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  • What Emotions Do Sociopaths Feel?

    It is my understanding that, in general, sociopaths/psychopaths have "shallow" emotions. So they can feel a fleeting form of pleasure. My ex, for example, did laugh out loud occasionally, usually when he was watching stand up comedy. It seems that they can find things humorous in a brief, shallow sort of way. I laughed more often than he did, though, that's for sure. But they are unable to feel pure joy, because they are unable to feel real emotional pain. You cannot appreciate joy unless you've felt pain. They can't find pleasure in the small things. They only get a thrill out of things like sex or food or duping and manipulating others. That's why they are empty, that's why they can't love others, and that's why they are so, so bored all the time and tend to deal with their boredom by becoming addicted to things like alcohol or drugs (along with pursuing sexual "relationships" with multiple targets at the same time).

    They do feel anger and envy in full force. But I don't think they feel much fear, and so I don't believe that they can truly be depressed, or anxious, or stressed. My ex faked anxiety and depression near the end of our relationship, and I know it was faked because the timing of all of it was just too convenient, and I later found out he began an intense relationship with a brand new, main target right when he started talking about the "anxiety" and "depression." That's not a coincidence. It means it was all a lie. Besides, during that time, he told me he's always been in control and that he can handle stress very well. He was always as cool as a cucumber, so I think he was telling the truth in that statement. But it comes from not feeling the full range of human emotions, which, at the time, I didn't even know was possible! And, he often forgot to lock my apartment door behind him when he came in during the evenings. Interesting anecdote, isn't it?

    So, the charm the psychopath is showing you, as you know, is all an act. They are good at imitation and impression management. They spend their entire lives watching people, mimicking and mirroring them, and then they use that knowledge to exploit others in order to get what they want. One thing is for sure...they do NOT feel bad about anything! They do not feel guilt or remorse, because they do not care. And they come back around and hoover targets back in because they want to use others and have power over them. Everything is a game, and they have to win. So the hoovering is about control. He views you as an object. You are a toy that he's not done with yet. It's apparently really fun for them to pick up a "toy," play with it, and throw it down, over and over and over again, until the toy is destroyed.


    This article was originally published in forum thread: What Emotions Do Sociopaths Feel? started by HealingJou... View original post

    90 Comments
    1. HealingJourney -
      Hi bentnotbroken. It is my understanding that, in general, sociopaths/psychopaths have "shallow" emotions. So they can feel a fleeting form of pleasure. My ex, for example, did laugh out loud occasionally, usually when he was watching stand up comedy. It seems that they can find things humorous in a brief, shallow sort of way. I laughed more often than he did, though, that's for sure. But they are unable to feel pure joy, because they are unable to feel real emotional pain. You cannot appreciate joy unless you've felt pain. They can't find pleasure in those small things you described. They only get a thrill out of things like sex or food or duping and manipulating others. That's why they are empty, that's why they can't love others, and that's why they are so, so bored all the time and tend to deal with their boredom by becoming addicted to things like alcohol or drugs (along with pursuing sexual "relationships" with multiple targets at the same time).

      They do feel anger and envy in full force. But I don't think they feel much fear, and so I don't believe that they can truly be depressed, or anxious, or stressed. My ex faked anxiety and depression near the end of our relationship, and I know it was faked because the timing of all of it was just too convenient, and I later found out he began an intense relationship with a brand new, main target right when he started talking about the "anxiety" and "depression." That's not a coincidence. It means it was all a lie. Besides, during that time, he told me he's always been in control and that he can handle stress very well. He was always as cool as a cucumber, so I think he was telling the truth in that statement. But it comes from not feeling the full range of human emotions, which, at the time, I didn't even know was possible! And, he often forgot to lock my apartment door behind him when he came in during the evenings. Interesting anecdote, isn't it?

