So, here’s the continuation of my first post on this topic. I’ve been working on these for a while. It has been eye-opening to see the traits and characteristics detailed and described like this. It’s even crazier to see how many of these he had. I knew he was a narcissist, but seeing how much that overlaps with sociopathy and relating it to the last 5 years of my life I am shocked by how much I put up with. Now that the time with him is really almost officially over and done with, I think this is a good time to examine these things, then leave them in the past where they belong. I will never again let someone like this be part of my life.
Again, this list came from Paula’s Pontifications.
Once it’s clear you’re dealing with a narcissist, go through the following list to see if the narcissist is also a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is taken directly from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D:
1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example. My Mom always said that he was a “charmer.” He definitely never worried if he didn’t know the facts behind something. He still had an opinion. A strong one. Whether it was actually based on anything or not. He always talked over me, and in social settings he made sure he was the center of attention. His voice was often booming and inappropriately loud, even in intimate, otherwise quiet settings. It was embarrassing, but I thought it was just because I was an introvert. All of those other red flags I just assumed went along with an extroverted personality.
2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings. He had no concept of where he actually stood in relation to others. He was very, very cocky. He would also brag about the smallest thing like it was some crowning achievement. It’s one thing to be proud of yourself. It’s another to take something mundane or normal and gloat about it to everyone.
He was also adamant about being so much better than everyone else he worked with, no matter what the job. He complained about being “stuck” with incompetent people or having to take up other people’s slack. In retrospect, it’s funny how in EVERY single job he was the best… Yet it was never reflected in his pay or position. He always had excuses, though. He just wasn’t an ass-kisser or he was too valuable in the field to get promoted. When he was fired it was someone else’s fault and they were out to get him. Yeah…
3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine. The first part of this one doesn’t ring too true. He could be a bump on a log sometimes – sitting and doing nothing for days. He wasn’t into thrills like sky-diving (which I want to do). However, he did have a very short attention span. And low self-discipline doesn’t even begin to describe it! He would start things all the time and not finish them. That is why I have half-finished counter top, a living room with only one wall retouched, and various unfinished projects that he promised to take care of and didn’t.
4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest. Hahaha… Pathological lying for sure! He was certainly manipulative, dishonest, deceitful and deceptive. Read basically any of my past posts, and you will see that. That man would lie about anything and everything just for the hell of it.
5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims. I don’t think my ex had real concern for the things that he did to people. He felt entitled to the things that he took from people, even if they were taken through deceptive means. He didn’t have any problem with lying to me in order to keep me around longer, stay in my house, and con kisses and sex out of me that I wouldn’t have given him if I knew the truth. He could pretend to understand what I was going through, but he never actually did get it. He would cry, but it was out of self-pity, not because of what he did to me. It was always, always about him. He could pretend to be concerned about my feelings, but when given the opportunity to behave the same way again he would.
6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims. Oh look! My last comment transitioned perfectly into this one. His apologies were never really about being sorry. They were about doing what he needed to in order to keep what he wanted. He never incorporated what he was sorry FOR – it was just about the words. He couldn’t grasp the way he made me feel and find real remorse for that. As far as other people outside of our relationship? I never, ever saw him empathize. He would bitch about people and judge them for the VERY SAME things that he did. I used to point that out to him – how can you judge someone else harshly for being in a position that you have been in (unemployed, homeless, living off of other people, etc., etc.)? He just couldn’t put himself in another person’s shoes even if he had BEEN in those shoes before.
7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness. I like the term “emotional poverty.” He was certainly “openly gregarious,” but with a very, very shallow pool of real emotions to draw from. From afar and at parties and such, he would come across as a very likable, charming person. But it was all on the surface. It didn’t run deeper. He didn’t let anyone in, ever. Maybe there was nothing deeper.
8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless. He could fake warmth for a certain amount of time. He was certainly inconsiderate and tactless. If you actually sat down and talked to him about a specific person or situation, you would soon see how little empathy he had. Everyone on welfare or unemployment was a drug dealer (except when he needed unemployment – oh, wait, and he WAS a drug dealer at one point!). When his sibling(s) got into a jam, he wanted nothing to do with helping. He was very judgmental about my sister and everyone he had ever met that he felt the slightest bit superior to, which was basically everyone.
