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Doc@DrIrene.com


 

Self-Proclaimed Sociopath: I Don't Get It...

May 16, 2000

Dear Dr. Irene,

I'm a recently divorced 29-year-old man. My marriage was short, only 1 year, but it was a strange one. I married a sweetheart that I had dated briefly while in high school. I graduated high school and went off to the US ARMY where they trained me as a sniper. I was a sociopath before going in and the training I received from Strategic Operations Target Interdiction Command (SOTIC) reinforced it substantially. They didn't teach me to kill without remorse but as I found out one October afternoon in Mogadishu Somalia, that I certainly could. Killing in the name of your country does not make you a sociopath...

After I was discharged I returned home to take over the family business. I started seeing a counselor upon recommendation by a V/A Doctor and resumed teaching martial arts at a local dojo. My temper was always there but I always managed to control it. I curbed my sharp tongue often and usually when I had anything bad to say I said nothing at all. That system worked well for me and I became popular and well liked. OK.

My Ex and I had started dating again and upon her graduation from college she moved in with me. We lived together happily for two years with hardly a single fight. If she would become angry with me over something I did, I would honestly try not to do it again. She would not reciprocate that courtesy. She had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder a few years earlier but she was very spotty about her treatment. It's very hard to live with someone with untreated bipolar disorder...

Her sometimes, deplorable behavior made me very unhappy and quite angry, but I never said a harsh word. I simply expressed my displeasure with phrases like "If you're not going to come home after work (at all), I would appreciate you calling". (Marriage counselor said this was controlling.) Unless you are giving me stuff out of context, I don't see how asking for a courtesy call is controlling. But, if a counselor said this to you, I have to assume you may be missing something in the retelling... This would anger her as if I had no right to worry about her not coming home for 36 hours. Why would she feel the need to stay away so long? I never argued though. I retreated to my basement gym until I was capable of talking without being mean, loud, or menacing. (Counselor told me this was also abusive.) Retreating to the gym is abusive? Only if you did it with an attitude to show her you were shutting her out. She had never seen my menacing side, and I was hell bent on making sure she didn't.

We had discussed marriage pretty often, but some of her episodes had made me seriously consider ending the relationship all together. I love her so much though, I just could never bring myself to do that. You have to take her as she is - including her sick, unmanaged bipolar stuff - or leave her. I bet you tried to "fix" her... I always thought there would be a way to work things out, and that she could own her behavior the same way I thought I owned mine. That's the ideal to strive for. It wasn't long till I caved into her persistent urging to get married. Which would be fine if you married her without expecting that she would "change" or "get healthy," so to speak.

We were married and it was smooth sailing for about 6 months. Our first fight was over money. We divided the bills in what she thought was even. When it came down to it, I was paying 80% of them, yet she thought I wasn't contributing enough financially. I calmly laid out my books and showed her the exact monthly amount that I was paying and what she was paying. (I was told that this was under-handed.) What was under-handed? Were you paying 80% of the bills because you were making more money?

Along came another down cycle. Ouchhh... She became severely depressed. Nothing made her happy. I sat for hours and listened to her complaints about work, our marriage, her family, etc. I did everything I could to try and help her through it. Major depression is very, very difficult for loved ones to deal with. One day I came home from work early and walked in on her in the bathtub. I was surprised that she was there, as she was supposed to be at work. I was even more surprised to find a razor blade in her hand; she was preparing to cut her wrists. Ohhhh...

I started to insist that she resume treatment. I went as far as calling her doctor myself. Good! She had told me that she had urges to hurt me sometimes, so I made it clear that she was either going to the doctor or back to her mother's. (I was told this was manipulative and that I had no right to call her Doctor.) Unless there is a lot you're not telling me, or are exaggerating, or are otherwise twisting things, you did the right thing by calling her doctor. Any psychologist is ethically bound to call 911 to have a suicide attempt or homicidal ideation evaluated. Both are grounds for involuntary hospitalization in most states. My question to you: Did you provoke her in any way? 

