they do.

Since few people come up with intricate and elaborate schemes to "get" people, especially for no good reason, when a sociopath does this and the targeted victim complains about it, its easy to point fingers and accuse the target of being paranoid-- or, best of all, of actually being out to get the sociopath, thus allowing the sociopath to claim victimhood!

A LOT of people use #7 besides sociopaths, but no one who operates this way should ever be associated with if one has a choice about it.


#8. They realize what THEY do to others, and have many enemies from their past, and so end up paranoid.

Ironically, and often justifiably, sociopaths, who are aware of how they themselves operate, end up at least somewhat paranoid that either an old enemy will come after them or that others are secretly doing to them what they do secretly to others. This means they are incredibly suspicious and cynical people, which seems a great contradiction considering their carefully-constructed-to-be-charming personas.

Sociopaths, while ducking blame like pros, are not shy to mete it out. They often falsely accuse others of operating the way they do, and even if they don't expose these suspicions in public, they're only too willing to escalate a personal war that only they are aware even exists. They end up putting anyone in close proximity to them on the constant defensive. Once more, we see how their lack of insight into human motivation makes it difficult for them to ascertain other people's motives, and so their default attitude is to just assume the worst.

I've personally heard many details of this kind of paranoid behavior from many people, and experienced it myself with my own father. One sociopath I know of went to great extremes, refusing to open the door to people, doubling back on his regular driving routes to check that no one was following him, and so forth. And in many cases, sociopaths caution serves them well, keeping others around them off-balance and successfully alerting them when one of their many enemies does come looking for payback.


#9. They learn what bothers you so they can push your buttons, both to gain leverage and to entertain themselves.

One game that seems to really delight sociopaths is that of finding out what drives people crazy and then using that to get a reaction. They learn that when people are very upset, they are off-balance and easier to manipulate. A secondary motivation seems to be about finding fun in a weakness they know they themselves do not possess: personal feelings that can get hurt. Watching others freak out is greatly satisfying, and once again proves to the sociopath that they are in control.

This is one big reason why they infiltrate people's lives and discover as many secrets as they can. Beyond the blackmail material, they're looking for buttons to push to send their targets careening off the deep end, if even for a little while. Over time, with exploited victims during prolonged abuse, the sociopath will find every soft place in another person and use it to flagellate their soul repeatedly. Feeling fat or ugly? Watch them repeatedly insult you by finding newer and more creative ways to poke those sore points. Soft spot for animals? The sociopath will torture them in front of you. Knowing what really bugs you is crucial for this strategy to work, and so open people are the easiest targets.

As the 'game' or personal war wears on, the sociopath will strategically push buttons where their targets will be most likely to expose themselves in public or before the very people the target would otherwise count on as possible sources of support. Making people who are having perfectly normal reactions to impossibly crazy situations look crazy to others is an especial treat. (This is a part of the point of "gas-lighting" which I've discussed before, which is when they try to get their target not just to look crazy to others, but to doubt their sanity even to themselves.) However, making others believe the worst of their target works wonderfully using this strategy. (Which was used against me in the past, and I totally fell for it and rose to the bait at the time.)


#10. They isolate their victims to foster dependency and/or to prevent others from lending their targets any support.

In exploitative situations, sociopaths make sure their victims are alone in the world. They do everything they can to cut ties between their victim and the victim's family, friends, and even neighbors and co-workers. Either they'll get the victim to give up their contacts to please their abuser, or they'll escalate drama to the point that all their victims supporters refuse to get involved. Once that support is gone, making their victim rely on them for as much as possible gives the sociopath far more power, and the abuse steadily escalates over time.

In targeting cases (where the sociopath wants to destroy someone somehow, rather than pull them in to take over their lives) isolation involves soliciting minions to turn away from the target or to join in on group torment of the target. The more people join in, the less support the target has to count on, and the target's world slowly collapses out from under them as they realize that former friends and friendly contacts now treat them as enemies, though they've done nothing wrong. In fact, they might be trying to prevent disaster to others if they've discovered who the sociopath really is and what they're really up to. Many a whistle-blower has ended up prematurely ousted from a company or group of friends, only to hear later that laws were broken and heinous abuses took place that they had been desperately trying to prevent.

#10 has been used against me so many times I've lost a ton of trust in people, and I know I'm not alone. There are plenty of examples of people who quietly turned others against me. It happened in middle and high school too, of course, as I've mentioned. I've been fortunate that in many cases I was NOT isolated because several good people stood by me when the drama erupted due to my discovery of actual personal conspiracies against me. Often instead there was a split-- where some sided with the sociopath (or apath using the strategies of a sociopath) and others with me. In the end, few who sided with me were sorry, but most who sided with my enemies ended up sorry eventually of course, as the truth of who they had sided with came to light eventually.
tranquilityseekers: blue face (spiritual)
I've worked out how I want to finish this series. (Check out last week's entry about minions being cognitively limited!) I'm going to write about the traits of sociopaths first of all. I've been collecting information on this and looking at various expert's lists, and trying to get it to the nitty-gritty. Then, I'm going to talk about how sociopaths operate, the techniques they use, and the behaviors that give them away. Finally, I'm going to discuss strategy for avoiding them and their minions!

I wrote about sociopaths before here and the low levels to which one may sink without hesitation (scroll down to find "Accepting the Sociopaths Walk Among Us".)

Specifically, I mentioned the fundamentals of sociopathy as follows:

"People in general don't realize how MANY sociopaths exist in our society-- 1 in 25. That means out of every 100 people you meet, 4 of them have no empathy, no conscience, no ability to attach to others, and have no experience with guilt, remorse, or any other reason NOT to do bad things to other people or animals. There is NO softness in them. They are ice. They are evil-- and they remain that way for the rest of their lives. You cannot cure evil because that which makes a person care enough not to cause harm does not exist in their brains. Most may even be born that way.

There are people who lose their tempers and strike out. There are people who make mistakes because they are overwhelmed. This is not the kind of abuse we're talking about [with sociopaths]. [People like this] have heart-rates that go down when they abuse others. They get extra calm and calculated and the pleasure centers in their brains light up when they induce pain and suffering."

I also mentioned this:

"Beware of people who are charming. Charm is a verb, not a trait. It requires ACTING ability. Always remember that. Why does anyone have to pretend to be something they aren't all the time? Why is image so important? Sociopaths are always shallow liars.

And if anyone you know seems to thrive on self-pity, even as an able-bodied adult? Watch out. Sociopaths love to manipulate through a trait they don't possess-- your ability to feel sorry for others. "

Now we'll proceed to expand upon what I've already pointed out!



