Lies. Manipulation. Absolutely no empathy. That is all I remember growing up with a parent who is a sociopath. Although my parent has never been medically diagnosed, I see all of the symptoms. I’ve had numerous people tell me that this explains their behavior. Although my parent may not go around killing people, other actions make up for the lack of extreme violent behavior. According to this article from Healthguidance.org, some common qualities of a sociopath are, “lack of empathy, cold nature, shallow emotions, narcissism, charming, manipulative, secretive, sensitive to criticism, authoritarian, impulsive behavior, and compulsive lying." Unfortunately, I have seen every single one of these traits in my parent over the past few years. Some are more prominent than others, but they all definitely exist.
For as long as I can remember, my parent has always lied to me. Some lies were about big, important things while others were so minuscule, I didn’t understand the reasoning behind the lie. Lying for no essential reason eventually added up, and my parent felt the need to continue lying. Now, it’s hard to decipher the truth. Along with all of the lies, I have always been manipulated. I have seen it done to others involved in my parent’s life as well. The sociopath is the “master manipulator”. The person tries to make everyone around them think that they are always right and others are doing wrong. They will do anything they can to make themselves look good, presenting their narcissistic behavior. They have always tried to deceive me. In most cases, I am able to see around the lies, but sometimes it is difficult.
I think that the worst trait of having a parent as a sociopath is the lack of empathy. No matter what you do or how hard you try, your parent will never see things the way you see them. No matter what they do to you or how hard you try to explain your pain to them, they will not feel bad for you. In their own head, they see nothing wrong with their actions. This can be aggravating on the child, knowing that there is nothing they can do to make their parent feel remorse for their actions. The child ends up taking on all of the guilt and pain because the parent can’t feel anything wrong or feel sorry. In a child’s eyes, they think that their parent would do anything for them to make them feel better. With a sociopathic parent, this person finds it difficult because in their mind, everyone else is crazy.
My parent had a very authoritarian job, fueling their ego and self-important views. This job made life at home a little tougher because they brought those same traits back to our household. Although it was not present frequently, I picked up on little things that were caused by them having the power and control in their career. This job just added fuel to the fire that was already burning.
I remember one instance in particular where my parent was sensitive to criticism. This trait all leads back to their egotistical characteristic. My brother and I attended family therapy to talk about things that were bothering us from our parent’s divorce. When I finally brought up something to my therapist about my sociopathic parent, they began to cower. Although this was therapy and was meant to talk out issues, my parent did not want to be confronted. Our next appointment was made, but my parent never brought us because they did not want to face their wrongdoing. My parent’s fear of criticism made them run from helping their own kids.
It’s the little things that continuously add up, making it obvious that this illness is present. I try to blame my parent’s actions on their mental illness instead of themselves, but that is a really difficult thing to do. Dealing with a parent who is a sociopath really takes a toll on the child or children involved. They go throughout their entire life thinking that they were the problem, even though they can not do anything to control the situation. If you are the child of a sociopathic parent, I understand how tough it is. Just remember that it is not your fault and they are dealing with their own issues. Unfortunately, they are not able to show you love like a normal parent would. I know it can be frustrating, but keep hanging in there. You are stronger than you think.