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Has anyone else ever been bullied by a manipulative sociopath?

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In the 8th and 9th grade, I was manipulated and psychologically tortured by a sociopath, who enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a gay male, who liked to tell really really strange and disgusting sex jokes. He was fascinated with Freud and would always try to psychoanalyze everyone. He would hang out with the group of girls I wanted to be friends with, and would turn them against me, play cruel practical jokes on me, and spread false rumors about me. He sucked me in because I didn't have any friends and had a way of targeting me emotionally that made me want to keep being abused. Is it rational to go against what I really am (a naturally honest and sensitive person) to protect myself from people like this? The only reason this happened was because I was a vulnerable little girl and I had no knowledge of the world, but I will be honest, because of the fact that it went on for so long, and the details got absorbed subconsciously because of trauma, it has and will effect me for the rest of my life.

Has anyone ever experienced this, it is a common occurance? I've heard of "the sociopath next door" and things like that. Despite my disbelief of the chemical imbalance theory, I do believe there are people who are "lacking something" in their mind, but there is nothing you can do for them, you just have to stay away from them. You can't put something in that's not already there.

IMO, what Ayn Rand said about sociopathy being a gift is wrong. It is one of the only things that I disagree with her on. It is not good to be truly free of conscience, every such person who is will turn out degenerate. Sociopathy has nothing to do with being productive or rationally self interested, its about being disconnected from other people, and not having the pleasure of sharing human emotion. Although, I will add that I think there are a lot of people fasely thought of as sociopaths who simply don't conform, or are more interested in what they want for themselves than others. Sociopaths have no self worth, because they respect themselves indiscriminantly, they don't earn their pride, thus they don't even have pride really.

Edited by Dreamspirit
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Looking back on my experience of 8th grade, I’d say so. 13 year olds are nuts.

I know what you're talking about, but sociopathy is WAY different than hormonal teenage neuroticism and stupid self absorption. You might not fully realize it at first, but the person definitely will come across as strange, because they mimic your emotions.

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I am wondering, what gave you the impression that Rand ever suggested this? Are you perhaps misinterpreting a quote?

No, she didn't openly suggest it, but she seemed to have this sympathy and admiration for William Hickman which is a little strange IMO. She did, in a quote seem to suggest that some of the traits sociopaths have are a gift. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was something about not having an organ to process feeling for others. But she did very clearly draw the line about where it becomes degeneracy, so I'm not saying she really believed that it's good to be a psycho, I just don't think she actually understood what he really is. Her admiration of Hickman was emotional and not rational. We all make some intellectual mistakes, no matter how precise we are.

Edited by Dreamspirit
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No, she didn't openly suggest it, but she seemed to have this sympathy and admiration for William Hickman which is a little strange IMO. She did, in a quote seem to suggest that some of the traits sociopaths have are a gift. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was something about not having an organ to process feeling for others. But she did very clearly draw the line about where it becomes degeneracy, so I'm not saying she really believed that it's good to be a psycho, I just don't think she actually understood what he really is. Her admiration of Hickman was emotional and not rational. We all make some intellectual mistakes, no matter how precise we are.

Given that the context in which she was writing was a private journal and was talking about her personal feelings rather than about formal philosophy, it's not really appropriate to call what she wrote about Hickman a "mistake." In any case, since sociopathy is characterized by a habitual disregard for the rights of others, and since rights are central to Rand's philosophic thought, it's clear that she would never have deemed such psychological illness "a gift."

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Zoid’s two arguments are fallacious. (1) One can make a mistake in private just as one can make a mistake in public. (2) The argument: “AR was an Objectivist, an Objectivist thinks X, therefore AR thinks X” neglects the fact that AR was only in her 20s. Give the lady a break. She wasn’t born fully formed and armored like Minerva out of the head of Zeus.

I think Dreamspirit’s post #5 is correct.

It should be noted that AR sort of retracted these Hickman journal entries at the end, telling herself to calm down – I forget the exact phrase she used.

