Are You A Sociopath? (1)

June 5, 2020

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“What’s the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?” You ask Mia, upon sitting down.

“Is this a joke?” she replies.

“I was wondering the whole ride up,” you say. “On a lark, I even tried asking Siri. She told me where the nearest bike path was.”

You take off your skullcap tossing it beside you on the couch. Rub your shaved head. This is what a psychopath looks like. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Shining.

“Well, first of all, we don’t use those terms anymore,” Mia says. “Not clinically. We prefer calling it antisocial personality disorder.” 

“Well, I definitely have that going on.” You smile. The topic actually has no bearing on your mood, which is upbeat.

“Basically,” Mia continues, “a psychopath does not have a conscience while a sociopath has a glimmer of one, albeit damaged.”

“So,” you wonder aloud, “a sociopath knows he’s doing something wrong but does it anyway. And the psychopath has no moral compass whatever?”

Mia nods. “Do you think you’re a sociopath?” she picks up her coffee mug, keeping her eyes on you while taking a sip.

“Compared to a psychopath!” You lean forward. “I know when I’m doing bad things but yet I do them anyway. The drinking. Infidelity. Driving by myself in the carpool lane.”

Mia laughs. The reaction you were looking for. You think this is how a patient flirts with his shrink. Playing cat and mouse around a dicey topic. But Mia’s too smart for that. She won’t abide such banter unless it’s leading somewhere relevant. She calls it deflecting.

“Addictions are different than psychosis,” she says. “The disease overrides morality. You know that. Besides, you have a moral compass and you’re working on fixing it. What you do here, in AA, a sociopath wouldn’t bother doing.”

“I suppose you’re right, Mia. But sometimes I wonder…”

To be continued…

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