I only wish I had known what sociopathic personality (SPD) was at the time I was married to my ex-husband. I may have left the marriage sooner if I had known what I was really dealing with. Once I gained knowledge of this disorder after the marriage had ended, I found myself wondering why no one had recognized the signs and symptoms. Surely, I thought someone would have known about this condition, enough to even warn me of the danger I could be in, but not one person did. (At least, not until after I left the marriage)
Why was that? Because “No One Knew”. I said this all the time. No one knew how he really was. No one knew his rage. No one knew about his strange and evil behavior. No One Knew is also the title of the memoir I wrote to help others like myself understand what they are up against.
So, what is Sociopathic Personality? It is defined as a disorder where the individual has little or no regard or consideration for social norms, other individuals, or rules and laws. Because of this, they tend to treat people callously and have no empathy or compassion towards others, and think nothing of lying or being deceitful.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Sociopathic Personality Disorder
The signs and symptoms often manifest as:
Deceitful or manipulative behavior for personal benefit
A disregard for the safety and choices of others
Displaying hostile or aggressive behavior towards others
Believing they are superior to others and are always right
Lying or being dishonest
Problems with following rules or laws
Inability to decipher right from wrong or choosing to ignore right from wrong
What Causes SPD?
Research suggests that SPD affects 1% to 4% of people in the US. There is no single cause but the following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing SPD.
Biochemistry: Mental health disorders like SPD may come from a lack of suppression of certain brain chemicals.
Environmental factors: Growing up in an unstable or abusive household may increase your risk.
Trauma: Untreated trauma can increase your risk.
Genetics: You’re at greater risk for developing it if a family member has SPD.
Childhood mental illness: Mental illnesses that are usually diagnosed during childhood like ADHD or conduct disorder may increase your risk of SPD.
Can Sociopaths Love?
Can a sociopath love their partner? Yes, but only by his/her own definition of love, a manipulative, uncaring, unemotional kind of love. Love to them is a feeling of fascination or power rather than an emotion. To a sociopath, true love is a love of power, him/herself, and playing and winning his/her version of the game of life. Sociopaths lack the feeling of tenderness, fondness, bonding, and connection between human beings. That’s not to say sociopaths or people with SPD can’t appear to be in love. They can be good at faking feelings of love, especially when they enter into a relationship, professing feelings of love by behaving very lovingly or otherwise affectionately toward their partner — at least in the beginning. But that ‘love’ will disappear once the individual’s needs have been met.
Can SPD Be Treated?
SPD is one of the most difficult types of personality disorders to treat. There’s no true cure for the mental and behavioral issues that come with SPD. People with sociopathic personality are not motivated to change their behavior, as they don’t see a need to change since they are more inclined to blame or redirect responsibility for their actions onto others. The effectiveness of available treatments is unclear and controversial. After living with a sociopath for eight years, I can attest to the probability of a cure is slim to none.
A grandiose attitude towards the self with a sense of superiority makes a sociopath believe he/she is smarter than everyone, including doctors or therapists. Many end up in counseling or treatment programs only because they are pressured by a court order or by a family member(s), as my ex was with me. As a last-ditch effort, I had begged him to go to marriage counseling in hopes of saving our marriage, but in the end, I wasn’t even sure if there was anything to save. I was beyond what I would call brainwashed by him. It was no surprise that my ex was a no-show by the third counseling session. When your own therapist tells you that the person you thought you knew is not that person and he’s not going to change, it can be a wake-up call.
From my experience, I could sum up sociopathy in one word. ‘Evil’.Someone with a sociopathic personality WILL NOT change. A person who has SPD will become controlling, manipulative, and abusive (verbally and/or physically) in a personal relationship. They enjoy the game of control, gaslighting, and manipulation. You can read more information on gaslighting here.
Once I left the relationship, I tried making sense of why he did this to me. Why didn’t he love me? Why did he cheat? Why did he call me sickening names and ridicule me in front of family or friends? Why did he threaten to commit suicide? Why, why, why? I was grateful to have found someone (her information is below) who had also lived through the pain, hurt, and abuse of living with a sociopath, and who understood the damage it had taken on one’s psyche.
I started to recognize I had been verbally abused to the point of believing ‘his’ lies.—“No man will ever want you, and you need me”, as he often liked to tell me. It took time for me to go through the emotions. I went through a mourning process, mourning the person I thought I had loved…but he wasn’t the person I believed him to be. Understanding what I had gone through was empowering. It was as if someone had turned on a light after being enveloped in darkness for so long.
My book, “No One Knew” has some excellent resources at the end if you are looking for validation or support, or even answers to those “Why’s” you might be asking yourself about your partner, your boss, co-worker, etc. That person I spoke of that helped me through that debilitating time in my life was my silent hero. Her name is Donna Anderson, author of Lovefraud.com. I believe the information I received was so valuable to my healing process.
Does any of this resonate with you? Do you know a family member who may be in a relationship with someone like this and not sure what to do? Many people feel terribly alone in these situations and are scared to tell anyone what they’ve been experiencing while trying to make sense of it themselves. It can be a lonely path, even after leaving someone that has SPD. If you’re reading this, please know you don’t have to go through this experience alone. The Lovefraud community forum is a wonderful support group of other people that have been there. It is a place where you can talk about your experience with a sociopath to people who truly understand.