Sociopaths & Attempted Suicide
Sociopaths & Attempted Suicide: Is the healing process for family and friends different after the suicide attempt of a sociopath compared to the suicide attempt of someone with other disorders?
I have been pondering this question for months now after a dear friend posed the question to me to research and blog about. Good questions create new ways of thinking. I work to not tell people things, but to ask good questions so we can all continue to learn and grow.
Lets start with some common language. I did an internet search for the definition of a sociopath. A sociopath is “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience”. Well, alright, but how do you know the traits or characteristics?
The link from Huff Post I found useful. The first thing I like that Macrina Cooper-White says is, “Of course, not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals. But they certainly can make life difficult, given that the defining characteristic of sociopathy is antisocial behavior.” I like this because I think of a sociopath as someone who everyone knows is simply impossible for anyone to be around. Possibly a hermit who lives in a remote cabin, or someone who has no contact with anyone for long periods of time. Most likely someone who has been to prison for unspeakable crimes that make the news.
So who really hangs around these people and how could they be affected by a sociopaths’ life and decisions?
According to Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, roughly one in 25 Americans is a sociopath. Ah, that makes it more normalized but allows us to realize, of all the people we know there may be several sociopaths in our social circles or community. They aren’t hermits just because they are antisocial.
I know of three in my immediate very close circle of family and friends. How many do you know?
Next, you can click on the Huff Post link above or do your own search for the signs, traits, or symptoms of a sociopath. One point I realized after reading this article is, while sociopaths can go months with no human interaction they also have over sized egos and need people in their lives they can lie to, manipulate, abuse, and belittle to inflate their ego. Thus, being antisocial is part of this diagnosis but not the whole of it. They are incredibly able to take credit for amazing wonderful things, like the sun rising, which they may have no control over, but are grossly unable to take responsibility for backing their truck into a light pole.
Now, we are dealing with common language and can move forward assuming a sociopath has lied to, stolen from, cheated on, harmed, abused, belittled and manipulated you. They have no ability to take any responsibility for any of their actions or the affects of those actions on others. Despite the fact they are incredibly charming, it may be difficult to want to continue a relationship with that person or continue to have them as an active part of your life.
Walk with me in your mind and lets take this a step further. This person you love has done all of these things to you and others you love, and then the sociopath, whom you love, attempts to end their life and lives. It would be incredibly hard to not assume that the attempt was just a further game or manipulation so they can get what they want from you. It is likely the attempt came after you were getting your life together without them.
Some of the thoughts that may accompany this event could include;
- “Everyone would have been better off if she would have died.”
- “I don’t think he really wanted to die, I think it was another way to get attention or to get money or recognition.”
- “Why would God let her live to continue to harm people?”
- “I feel guilty for thinking the world would have been better off without them.”
- “Now she is still here, I have all these extra bills and things that go along with a suicide attempt and she can continue to cause harm.”
- “How can we move on or heal when he is still here stealing from, lying to and abusing us?”
- “I don’t even know what is truth and what is lies anymore. I don’t think I can even trust myself.”
So, the question asked above was, “Is this process different than healing from the suicide attempt of someone diagnosed with another disorder?” My professional opinion, the healing process is absolutely different. While I recommend people seek professional help after a suicide attempt, I would not only recommend, but insist, they receive help after the suicide attempt of a sociopath. The guilty thoughts about wishing death on the attempter after an attempt would be compounded because of the lack of remorse, guilt or shame that is apparent in a sociopath.
As humans we are naturally loving and kind people, so when thinking thoughts of destruction toward another human being are natural after they have done you harm they are nearly impossible to work through if you still have any kind of connection or relationship to that person. The goal is to heal, rebuild and recreate your life to make it healthy again. That can be a much more convoluted process when dealing with a sociopath for so many reasons.
I just discovered your website. Thank you for directing some attention to families of attempted suicides. My husband of 40+ years was involuntarily committed to an in-patient unit after he told a close friend he was planning to shoot himself. He has suffered from depression and been suicidal before; but this time he had a very detailed plan, including a time line. He wrote suicide notes to me and our grown sons. But fortunately the friend called a hotline and it was averted. He was in the hospital 9 days, and discharged with no treatment plan or help for me. The outpatient referral was to a mental health center that put him on a wait list. He is also a survivor of CSA (child sexual abuse) as I am; and I work in the field on a national level, training people have to prevent CSA and support survivors. I also work out of a counseling center, so I represent the very kind of support he has rejected all his life. Anyhow – just wanted to say thanks for your website and attention to those of us who are walking on eggshells and trying to figure out how to keep someone we love alive.
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