Traits Of A Sociopath Specified



1. They lack empathy and are incapable of feeling remorse or guilt.

I've explained this one in detail above. The author of The Sociopath Next Door describes them as ICE PEOPLE. Studies have shown that sociopaths lack "mirror neurons" in the frontal lobes of their brains, which is where most of our higher thought processes take place. Its literally a form of mental retardation in the conscience category. Humans are supposed to be both altruistic and competitive. We help one another survive, but push to get the best for ourselves to pass along the best genes. Sociopathy is what you get when that balancing act is destroyed by an inferior brain. And make no mistake-- sociopathic brains are obviously inferior. Check it out:

sociopathbrn<-- You'll note Jim is the sociopath. Subjects are facing right.  Also, Jim is otherwise intellectually gifted. Most comparisons brain scans I've seen of sociopaths show much duller colors in the rear of the brain, not just the front. In fact, they tend to be duller all the way around in general. Jim is an exception even for a sociopath-- still, the lack of forebrain activity is quite clear, even so...

Too often, I've seen normal people completely stymied by the mere idea of sociopathy. They may understand it theoretically, sort of, in fiction-- but have difficulty grasping that someone they know can be that bad. They refuse to believe anyone can possibly be without softer feelings entirely. This is where people attracted to "bad boys" or "wild girls" can get into big trouble, not realizing their fantasy of reforming a person with a damaged brain is impossible to realize.


2. They are arrogant and operate from a sense of entitlement, cultivating personal self-serving fantasies and delusions of grandeur.

One reason a sociopath's charm can be so enticing to the normal-brained is the simple fact that to most people, power and confidence are attractive traits. "Sexy" and "cool" traits. It feels more safe rather than less (to most) because following someone who seems sure they know what they're doing helps most people to feel less unsure. Most people long for protection and security, and most hope that powerful people can bring it to them. Being around people who act and feel they deserve the best works much the same way: most hope the benefits will somehow touch them as well.

Apparently, one reason sociopaths are so confident and narcissistic goes right back to that whole retarded brain issue. Because they don't actually realize what personal pain feels like, they aren't afraid of incurring it-- when the very possibility causes real anguish in most normal people. The sociopath's lack of mirror neurons means that to them, they really ARE the center of the universe! Other people are not "REAL" to them in any sense. Others are tools and toys and targets-- nothing more.

Typically, sociopaths lack personal perspective and so explain their differences from other people in terms that can make them feel nearly messianic. They're convinced of their specialness, and often come up with elaborate fantasies about their true worth in the world. Many people fantasize about being more important or interesting or privileged than they really are-- that's the nature of fantasy. But few of us are deluded into believing that we're REALLY "all that and then some" without external "proofs." Not so for sociopaths, who need no such confirmation to convince themselves of their delusions.

Which leads us to our next sociopathic trait...


3. They are prone to bragging, especially about how they outwit others, seeing everything as a game or contest in which they must win. Conversely, they may also routinely attempt to illicit pity.

Sociopaths do often give themselves away by advertising to others their own high opinions of themselves and their corresponding low opinions of others, whom they see as deserving of anything they get. They show how callous they are routinely, whether they're ranting and raving or by making quiet, smirking jokes at others' expense. The more intelligent sociopaths may be more selective with whom they share these thoughts, but few can resist gloating when they win yet again.

Notorious for being poor winners, they are also very poor losers, who will stop at nothing to have revenge against anyone who dared to beat them at anything. If they have another opportunity, their "opponent" can be assured the deck will be stacked and the sociopath will cheat by any means possible to ensure victory the next time!

Once more we see how society has played along and actively encouraged this type of malicious competitive behavior in our culture. We venerate 'winners' and denigrate 'losers'-- rarely asking how fair the process of creating these categories of people comes about. Consistent winners are often cheaters, but cheating has become so commonplace we don't seem to blink much of an eye these days about it. Many people have been persuaded that its not so bad to cheat, lured by the empty promises and flagrant examples of the sociopaths that thrive around us.

Yet there tends to be a contradictory element to their self-reports, because sociopaths, while insisting they are next to any god you could name, still make a habit of pointing out how you, their listener, should feel sorry for them. They will make a play for your pity-- and you'll know you're being played when you're asked for money, a place to live, another chance, etc. etc. There are people who face pitiable circumstances of course, and are deserving of help, yet a closer look into a sociopath's world will reveal that all is not as it appears. The braggart sociopath who seems utterly secure in their own superiority will nonetheless insist they deserve more than they have, and further that YOU owe it to them!


4. They are habitually irresponsible, engage in self-destructive behavior, and give in to dangerous impulses for thrills.

(Again with the warning to steer clear of the crazy "bad boys" and "wild girls" who typically have reputations for this kind of behavior!)

We all neglect our duties sometimes, forget to be as safe as we could be, or take a chance every now and again. However, for most of us, these instances in our lives are generally pretty remarkable and anomalous. Few of us would neglect to feed an animal or child to the point they starved to death, for instance-- though a sociopath might, and more than once. Though there are plenty of adrenaline junkie thrill-seekers who climb cliffs, race cars, and jump from planes, most take precautions for their safety and keep their thrill-seeking to socially acceptable activities that appeal to such types. However, a sociopath might drive crazy during rush hour traffic, run up debts on credit cards they have no intention of paying, and try drugs that are well-known to cause extensive damage even short-term.

Though some sociopaths are quiet and lazy, certainly, many have a long history of pulling wild stunts, getting into trouble, and taking stupid chances-- and not just with themselves! They don't hesitate to spend other people's money, cause them suffering, or put their lives into danger.

Once more, we can see where the wild daring behavior of over-confidence can be heady stuff to people starved for drama and excitement (more on this below!) Until it touches another person's life in a destructive way, it can feel like crazy fun to many. There is an attraction for many young people towards the type of thrill-seeking that involves criminality and feels rebellious but is actually both much more and much less than advertised.

And again its known that a faulty brain structure explains much of this. Sociopaths have little appreciation for limits and consequences. Their deficient frontal lobes prevent them from having either INSIGHT or FORESIGHT. Lacking basic understanding for how reality works means they suffer from a distinct lack of fear. While most people's heart rates go up when engaging in risky behavior (because of that whole "oh my gawd I could die or be seriously hurt" thing) the sociopath's is known to get extra low and steady under the same circumstances. Its as if the stimulation causes them to focus in a whole new way, which encourages approaching risk, rather than to run away from it like a normal human being.

There are several sociologists who believe it is this very willingness to run headlong into danger that keeps these guys around and breeding. Sociopaths are the PERFECT SOLDIERS. They kill ruthlessly and without any PTSD afterwards! In smaller hunter-gatherer societies, sociopaths falter and often end up dying young. Many so-called "primitive" cultures are adamant that people born into their tribes who show what many of them refer to as an "illness of evil" must be destroyed before they cause harm to the tribe. Not even kidding! Our own, civilized societies, however, over the last few thousand years of steady warfare culture, have cultivated and venerated sociopathy (in conquerors, warriors, and ruthless leaders) because of their usefulness under the worse of circumstances. As sociopathy is partially inherited, over time this has led to ever higher numbers within our populations. We worship sociopaths today rather than putting them to death as in our collective tribal past.

