Written By Megan Jay
Although I personally don’t believe there are many people today who can state that they don’t have some small level of dysfunction in their family, most of us still have family members that are largely reasonable and sane. But when one of your family members is a sociopath, the term dysfunctional family takes on a whole new meaning. The sociopath is the proverbial “give them an inch and they take a mile” types — so don’t give them anything. If you try and reason with a sociopath, you’ve already lost. A sociopath’s ability to charm and manipulate people is one of the hallmarks of their disorder. The sociopath is an award winning liar, gaslighting is second nature, the threat of punishment doesn’t faze them, and they thrive on other’s constant praise. Because the sociopath does not possess true empathy (although they are adept at faking it), their ability to see consequences of their actions is limited to the furtherance of their own agendas.
Once you become aware of this family member’s true nature, you might feel as if you are alone in this recognition. However, even though this person might have more than half of the family fooled, you will quickly find that you are not completely alone when you start distancing yourself from them. When you are forced to interact with this person, remaining emotionally detached and documenting any interaction you have with them are key to keeping your own sanity. Some methods are to keep a journal or paper trail, having a witness with you when face to face interactions can’t be avoided, and save any email or social media interactions. This serves a twofold purpose; to provide back up and strengthen your case should you ever need to defend yourself, and also as a reminder or reassurance to yourself that you are not crazy or imagining everything once the sociopath inevitably starts to gaslight you.
Chaos and destruction are the psychic blood these vampires feed on. Don’t give it to them! Under no circumstances should you allow the sociopath to see you upset, angry or anything but a shining example of joy. No matter what negative emotion you show, it’s like giving crack to a crackhead — they’re going to do whatever they can to get just a little bit more. Your emotions are the fuel that keeps the manipulation going. If you think that the sociopath is going to keep on doing this, forever and ever, completely getting away with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sociopaths are highly disordered individuals. They can craft a veneer of functionality, but that’s all it is. Eventually the veneer will crack, then fall apart entirely. If you want vengeance against your sociopath — and I don’t blame you for wanting it — don’t worry. Ultimately, the sociopath is a fire that eventually consumes itself. Until then, you need to practice setting healthy boundaries and exercising detachment during direct interactions. Remember this….as badly as you want to “fix” or “heal” a situation that involves a sociopathic family member….you ultimately only have control over yourself. That has to be enough.
More on this: How To Disarm A Manipulative Sociopath