Edited by Mark2
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He was fascinated with Freud and would always try to psychoanalyze everyone. He would hang out with the group of girls I wanted to be friends with, and would turn them against me, play cruel practical jokes on me, and spread false rumors about me.
There are some people who seem to be almost "recreationally manipulative". Your description of this person brings back memories (from my high-school days) of a guy who was part of the larger gang I hung out with and who seemed to get some value from weakness of others. With him, it was not just about jokes and false rumors, but also (alternately) acting as a confidante and confessor for such people. There was a sense in which he would "help" them, often giving them ideas on how to deal with others (e.g. someone they were having a problem with or someone they were trying to 'woo".) I'm curious if the person you knew exhibited this other (more paternalistic) side at times.
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(1) One can make a mistake in private just as one can make a mistake in public. (2) The argument: “AR was an Objectivist, an Objectivist thinks X, therefore AR thinks X” neglects the fact that AR was only in her 20s. Give the lady a break. She wasn’t born fully formed and armored like Minerva out of the head of Zeus.

Sure, Mark: and though this is off-topic, you supply some perspective that I think goes to the heart of the Objectivist movement.

The right to make mistakes.

It is apparent there have been errors of judgment and rationalizations from everybody in Objectivism.

These have nearly always been corrected, later - due to the integrity and intellectual honesty of those Objectivists - but the greatest error is in us for not allowing for human fallibility.

The thinking is: Objectivism is the most superior philosophy for my life; X is a leading Objectivist; therefore, X cannot make an error, since that would impact on my life - compromising my 'perfectibility', perhaps?

Ayn Rand, and all leading Objectivist academics were breaking fresh trails - it was for them, and is for us,now, an exciting time, intellectually - with the risk of pitfalls that comes with the territory. So they over-reached occasionally. So what?

Give them all a break.

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No, she didn't openly suggest it, but she seemed to have this sympathy and admiration for William Hickman which is a little strange IMO. She did, in a quote seem to suggest that some of the traits sociopaths have are a gift. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was something about not having an organ to process feeling for others. But she did very clearly draw the line about where it becomes degeneracy, so I'm not saying she really believed that it's good to be a psycho, I just don't think she actually understood what he really is. Her admiration of Hickman was emotional and not rational. We all make some intellectual mistakes, no matter how precise we are.

To the best of my knowledge, every single claim you made about Ayn Rand's position on Hickman and psychopaths in this thread is dead wrong. And I'm pretty confident in my knowledge, especially of her views on Hickman (I read the only essay in which she talks about him).

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Sounds like the typical adolescent pack leader. These sort of children have an aptitude for the status power plays of a traditional school setting and invariably become bullies because manipulation and hostility are intertwined. Their over-reliance on manipulation, while rewarding in the short-term, induces a nagging sense of powerlessness that they seek to drown out by expanding their web of thralls and antagonizing the socially vulnerable. The hostility is all-encompassing and manifests differently depending on who is around; "friends" are utilized as cannon fodder who willingly accept the role lest lose their mid-level status but the pack leader will casually abandon or betray them when they exhaust their usefulness. Basically, the pack leader's view of the universe can be described as a big fish eating a smaller fish while about to be eaten by a bigger fish with an incomprehensible reality looming over all as the supreme predator.

I recommend reading Rand's essays "The Comprachicos" and "The Age of Envy" for further insight.

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Sure, Mark ...

Don’t know what whYNOT is talking about. Nothing I wrote should be construed to mean what he’s arguing against.

... And I'm pretty confident in my knowledge, especially of her views on Hickman (I read the only essay in which she talks about him).

Tanaka is mistaken not only about Dreamspirit’s post, but about Ayn Rand ever writing about Hickman in an essay. It was in her very early private journals where she wrote about him, blown way out of proportion by her detractors.

Defending Ayn Rand by saying she was perfect, never made a mistake, only helps them.

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Don’t know what whYNOT is talking about. Nothing I wrote should be construed to mean what he’s arguing against.

(sigh)

It's alright, Mark: I am sure your disclaimer wasn't necessary.