Worse yet, in the last few decades, modern life, so fast-paced and anonymous, tends to make 'catching' sociopaths ever more difficult, as they have a much larger pool in which to play without being discovered, outed, and imprisoned or killed for their crimes. Reputations are easily faked, whereas it used to be that most people knew those who lived around them very well over a long period of time and so sociopaths couldn't operate so easily without their true nature being discovered. Communities used to mutually protect one another from such rogues, but we've lost that protection and social psychologists (and recent history) have discovered that we can be turned against one another far too easily at the behest of a sociopath. Genocides all have a sociopathic leader at the helm who have been handed power by legions of willing minions.


5. They feed off of interpersonal melodramas and thrive on crisis.

Most people have felt alerted to and energized by a drama erupting around them, but for most of us, this is more a call to arms and extremely distressing if its personally connected to us or someone we love. Its may be fun to discuss events at a distance as gossip for many-- but most of us find that unrelenting drama is more than draining, its intrinsically painful. Crisis may have some exciting elements-- later, after its passed and you're telling a story about it and you know that ultimately you survived! During a crisis, however, few of us find much to enjoy.

For some of us empaths (me certainly) nearly all personal drama is painful from the get go. It means something is going WRONG somewhere and someone is getting hurt. There is no joy nor excitement to be found there. I literally feel physical pain in my solar plexus during interpersonal dramas that involve me, lose my appetite completely (I've lost up to 13 lbs in a week this way) and get so anxious I can't sleep or settle down to do anything, finding myself obsessing about events falling apart around me against my will. Until things blow over, I become a complete mess, compulsively questioning everything about the people involved and myself-- and I know I'm hardly alone.

Nearly the opposite is true for sociopaths, who, though incapable of true joy, nonetheless find much satisfaction in watching disastrous social interactions and dirty political events play out. They enjoy it even more so when they were the cause of it!

Being incapable of truly understanding the rich highs and lows that for most of us constitutes normal existence, sociopaths feel compelled to stir up trouble as a way of feeling as if they MATTER in some way in the lives of others. Upsetting the peace and setting groups of people into a frenzy pleases the sociopath because it is yet more evidence of their power in the world.

This is a dead giveaway for female sociopaths who may slip under the radar due to often having less physical ways of acting out. They love to set friends against one another, turn a group of tightly knit females into a bunch of paranoid bitches, and encourage others to either turn on the ones they love and/or admire, or to believe that they've been betrayed themselves. Then they sit back and enjoy the show. I know from grim personal experience that just 2 or 3 female sociopaths can completely rule a middle or high school and create a house of horrors for their trapped targets. Most of them hone their ugly verbal craft at an early age, figuring out what works and what doesn't. Even if their technique gets more subtle over time, the essential foundation is laid long before adulthood.


6. They have a history of short-lived relationships, unless they involve obvious exploitation or are obligatory (co-workers and family-of-origin.)

Few people who have a choice tend to stick around a sociopath for very long. Eventually, they out themselves to most as being very destructive and dangerous people to know. However, its just as likely the sociopath in their life discarded them when they were done and moved on to fresher prey. The exceptions to this rule make sense. When a sociopath finds someone they can exploit (typically for sex or money) they may stick around or make it nearly impossible for their prey to escape easily. People trapped into relationships due to family ties or through work or who live next to a sociopath are in a similar bind, although they may escape the worst of the sociopath's notice part of the time if they're lucky.

I think many of us have come upon sociopaths and figured out they were no good and managed to get away. We fairly congratulate ourselves for our escape, not realizing that it would not have been so easy had we possessed something the sociopath was determined to have. Those who have been pulled into an abusive relationship are often astonished at how it all happened when they look back upon things. Sociopaths can be relentless in not giving up what they want for ANY reason.

Unfortunately, this means most don't fully comprehend the terrible position exploited prey or targets are in. Since we got away we assume others should have been able to and end up blaming the victim, which plays into a sociopath's agenda perfectly.


Get to know how sociopaths operate, and beware of anyone displaying these traits. It will save you or someone you love in the future.
tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)
At last I'm in the home stretch of my emotional/social self-defense series!

Before I begin my last segment-- something along the lines of "what to watch out for" regarding sociopaths or "middle paths" who take plays out of the sociopathic playbook-- I would like to attempt to explain part of why apaths/minions/selfish/lazy/cowardly types don't seem too bent out of shape by their horrendous choices that end up costing humanity's most valuable members (the empaths) so much.

You see, its a form of retardation.

No-- really. I'm not kidding. Their brains are fucked up.

I could go into a detailed explanation, but sometimes someone beats you to the punch and does a bang-up job of making it FUN. Check out the link (DO IT! You must to get the rest of my blog!):

www.cracked.com/blog/5-psychological-flaws-that-warp-way-you-see-world/

Yeah, that's right-- from Cracked. You read it before moving on, right? If not-- stop now and go back. You won't be sorry.

*  *  *

#1 is my favorite:

The stupider you are, the more likely you are to think you're a freakin' genius! The less you actually know, the more you assume you know.

And it's true, too. The most intelligent people, barring a few oddballs, tend to be rather nervous about all their many deficiencies-- especially the ones they can only suspect. The most truly educated (those who read and study for fun their whole lives) are uncomfortably aware of how vast their own ignorance is or must be. In fact, this process has a name: The Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Therefore, those of more limited intellect and knowledge are more likely to bias their own thinking towards spun myths of a self-gratifying nature. I'm not just being mean, and of course we can ALL think of an exception to this rule, but many studies have confirmed that this is a clear issue that is easily demonstrated all over the world. Its a gross over-generalization that is none-the-less mostly true for most people.

And it makes perfect sense when you think about it. The more intelligent you are, the better able you are to assess, weigh, measure, and predict reality. Which means you're more likely to spot flaws-- even in yourself. The accumulation of knowledge works along a similar vein; discovering knowledge is like following the branches of a fractal tree, the more you find, the more you realize there IS to find. Education opens the mind and stretches the brain (when its done correctly.)

I'm going to leap to a not-so-startling conclusion here and imagine that the vast majority of obedient, self-serving followers out there are NOT on the upper end of the intelligence and knowledge scale!! I'm not saying that every asshole can't help himself, that he's just too stupid to "get" things about people-- but YEAH, maybe I am a little because if you just automatically assume you're too cool for school when in fact you need schooling more than anyone, you're a part of the problem here.

Start from this bias of the mentally limited (in one or both ways) and suddenly entire universes of bullshit about people starts to make sense. Since few people question their own brilliant vast understanding of things, few take the step of merely stopping and questioning the reality they are presented. Since sociopaths excel in presenting fabricated reality, guess who has a head start in these matters?

Exactly.


#2 continues the hilarity (yes, I'm going backwards against the article): People DON'T learn from their mistakes!

We've all heard of trial and error, about how its the hardest way to go but the way that will get through our thick skulls eventually. Except apparently NOT. As the Cracked piece says, people learn from their successes-- because it has a built-in reward to it, but not so much from their fuck ups. Some do, eventually-- after a lot of anguish and confusion-- but its the exception more than the rule.