9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities. Hahaha… That is spot on. He is 48, almost 49 and has never, ever lived on his own. He lived with his parents off and on well into his late 20s and even some in his 30s (I believe). He lived the college, drunken party life into his late 30s even though he never went to college. He always had multiple roommates. He sold pot and did every single drug imaginable (that didn’t have to be injected because he’s afraid of needles). His friends paid most of the bills. He might have pitched in here and there. Maybe. He moved from couch to couch in his friends’ houses after his last breakup until he wore out his welcome with every single person.
He even lived with his sister for years in his 40s. She always covered him when he was short, which was every month. This is the same sister he couldn’t be bothered to help out when she lost her job of 20 years. Oh, and he had no sympathy for her, either. From his perspective she should have had money saved up for something like that. Nevermind that he didn’t have a penny saved himself. Then he found the gravy train with me. He had me fooled for a bit. Once that was over it was back to couch surfing. Now he’s living with another friend and supposedly paying rent… I feel sorry for that guy.
And don’t even get me started on his lack of motivation! What motivation? Selfish also doesn’t begin to describe how completely self-centered he could be.
10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily. He had little to no control over his anger. He would blow up at the drop of a hat. He threw things. He had temper tantrums like a child. He would strike out and become incredibly petty. I found myself unconsciously trying to smooth things over and attempt to control his wild mood swings before they happened.
11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests. We all know this one applies. I think 50+ sex partners off of the internet counts as “indiscriminate,” especially since his only criteria was that they were female and willing to fuck him. Multiple affairs? Check. Having more than one sexual relationship going at a time? Check. Brief, superficial relationships? Check. Bragging? Triple check.
12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home. The only one of these I don’t know for sure is the glue-sniffing. Knowing him that probably happened, though. He even set an entire grove of woods on fire as a kid.
13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life. Realistic and long-term were two terms he didn’t even know. He doesn’t have anything saved. Nothing. Maybe the $5 they make you put in the savings account to keep it open. That’s it. He just raided his “retirement” account (which only had a pathetically small amount of money in it anyway). His long-term plans (become a famous chef, open a restaurant, become a millionaire) would only have been possible if we lived in a magical world where a genie could grant wishes. He had huge pipe dreams and absolutely no feasible plan for making them happen. Before he knew me he was extremely nomadic – moving every year basically.
14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless. Yep. At first I called that spontaneity. It seemed fun. He seemed to be a good balance for my overly planned, serious nature. Then I started seeing it pop up in ways that weren’t just a spur of the moment vacation. I started to noticed that he failed to think ANYTHING through. Even if he tried, he failed. He might say that he was or was not going to do XYZ, no matter what. Then the second he was actually faced with the choice he did the opposite of what he said he was going to do. He would spend money he didn’t have. He had unprotected sex with people he didn’t even know. When he drank he often got hammered. There was no moderation, no control, and no thought of what the negative consequences of his foolish actions might be.
15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements. When I met my husband he had terrible credit. He blamed his ex. Now I know that was a huge red flag, and I should have run in the other direction as fast as I could. At the time it seemed reasonable. They were renting a house together. She moved out and (he said) left him with all of the bills, some of which got out of control. I had just gone through a breakup. I, too, was left with the house and all of the bills. It was a struggle. Of course I never let anything get past due, and I never, ever would have. But I could see how someone making less than I was could have a hard time. It had been over a year since that breakup, but he still had bills that had gone into collections. I helped him pull his credit report for free so he could get the number of the agencies and work out some sort of payment.
Fast-forward 5 years later to the present day – Some of these bills are STILL in collections. He had more than adequate opportunities to pay them off. Hell, I would have helped him out with them. Besides the fact that I was paying most of the bills already, if he had called and set up something I would have helped make the payment to get them off of his credit. Call me a push-over and an enabler. It’s true. I was. Not anymore.
Besides those examples from the past, within our relationship he would often overdraft his bank account, go over the limit on his credit card, and hide bills from me that were in his name and past due. I didn’t let him fuck up MY credit or my bill payment. He knew enough to know that there is absolutely no way that would fly under my radar. But anything that didn’t have my name attached to it wasn’t paid more often than it was. He was fired from his construction job for sloppy, lazy work. He has all sorts of excuses, but the bottom line is that plus his bad attitude got him fired.
16. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial. Mr. Mess had never once accepted responsibility for a single thing he did wrong. Ever. There was always an excuse. It was his ex’s fault, his boss’s fault, his co-worker’s fault, my fault, our dog’s fault, the doctor’s fault, the cell phone company’s fault… You name it. If you asked him, the entire world was in a conspiracy against him and he’d never done a single thing wrong. Antagonistic manipulation is the perfect term. I’d never heard it before, but it fits perfectly. That’s why gaslighting was so easy for him – it was second nature to place the blame anywhere and everywhere besides himself, and if it made me feel crazy in the process all the better because it made lying to me easier. And his denial of responsibility was always used as a tool to manipulate – he made me feel sorry for him about the way his last relationship ended, and I know he is doing that today with the story he tells about us. Everything is designed with a spin that puts him in the role of innocent victim.
17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital. I was the only idiot stupid enough to marry him. That didn’t last long, though. Before me, his longest relationship was 3 years (maybe). Other than that, it was 6 months here, 6 months there, and a whole fucking lot of one-night internet hookups. I am shocked that he was able to keep the friends he had for 20+ years. The main reason I see for that being possible is that most of them were just as immature and messed up as him – gatherings always had to include drugs and drinking, there are only 2 friends who are married (even though they are all his age), and they still play video games non-stop. That plus his manipulation, party vibe, and victim mentality kept people distracted and feeling sorry for him and ready to get drunk and high. Then once that has occurred basically anyone is tolerable.
18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness. He was the drug dealer at his school. He was almost expelled on more than one occasion, but his parents always fought tooth and nail with the school and threatened to sue them. He laughed about the times they tried to catch him red-handed and couldn’t get the concrete proof they needed to put him in juvie. He got drunk and crashed his Dad’s car at 13. He used to get in fights a lot. More than once he bragged (yes, bragged!) about the fact that he thinks he only passed high school because they wanted to get him the hell out of there.
19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear. After high school he joined the Coast Guard on a whim because his cousin was doing it, too. He only lasted a few years there before he was dishonorably discharged for drug use and insubordination. Lovely. Before that he was caught a few times (I believe), and thrown in the brig. He didn’t stop, and in fact got worse until they didn’t want his ass around anymore. He had his driver’s license suspended and revoked more than once. Usually it was for failure to pay a fine. Often the fine was related to something else he was supposed to do (like have insurance on a vehicle or report one sold and turn in the tags), but failed to.
20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011). I’m not sure how criminally diverse he was. The things I mostly know about involve using and selling drugs. He did drive drunk a lot. He got caught once for that. He did tend to brag about getting away with things. He would laugh and act proud, like not only was he brilliant to get away with things, but the cops were incredibly stupid and didn’t have a chance against his mastermind. Snort.
In addition to the above two lists of traits, the biggest trait (or magic trick as I like to call it) that makes narcissistic sociopaths so dangerous and effective is their ability to go unnoticed by the rest of us. They can do this, because they are good at pretending (lying) and wearing many masks (again, lying). Simply put, they lie to themselves and everyone else. They lie so much that some of them are convinced of their own lies, which is where evil is born. This part obviously has to be true. Although now, looking back on all of the above traits and stories, I feel naive and stupid to have fallen for it, that is how these people go through life. They lie. They are good in small doses. They have explanations for everything. I honestly believe that he had convinced himself that his version of things was the truth. Even faced with proof to the contrary, he would adamantly stick to his improbable story with so much conviction that it made the other person question reality.
I am no psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. However, I have lived alongside a narcissistic sociopath and feel the need to share, even if in a tale-like fiction setting, how I understand the psychopathology that insidiously penetrated my body, mind, and spirit until I was nearly convinced that I was the evil one. How? Projection, transference, and control, that’s how. To this day I know his version of our marriage is that I was controlling, jealous, and a “nut job.” For too long I let him play on my insecurities and almost convince me that I was the problem in this relationship. This blog – you people out there who read my story, gave me support, and grounded me to reality – and my individual therapy are the two things that kept me sane. Well, those and my family. And books. Thank goodness I had those support networks. If not, I can only imagine the hell that I would be living in for the rest of my life.
I hope you enjoy this story and pass it along to your family, friends, others you love, and anyone you suspect is or has been a victim.
Paula Carrasquillo ~ July 2012
Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath
- Being with a Narcissistic Sociopath – Part 1 (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Lessons in Life & Love I Learned from a Sociopath. ~ Paula Carrasquillo (elephantjournal.com)
- How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Sociopaths in a Relationship- Personality Traits of Sociopaths (fitnessnutritionandtools.wordpress.com)
- How to Spot a Sociopath (blissful-blog.com)