Nobody is going to mistake one individual poster for another, or conflate your statement with mine, or misconstrue anything.

Sorry to the OP for this deviation off-topic.

B)

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There are some people who seem to be almost "recreationally manipulative". Your description of this person brings back memories (from my high-school days) of a guy who was part of the larger gang I hung out with and who seemed to get some value from weakness of others. With him, it was not just about jokes and false rumors, but also (alternately) acting as a confidante and confessor for such people. There was a sense in which he would "help" them, often giving them ideas on how to deal with others (e.g. someone they were having a problem with or someone they were trying to 'woo".) I'm curious if the person you knew exhibited this other (more paternalistic) side at times.

Interestingly I knew one such guy in my primary school days! I was and still am very reserved and quiet which for some reason is regarded as being "depressed" or "sad". This guy was quite loud, obnoxious and liked to push people around. But for some reason he felt the need to act nice towards me which I frankly found annoying since I knew what kind of a person he was. Other people were asking me why I'm "always alone" then and I explained just explained to them- somewhat amused that it really doesn't bother me. But in this case I just ignored him because I couldn't stand his hypocrisy.

Seems I went on a bit of a tangent there! But I'm not about to delete half of what I wrote... so here it is :P

Edited by d'Anconia
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I never knew someone as extreme as the OP. However, it reminded me of behavior that is typical in Christian church youth programs.

"Cassie" is invited to Youth Group. She likes it because everyone is so friendly to her. A part of the Group is group confessionals, where a kid gets up and tells everyone, usually through tears, about some awful part of his or her young life. This is in between whispered "praise songs" and other such emotion-inducing techniques. Confessed are things like, "I haven't been close to God enough," or (ironically), "I'm hanging with the wrong gossipy crowd and allowing myself to be a part of it." Eventually, Cassie gets up the nerve to take her turn one week. Then, for weeks afterwards, her new Christian "friends" gossip about her confession and anything else they can speculate based upon it, as they have done with every person's confession. Eventually, Cassie joins in the gossip, which seems to be the only real outcome of these confessionals. Nobody helps the confessor, only much prayer is offered and pledged, and then the confessor winds up a gossip herself.

Ignorant of psychology myself, maybe this stems from something different than sociopathy.

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There are some people who seem to be almost "recreationally manipulative". Your description of this person brings back memories (from my high-school days) of a guy who was part of the larger gang I hung out with and who seemed to get some value from weakness of others. With him, it was not just about jokes and false rumors, but also (alternately) acting as a confidante and confessor for such people. There was a sense in which he would "help" them, often giving them ideas on how to deal with others (e.g. someone they were having a problem with or someone they were trying to 'woo".) I'm curious if the person you knew exhibited this other (more paternalistic) side at times.

Yes, he acted like a big brother lecturing his hopeless little sister at times, except when I would give off emotions that were false and he would break down mentally. One time in the beginning he said to me, "You've really changed (name), before this you were really sheltered and ignorant." This was mostly about my dislike for gay people. Of course now I see the difference between a bad homosexual and one that just wants to live their life, but back then all I was seeing were the bad ones. Everyone would praise him for his psychology skills and tell him he could be a psychologist so yes, it does seem to be a very similar situation as to what you're talking about. He liked wooing or psychologising me a lot more than the other girls. When I started giving off false emotions he started retaliating though.

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I never knew someone as extreme as the OP. However, it reminded me of behavior that is typical in Christian church youth programs.

"Cassie" is invited to Youth Group. She likes it because everyone is so friendly to her. A part of the Group is group confessionals, where a kid gets up and tells everyone, usually through tears, about some awful part of his or her young life. This is in between whispered "praise songs" and other such emotion-inducing techniques. Confessed are things like, "I haven't been close to God enough," or (ironically), "I'm hanging with the wrong gossipy crowd and allowing myself to be a part of it." Eventually, Cassie gets up the nerve to take her turn one week. Then, for weeks afterwards, her new Christian "friends" gossip about her confession and anything else they can speculate based upon it, as they have done with every person's confession. Eventually, Cassie joins in the gossip, which seems to be the only real outcome of these confessionals. Nobody helps the confessor, only much prayer is offered and pledged, and then the confessor winds up a gossip herself.