And THAT makes so much sense! How many people (including me, okay? hell yeah I include myself here!) keep messing up the same things the same way, over and over again!?! Um, pretty much EVERYONE. Unless you make yourself STOP, ASSESS the issue, and figure out consciously what the hell you were thinking, and THEN come up with an alternate plan for next time, you can't change how you tend to approach things very often. IF, on the other hand, you try something new and it works, the good news is you'll probably stick to it.

Point being, as far as our "minion issues" go-- that people that made a mistake trusting or siding with the wrong person don't tend to realize they screwed up (see point #1 above) but even if they do, they're unlikely to actually do anything differently later.

Take comfort. They'll help hurt lots more people besides you. Its nothing personal most of the time.


The last few points, that people don't notice as much as they think they do, take shortcuts in processing information, are grossly biased, and make decisions based upon a concept of reality that is no where near as accurate as people assume (see #1 above) and we have our holy horror of human cognitive fallibility.

My main point being, once more, that most people are literally too stupid to realize they're minions. They don't know how apathetic they can be. They don't see themselves as blind followers. They resist looking in the mirror and realizing the person in the reflection is fundamentally FLAWED. Few will see themselves as lazy or cowardly. No, they decide they are quite heroic, you know, if given the chance-- which, darn it, poor dears!-- they never are!


I think its important to realize that 60%- 80% of the population of Neutral types (depending upon how you measure this trait) literally have difficulty even grasping that they are even capable of fucking up as much or as often as they do. Because they don't bother to question themselves, and are too quick to assume they're going to make the right decision, they come by their bullshit biases 'honestly.' You put these cognitive factors into play with a culture of instant gratification that encourages narcissism--?

What could go wrong, huh?

I suspect (I have yet to see very many good studies on this) that empaths, on top of being emotionally developed and sophisticated, are also intellectually ahead of the curve. I think we empaths DO grasp our own inevitable fallibility and in addition see what boobs other people can be on all these things. We therefore end up living in not-so-very-secret fear that we may be guilty of the same biases and bullshit self-serving myth-making that we see in the people who have hurt us or taken sides against us or looked away when we were in obvious distress. We can't bear the thought of becoming the monsters and villains who crushed our spirits through the years, and so question and re-question ourselves endlessly.

To begin with, I think when we're young, we assume everyone does the same. The shock is great, and the feeling of betrayal beyond expression, when we come to realize that most people are not very much bothered by the various dramas that erupt around them. They don't wonder what their part of it was-- they just assume they're the victims or the victors, never the bad guy. They rationalize all questions, doubts, and discomforts away and go on to blithely live their lives oblivious to the damage they create or allow to be created in their presence!

I think we empaths stumble a lot trying to wrap our heads around the difference between our willingness to accept blame and try to learn from our mistakes and the blatant unwillingness of most people in our lives to do the same! I think its important for all of us to accept that this is how things work. Not to encourage an "us vs. them" approach to things-- but to stop being so shocked and disappointed. Those emotional reactions too often prevent us from thinking strategically and being 2 steps ahead of the bad guys we run into periodically who so enjoy targeting us.

In other words, we empaths need to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt for ONCE, and take some credit where its due. We drive ourselves crazy with the second-guessing and the what-ifs. Maybe there's a better way to deal with all of this. And I, for one, would embrace a new way of looking at and dealing with difficult situations and people. I'm tired of defending myself-- not just to others, but to myself! Past a certain point, its a waste of time, energy, and spiritual resources.
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
The article cited: www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-for-sociopaths-protect-yourself

The next section worthy of commentary, also reproduced in full, bold emphasis mine:


"THE SOCIOPATHIC TRANSACTION

Often empaths are targeted by sociopaths because they pose the greatest threat. The empath is usually the first to detect that something is not right and express what s/he senses.

As a consequence, the empath is both the sociopath's number one foe and a source of attraction; the empath's responses and actions provide excellent entertainment for sociopaths, who use and abuse people for sport.

The world of the empath is not for the faint-hearted. In the context we are discussing, empaths often find themselves up against not only the sociopath but often a flock of apaths as well. Apaths are afforded pole position in the sociopath's intrigues.

But this prime spot comes at a price for, in what we call the "sociopathic transaction", the apath makes an unspoken Faustian pact with the sociopath, then passively or otherwise participates in the cruel sport.
"

COMMENTS: I love how this is putting responsibility square where it belongs-- upon not only the sociopathic ringleader, but also on their followers, who sell their soul in exchange for any number of selfish benefits. Anyone who has been the target of bullies knows this dynamic first hand, and it can drive us crazy. There are tons of people out there who SEEM nice, who SEEM okay-- but we've watched those types be turned into minions and it crushes trust and faith in people. Often the people we least expect to turn into a minion will shock us by doing just that. When that happens one too many times-? Its difficult to resist harsh cynicism.

I think its important to understand the WHY behind targeting-- empaths pose the greatest threat. They refuse to play along as apathetic minions, being the types to protest bullying, and they're the most likely to not only suss out the sociopath in their midst-- but to SAY SOMETHING and out the sociopath! Please note this because I think its very important.

Empaths are not targeted because they are weak, but because they are less able to be manipulated. They're targeted because they're more likely to see through the bullshit games of the sociopath. And because they're more likely to SAY something and out the sociopath and put an end to their cruel sports. Empaths are targeted because they are STRONG. They're better than the masses of minions around them. They speak out on behalf of others, even when it means putting themselves on the line.

Also-? As empaths tend to be sensitive people, they REACT. Its those pronounced reactions that sociopaths especially get off on. I lose my temper quickly and powerfully in the face of cruelty. You CANNOT get away with it in my physical presence! I've made my husband stop the car when we passed teenagers surrounding 1 guy who was obviously being bullied in full view of the public, got out and just screamed about how disgusted I was by the jerks. They were always shocked, sometimes talking back, but always broke up and left and I'd make sure the kid getting tormented had a safe way home. I've confronted people who smacked their dogs or kids in public. But I couldn't just pretend it wasn't happening, which is what it seemed most people around me were doing.

For someone like a violent sociopath, an empath's outbursts of outrage against injustice must be delectable on a whole new level...

I've learned over the years that in longer term relationships where you can't get away easily, spouting off about some injustice isn't always the best way to go about things. Sometimes you have to play things a little closer to your chest and take stock and then come up with a plan. My reactions are now much more muted with strangers for most areas. I will still lose it if I see someone abusing a child or animal or part of the earth, but I'm more likely to take down information, follow people home, and then report them to authorities nowadays rather than confront them in public-- unless there's an obvious emergency (like a kid being surrounded) that requires a witness to step in. Still, I get involved because I can't bear not to. The few times I haven't followed my conscience have always haunted me...

Its something of a revelation to me to learn that sociopaths look for kind people with a stout sense of justice to torment especially. It makes sense now, but perhaps I didn't envision it before because I assumed sociopaths aren't that perceptive or something. Big mistake!

Next part of the article to comment upon:

"SOCIOPATH-EMPATH-APATH TRIAD

The usual set-up goes like this: the empath is forced to make a stand on seeing the sociopath say or do something underhanded. The empath challenges the sociopath, who straight away throws others off the scent and shifts the blame on to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath's perspective.