      So, the charm the P is showing you, as you know, is all an act. They are good at imitation and impression management. They spend their entire lives watching people, mimicking and mirroring them, and then they use that knowledge to exploit others in order to get what they want. One thing is for sure...they do NOT feel bad about anything! They do not feel guilt or remorse, because they do not care. And they come back around and hoover targets back in because they want to use others and have power over them. Everything is a game, and they have to win. So the hoovering is about control. He views you as an object. You are a toy that he's not done with yet. It's apparently really fun for them to pick up a "toy," play with it, and throw it down, over and over and over again, until the toy is destroyed.

      It's really sick behavior, but it's apparently how they think. All that I wrote above is what I've read and tried to internalize on an intellectual level (not an emotional one, because it's so disgusting) so that I can understand what's happened to me personally!! And it's helped me a lot. Hope this explanation helps you too.
    1. bentnotbroken -
      Thank you HealingJourney. Funny you mentioned stand up comedy....my socio and I were watching a comedian once and I was laughing hysterically and he laughed occasionally......I was just looking back trying to trying to find SOMETHING that made him human. Thank you for the excellent explanation
    1. HealingJourney -
      You're very welcome, and I'm glad that I explained it well!!
    1. Wonderwoman -
      My ex-"friend" laughed at my jokes and loved to watch Comedy Central. The jokes he told were recycled over and over and weren't very funny, now that I think about it. He had no innate sense of humor, but mimicked others'.
    1. HealingJourney -
      Thank you very much, SS. Actually, when I joined PF, I had already come a long way--at least, it felt like I had!--from where I was back in December, when I was in such intense pain and confusion and was first learning about psychopathy. I read several books at the end of that month and did a lot of writing on my own throughout January, February, and March. And I also started EMDR therapy in late January. I found Lovefraud in late December and posted there throughout January, February, and March, although it wasn't really meeting my needs, because I was still so lonely and not making any meaningful connections with others on there. But I was scared to venture outside of Donna's website because I was used to it and I had been helped by others...a little. But THEN, Donna shut down her website for an entire weekend at the end of March, and I was kind of going through withdrawal, so I did some searching, and found PF (again...I had come across it before, but hadn't really paid close attention to it). This time, I really started reading some threads, and I felt a good vibe from everyone, and Peace's book had come out, so I bought it and started reading it and liked it, and I decided to join to get some help with the persistent CD...and here I am!!

      Anyway, my long-winded point is, I did some difficult recovery work before I found PF, so you're giving me too much credit, SS. I give PF A LOT of credit for accelerating my healing, absolutely. In terms of my understanding of psychopathy...a lot of that was already in place before I joined.
    1. adamgem -
      He does laugh all the time and is great fun but I noticed he laughs loudest at slap stick or comedy where somone gets hurt. Is is a bit weird. He does make jokes all he time tough. In fact for two years we spent every day making jokes and laughing. I really miss him and feel terrible. I can't seem to motivate myself out of my situation....
    1. Gigi -
      In my experience the psychopath appeared to be a perfectly normal person with kindness, generosity, and a keen sense of humour. He really presented as a true gentleman. All of the abuse was so subtle. Now after all I have read I know it was an act to manipulate me into his sick world. I am still in shock.
    1. Wonderwoman -
      Gigi, I was too. I think we all were at first. After 4 months, the shock is just now starting to wear off. You'll get there...
    1. Gigi -
      Thank you.
    1. MyOwnSaviour -
      Hi There,

      New to the forum but not the whole crappy-ness that is being in anyway involved with a P. I really don't think they feel on any level apart from the anger/fury/rage. In my stupidity when I first lived with the XP I bought him a book on how to cope with stress, strangely he never read it! He wasn't stressed just always fuming under the surface or raging just enough to let you know it was bubbling away, little did I know this was the precursor to what was going to transpire.

