Thursday, October 20, 2011
The Sociopath Next Door
My next door neighbor was a sociopath. Not only was he an evil dictator who committed numerous crimes against humanity. He also committed numerous crimes of fashion where he emulated Michael Jackson. And he didn't do it well, by the way. Yeah, Muammar Gaddafi lived just East of here, a straight shot down the road just past the goat farm on the left. And now he's dead. One less sociopath in the world. But do you know how many sociopaths there are in the world? Do you?
First I must confess that my order from Amazon.com finally arrived. So I have been a reading fiend of late. One of my latest reads? You guessed it. It's titled The Sociopath Next Door. And how befitting is that when I actually do live next to a sociopath? I actually lived close to a few sociopaths: Gaddafi, Mubarak and Bin Laden. How does this affect you, you ask? Because you live near a sociopath too. I guarantee it.
How do I know this? Because 1 in 25 people are sociopathic. I'm not a math wiz or anything, but that is like 4 percent of the population, right? Now I know you're thinkin' whhhhhhaaaaaaaatttt? This can't be true. The thing is, not all sociopaths are terrorists, dictators or murders. Being a sociopath means that you have no conscience. None. So, they can do anything they want without guilt or remorse.
So what does your run of the mill average sociopath do? They thrive on power, wealth and conquest. And in your neighborhood that could mean they're the president of your HMO, your therapist, your minister, the cop or the room mom of your kid's 3rd grade class who always gives you that creepy vibe. They drain bank accounts, your accomplishments, self-esteem and peace on earth. (That is a semi-plagiaristic, semi-altered quote from the book. And I don't even care. Ok, I totally do care. That's why I confessed. See, I can't find the page number that I got it from to go back and quote it properly and I'm totally riddled with guilt. There you have it. I'm obviously not a sociopath.)
Now, I know exactly what you're doing right now. Cause I did the same thing. You're going through the list of all the people you know. And you're putting them into categories: definitely not a sociopath, definitely a sociopath and oh-my-god-that-explains-so-much-o-path! Because there are people on the escarpment of our everyday lives who want in to yours so they can exert their power and control over you. Oh, they will pretend like they care about you, but they have no capacity for love or attachment.
Ok, so this is that weird segue way of the post where I reveal exactly how nerdy I am. (As if you don't know by now.) So I was watching this 20/20 episode on youtube recently, based on the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. So you know that creepy vibe I mentioned earlier about the 3rd grade room mom? We all have that instinctual creepy vibe that informs us when we're in danger. Even if we can't clearly see what the threat is, we get a feeling. A feeling like something's not right. It's our respect for authority figures, our ability to over think situations, waiting for evidence and just plain being polite that allows us to negate the threat. Thus, we become susceptible to our friendly, neighborhood sociopaths who are natural born charmers, even if they're not natural born killers. Isn't that fascinating?
So maybe you don't live next to Jeffrey Dahmer, but chances are it's just because he's dead. But you do have someone in your life who's a sociopath. We all do. So what can you do to protect yourself? First, I would recommend not moving to Iran or North Korea. Then get in touch with your creepy vibe. Don't feel guilty for being suspicious about your new neighbor Fred Bundy who has a penchant for having beautiful women over to his house late at night that you strangely never see leave. And for god's sake the next time Suzie's mom, you know the creepy room mom, brings those beautiful special family recipe chocolate cupcakes to the Halloween party at school, make sure your kid doesn't eat them!