The situation usually ends badly for the empath and sometimes also for the apath, if their conscience returns to haunt them or they later become an object of abuse themselves. But, frustratingly, the sociopath often goes scot free.

Sociopaths rarely vary this tried-and-tested formula because it virtually guarantees them success.

Sociopaths draw in apaths by various means: flattery, bribery, disorienting them with lies. A sociopath will go to any lengths to win her game.
The best way to illustrate the interplay, and the ease with which apaths are pulled in, is by another short story.

'Steve and Robin' were microbiologists at a prestigious university, collaborating on an important vaccine trial. The department head, Ben, hoped to gain substantially; success could see his status in his field rise and prove the catalyst for a glittering career.

His colleagues worked relentlessly collecting data, then Ben drafted a paper for submission to a respected journal. He decided that the outcome didn't look tantalising, so falsified key results in order to present findings in the best light. On completing the draft, he sent the paper for comment to his colleagues. Steve replied by email that he was happy with the manuscript; he used the opportunity to suck up to his boss. But Robin was aghast, noting colossal errors. With great urgency, he rattled off an email to Ben.

Receiving no response to this or a phone call, Robin went to find Ben in person, discovering him in the cafeteria with Steve. But he was too late. Ben had poisoned Steve's mind, saying that Robin had challenged him over the accuracy of the results, due to a longstanding grudge. Ben said he had to pull Robin up about his own work several months back. Steve was different, Ben implied. He intimated Steve would be on course for promotion "especially if we get this paper out and secure funding for the next-stage trials".

By the time Ben joined them, Steve, though initially shocked, had been won over by Ben's swift flattery and insinuations

Robin crossed the cafeteria to them. "Hi, you two got a moment?" Briefly there was an awkward silence. Steve exchanged a look with Ben, who gave a slight conspiratorial smile, now that the transaction was done and the sport under way. "Yes, we were just talking about the paper. By the way, I did see your email, but if you look at the paper thoroughly, I think you'll find that everything is correct." Steve replied with a smug look that "I'm with Ben on this one". Robin was floored. "You can't be serious? You're happy for it to go off to be reviewed with all these serious errors? Our reputations will be left in ruins."

He decided to make a stand. He asked for his name to be removed as a co-author but was exasperated to learn that it was sent off to the journal anyway. More frustratingly, it was published. Meanwhile, the workplace became a source of stress for Robin as he struggled to cope with the backlash from colleagues who saw his intervention as an attempt to sabotage their work. People avoided him and, when they did talk to him, the conversation was stilted.

Eventually Robin arranged a meeting with Ben to have it out once and for all. But Ben took control of the agenda. "Robin, I have to be honest with you, many of your colleagues are unhappy about the way you handled things and some have made complaints. They don't trust you to conduct yourself professionally after you attempted to sabotage their hard work. Mercifully the reviewers saw what a fine trial we'd conducted and didn't get wind of your attempted slur.

"We can't afford to have a saboteur on the team. So I've discussed this with the dean and he agrees there is no future for you here, and there's no other way to deal with this. You've got to go." 

Any phase of this story sound familiar?
"

COMMENTS:  Um, DUH!!

I've had this dynamic pop up at work as well as in school, or in the context of family or in a social group. I bring up a concern, often confused and hoping I'm wrong about a problem, hoping its an honest mistake rather than an underhanded plan with malice aforethought. Maybe at the moment I'm mollified by a reasonable sounding excuse, but soon after that--? Suddenly I'm getting accused of being "power hungry" or "judgemental" or something, and I'll end up bewildered as to where all the personal attacks are coming from. I generally figure it out pretty quick, but it seems like never quickly enough. The minions all line up behind the BAD person in the scenario and agree collectively that I'm this villain who has secret motivations to hurt people. No one can actually accuse me of hurting anyone, because I don't hurt anyone. Yet the mere suggestion that I might seems to be rallied behind, with a "stop the devious Lucretia before its too late!" mentality and suddenly a group of people I thought of as allies or friends are no more. Often, there's a split, with some taking my side and others taking the sociopath's side.

But every time it happens, my heart is broken. Not by the sociopath who I find myself actively hating and eager to be rid of, but by their minions, who so disappointed me in being so eager to believe the worst of me, and in being such weak patsies, following the asshole or bitch rather than have faith in me-- who never did anything wrong at any point to begin with! The frustration of the repeated scenario is massive.


Final section of the article:

"THE GASLIGHTING EFFECT

In the story above, the actions of Ben and Steve have a 'gaslighting' effect on Robin. Gaslighting is a systematic attempt by one person to erode another's reality.

The syndrome gets its name from the play and films of the same name in which a murderer strives to make his wife doubt her sanity and get others to disbelieve her.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented in such a way as to make the target doubt his/her memory and perception. Psychologists call this "the sociopath's dance". It could involve denial or staging of strange events.

This is Machiavellian behavior of the worst kind. And anyone can become a victim of the sociopath's gaslighting moves: parent and child, in-laws, friends, groups of people including work colleagues.

Psychotherapist Christine Louise de Canonville describes different phases that the abuser leads the relationship through:
  • the idealization stage, where the sociopath shows herself in the best possible light - but this phase is an illusion, to draw her target in
  • the devaluation stage begins gradually so the target is not alert to the sociopath's transformation to being cold and unfeeling, but will begin to feel devalued at every turn; the more distressed the target becomes, the more the sociopath enjoys her power, and her abuse can become more extreme
  • the discarding stage - the target is reduced to an object to which the sociopath is indifferent, seeing the game as won; the sociopath rejects any connection, moving on to the next target.
Gaslighting does not happen all at once so, if you suspect in the early stages of a relationship that you are being gaslighted, you can protect yourself by walking away.

To learn more, including how to recover from exposure to a prolonged sociopathic transaction, buy The Empathy Trap: Understanding antisocial personalities by Dr Jane and Tim McGregor (Sheldon Press, ISBN 978-1847092762)
. "


COMMENTS:

This last bit is very, very important to know. How the game of the sociopath is played...

I know how gaslighting works, and for psychopaths its a huge part of their abuse. Women too focus on this type of psychological warfare rather than more obvious and easily outed behaviors. Also, the more sly sociopaths in professional roles and in organized social groups.

Gaslighting definitely seems easier to spot from the outside in, because though I've actually known about this dynamic for ages, I'm still too often blind-sided by it. I think things are one way, and they are-- for a while, but then SURPRISE! Actually, things have been operating at this under-the-surface level for several weeks and I never see it.

I'd like to think I'm more alert now, but my confidence has been so shaken when it comes to certain things. I don't know that I want to deal with this dynamic again. Its what's holding me back from either joining or creating a new social and/or spiritual group. Dirty politics disgusts and distresses me so much that I don't know that any social venture is worth the bother anymore! 

