I am halfway through Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door [*Affiliate link]. Normally, I fly through books but this one . . . I read in small doses. Besides creeping me out a little bit, it is too shocking; too full of “a-ha!” moments; too eye-opening. Every page astounds me. How did I not know these things before? How did I not see these people in my OWN life? And I let it go on for so long.
Interestingly, Dr. Stout makes a very sobering and surprising observation. When asked what the tell-tale characteristic of a sociopath is . . . she says that it is the sociopath’s ability to extract pity from others. That’s it! I thought it would be something along the lines of “his cold, intense stare” (which is sociopathic, as well) or the “sinister tone in her voice”. The author writes:
Crocodile tears from the remorseless are especially likely when a conscience-bound person gets a little too close to confronting a sociopath with the truth. A sociopath who is about to be cornered by another person will turn suddenly into a piteous weeping figure whom no one, in good conscience, could continue to pressure.
Today, I spoke with a woman who drove 2000 miles back home because her abusive (now, ex) husband lured her back, pathetically convincing her he was starving to death and needed her in order to survive. That was her first escape attempt. When she got home, he locked her in the house and the abuse grew in horrific intensity. I spoke with another woman last month whose abusive husband tormented her for weeks and then he wept when others began to see through him. She said this to me: “I feel sorry for him; I can’t help it.”
The tears, OH THE TEARS. Tears from one who has been chastened but is not really sorry. Sort of like, “I’m caught and now I’m going to put on a show . . . . see how repentant I am? Does everyone see?” These displays leave the victim stricken. Look, the victim’s not crying. Here is her abuser, weeping . . . and confessing . . She looks kinda’ cold-hearted, if you ask me.. . .
Onlookers do not realize that the victim has been VICTIM to his tears thousands of times. And then when (over the years), he or she becomes immune to the tears, he or she is accused by the abuser of being “hard-hearted” or “cruel”. The victim cannot win. She must either concede to the tears and open herself up to abuse again, or she is some sort of unloving, detached human devoid of mercy. What does one do?
It is a relief to read and know, that even the tears my abuser shed were a form of manipulation.