A few nights later she attacked me in my sleep and I was seriously injured. Oh boy... I managed to squirt her in the eyes with hair gel and disarm her. After that the dog attacked her and I was able to escape. She briefly saw my menacing side and I said some horrible things like "I wish I would have never married you". I'm not so sure that's a horrible thing under the circumstances... I also used thousands of colorful adjectives to describe her as I dialed 911. I don't even remember all the names I called her that night, but she kept a list. 

That was it. She was outta there and at first, there was no way she was ever coming back. We talked and agreed to marriage counseling. The counseling really opened my eyes. The counselor sat there and placed 80% of the blame for this on me. My wife didn't even show up, so the counselor only heard my perspective! I was told that I was cold, manipulative, under-handed, and abusive. She told me that silence is just as much abuse as calling her a "dumb bitch". Yes. Silence - as in sins of omission - can be very provocative. She said that by walking away and taking a cool off period, I was controlling the situation selfishly and not allowing my wife to have her say. It depends on how you do it and if she ever does get the chance to express her concerns with you. You can take a cooling off period angrily or you can take one letting your partner know you are too angry to talk right now, but that you'll be back.

I cannot accept that! In turn, I cannot move on to another relationship until I know for sure what I did wrong. Understandable. I can't believe that the proper thing to do in those situations is to stand there and get into a name-calling match with someone I love. It's not. I am a very good name caller and I am certain that she would have ALWAYS come out on the losing end. I also cannot agree that I shouldn't have walked away when things got violent. You should walk away. Again, how did you walk away? I know that her punches couldn't hurt me physically, but having the punch thrown in the first place is like a dagger in the back. Yes. I don't let that many people close to me in the first place. To have one of the few that do betray my trust like that is very painful. Yes.

I sometimes see a psychiatrist (when he doesn't blow me off for something more important) but he seems to be just mailing it in. He agrees with whatever I say, tosses some Prozac at me, and bills my insurance company. Find someone who takes you seriously. I talk to my ex wife (yep, we're still close even after she went Norman Bates on me), and she more or less agrees with the marriage counselor. She even went as far as to say my retreat when things got rough was cowardly! :)

This has all confused me very much. As someone with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, I feel it is my responsibility to remove myself from situations where I could be a danger to someone. Correct. If that is such a bad thing to do in a relationship how can I EVER have one? First, who, besides you, diagnosed you?

Thank you for listening, Dr. Irene. Your wonderful website has helped me get through a very dark and trying time in my life. I do apologize for the length of this message... I'm usually not this chatty. Larry 

Larry, chat all you want. I think you're doing great. You don't get whatever it is, and you want to. And you should. More power to you. My take:

bulletYou are a self-proclaimed abuser and sociopath. You probably are abusive given that you married a lady who did not take great care of herself and, you figured, somehow, that she would change and get healthy. Yes, she should take care of herself, but that's her choice, not yours. (This is not abusive in and of itself though...)
bulletHow many controlling behaviors do you recognize? Which ones?
bulletWho besides yourself diagnosed you? (You can be a controller without being a sociopath, you know.)
bulletHave you asked your psychiatrist what your diagnosis is? Ask.  
bulletWhich brings me to another point: If you are not being taken seriously in your treatment, take that up with your doc. If that brings no results, look elsewhere or look to supplement your psychiatric treatment. Usually - but not always - psychiatrists medicate. Other types of counselors provide therapy. The majority of my clients see me for therapy and see a psychiatrist for medication. 
bulletWhy were you referred for psych treatment in the first place?
bulletYou may want to make an appointment with the counselor who told you that you were abusive. Ask her how and why she came to that conclusion.
bulletIf you and your ex are buddies, maybe she'll be willing to help you. Ask her to come to this page and explain the reasons she and the counselor think you were abusive. 

The readers and I will try and help you make sense of it. OK?

You're on the right track. God bless you. Dr. Irene

Self Proclaimed answers some questions here.

I just want to read the posts.

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