Maybe someday I'll feel ready to face it again. At the moment I'm not. Regardless, education is definitely worth it-- and becoming aware of this dynamic, which I've borne witness to countless times yet never seen labeled officially-- is vital in my ability to carry on and feel some sense of mastery over these issues.
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
This is a continuation of my writing series on emotional self-defense for everyone. Check out previous recent entries for more!  =^)

The article (cited in last week's post, see link there) continues, bold emphasis mine to highlight discussion below:

"SEE THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES

To deal with sociopaths effectively, you first need to open your eyes. In The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, two weavers promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are stupid and unfit for their positions.

When the emperor parades before his subjects, all the adults, not wishing to be seen in a negative light, pretend they can see the clothes. The only truthful person is a child who cries "But he isn't wearing any clothes!".

You, too, need to see sociopaths as they really are. We are conditioned to keep quiet, which often means turning a blind eye to or putting up with abuse.

The boy in the tale represents those who see the problem behavior for what it is and find the courage of their convictions to make a stand. Sight becomes insight, which turns into action. Awareness is the first step in limiting the negative effects of contact with a sociopath.

INTERACTIONS OF THE SOCIOPATH

Let's look at what we term the Socio-Empath-Apath Triad, or Seat. Unremitting abuse of other people is an activity of the sociopath that stands out. To win their games, sociopaths enlist the help of hangers-on: apaths.

The Apath.

We call those who collude in the sport of the sociopath apathetic, or apaths. In this situation, it means a lack of concern or being indifferent to the targeted person.

We have highlighted the importance of seeing the problem for what it is via the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, which represents the collective denial and double standards which are often a feature of social life. The apath in this context is someone who is willing to be blind: ie, not to see that the emperor/empress is naked.

Apaths are an integral part of the sociopath's arsenal and contribute to sociopathic abuse. Sociopaths have an uncanny knack of knowing who will assist them in bringing down the person they are targeting. It is not necessarily easy to identify an apath; in other circumstances, an apath can show ample empathy and concern for others - just not in this case. The one attribute an apath must have is a link to the target.

How apaths, who might otherwise be fair-minded people, become involved in such destructive business is not hard to understand, but it can be hard to accept. The main qualifying attribute is poor judgment resulting from lack of insight. They might be jealous of or angry at the target, and thus have something to gain from the evolving situation.

At other times, the apath might not want to see the 'bad' in someone, particularly if the sociopath is useful. Or they might choose not to see because they have enough on their plate and do not possess the wherewithal or moral courage to help the targeted person at that time. Usually, be it active or passive involvement, the apath's conscience appears to fall asleep. It is this scenario that causes people blindly to follow leaders motivated only by self-interest.

Readers might know of Yale University professor Stanley Milgram's experiments to test the human propensity to obey orders, as participants gave increasingly large electric shocks to subjects. Afterwards, he wrote an article, The Perils of Obedience: "Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process".

Apaths are often fearful people. They are the ones most likely to go with the flow, to agree that the emperor/empress is wearing new clothes. They might also fail to perceive the threat: a danger is of no importance if you deny its existence.

An apath's response to a sociopath's call to arms can then result from a state of 'learned helplessness'. Apaths behave defenselessly because they want to avoid unpleasant or harmful circumstances [including the sociopath turning on them]. Apathy is an avoidance strategy.

The Empath.

Often, the person targeted by the sociopath is an empath. Empaths are ordinary people who are highly perceptive and insightful and belong to the 40% of human beings who sense when something's not right, who respond to their gut instinct. In The Emperor's New Clothes, the empath is the boy who mentions the unmentionable: that there are no clothes.

In the 1990s, researchers suggested that there was a positive relationship between empathy and emotional intelligence. Since then, that term has been used interchangeably with emotional literacy.

What this means in practice is that empaths have the ability to understand their own emotions, to listen to other people and empathize with their emotions, to express emotions productively and to handle their emotions in such a way as to improve their personal power. People are often attracted to empaths because of their compassionate nature. A particular attribute is that they are sensitive to the emotional distress of others. Conversely, they have trouble comprehending a closed mind and lack of compassion in others. *

Very highly empathic people can find themselves helping others at the expense of their own needs, which can lead them to withdraw from the world at times. **

It is odd. Most of us enjoy watching films and reading books about heroes who refuse to go along with the crowd, which suggests there is something admirable about people who make a bold stand.

But in real life, watching someone raise their head above the parapet often makes the rest of us feel queasy. Most - the 60% majority - prefer the easy life. It was interesting to discover, when doing the research for this book, how often people see empaths in problematical terms.

Empaths use their ability to emphasize and to boost theirs and others' well being and safety. Problems arise for empaths, however, when there are apaths in the vicinity. Empaths can be brought down, distressed and forced into the position of the lone fighter by the inaction of more apathetic types round them. *** "


COMMENTS:

We are conditioned not to "rock the boat," to "mind our own business" and otherwise not get involved. However, because of this, a great deal of abuse goes on unchecked. I agree that being aware and alert, and refusing to keep silent is what is needed. That's always been my personal stance, mainly in rebellion and in protest to the way my own cries for help were ignored when I was a child and teen. I promised myself I would never be one of those  people, and I've lived up to that promise.

It gets interesting when the article explains the Sociopath-Apath-Empath Triad-- a dynamic that gets used over and over again to up the ante of abuse into a team sport.

"Apaths" are what several of my friends who commented on the article called "minions." Those types of people who were willing to be used by someone to hurt someone else. Apaths can be very hard to identify because they're not always apathetic-- just when motivated to be so. They may have something to gain from the abuse to the target, or they might be afraid of the sociopath, or benefit from their association with the sociopath-- and so they refuse to cross them. These are the people I have often called the "lazy and cowardly majority" in previous writings. They don't often set out to harm others, because they prefer to avoid punishment- but in a group they can turn vicious, feeling more powerful and righteous the more safe they feel. They also refuse to go out of their way to HELP others, except perhaps in the easiest or most self-serving ways (to look good, or "vainglory"). They tend to be quietly selfish, even if they have a warm personality in general.

Which is what makes them dangerous. When the chips are down and you need someone at your back? They CAVE. I don't want to make excuses for them. I hate cowards who seek only to keep their comforts. Flat out HATE them! I've seen and experienced too much bullshit from these jerks who let the world down because they just don't want to deal with it, or because they get off on the drama and feeling like they're on the "winning" side. I definitely see how the majority of people fall into this category, and its one reason I have developed such a cynicism towards most people. I've learned the hard way how easily people turn into minions!

I shall never be a minion. Not if I can help it!

I've come close a couple of times. Fooled, at least short-term, by sociopaths like Mona for instance, who tried to turn me against members of her family who were irritating her for one reason or another. However, I asked questions and directly spoke to the people she targeted and heard out their side of the story before choosing a side. That made all the difference. Once I realized there was a good chance Mona was lying (this was before I realized fully what a fucking cunt she was) I stopped even listening to Mona's campaigns against others. That's all it took-- asking questions!

