Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Sociopath in Your Social Circle

Periodically, I take us into the dark side - although, this is a positive blog. This is a tough but important topic that's been tugging at me for quite sometime.

Recently, there's been a great deal of conversation about sociopathic behavior in the workplace and general community at large. I suspect that this is driven by a new book that professes to shed light on this phenomena.

I am not a clinician nor do I claim to fully understand the scope of anti-social personality disorder. But, what I believe is that sociopathic behavior is quite common. And, chances are that you know at least one in your social circle.

Now keep in mind, not all of these people are ax murderers running around killing people or crazy cult leaders.

The people I speak of are charming, manipulative folks who are fundamentally destructive. The destruction (in my experience) manifests as a facade of being noble and upright, while doing extreme "dirt" to others.

So, what does this look like exactly? Well, I've seen it as the glittering socialite who is judgmental of others' short comings, while stealing money from their jobs and/or social groups over an extended period of time.

They are extreme lovers of status and will subsequently go to extremes to maintain a carefully crafted facade.

These people are super intelligent and know how to shift people around to support their agenda. Sociopaths are con artists.

So what should you do if you encounter a sociopath in our social circle? Well, it depends.

If you suspect someone has sociopathic tendencies, don't be mean or hostile towards them. Just keep a safe distance. In other words, be cordial but don't attempt to transform them or go to their friends with your concerns. Eventually, their behavior will be exposed.

If they do something negative that personally affects you (ie spread negative rumors about you or steal money from a social club you're a member of), be prepared to provide evidence of their behavior, and then separate yourself from the person.

But, be ready for the sociopath to have legions of support. They know how to cultivate blind loyalists who will "ride or die." Don't be hostile or judgmental of these people either. Just keep it moving.

Sociopaths lack remorse, so even if their negative behavior is exposed, they will still carry on their lives as if nothing happened.

They may only transform if criminally prosecuted and/or treated by professional mental health experts. But don't count on that because sociopaths rarely think they have a problem. They feel their behavior is completely justified. And they are pros at playing the victim or pretending to be remorseful.

When you are social and charitable,  you'll encounter all types of people - many of whom are fabulous. But there are plenty of "nuts" out there too.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. So continue on your super socialite quest - but be careful out there.

Peace and Blessings!