Ignorant of psychology myself, maybe this stems from something different than sociopathy.

I know what you're talking about, and I suppose it's similar in a way, but this is very different, because it's a single person at the root of the problem. Young girls like to be manipulative and gossipy, but not in the same way as a true sociopath.

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Yes, he acted like a big brother lecturing his hopeless little sister at times, ...
Ah! Then Mister A's post seems spot on. Such people are one species of adolescent pack-leader (there are other types). This type gains a temporary sense of "I'm Okay, She's Not okay" because they see the other person as leaning on them and being manipulated by them.

This type of behavior seems to reinforce their world view of people as weak beings, who are easy to manipulate. In that sense, it is similar to JASKN's example, except that there (in the Christian group) all members of the group are supposed to show themselves as being equally weak and vulnerable... i.e. "we're all NOT OKAY". I suppose that's what original sin is.

If you've read Fountainhead, perhaps you recognize the archetype in the fictional Ellsworth Toohey.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Yes, he acted like a big brother lecturing his hopeless little sister at times, except when I would give off emotions that were false and he would break down mentally. One time in the beginning he said to me, "You've really changed (name), before this you were really sheltered and ignorant." This was mostly about my dislike for gay people. Of course now I see the difference between a bad homosexual and one that just wants to live their life, but back then all I was seeing were the bad ones. Everyone would praise him for his psychology skills and tell him he could be a psychologist so yes, it does seem to be a very similar situation as to what you're talking about. He liked wooing or psychologising me a lot more than the other girls. When I started giving off false emotions he started retaliating though.

I'm curious, what do you mean by giving off "emotions that were false"? You say that he acted like a big brother, excepting when you gave off false emotions (?), and then he would break down mentally.

I'm curious as well as to what you mean by that, by his breaking down mentally in response to your false emotions.

This is all about an interesting dynamic and I'm just trying to get a better understanding. More details (nothing personal) would be helpful, if you don't mind.

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I'm curious, what do you mean by giving off "emotions that were false"? You say that he acted like a big brother, excepting when you gave off false emotions (?), and then he would break down mentally.

I'm curious as well as to what you mean by that, by his breaking down mentally in response to your false emotions.

This is all about an interesting dynamic and I'm just trying to get a better understanding. More details (nothing personal) would be helpful, if you don't mind.

Well, I sort of integrated that if I did opposite psych (acting intimidated when I was confident) it would upset him very much because his response didn't get the reaction he wanted. Then he would go from being the all knowing big brother psychologist to the victim or the justified bully. One time when they did this phone prank, he was on the line but I didn't know. The girls asked me if I liked him, and I said no and just started shouting out he's gay he's gay he's gay eeew in a dramatasized way. Then he started crying and shouting at me out of no where, playing the victim, unable to insult me.

Edited by Dreamspirit
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Zoid’s two arguments are fallacious. (1) One can make a mistake in private just as one can make a mistake in public.

I'm well aware of this, but we don't hold somebody to what they write in a private journal in the same way we do for published works. Also, I said that she was discussing her personal feelings rather than reasoning about the concepts involved, so the term "mistake" is not really applicable.

(2) The argument: “AR was an Objectivist, an Objectivist thinks X, therefore AR thinks X” neglects the fact that AR was only in her 20s. Give the lady a break. She wasn’t born fully formed and armored like Minerva out of the head of Zeus.

I said nothing about what "an Objectivist" thinks; I merely pointed out that the view that sociopathy is a gift is utterly inconsistent with Rand's written philosophy. Nowhere did I imply that Rand didn't undergo intellectual development throughout her life.

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I'm well aware of this, but we don't hold somebody to what they write in a private journal in the same way we do for published works. Also, I said that she was discussing her personal feelings rather than reasoning about the concepts involved, so the term "mistake" is not really applicable.

