Question of the Day

Is it possible to be both a Christian and a sociopath?  Or are they mutually exclusive?

Part of me balks against the notion of categorising people who simply do not (or cannot) conform to social standards – the rules we all live by so we don’t devolve into a nihilist anarchist Hobbesian nightmare – as ill or disordered.  And then to seek to treat or cure them.  Who is to say what is ‘normal’?  If a person is happy and they don’t do any harm to others, who cares?

The problem is that sociopaths take being a bastard to an olympic gold standard, leaving a trail of ruined lives and relationships as their legacy before they move on find other destruction to serve as their amusement.  They see others as having the handicap of a conscience.  Themselves uncoupled from arcane notions of right and wrong (try it, if you’re not a sociopath it’s really hard to imagine), they believe they are superior because they can dance rings around the rest of us poor schlubs who are all caught up in worrying about what is right or wrong, and what harm might be caused in our actions.

From what I’ve read it seems there is no treatment for sociopathy and that these people are reasonably significant in number.

Given the personality traits involved, I’m thinking it’s possible for a sociopath to be a fake Christian but not a real one.  To talk the talk from flapping lips connected only to a heart of stone.  Perhaps they find a ready supply of victims in the world of the church and use them like cannon fodder.

The more I ponder, the more I wonder if organised religion (for I am certainly sure it’s not just Christianity) is the unwitting bedfellow of sociopathy.  A laboratory of vulnerability and searching, of willingness to take things on faith, to respond in the absence of evidence to statements like trust me, and to walk blindly into the fire of pain and suffering all the while encouraged by the manipulative sociopath.  Just so the sociopath can see what would happen.  For their amusement.  To pass the time.

These are the questions that keep me awake at night.

Have you ever known or encountered a psychopath or a sociopath?  I’m not talking about loose use of the term: someone you suspected actually had a clinical disorder.  If so, how did you handle it?


9 Responses to “Question of the Day”

  1. 1 Jen June 27, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Good grief woman. I am sitting over here with caramel on my face, fingers, and computer (this is 100% true) and am contemplating writing a post on chocolate, while also trying to finish a post on fashion. I see in my reader that you’ve posted, so I click over and am confronted with DEEP THOUGHTS. I am so ashamed by my own shallowness that I might need to slink off in a moment.

    But, in a word, no. I don’t think it’s possible to be a true Christian and a sociopath.

  2. 2 Jenn @ Juggling Life June 28, 2011 at 12:41 am

    My sister’s personality disorder–Borderline Personality Disorder–is quasi-sociopathic. It’s really heartbreaking to be involved with someone like that.

    I do think religion is a great cover for all sorts of antisocial behavior.

  3. 3 hea38gatt June 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    After reading the book we talked about, I think sociopaths are represented in all walks of life. The Christian aspect is particular tough because isn’t the deal that if you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you are a Christian. I don’t think you have to be a good person to technically be a Christian.

    • 4 Nic @ Life, Smudged. June 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Jenn I cannot imagine how hard it must be. When it is family that just adds a whole new dimension of pain to it. I did read something about Borderline Personality Disorder and it sounds dreadful. Hugs.

      Since I’m not religious I don’t understand the many dimensions to people’s personal notions about their faith. I guess if it’s technically enough that you declare yourself to be one, fine. I can declare myself to be a cardboard box and accept sellotape as my saviour, but that doesn’t make it so (or does it?). So if you declare yourself to have Jesus as your lord and saviour in my mind you actually have to act in a manner which displays that, or be accused of falsehood in your assertion. Then you get into a whole realm of there not being any independent arbiter with the final word on the meaning of Jesus’s teachings. I guess a sociopath’s interpretation is as good as any, right? But since so much of christianity seems to rest on ideas of kindness, compassion, empathy, and trying to be a good person in terms of not harming other people, can a sociopath who is literally unable to do that (well, they can *act* it) really be a christian? Or do they simply self-identify and is that enough?
      My brain hurts.

  4. 5 Mrs. G. June 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    +I left the above comment. Not sure where the string of code came from.

  5. 6 Emile July 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    My husband and I were entangled with a sociopath in college. He was my husband’s roommate for three of our four years at college. It took us (and many of our friends) four years to actually determine what he was because he was so deceptive.

    In the end, we fully cut him out of our lives, as did all of the people we remain close with since that time. He has attempted contact several times because he heard about our wedding and my husband’s father’s death, but we maintained a silence that we felt was for our own good.

    In reference to your post, we have heard through the grapevine that he now claims to be a born-again christian.

  6. 7 trash July 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Aaaah … organised religion. The home to so much that is wrong with the world. And organised political grouping as well, viz Stalin and Communism. In fact any group that is deliberately constructed to operate a hierachical paradigm is a fine shelter for both the sociopath and the psychopath.

  7. 8 trash July 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    @Jonathon? Being forgotten about is the favourite growing medium of courgettes. It is like nectar to the vegetable souls.

    Nic, hints for potato growing? Do not let the resident small terrier decide when it is time to harvest. She knows bugger all about gardening and just likes to dig big holes. This makes her incredibly useful when it is time to turn over sod but no good at figuring out not to excavate teeny potatoes.

  8. 9 Amy May 3, 2014 at 2:49 am

    My ex-husband was (is) a textbook sociopath. We met in church – he was charming and active in ministries. Only later did I learn that he’d been involved in two break-ins, both of which resulted in the loss of expensive sound equipment. But that was the tip of the iceberg – money was always missing from the checking account, anything we owned if value would inevitably go missing (always explained by either a wild story or finger-pointing at an unsuspecting friend or family member). But I digress. My ex was not just a Christian – he was THE Christian. Spouting scripture like Jesus himself, offering biblical guidance to others in the church (while getting off on the feeling of superiority), organizing grand events – he was the baptist church poster child. But when we divorced, he turned on our church. He saw them as being on “my team,” and I was the enemy, because I saw through the facade and was therefore a threat to the image he had constructed. And so he moved on to another church, where he was just as active, and a better Christian than any they’d ever seen! Until it was discovered he’d begun an affair with a married woman in the church…. and again he moved on. To a new church, full of new people. Christian people. Because Christians are loving, accepting, forgiving people (easy prey). (No pun intended.) And he organizes grand events and leads ministries there, and round and round we go. I’ve barely scratched the surface…. this is the Cliff’s Notes version. I could appall you with endless horror stories. To answer your question – no, a sociopath lacks the necessary moral faculties to truly be a Christian. But you’ll still find them in the front pew on Sunday morning.

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