A dozen years ago, a physician I knew was reported to the medical board by the hospital ethics committee. He was practicing extremely shoddy medicine and exorbitantly overcharging patients.
What continues to amaze me is my reaction to him. Knowing all that I did, I found his behavior disgusting, and was happy that he was publicly exposed. Yet, when I ran into him at a coffee shop, and he started chatting about some inconsequential, neutral subject, I couldn’t help but like him. I tried to keep in mind that he was a sleaze, but in spite of it, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of his humorous observations about life, and was inexorably drawn into his bright, witty world.
Some sociopaths are irresistible. The doctor I’m talking about would have made a fortune selling snake oil from the back of a Conestoga Wagon.
So what do you do when confronted by one of these conscienceless manipulators? Don’t listen to your feelings (right brain), but only listen to the logical part of your mind (left brain). If you listen to your feelings, you’ll wind up with a useless case of snake oil.
Remember, with sociopaths, left brain always trumps right brain!
Any personal experiences?
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9 thoughts on “HOW HARD IS IT TO RESIST A SOCIOPATH? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist”
I have had this exact same experience with a roommate. I had moved back to my hometown after decades, and decided it would be more fun to live with someone else than by myself. I thought, I’ll have more social interaction, get plugged into the community, etc. Found a woman I liked, same age, grown daughter just graduated, things in common (I thought!). We really hit it off, and I thought this is going to be fun. But after 6 months, I realized someone was stealing my pain medication (I’ve had fibro for 25 years). Her daughter was also living there at the time, so I couldn’t accuse either one! I also did not know who else might have access, but few people came over. Once her daughter moved out, I realized it was her, but half of me said I really like her, but how could she do this to me??? I finally got her to admit it one day – I confronted her very forcefully, and I made her take responsibility for it. But it’s a weird feeling, when half of you feels like you’re a friend, and the other half knows she’s a sociopath!. It’s a bizarre experience, to say the least!
And I was raised with Southern girl manners, which to my mom meant that questioning anyone was rude. I don’t have that hangup anymore, after I realized we had lived with my sociopathic stepfather for ten years, with no knowledge of the terrible things he was doing to my family. I just cut off contact with my brother (his son), because I realized that he’s narcissistic and a pathological liar. I am no longer going to pretend that someone who does bad things to me is not a bad person!! But my sister doesn’t see it – he sucks up to her, of course!! But I swear I feel better with this boundary in place! You should have seen his response to me when I told him either be honest with me or we were done – anger and denial, and insults – no he never lied to anyone!! But every one of his 3 sisters knows about some of his lying, so I just thought – I made the right decision! I couldn’t really do this while my mother was alive, but now that she’s gone, I don’t have to justify it to anyone.
And if you’re really interested in people’s in-depth experiences with sociopaths, I highly recommend the site LoveFraud.com. I learned a lot there, including the fact that I didn’t have to put up with this anymore!
I can’t agree with you more. Sociopaths are very hard to resist, but once you know who you’re dealing with it gets a lot easier. We have to protect ourselves against these liars and users and expose them.
Thanks for sharing this very fascinating experience. Best wishes, Art
It’s easier in business or casual encounters to gauge a person. But in romantic relationships, by the time the victim discovers what’s happening, it’s nearly too late. I am writing a little story about my romantic encounters with a narcissistic sociopath: http://storyofasociopath.com
Great posts, Doctor. 🙂
I see both comments came up after it said I couldn’t post the first *sigh*. Part of the problem is that, although most people have a sociopathometer (the word is growing on me day by day) they have a small voice which is telling them it would be rude not to believe people. They presume that everyone behaves like them and is inately truthful and to question them would be an awful breach of etiquette… so they don’t. This, of course, plays right in to the hands of the average sociopath… they know all about people and how they react, they just don’t do it themselves.
I think that the sociopathmeter should definitely be trusted. If you add that to the left brain logical “this doesn’t make sense” meter, we’d have a much better chance of stopping sociopathic creeps before they do their dirty work. There were a lot of hints regarding Madoff’s investments that a lot of very bright people ignored… His ability to pander to the rich and famous was amazing.
Very astute example.
Sociopaths are everywhere, It seems these days. They draw you in with their charm and charisma, and then WHAM! It hits you when their true colors come to light. Thanks for posting this Art.
I have a sociopathometer which screams ‘run away’ or ‘don’t tell him anything’ whenever I come across one. Maybe my left brain is working better than most or something. I’ve met quite a few of these types of people, nearly always men, and have always managed to spot that they are dodgy from day one.
I knew about the one on LinkedIn long before people started warning me or asking me, what I don’t usually have is any proof, just a gut feeling that something isn’t right about the way they communicate, even when it’s online and you can’t see their face.
I always spot the lying bereived person on the TV who asks for the murderer to give themselves up or the missing person to contact home when they are the ones who did it. I have no idea how I do it though! If only I could bottle it I could make a fortune!!! 🙂
I seem to have an inner sociopathometer which starts screaming ‘run away’, maybe it comes from having worked in pubs for years, you get to meet all sorts of people and learn to spot the ones best avoided. You know who to talk to but never give get round to giving away any personal details.
I managed to spot the dodgy LinkedIn guy long before I started to get emails about him 🙂