Did you know that people who have known sociopaths have said numerous times that there is often something very attractive about them, be it physically or charismatically?
Have you also wondered why we love movies or books with sad endings and songs with sad lyrics?
I feel at my wit’s end when I say this- I have a kind of sympathy towards sociopaths. And yes, they are one sect of the population that is mostly misunderstood.
Sociopaths are people who suffer from a mental health disorder characterized by a disregard for other people.
Obsession, on the other hand, is an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.
Research shows that about 50% of the causes of sociopathy can be attributed to heritability while the remaining percent is a confusing mixture of environmental factors, for example, childhood abuse, etc.
Most sociopaths enjoy ‘highs’ of all sorts- anything fleeting that allows them to feel a rush of danger excites them. And this could be killing people. But this is most likely due to their inability to have emotions, and as Psychologist Seth Meyer puts it, they tend to see life as a video game.
In the movie Joker, Arthur, the main character, didn’t become a sociopath all of a sudden. He was a man who was utterly confused and sad and lost. Joker resorted to killing anything he couldn’t have and cannot be; that was how he disconnected from his pains.
This post is not some pity party or celebration of sociopaths but a sheer attempt at understanding the mind of a sociopath.
So before we judge sociopaths, here are some thoughts to consider:
- You don’t know the full story
Like we see in the story of Arthur in Joker, Arthur was suffering from layers of a dysfunctional childhood experience with his neglectful mom and a dad he never knew. Only to meet his dad later when he grew up and found an unexpected reaction of aggression from him. These and many more are some of the things that lead to sociopathic tendencies in people. Some people have been through hell; sadly, we can’t always tell because people can be good at hiding their emotions.
- They may not have control over it
Ferguson (in 2010) conducted a meta-analysis and found that 56%of the variance in the formal disorder of sociopathy can be explained through genetic influence. This revelation ought to make us understand that some sociopaths need help, not an accusation.
- They’re largely misunderstood
Most of them are loners, without friends or family. They feel an underlying rage towards God knows what and yet have no one to talk. That is enough to drive anyone mad. So they set out with all these pent up anger, and the effects can be horrible.
What then are some ways we can show more empathy or help to sociopaths?
1. Get them to talk to someone
This advice will only suffice for mild cases, as a more severe case will need more stringent measures like going to a psychiatrist. However, when we see any slight indication or tendency towards sociopathy in people we are close to, it is not time to abandon them. This may, in fact, make matters worse.
Lend a listening ear; sometimes, it is enough that someone is there for them — especially those whose obsessions stem from a lack of attachment. However, caution should be applied where required.
2. Avoid trying to fix them
Most sociopaths are intelligent and can tell your next move as they can be very critical and calculative. You are only trying to build empathy and focus on the parts of them that are still human. You don’t want to fix them, except you are a shrink or psychiatrist, that is not your job. They need professional help. Help them get one if you have to. Again, it is essential to be alert and know when to keep a distance.
A sociopath can be complicated and dangerous but are also largely misunderstood. They deserve some empathy too, and with the right help and care, we can at least work out a plan that will guarantee our overall safety as well as theirs.