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The Unintended (and Beneficial) Side-Effects of Trauma-Induced Sociopathy

Which makes the peculiarities a bit more tolerable to live with.

“painting of man” by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Before you decide to crucify me or accuse me of fetishizing trauma (or sociopathy for that matter), let me tell you that’s NOT what I’m doing here.

Trauma is hell. Period. I know because I’ve had a more or less traumatizing childhood. Maybe not as bad as some, but also not quite as “normal” as some others. So, I think I’m entitled to have a say or two.

Also, a point of note, I’m not referring to trauma due to physical illness. What I’m referring to is trauma based on emotional (or physical) stress primarily caused by others.

Abuse, betrayal, oppression, neglect, or whatever the cause of such trauma is, especially during the tender years, can mess up a person pretty bad even as they grow up into adults.

For me, I’ve adulted into an extremely introverted, closed-up person. I’m protective of my privacy to a fault, disallowing practically anyone to get a bigger picture of my life and self, and I extend the same courtesy to others. Some of it is due to my nature as a private person, yes, but a lot of it has to do with my general distrust of people.

And when you cannot trust people, you also cannot form proper relationships.

I can honestly say that I have just about two friends. I’m not close to my relatives. I have no siblings. I maintain a pleasant relationship with my coworkers which starts and ends at work.

I’m in my 30's and I have yet to enjoy the perks of a normal relationship. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve dated, like any healthy (physically at least) person would. But none of them lasted long enough for me to get invested in it.

For the most part, either I get obsessed with men, or I simply wait to find out when he’ll cheat on me, or simply tell me they’re not that into me.

If a man gives me a compliment, I naturally assume that he’s half joking. And that makes me uncomfortable; hence, I hate compliments. If a coworker or a manager praises me for my work, in the back of my head I keep hearing, “but?” or “and?”.

According to an online test, I’m either pretty much a full-blown sociopath, or at least I am a moderate to a minor sociopath.

I’m always waiting for people to stab me in the back. And with that kind of outlook towards life and people in general, it’s difficult to form connections.

Not long ago, I started to wonder if I could perhaps have some sociopathic tendencies. I started reading about it, and a lot of the characteristics, while not all of them, seemed to resonate.

So I took an online test comprised of 16 questions; questions such as “do you feel shame or remorse”, or “is your behavior antisocial for no good reason”. It said that if a person scores 16 or higher (25 being the maximum possible score), they may exhibit strong sociopathic tendencies, moderate to minor sociopathic tendencies if between 8–15, and pretty much none if less than 8.

The first time I took the test, I scored 17.

I promptly took the test again and scored a 13.

So there, according to an online test, I’m either pretty much a full-blown sociopath, or at least I am a moderate to a minor sociopath.

Of course, this is not a clinical diagnosis, so who knows.

I was reading a journal on psychopathy in which it said that while “psychopathy can mainly be thought of as a product of genes, sociopathy is more subject to environmental influences.”

If that’s true, then I suppose I have my mother to blame. After pondering over my score of 17 or 13, suddenly the thought came over me that perhaps it’s not me, but my mother who’s a sociopath. (Likely we both are.) Of course, neither she nor I have been clinically diagnosed, and I doubt my mother or anyone close to her ever thought of her symptoms as sociopathic (which to be fair, are perhaps known only to me, and somewhat to my father, as toward everyone else she has always been as charming as a button, her violent temperament directed primarily at her only child, a.k.a me).

Further reading made my doubts stronger as I started learning about the effects of a sociopathic mother to her child:

  • shrink in isolation or express problems through bullying and aggression
  • become easily distracted
  • be either overly emotional or flat
  • have poor school performance

The above pretty much describes me when I was young. Much to my demise because these specific characteristics used to get my mother more worked up and more violent towards me.

At some point in my life, I had to come to terms with my unusual personality. Sociopath or not, I’m not like every other person around me. I’ve known that from a very young age.

All throughout elementary and middle school I didn’t have any friends. Occasionally I would chill with a girl here and there, but soon, for reasons unknown to me, they’d find other friends and leave me behind.

Even when I did have friends, I would get abnormally attached to them. Possessive even. I’ve always done better at 1-on-1 friendships, never really fitting in with a larger group.

Romantic relationships have been disastrous to say the least.

When all is said and done, I had to figure out a way to live with myself. I had to find a way to be satisfied with the positive effects of my peculiar personality.

Associating with Fewer People Has Its Advantages as a Sociopath

Sociopaths are good liars. If you ask my mother, she’d say I’ve been a liar my entire life. I’d beg to differ. I had learned to lie out of necessity at a very young age. Back when I was a kid, I’d lie because I figured if I could say the words my mother would like to hear, I’d be spared from her temper tantrums.

This wasn’t always the case; I couldn’t always get away, but every now and then it did get me off the hook.

I’d lie to protect my mother’s image to my friends and family members.

For example, once my cousins were going to watch a movie with my aunts. My mother, for who knows what reason, decided I couldn’t go. But she didn’t want to come off as the bad guy, so she made me lie to my aunts and my cousins that it was in fact I, who didn’t want to go.

So yes, while my mother loves saying how much of a liar I’ve always been, truth is, at the tender age of, I don’t know, 6 or 7, she is the one who would often made me lie.

Later, when I was older, I’d make up these lies all on my own. If my mother prohibited me from going to a friend’s birthday party, I’d call them to tell them I was sick and couldn’t go.

High school was particularly hard on me. I had finally made some friends that I liked to hang with. I finally started to feel that I belonged somewhere. But my mother’s unpredictable temper tantrums always came in the way of my happiness back in those days.

