Having read parts one and two of this series, you’ve probably realized that you are not a psychopath, sociopath, or an idiot. But you are also probably realizing how many of these people you have in your life. Dealing with a sociopath or psychopath is one thing, but the question now becomes: How are you going to get rid of them?
Getting rid of psychopaths, sociopaths and idiots can be tricky. Idiots are the least of your concern: You can simply stop returning their calls. Dealing with a sociopath or psychopath, on the other hand, isn’t so easy. They might go Single White Female on you and show up at your house to key your car or manipulate you into helping them. You don’t need me to tell you that’s not a good scene, brother.
While that’s an extreme example of what can happen, you should know how you scrub these parasites from your life before they become a true liability. As with anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make this happen. Here’s a short guide to help you do it the right way.
Why they latched onto you in the first place
Before you go any further, you must come to understand how you you acquired this problem in the first place. It’s not fun to hear, but you bear some responsibility for allowing psychopaths or sociopaths into your life.
Be brutally honest. Don’t flinch from radically examining yourself, your life and the circumstances that led to this entanglement. There’s no shame in finding a sociopath leeching off of your life force. There is great shame in letting it happen time and again.
So don’t skip over this. Sit in a room somewhere and really wrestle with it. Don’t settle for the first answer you come up with. Really dig deep. If you don’t feel just a little bit uncomfortable here, you’re probably not doing it right.
Common reasons psychopaths and sociopaths latch onto others
There are some common reasons sociopaths and psychopaths latch onto people in general. This break-down won’t completely explain why they chose you in particular, but it will probably help you narrow it down.
Sociopaths, by definition, have a stunted emotional range. It’s not that they have no emotion. It’s just that they don’t have much range. Lust and rage — usually directed inward — are most common. Envy tends to be strong. What they don’t have, though, is a connection with other people or anything remotely resembling what you and I might call “happiness.” And yet they yearn for even the simple happiness you and I take for granted. They hate you for having it, and they want a piece of your happiness all the same.
Another reason is that they’re just not very creative. Sociopaths and psychopaths can, however, copy other people really well. They’re practiced mimics. (Read or watch The Talented Mister Ripley for a great study of this personality type.) So if you’re creative or particularly empathic, they’re going to latch onto you to try and copy whatever it is you’re doing. What’s more, they feed on drama and perpetuate it. In fact, nothing brings a sociopath or a psychopath greater fulfillment than being at the center of drama caused by destruction.
Maybe the sociopath thought you were an easy target for bullying. That can be a hard one to stomach. But they go after people they think they can lead, not by virtue of their own value, but by bullying you into doing their bidding. This is why politics and finance are so attractive to sociopaths. They’re the perfect venues for manipulating other people into doing whatever it is that they want.
At the end of the day, it’s not so much that sociopaths gravitate toward the weak, even if they do sometimes gravitate toward the stupid. It’s that sociopaths gravitate toward empathic people who are everything they are not, people who have everything they wish they possessed but never will.
Why you can’t reason with crazy
One thing that’s important to remember is that you can’t reason with crazy. Stop thinking of the sociopaths, psychopaths and idiots in your life as normal people you can come to reasonable agreements with. You can’t have a rational encounter with these types any more than you can reason with a nuclear waste dump next to your house.
Because you’re an intelligent, rational and emotionally well-adjusted human being, you probably assume that this person possesses the same qualities. In fact, you’re projecting those qualities onto the sociopath, because most of the people you deal with on a regular basis — including you — are (relatively) intelligent, rational and emotionally well adjusted, or at least one of the three. It’s a normal assumption to make, but it’s unfortunately false.
So what do you do? In short, you don’t even engage with them. There’s no bargaining or reasoning to be done with a psychopath or sociopath. You set boundaries, and you stick to them. Period. The end. There’s nothing left to discuss. You’ve made a decision, you’re sticking to it and you’re not going to let a silver-tongued sociopath talk you out of it or get you to agree to a more “reasonable” demand.
Dealing with a sociopath – how to start setting boundaries
In this case, “boundaries” mean distance, and distance means cutting off all ties. Remember: Reasoning isn’t going to work! The more contact you have with these types, the more opportunities you’re giving them to slowly wear away at your boundaries until you’ve caved. Once you do, they’re back in your life just like before.
Sometimes, however, cutting people out isn’t entirely possible. The sociopath in your life could be a co-worker, a boss or even a family member. In that case, you just need to minimize your contact as best you can. You might have to deal with them some of the time. You can certainly deal with them less than you are. If your sociopath is a boss — and you’re being manipulated or hurt more than you are learning or accomplishing, within reason — you really need to start looking for a new job.
Until the day comes when you can get a new job, though, put your head down, work as hard as you can, and do everything in your power to get the hell out of there as fast as possible.
Keeping your cool
Whatever you do, don’t let the sociopath see you sweat. Keeping your head down means projecting the image of being “all good” to those around you, until you’re completely out of the situation. Remember: Chaos and destruction are the psychic blood these vampires feed on. Don’t give it to them! Not only are you denying them the satisfaction, but you’re also giving them incentive to look for new targets.
This is why you have to keep your cool at all costs. If the sociopath starts harassing you in ways that break or ride the line of the law, then let the law handle it. Under no circumstances should you allow the psychopath or sociopath to see you upset, angry or anything but a shining example of joy. No matter what negative emotion you show, it’s like giving crack to a crackhead — they’re going to do whatever they can to get just a little bit more.
Removing the drama
It might take a while, but sociopaths and psychopaths will eventually get bored and move on. But “a while” might not be a couple weeks. In some cases, you might find that sociopaths are lurking and stalking you (often with the help of social media) for years.
But technology has your back. You can take measures to lock down your social media accounts so that they can’t see anything that’s going on in your life. You can use your phone to block them from calling or texting. You can filter their emails into the trash, or even have them deleted before they get there. What’s more, any time the sociopath contacts you electronically, you have a digital record. That’s great to have if you ever need it.
One last word about this, because I know you probably need to hear it right now: You might think that the sociopath or psychopath is going to keep on doing this, forever and ever, completely getting away with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Psychopaths are highly disordered individuals. They can craft a veneer of functionality, but that’s all it is. Eventually the veneer will crack, then fall apart entirely. If you want vengeance against your psychopath — and I don’t blame you for wanting it — don’t worry. Ultimately, the psychopath is a fire that eventually consumes itself.
In the fourth and final part of this series, we delve further into sociopath and psychopath removal and its consequent after care.