Portrait of a sociopath, part 4 of 4

Best homework ever

In part 1 of this post, we compared sociopaths to the Titanic: Puffed-up, dangerous and filled with lies. Then we moved on to posts about my sociopathic in-laws. Colorful, aren’t they? Exhausting is more like it. They’re different from each other in a number of ways, that’s for sure.

Let’s take a look at the ways they’re similar, and then we’ll think about what comes next.

Résumé of a sociopath
My sociopathic in-laws have many things in common with each other. Do some of these characteristics sound familiar?

They both:
♦ seek to control their designated victims (i.e., Brandon and me),
♦ ruin family events for their designated victims,
♦ obsess on gift-giving—a tool for control,
♦ give us old and/or broken things that they don’t want, acting like they’re doing us a favor, with the expectation that we display proper gratitude and indebtedness,
♦ fabricate chaos and lies to justify venting their persistent hostility toward their victims,
♦ gaslight and rewrite history,
♦ are easily offended,
♦ complain, almost constantly, about people having treated them unfairly,
♦ blame all their problems on someone or something else,
♦ are reactive instead of proactive (e.g., not house training their indoor dogs—gross),
♦ are well-focused professionally and flighty/distracted otherwise,
♦ embrace lies as truths,
♦ expect others to initiate contacts,
♦ pretend to be victims, when they’re actually abusers,
♦ are hoarders, focusing on things instead of people, and
♦ live by checklists.

Speaking of checklists, here are two routine items on my in-laws’ Checklists for Sociopaths:
(1) We went to our grandson’s sporting event. Check!
Translation: We’re good grandparents. We don’t have to do that again until next season.
(2) We gave gifts. Check!
Translation: We’re in good standing. They owe us.

Top Cat and Willing Sidekick
Delia and Andrew do things that make themselves look good (in their own eyes), but it never crosses their minds to do the things that normal people do to build positive relationships. That’s because they’re sociopaths. They’re severely relationally disabled, you could say. That would be the compassionate way to describe them. Actually, they’re walking nightmares. They bring chaos and trouble wherever they go—one covertly; the other, more subtly.

My mother-in-law is the Top Cat in the gang, and my father-in-law is her Willing Sidekick. They both work hard to promote and protect their public images—Friendly Artist and Good Guy. But that isn’t who they are, is it. Not at all.

Moving forward
Does some of what you’ve read so far have a familiar ring to it? If you’re dealing with a sociopath (or someone with another destructive personality disorder), you know how stressful and damaging your experiences have been. Now what? Remember from part 1 of this post:

If you’re dealing with a sociopath, it’s time to gather information,
look below the surface, and prepare for the battles ahead.

You’ve been gathering information by reading this blog, and hopefully other articles and blogs. Now it’s time to look below the surface.

Best homework ever
Sociopaths wreak havoc in our lives, don’t they? Our healing began with a homework assignment from our counselor, Matt. “Write a list of what happened.” That was it. A list can be detailed or it can just include phrases that help you recall specific memories or incidents.

It’s time to heal, and this is the next step. Start writing a list of disturbing events. What happened? What was said? Add to your list as you remember more and more. Read and reflect on your list as time passes. What does it tell you about this abusive person? Would you ever, in your wildest dreams, do or say what this person did or said?

What happened and what it means
Here’s an example. One day my in-laws came to our home, and we offered to play a song for them on our guitars. We were proud of what we’d accomplished in our guitar lessons and practicing, and we wanted to share it with them. In the middle of the song, my father-in-law started howling loudly like a dog. What a jerk. He thought that was funny. Not. Obviously, his behavior ruined the experience for us, so that was the first and last time we played our guitars for them.

The first sentence in this article about sociopaths explains that they routinely violate other people’s rights and experience no remorse. Yep. You can say that again.

What did Andrew’s howling indicate about him and his character?

1. He’s impulsive.
2. He ruins experiences for the victims.
3. No empathy.
4. No remorse.

My conclusion? Andrew fits perfectly in the Garden-Variety Sociopath category, which means that he’s emotionally abusive to his designated victims (and he was very physically abusive to Brandon during his childhood); but my father-in-law isn’t a menace to society at large, unless your car or your house is ever in his way when he’s driving (see the “Bumper cars” section in part 3 of this post).

Pedestrians, beware—in a major way.

Warning
As you can see from this four-part post, sociopaths use a wide variety of techniques to control their victims and to vent their hostility and aggression, from gaslighting to giving gifts… and even howling. Remember to read Lisa Wolcott’s blog to familiarize yourself with their tactics.

The bottom line is this. Sociopaths are emotionally violent people. They hurt people for sport—to entertain themselves. Yes, they can be incredibly sadistic, deriving pleasure from your pain. It’s always unsafe emotionally to be around a sociopath, and sometimes it’s physically dangerous as well.

You can’t live a peaceful life when a sociopath is an active part of your world. We’ll talk more about boundaries in future posts.

What’s coming ~ boundaries that lead to peace
Peaceful hint: My sweet Brandon blacklisted my mother-in-law from my email, and I blacklisted her from my phone. Her emails go straight to my Deleted folder where I never see them. My phone doesn’t ring when she calls. We’ve also turned off our home answering machine.

Get ready to draw the lines in the right places (i.e., establish and maintain healthy boundaries)—to protect yourself from sociopaths (and persons with other destructive personality disorders)—so you can live a peaceful life.

We’re on this journey together.

Coming next: How a sociopath’s victim feels, part 1

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Psalm 27

Song for Healing: “Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down)” by Robbie Seay Band

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