Sociopath or Addict?
The novel FBoM deals with some hard realities that occur in our world. Rape, abuse, sociopathy and vengeance. These scenes happen around us every day by our neighbors, sons, and friends and the question has to be asked… where do they come from? Who raised them? What makes them tick?
There are several answers to those questions, far more than a simple blog post can answer, so I’m going to focus on one that can be easily identified. Many of the other causes stem from an infinite number of possibilities ranging from anthropology to mental illness, from societal expectations to porn, and from childhood trauma to physical head injuries.
Instead, I’m going to focus on something I have some experience with, both personal and peripheral. Let me give you some background since my exposure has to do with life experience and not a degree. At one time I worked for a non-profit organization that helped people with disabilities and people trying to reintegrate into society from prison, find meaningful work and the ability to support themselves. As a result, I’ve dealt with a wide variety of troubled people. In addition, within my own family I have seen drug addiction as a concerned loved one. Finally, I too have had addictions in my life, and although illegal drugs were not involved, they give me an intimate knowledge of the recovery process that an outsider may never understand. There ya go . . . it’s not on paper, but I have a PhD from the university of living.
If we can all accept the concept that a certain amount of sociopathic-like behavior is necessary to subjugate a fellow human to the degradation and the physical and mental pain involved in the act of rape and abuse, then it’s important to acknowledge the part drugs can play in the creation of a sociopath.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), also known as dissocial personality disorder (DPD) and sociopathy, is a personality disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. An impoverished moral sense or conscience is often apparent, as well as a history of crime, legal problems, or impulsive and aggressive behavior.
If you’ve dealt with a drug addict at any level, you should be able to see the correlations immediately. The disregard for the rights of others, the crime, legal problems and aggressive behavior. Maybe you’ve had a family member with a drug problem that takes money out of your purse or wallet. Maybe you’ve had a friend that passed a bad check. Or maybe you dealt with much, much worse. But the patterns and similarities are clear.
Technically, drug addiction cannot cause true sociopathy. A treatment center in Malibu, California explains the situation like this:
A person in the grip of addiction may display several features which closely mirror that of a sociopath. However, without achieving abstinence first, it may be hard to sort out whether or not the condition is primary or symptomatic of addiction. Persistent and sometimes complex dishonesty is one of the primary features of the condition. While it may seem that being a sociopath would imply that these individuals are not social, that is not the case. Sociopathic or antisocial personalities use their exceptional social skills against society or normal socialization, in the form of manipulation, intimidation and control. People around them are simply a means to an end. This includes friends, loved ones and family members. They may use others for their own personal entertainment, exhibit a history of hostility or violence and participate in high risk behaviors such as abusing drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse is often one of the high-risk behaviors associated with most personality disorders. This may be an attempt by the individual to seek refuge from their symptoms. The specific reasons why an individual with sociopathy is abusing drugs or alcohol can best be determined in treatment but the most important thing is that they treat their problems.
A primary feature seen in a sociopath’s behavior is a lack of respect or concern for the safety of others. An addict or alcoholic often shows no empathy for others, and may display symptoms such as irritability, agitation, manipulation and control or a dereliction of personal responsibility. Because the behavior of someone in active addiction so closely mirrors that of the sociopath, it may be difficult to directly see the difference between the two sets of attributes. Is the family being lied to and neglected because drugs are being abused or is it something deeper and more primary?
It is important to understand that addictions and issues like antisocial personality disorder are treatable only to a certain extent.
So while professionals may beg to differ on the definitions of sociopath and addict, where does that leave the lay-people that live with them? It’s semantics for the woman, man, or child that is being used and abused. So frequently we hear people in our lives say, “He was such a good person . . . before the drugs took over.”
That may be true, but once the drugs do take over that “good person” is gone. What is left is a narcissistic sociopath whose best friend is his/her drug of choice. Empathy, morals, feelings of connection flee the user’s character and what remains is mostly just their baser drives.
To bring this full circle back to how one human can destroy another emotionally and/or physically without a second thought . . . Once the empathy, morals and feelings are suppressed due to the drug use, they don’t consider what damage they have done. They can’t. All they know is that they have satisfied a need, a hunger within themselves.
If you are one of the millions of men or women involved with, or trying to “save” a drug addict, you now know what you are up against. You may think you still love them, but it’s important to understand they died with the addiction. Viewed objectively, the person you remember, is no longer there.
If you are still in the dating scene, keep the above information in mind. No matter how “nice” the person you are dating may seem, the fact they are an addict is a major red flag. If they remain an addict, sociopathic behaviors will most likely emerge. I am NOT saying they will necessarily become rapists or abusers, but do go in with your eyes wide open.
Make no mistake . . . you may still run into sociopaths in your life that have nothing at all to do with drug use. There is no “test” you can run when a man asks you out on a date or your husband bangs his head in a car accident (trauma is also a frequent cause), but this is at least one actionabe item I can share with you to help you to protect yourself and improve your life.
As always – I wish you all well. Now go buy a book. ☺
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