Funny how few people actually take the tiny step of getting the OTHER SIDE'S perspective before jumping to conclusions. But like the article says, its often because there's a selfish reason behind it. They may have an issue with the targeted individual where the sociopath gets to do all the dirty work so they feel as if their hands are clean. They may enjoy a false sense of being protected by the sociopath, and refuse to confront their protector. They may just not want to deal with all the DRAMA! (That's a great excuse I've heard from one former friend, who-- in her quest to justify herself-- decided that people who get targeted must deserve it by getting off on drama. There! Problem solved! Now she can get back to concentrating on the positive! La la la!)

And I've said it before-- it does seem as if I get targeted more often than most. Some of it may be proximity in some cases, but seriously-- there is an issue with this. I've lamented and raged by turns trying to understand why, WHY!?!?!

Here now perhaps we have our answer at last:

Empaths.

Note the paragraph with the single * at the end. Empaths, according to this article, are "highly perceptive and insightful...who sense when something is not right, who respond to their gut instinct... they have the ability to understand their own emotions...to listen and empathize with others... to express their emotions productively... to handle emotions in such a way as to improve their personal power... compassionate to the distress of others... yet conversely have difficulty comprehending closed minds and lack of compassion in others." 

OH MY GODS!! Ding-ding-ding-ding!! This is so me! My writing over the years of blogging are proof enough of that (and several of my flisters would qualify as well beyond any doubt.)

** We empaths are also willing and likely to reach out to help others in distress. But we can do this to the point of burn out. Again-- witness what I did for "Rose" and how I needed a lot of alone time during and afterwards for a while. Others fear putting too much effort and energy in because of what suffering they may bring on themselves. But I think for people like me, suffering personally is nothing next to the satisfaction of helping others in genuine need. We withdraw until we're able to deal again-- but that's a small price to pay compared to the guilt and self-censure we'd undergo if we dared to turn away. When an effort to help succeeds (like getting Rose away from her abuser and supporting her during therapy) the relief is great. Not for myself, but for the person I helped. I like knowing the bad guys lost for once.

The last 3 paragraphs are among the most powerful for me in the article. We SAY we admire good people. Our heroes and stories are all about the fight of good versus evil and the greatness of those who stand up for what is right, who defend the weak, who pursue justice. Yet it turns out most people are complete hypocrites, because when it comes down to it-- they can't withstand the rigors of the Hero's or Heroine's Quest: To do the right thing. Most are too weak, too selfish, too lazy. I'm sure most like to think they're special and worthy, yet fail this real life test time and again. To me, THIS quality is the most important aspect of humanity to measure for status. I admire as above me only those who take up the Quest to do right in a compassionate manner and love other (worthy) people and the world we live in. Needless to say, its rare for me to be in awe of anyone. Dark, but true.

While an empath's motivations are to "boost the well-being and safety of both themselves AND others" -- the vast majority of apaths aren't exactly helping matters. They're too easily turned into minions who assist in bringing down the Hero or Heroine. They advise the good person, the empath, to GIVE UP, to GIVE IN, to stop being so damned DRAMATIC.

And this: " Empaths can be brought down, distressed and forced into the position of the lone fighter by the inaction of more apathetic types round them."

YES YES and I say YES again!!

Again, so much of the melodrama and bullshit I've written about and put up with over the years are exactly my extreme personal distress when yet another person reveals themselves to be an apath. When a person I thought was my friend or a family member disappoints me by insisting I relent my ideals and surrender to the sociopath who is currently circling either me or someone I care about-- I freak out. If I push others around me on any level, I push them to be Heroes and Heroines. I advocate others standing up for themselves or others to live a better life, to deny abusers their prey, to lessen the impact of dark trials in life... When I realize that yet another person has chosen "the middle path" of going along to get along, no matter the cost, I am beside myself with anguish.

Looking back, I realize one reason I became so enraged at "K," back when I asked her for short-term emergency help and she denied me, was because at that moment I realized she was not a Heroine or Empath, but an Apath. I had suspected it before, from her telling me how she told a very ill friend (who had the AIDS virus) to "stop feeling sorry for himself." She also called a couple of very interesting, deep, sensitive people I liked "too high maintenance." Yet I wanted to think I was wrong and she just had a few callous moments. When a true test came up -- she utterly failed me. There were other issues going on of course, but the breathtaking selfishness of refusing me a few hours in a safe place when I really needed it was so shocking to me I reacted very powerfully.

My own deep issues with minions or apaths--- goes very far. I have serious baggage because my mother is one of those people. Her indifference and incredible selfishness caused me so much agony over the years. Being forced to equate someone I loved so much as a friend with someone like my mother made me lose my shit. It was an accident that she read my rant right after I posted it-- I would have handled things far more diplomatically had I not "outed" my anger to her. But that moment was the official end of the friendship. I won't ally myself to apaths. They're too dangerous to keep around if you have a choice about it.

Its true I'm a stubborn idealist. But I LIKE that about myself and am unwilling to give it up despite the pressure. And I've been pressured by so many people, including my husband, to not get involved, to not embarrass myself, to not draw attention. Who cares about THAT!? Well, obviously, MOST people. But not me. Never me.

Last bit of article and commentary on it next week.
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
Check previous entries for more on this!

The article this comes from here:
www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-for-sociopaths-protect-yourself

Now, to examine it in detail! I think its important enough to quote in full in sections and then discuss 1 or 2 sections a day.

Dr.s Jane and Tim McGregor talk about how therapists and counselors, who are very empathic people in general, are among those people who are targeted, and so this article was written from a book as a way to help those who have been victimized as professionals who come up against people with issues regularly.

Empathic People Are Natural Targets For Sociopaths-- Protect Yourself

[Bold emphasis by me to highlight areas I want to discuss below the article.]

"The empathy trap: therapists and counselors almost by definition are empathic, to facilitate clients' recovery - but this quality can mean those carers are targets for sociopaths, aided by what Dr Jane & Tim McGregor call "apaths". The first UK article on this cruel sport shows how to identify and thus avoid it.

People targeted by a sociopath often respond with self-deprecating comments like "I was stupid", "what was I thinking" or "I should've listened to my gut instinct". But being involved with a sociopath is like being brainwashed. The sociopath's superficial charm is usually the means by which s/he conditions people.

On initial contact, a sociopath will often test other people's empathy, so questions geared towards discovering if you are highly empathic or not should ring alarm bells. People with a highly empathic disposition are often targeted. Those with lower levels of empathy are often passed over, though they can be drawn in and used by sociopaths as part of their cruel entertainment.


Sociopaths make up 25% of the prison population, committing over twice as many aggressive acts as other criminals. The reoffending rate of sociopaths is about double that of other offenders, and for violent crimes it is triple.

But not all sociopaths are found in prison. There is the less-visible burden of sociopath-induced emotional trauma which, if left unchecked, can lead to anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Chronically traumatized people often exhibit hyper-vigilant, anxious and agitated behavior, symptoms such as tension headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, abdominal pain, back pain, tremors and nausea.

Exposure to and interaction with a sociopath in childhood can leave lifelong scars. This can apply to people in therapy - and for those who in recovery trained as therapists, re-exposure as an adult can trigger old emotions and PTSD.

