Sociopathic behaviour is not limited only to those who physically attack or kill their vicitms. In fact, the notion of extreme sociopaths serves as a smoke screen hindering us recognizing the more common, “Everyday Sociopath”.
Through innumerable life experiences, I have met and interacted with a large number of people who seem to have little measurable conscience or compassion for others in their everyday interractions. They don’t necessarily manifest their sociopathic behaviour in violence or murder. Instead, they seem to slowly but persistently hurt, bother, control, manipulate, deceive, use, annoy, or badger their victims over years, decades or in many cases, entire lifetimes. They never kill, but they constantly wound. Most of us have at least one Everyday Sociopath our lives diguised as everyday people.
They often have just enough conscience and functionality to remain in relationship with us as family members, friends, colleagues, employers, religious leaders, and professionals, just to name a few. Yet seemingly, they use this functionality to hold their victims within arm’s reach with one hand, so they can remain close enough to use or abuse us with their other hand.
They want us close enough so they can take from us what they need. They often seek to keep us in a positions of dependence or lack. They manipulate us to stay in these relational dynamics. They often lead us to believe we are valued. We are, but only to fulfill and perpetuate their sick needs.
Who is the Everyday Sociopath? He/she can be …
The family member who helps us in our time of need, but just enough to keep us in a place where they can maintain control over us. We are kept in a suspended state so we can fill a need in their life, but never helped to regain our independence.
The employer who paints us false pictures of the success that await us one day so we will continue to work for him/her while the ship sinks with us on it.
The recovery-house director who rescues us at our most desperate and vulnerable moment only to showcase us so he can attract more clients or funding. He helps us with one hand while sabotaging our lives and reputations with the other hand so he can again play the hero in the eyes of onlookers.
The verbally and emotionally abusive spouse who berates and belittles us in private then shows us off in public. He/she apologizes and appeases just enough to keep us in the relationship. Yet is really all about him/her. Their cycle is is typically: abuse –> regret –> apologize –> repeat.
The religious leader who guilts us into volounteering or making donations to help “God’s Work” when all along its his/her own personal agenda of fame and financial gain.
The colleague who cleverly taints our boss’s perspective to his own favour through subtle suggestions and disclosures about us or others.
The ex-spouse who speaks highly of us to the children, yet plays subtle control cards over us such as avoidance of communication, booking our childrens’ schedule without consultation with us then telling our kids we are disrupting their plans when we speak up, allowing kids to overhear demeaning conversations and suggestions about us, and/or taking the childrens’ side when we are having an issue with them without ever having an adult-to-adult dialogue with us as the other parent.
The “Family Stager” who puts the appearance of the family ahead of truth and fair or kind treatment of the family members, including but not limited to children. They obsessively hide, deny, or rationalize harms and abuses in the family in order to keep up appearances. As a result, they help perpetuate the harm.
The person in any relationship who controls us with anger or threat of anger. If they don’t get their way, they may rage, go silent, huff, roll their eyes, scowl, or send us some other small communication. Either way, they project some form of controlling anger and are used to us responding by giving in to them. The more subtle their anger-manipulation, the sicker they probably are.
The tricky part of the everyday sociopath is that they aren’t necessarily doing anything illegal. So their behaviour can go on for a long, long time. They are usually very subtle. In fact, they are often so self-deceived, they aren’t fully aware they are being this way.
How did they become this way? Probably by example, desperation, and practice. They are likely to be people who are sick or where at one time harmed in such a way that they create these coping mechanisms and embed them into how they treat others.
The longer I live, the more I become aware that any of us can slip in the direction of such roles. Yet the longer I live, the less I am willing to be affected by Everyday Sociopaths. In my experience, there is little I can do to help them, esepcially if they have been rehearsing these behaviours for many years.
Unless they hit a hard, painful bottom, they will not likely change. So I make it my priority to avoid and protect myself and others from them. As sad as it may sound, I personally leave such people behind. This is the best thing I can do for me, them, and others.