However, the habit of lying sort of stuck with me. Even after I had moved away… moved far away from home, I would often find myself lying for no good reason.

Lying is bad, and I understand that. Lying especially for no good reason is worse. It makes it difficult to form bonds with other people. But herein lies the beauty of it all.

You see, my antisocial behavior/disorder makes it difficult for me to get close to other people. And because I’m not really close with anyone, I don’t often have a reason nor opportunity to lie to anyone.

Imagine if I were a social butterfly and lying left and right to everyone.

It would have been a disaster!

So yes, whether my sociopathic tendencies came first or my lying did, I’m grateful that not very many people have to suffer through my lies.

I May be a Loner, But I’m Not Shy

I’m introverted, and people often confuse that with shyness. But let me tell you, shyness is one thing I do not suffer from.

Yes, I’m private, and it enrages me when people try to force their way inside my personal bubble. I decide who and when someone gets to come inside. When the time is right, I open the bubble-door myself, hold their hands, and usher them in.

But just because my bubble is sturdy and it bounces off unwanted intruders, it doesn’t mean that I’m shy.

I’ve never had any problem speaking in front of people when the time called for it. Presentations and interviews tend to make the best of the extroverted people nervous. Not me. I could stand on a podium in front of hundreds of people, and speak. No trouble there whatsoever.

According to some sources, sociopaths are hardly ever shy, or insecure or at a loss for words. If that’s true, then I suppose I have my sociopathic tendencies to thank for my ability to voice my opinion, regardless of who I’m speaking to.

I Do What I Want, And I Don’t Let Others Dictate My Life for Me

Sociopaths are supposed to be bad with criticism.

I have never been good at taking it, true words. I don’t like it if you don’t like what I create. But I don’t let that change the way I choose to create either.

However, if you look at it from a different perspective, it just means that I don’t take BS from others. I do what I want to do. If I make a mistake, it’s my mistake. I don’t have anyone else to blame for my own actions. And I’m fine with that. Happy even.

I see way too many people worried sick over what someone else expects from them. These people are simultaneously unhappy and dissatisfied with those around them.

I don’t have that issue. Yeah sure, I may not take your opinion well, but if you’re not my friend, then I have no reason to care.

Chances are, you’re not my friend.

Call me heartless, but it has served me well up until now.

My Incapability to Love Has Saved Me Heartbreaks, What’s There to Complain About?

According to some sources, sociopaths are also not capable of empathy or love.

OK, maybe that’s too simplistic a way of putting it.

Either it’s too simplistic, or I’m not a hundred percent sociopath.

It’s probably the latter.

It’s true that I have trouble being fully in love. As I mentioned previously, I have trust issues. Loving requires trusting. When those who’re supposed to protect you, causes you harm at a time when you need them the most, you sorta grow up all wrong. In my case, I have stopped having faith in people.

And yes, it kind of sucks. I’m a loner who gets lonely. Sometimes. But I also see people loving and then falling out of love all the time. Supposedly normal people, who love so fiercely, and yet, love fails them. And what good does that do?

I would like to think that while I may be lonely, devoid of true romantic love or relationship, I at least do not have to be broken because of another human being.

I’m fine with that.

Isn’t It Good That Turbulence Doesn’t Cause Me To Break Out in Hives?

Often in planes, people start getting agitated at the slightest turbulence. Not me. I’m calm as a clam.

Apparently sociopaths do not react much to circumstances that others find stressful or panicky. Am I lacking empathy? Well, if you must call it that, sure, go ahead. But I on the other hand am grateful for being able to remain objective. If I can stay calm when everyone else is freaking out around me, I’d like to think that’s a good thing.

If nothing else, I’d like to think that my calmness will help those around me to feel a sense of calm in themselves at a time of heightened stress.

Nothing’s wrong with that!

So I’m Spontaneous, Without Any Plans, But It’s Not So Bad Is it?

OK, there have been times when my lack of planning for a future seemed to have caused some trouble. But what life is devoid of trouble?

Just because you’re good at planning things out, doesn’t mean that you won’t have problems. Maybe different types of problems, but they’ll rear their heads anyway when you’re least expecting them.

So yes, my lack of planning and spontaneity born out of boredom isn’t always appreciated, but that’s OK. I’ve been to many places because I didn’t care for planning. I once moved across country on a whim in less than two week’s preparation. I never regretted it, not once.

I’ve driven up Pike’s Peak even though when I was leaving the house, I only meant to go get some groceries.

I have changed my major in college some 4 times. Yes, I’ve wasted some money and time. But instead of many others who choose to stick with something they hate for the sake of appearances, I have dared to get out of my comfort zone until I was at a place of peace.

For a time at least.

After all, like I said, I don’t have a lot of real connections. I’m alone, so the only one who has to deal with my spontaneity and unplanned actions is me. And I happen to like doing things on a whim. And I’m content with the life I’ve built for myself.

More or less.

I’m likely not a true sociopath, but only someone with certain sociopathic tendencies. And some of these tendencies cause other people to suffer. They cause ME to suffer. But I would like to think that that’s all just part of life.

We all have problems. Different people have different problems. I have very specific types of problems. So what? That’s no reason to not try and live a life without regrets. Life isn’t black or white after all. I live in the gray areas. Most people do regardless of whether or not they suffer from mental illness.

And anyhow, is there really anyone who doesn’t suffer from some form of mental illness?

I’m lucky that my sociopathic tendencies haven’t caused me to become a criminal or made me suicidal. Some do. I’m grateful for not being a sociopath at that level.

However, whatever quirks I have, I have come to terms with them. I have come to see the bright side to it. After all, I’m just another human being with issues.

Nothing’s wrong with that.