This article is not about sociopaths per se but about surviving the harm they cause.

EVERYDAY SOCIOPATHS

Many sociopaths wreak havoc in a covert way, so that their underlying condition remains hidden for years. They can possess a superficial charm, and this diverts attention from disturbing aspects of their nature.

The following case history illustrates how people can be systematically targeted until they feel they can barely trust their own sense of reality - what we call "gaslighting". Sociopathic abuse is targeted abuse. It can wreck lives. Victims can become survivors, but at huge cost.


At school, 'James' took a dislike to a classmate, 'Sam', who was sensitive and popular. He would mock him for auditioning for the school play or for getting upset over failing a test. The situation deteriorated when it became known that Sam's parents were separating. Sam appeared to be taking it with fortitude, to the admiration of his peers. He also got attention and sympathy from the school staff, especially James' favourite teacher: ie, the one he manipulated most easily.

James decided on a plan of covert bullying. He started a whispering campaign implying that Sam's parents were not splitting up, that he had said they were in order to seek attention. Sadly, this was all too successful and over the next few days Sam was met with silence and verbal bullying from his hitherto-supportive classmates.

James continued his campaign, targeting Sam's close friends over the next few days. They found themselves accused of misdemeanours such as sending offensive emails/texts. Then the 'favourite' teacher went on "leave with immediate effect" after accusations of assaulting a pupil. Where had the accusations come from? Guess.

This case shows how deliberately sociopaths, from a young age, can target others. Taking advantage of people's credibility and goodwill, James exploited the situation. With a more perceptive head teacher, this sociopath might have been found out, but he knew who to manipulate and how far he could go
."


COMMENTS:

Its true that good people, called 'empaths' here (a label I like and will use in future) are likely to blame themselves before searching for others to blame. They have an internal locus of control. In other words, they believe that they are responsible for what happens to them in their life. Which is very adaptive for most things in life, and its very ethical as well-- but not when it comes to dealing with sociopaths. Empaths don't like to blame others for things, and their reflex habit of self-blame will sabotage their ability to see the truth of what's going on when a sociopath steps in.

I think the next bit is EXCELLENT advice. Sociopaths will try to figure out people they meet early and one thing they're looking for is how empathetic you are. Will you be manipulated by sympathy, pity, and self-responsibility? They want to know and will ask you questions to ascertain how much of an easy 'mark' you are.

I never really thought about it, but this validates my suspicions that I trust too much too early. My very openness with people gives away too much, and I pretty much must advertise myself as someone who cares. I like the specifics of this advice to watch for questions or comments meant to illicit information about how nice I am, and how willing to get involved.

The damage that sociopaths do to other adults is terrible enough, but many children grow up with parents, or other adults who have long-term contact and influence over them and that's even worse. A lot of people who have had long-term contact have been damaged as a result. This is another reason why its so important to learn how to identify sociopaths! We need to be able to out them to the community in general, and hold them fully responsible for the harm they cause.

The next piece is about how most sociopaths work "under the radar" and live out in society with the rest of us. They seek out victims intentionally, and they often employ methods that confound and confuse. When people are confused, they often prefer to go on as if there is nothing wrong, because they're afraid of looking foolish or offending an innocent party. This common community social dynamic plays to those who have ulterior motives in mind.

Twisting the truth so that others don't know what the hell is going on is a favorite way of "playing" for evil people. Its a sport, a game, to completely obscure the facts so that no one feels certain about what's going on. Sociopaths lie habitually, but the smarter ones can be very careful and meticulous about it, weaving sometime elaborate scenarios that can seem very believable, even if they don't fit the character of the person being targeted. Somehow, the sociopath may manage to change the way people see someone, often using other people to assist them.

The case study gives an example of where a sociopath targeted a sensitive and popular "nice guy" and got a great majority of his former friends and supporters to turn on him. Then, the sociopath got rid of the kid's favorite teacher-- just to really make sure his victim felt even more alone.

I honestly feel like I've been THAT GUY numerous times. A scenario emerges where some asshole or bitch gets a burr up their ass and decides that they don't like my modest social or personal success, finding my very existence irksome-- and they start a campaign against me.

This article was very validating in that it told me that it wasn't all in my deluded and "DRAMA LLAMA" imagination: people do this sort of thing, and they do target people who have qualities that stand out in a good way. Nice people. Smart people. Talented people. If you have a combination of wonderful traits that are admirable, you're MORE likely to be targeted, not less!

We live in a reflex "blame the victim" culture that prefers to believe that bad things happen to bad people. In TRUTH-- bad things happen to GOOD people MORE often via this dynamic. Our collective ignorance of this running theme with a certain subset of people has been to the detriment of many, many, MANY victims!

Which is why I'm writing about it. I think its important to start educating ourselves. AND to stop blaming the victims. Especially if we are or have been the victims of this targeting ourselves.

More next week.
tranquilityseekers: scarf lady (wisdom)
 I have been reviewing the subject of what I need to look at and acknowledge and learn from my past in order to have a more positive future, specifically avoiding being victimized again. Forewarned is forearmed after all, yes? My recent posts review what I have discussed so far regarding the subject.

Point 1: I have been targeted especially by sociopaths and people who take tips out of the sociopathic playbook because I am a threat to some on some level. I really feel this is true because I get sabotaged and targeted a LOT more than most people seem to. Partially it may be my background or my socio-economic status puts me in the path of bad people more often. However, I think its more than that. I think I'm special to the bad people out there. They want to crush me. I did a series of posts called "What's So Right With Me?" talking about my positive qualities that may anger or frighten petty, envious people. (Which I will post here if anyone wants to read them. The point is that I have many enviable qualities that seem to invite some to want to destroy me.)

Point 2: There are truly BAD people (sociopaths) that actually get off on destroying people just for kicks. These people cannot be reformed. We can't wish them away by ignoring what they do. They exist and we all need to face that in order to prevent their schemes from causing more harm.

Point 3: Our culture's prevalent attitude of "blame the victim" benefits not just the sociopath, but also those so-called "neutral bystanders" who back the sociopath against their victims because its EASIER and they want to avoid punishment/retaliation by the sociopath and/or get rewarded or otherwise benefit from these actions in some way. For many, finding a rationalization to avoid having to get involved is a big deal. Whether for reasons of cowardice, greed, or simple ennui and sloth-- a great many people add to the problem by refusing to take responsibility for their part in evil schemes.

At last, a new book has come out that actually backs up my personal premise with plenty of studies and academically formulated hypotheses. An article based upon that book came out and a friend posted this and I was thrilled to see it.

Here is that article:
www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-for-sociopaths-protect-yourself

I want to examine this in detail before getting on to my 4th and final point--

Point 4: People who are a threat to me have certain characteristics in common. Not just sociopaths, but those who are most vulnerable to being swayed by a sociopath. I need to be able to identify assholes and minions early to either avoid them or make sure not to trust them in any way. That will be written about very soon!
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