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O/T: What do you think the difference between an abusive person and a sociopathic person is?

BelleTolls's picture

It's a question I've been trying to answer for quite a while.

Many good friends of mine and I have endured abuse by the hands of men (and for this purpose I'm using the pronoun "he" and the word "men," but obviously this does not only apply to one gender) and have studied the attributes associated with sociopathy in the attempt to discern if we were dealing with a man who was raised in a manner so dysfunctional as to create an abuser versus dealing with a man who could potentially be clinically diagnosed as sociopathic (or, perhaps, narcissistic).

It can be "easy" to throw around terms such as "sociopathic" or "narcissistic" whilst describing someone who has been cruel to us, and I try hard to keep that in mind, but I do sincerely believe that true sociopaths and NPDs are around us, sometimes right under our noses, and under our roofs.

So I ask, what do you believe creates the distinction, if any? Wanton cruelty, verbal abuse, total neglect of time or respect of finances, physical abuse, no regret, remorse, or any seeming attempt to show empathy or understanding? Reckless behavior, lying? Is that "just" abusive behavior, or do you think that it could potentially reveal a darker reality?

I would appreciate your opinions and experiences. This is not for any research besides my own as an individual. If I have been unclear while posing the question, I apologize and will try to clarify.


BelleTolls's picture

Thank you for your reply and input.

I am VERY glad your ex changed his ways, but I'm sorry you had to endure his bad ways.

Maybe some people CAN "grow out of it." I wonder if that applies to people who (maybe, at one time) exhibited traits that might be associated with other disorders, like borderline?

BelleTolls's picture

Thank you for your reply! I do frequent and recommend that others (if applicable) should read it.

Several years ago I did research about the nature of abusive men (again, focusing on "men") and how hard it is for some women to leave them, not only because threats of further physical abuse (or death), but because some of the women are so trapped into the warped belief system the abuser has brainwashed them into having. I am able to understand the distinction you've made between learned behavior versus the inherent nature of sociopaths, but I still see a potential correlation between the brainwashing done by abusive men and by sociopathic men. I guess that is the aspect that blurs the line, at least, for me.

Thanks again and I also hope others will share their thoughts.

3LittleDragonflies's picture

My ex-adoptive-stepfather is a sociopath. He was also abusive. I can clearly tell you which behaviors were which.

Beat me so bad I couldn't go in public for 2 months when I was 12
Held my face to my mirror and called me a pig
Beat me regularly
Grounded me to my room for 9 months
Had me copy the book of Exodus by hand because I had a writing disorder.
Threatened to kill my mom if I told anyone he was abusing me

Befriended my family for years (He and my mother didn't get together until I was 8 but I have pictures of him and I from my 3rd birthday)
Was very charming and intelligent
Claimed to have a Ph.D from Oxford University
Claimed to have 2 million dollars he was having trouble transferring from his home country
Would say he'd watch me for my mom, then sleep the entire time, then claim to have fed me and played games with me the entire time.
Waited until he had legally adopted me (and thereby made it so my mother couldn't leave state with me without his permission) to begin abusing us.
Still sends me birthday and Christmas gifts...

BelleTolls's picture

Well, I hope he rots in hell.

Thank you for sharing, albeit I wish you hadn't had these experiences. Sad

Do you believe his abuse stemmed from his sociopathy?

3LittleDragonflies's picture

I do as well. Tell my mother (who still speaks to him daily) that on a regular basis. She says I need to forgive more. I tell her my lack of childhood is unforgivable.

It's okay though, because I learned exactly what I didn't want in a husband from him. My DH and I have a policy that we started the first night we met that we are always "Open and Honest". He understands that I need total honesty from him after my "father" lied to me for so many years and ruined my mother and I financially (My mother owned her own 9 bedroom home and several others that she was the landlady of before he came into the picture. After she and I fled we had to live in a 1 bedroom house. Quite the change in lifestyle)

I believe it was just one more level of control.

BelleTolls's picture

Sounds like your mother is the one who needs How anyone could choose an abuser over a child...I just don't know. Sad

Your experience highlights my question. How do we know if someone is one, the other, or both?

BelleTolls's picture

I agree; I would not either.

But for the sake of curiosity it's one of those things that interest me.

bulletproof's picture

I agree with what others have said, that sociopaths/narcissists have no conscience. I think abusers CAN have consciences, and I do think that they can change but not until they want to.

nothinforya's picture

The sociopath gets a thrill from the abuse or the lying or whatever way he exerts power over another.