DIVORCING THE SOCIOPATH
A sociopath personality type is a personality disorder known as an antisocial personality type marked by intimidation, control and no concern for anyone but him or herself (among other hallmarks of the disorder). Some traits of the personality type include, but are not limited to:
- Masters of manipulation: Do not take what the sociopath may say to you on its face. Most often his or her statements are self-serving and rift with self-serving purpose. While a representation may be made to you about what he or she is or may be willing to do (to get you to put down your defenses), rarely does he or she follow through on his or her promises. Instead, a hidden agenda often accompanies promises or representations to do X, Y, or Z. Realize that you are not dealing with a person that has anyone but his or her own interest in mind. Have your attorney get whatever agreements are reached in writing (reduced to stipulations which can and should be filed as orders so they are enforceable, if need be).
- Misery loves company: The sociopath when viewed objectively is oftentimes miserable with his or her position in life or whatever the circumstances may be at that particular moment, but he or she won’t go it alone (and rarely does he or she show it). The sociopath will attempt to make his or her partner or significant other as miserable as possible so as to leverage agreements and settlements in the family law proceeding to his or her benefit. There is no remorse. Want the harassment to stop? Then agree to “my” terms. Those are common situations that arise; however, realize that there really is nothing to stop the harassment from ever stopping, absent a protective order. Do not fall for feeling that it will “all end” when the proceeding is over. Without proper orders and protections in place, it rarely if ever stops until and unless you have the right tools to cope with such a personality type and are capable of setting limits that cannot and should not be crossed, especially if children are involved.
- Russian Roulette: Do not take the chance of trying to negotiate terms or settlements with a sociopath on your own as you are taking a big and dangerous risk (if children, money, or property is on the line). There is a minefield of what can and likely will go wrong if you try to work things out with a sociopath without a well-qualified attorney on your side. Do not engage in their “baiting” efforts in order to get you to “argue” with them, as you will come to realize that he or she will play the “victim spouse” in court pleadings (using your texts, emails, etc. as proof that you are the problem if you fall for the bait and react negatively). Every move by the sociopath is calculated and intended with an ulterior motive in mind. Be smart, recognize what that motive may be and avoid it (and use it to your benefit instead in the strategy of your proceedings). Your attorney should be able to recognize the pitfalls and traps laid out by the sociopath. It isn’t a matter of recognizing the mental disorder in the litigant, but rather knowing what any opponent may do (all possible outcomes) well before it ever happens. That’s what a good attorney should be doing anyway.
- Your emotions as the hostage, sometimes more: The sociopath knows what drives you. He or she knows what you love and hold most dear – perhaps children, pets, or some other sentimental item of personal property that has a special place in your heart. Realize that he or she will use those people, things, or items to torment you and to try to have you succumb to his or her will. Oftentimes that torment can be in the form of threats to not pay you anything, to ruin you financially, and to intimidate you into what he or she wants. Do not engage with the sociopath. As the saying goes “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Do the same in real life and do not let him or her see you hurt or suffering. Act as if his or her actions have little to no impact on you (harder said then done, but it holds true). Remain calm and let your attorney deal with it. That doesn’t mean you aren’t human and shouldn’t express your emotions at how the situation is unfolding, but rather realize there is a time and place for it and that should never be in the presence of the sociopath. Work closely with a counselor or a therapist or your support group of friends and family members to help you cope with dealing with the sociopath (learning the necessary tools to not fall victim to his or her games with a trained professional is key).
- Mind games: When all else fails the sociopath will try to undermine your sanity. He or she may already have another significant person in his or her life to try make you feel insecure or to “rub it in your face” that he or she is happier or better off with someone else, he or she will engage or try to engage your circle of family and friends to get his or her side of the story out first (sympathy card or to turn those that you love against you), and don’t be surprised if earth shattering issues, problems, or situations arise as an excuse during the proceedings (health issues, loss of jobs, etc.). Play the course and keep your calm as a reaction to such situations is almost always anticipated and encouraged by the sociopath. Sometimes the “mental” anguish can turn physical. Don’t wait for that to happen. If need be, secure the proper orders from the Court to avoid physical abuse or altercations from happening before a chance for them to occur arises. Rarely does the fear of violation of a court order undermine the sociopath (as they have little to no regard for the law), but realize that Court orders that are enforceable will be some of the most valuable tools in lawfully dealing with the sociopath during the proceedings (whether or not he or she complies with discovery, fiduciary duties of disclosure, child or spousal support order payments, etc.).
The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) provides the following to be present in an antisocial personality disorder (see goo.gl/ZZyL5B):
A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following: having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing.
B. The individual is at least age 18 years.
C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.
The goal of the article is not to provide any sort of psychiatric or psychological advice (as we are not doctors, psychiatrists or psychologists), but rather to provide resources to you in order to help you understand the antisocial personality type. That starts with a general understanding of the guidelines used for diagnosis of the antisocial personal type in order to give you an idea of whether or not the issues that you are facing with the antisocial personality type in your life fall somewhere in the antisocial personality type spectrum. The sociopath is not limited to a gender (both men and women exhibit this type of personality disorder). The sociopath does not necessarily fit the categories listed above, meaning there can be potential hybrids of the various personality disorders. The sociopath CAN be defeated, but with the right tools and that almost always starts with a qualified and strong family law attorney.