I said nothing about what "an Objectivist" thinks; I merely pointed out that the view that sociopathy is a gift is utterly inconsistent with Rand's written philosophy. Nowhere did I imply that Rand didn't undergo intellectual development throughout her life.

I'm not holding her for what she wrote, but it is a little upsetting to hear that the person you admire greatly once viewed something you think is monstrous with positive emotions. I was explaining why objectivism is inconsistent with that view in order to denounce to unthinking people that Rand thought it was positive to have no feeling for others. I guess the only "mistake" is people thinking that the objectivist philosophy is influenced by these emotionally based opinions she had in her journal.

Edited by Dreamspirit
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I'm not holding her for what she wrote, but it is a little upsetting to hear that the person you admire greatly once viewed something you think is monstrous with positive emotions. I was explaining why objectivism is inconsistent with that view in order to denounce to unthinking people that Rand thought it was positive to have no feeling for others. I guess the only "mistake" is people thinking that the objectivist philosophy is influenced by these emotionally based opinions she had in her journal.
The type of person you describe (manipulative, but extremely dependent on the reactions of others) seems very different from what I've always a "sociopath" to be.

I understand what you say about being upset by what you read in Rand's journals. Sometimes one observes something extremely negative when it is viewed in full context, and yet one might spot a sliver that can be inspiring if one rips it completely out of context and imagines just that sliver being applied in a positive context. It is almost impossible to describe what one sees to other people, without also communicating the larger -- overwhelmingly negative -- context. For instance, one can observe a very serious ascetic hermit starving himself to death with apparent unconcern for his life. He is so wrong in every important way, and yet one might see a spark of intensity and serious commitment to an idea. One might even find that spark admirable if one can drop (i.e., abstract away) the real-life context. A bard might even be inspired to take that sliver and wrap it in a completely different -- and perhaps very positive -- context.

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Regarding Zoid’s last post ...

1. AR made a mistake in her evaluation of Hickman. She made a mistake in her evaluation of many, perhaps most, of the journalists condemning him (e.g. Edgar Rice Burroughs). Two private mistakes.

2. Reread Zoid’s earlier statement:

“ ... since sociopathy is characterized by a habitual disregard for the rights of others, and since rights are central to Rand’s philosophic thought, it’s clear that she would never have deemed such psychological illness ‘a gift.’”

It’s a fallacious, rationalistic argument. What she said in the 1920s is what she said. She could have made a mistake despite whatever is central to her current -- or later -- philosophic thought.

In fact, just from reading the journal, no rationalistic or otherwise argument is necessary: she did not say psychological illness is a gift. However she did admire Hickman for seeming to have been born without the ability to care what others think. She makes it clear that she’s purposely taking this out of context. On the other hand she condemns the journalists for not taking this out of context. She doesn’t put it that way, but that’s what it amounts to.

My theory is that she projected her experience of Russians onto the hapless journalists. I think this accounts for her last entry, evidently written after she had cooled down, where she says to herself, in so many words, take it easy AR.

Dreamspirit:

“... it is a little upsetting to hear that the person you admire greatly once viewed something you think is monstrous with positive emotions.”

Indeed. How to explain it?

AR was good at separating one aspect of something from another aspect, focusing on just one. In the case of Hickman she blundered, privately (and very early in her career), but better examples come to mind. She praised the Marxists, not for their ideology, but for their method of spreading it. She once praised Chomsky – I’m not making this up – for his reasoned denunciation of Skinner. She opposed U.S. entry into WW II, not because she loved the Nazis but because she loved America. Later when asked to write a screenplay praising Oppenheimer et al for their work on the Manhattan Project, she was willing to do it in order that the Project not be praised as a triumph of government science. She focused solely on the fact that it got done. (Fortunately that movie never made it past preliminary planning. Later she used Oppenheimer -- perhaps along with Millikan, who was much in the news at the time promoting government science -- as part of the basis for the character Stadler.)

A detractor could misrepresent all this: she was a Marxist, she loved Chomsky, she hated the America Firsters, she thought government science was great, etc.

Edited by Mark2
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