      They are complete cardboard cut outs - if you look beneath the surface or the cut out - it's just an empty vacuous nothingness, a void.
    1. Escaped -
      the psychopath appeared to be a perfectly normal person with kindness, generosity, and a keen sense of humour. He really presented as a true gentleman.
      Even after all this time, I still have difficulty accepting that someone who appeared so normal is a psychopath, but the signs and characteristic behaviour are unmistakable. Learning about Ps caused the puzzle pieces to snap into place. It's just hard to believe that such creatures exist at all, and that's what I need to convince myself about.
    1. Gigi -
      I agree. I have read enough to not deny, but it is so hard to accept. I just don't know what to do..
    1. mummy to my son -
      The thing that struck me the most was that laughing at something - especially together with a loved one - or sharing a sunset would turn into deeply felt memories for me but not for him and it always shocked me that P, even though he seemed to enjoy it in the same way I did, never seemed to miss any of those moments.

      And not only does P not miss any moments, he does not miss people or animals either! Incapable of it.
      And the truth, I still do - to this very day - I can be suddenly overwhelmed by a beautiful memory...

      I also remember that shortly after the separation I could not resist but ask him what he remembered as the most beautiful time we had had together... you see, for me the most precious memory is the first months with our baby (it was 'hard work' and I was sleep deprived but I really believed we would make it as a family and P's cold heart would melt and warm up ... especially because our baby was so totally okay and that is a gift that not all people experience).
      P was disgusted by my memory and the way I talked about it ... I regret ever mentioning it.

      Then it was his turn and P said "best time was when we almost bought that new kitchen - the one with the nice wooden doors." HUH

      After fourteen years, that was it ???
    1. Escaped -
      he does not miss people or animals either! Incapable of it.

      P was disgusted by my memory and the way I talked about it

      P said "best time was when we almost bought that new kitchen - the one with the nice wooden doors."
      They do seem able to feel/experience disgust. P described someone else's pet as disgusting. Despite their often quite high intelligence, in some ways their brains are considered underdeveloped and primitive. Disgust is one of the most primitive instincts of all, originally intended to protect us from sources of infection, etc. and therefore important for survival.

      They are known to view other human beings with contempt, and I expect they often if not always consider other people disgusting too.

      The comment about the kitchen seems to back up how focussed they are on purely material things.
    1. HealingJourney -
      Even after all this time, I still have difficulty accepting that someone who appeared so normal is a psychopath, but the signs and characteristic behaviour are unmistakable. Learning about Ps caused the puzzle pieces to snap into place. It's just hard to believe that such creatures exist at all, and that's what I need to convince myself about.
      Escaped, once again you put my thoughts and feelings into the perfect words! I have nothing to add, except to say, DITTO!
    1. Questionmark -
      Still trying to sort out what goes on in the mind of a sociopath. Can they appreciate the beauty of a sunset, the sound of a windchime, excitement of getting a new puppy? Do they laugh or find things genuinely funny? Can they miss anything....do they ruminate about things or feel badly for, well , not feeling bad about anything? Do they get anxious, stressed or depressed? Struggling to discard my socio. Hes turning on the charm since I cut things off a week and a half ago and Im going crazy thinking maybe he does still care.
      Discard no matter what, bentnotbroken, be strong!

      Then about my experience regarding your questions. Maybe this sets her a little apart from the rest of them, but she does have actual emotions, able to appreciate things and able to enjoy the finer things in life. She also has a conscience, and a great sense of humour. Nothing shallow about her. That's one of the things that attracted me to her in the first place. She is able to love and care, and this is one of the things that puzzle me the most. All the horror she inflicted on me, and yet, she has been generous and kind to me, caring and loving, we had lots of fun together and were able to enjoy things we both liked together. I haven't been able to figure this out yet, and I'm not mentioning the good stuff about her because I have a hard time letting go (I do feel hurt, but there's a necessity to get through this), or because I'm in denial or delusional. I see her as she is now, poison to my soul, and I will never get back again. It was like having a girlfriend and a horde of demons at the same time!
    1. HealingJourney -
      Questionmark, I am wondering, how do you know for sure that she has a conscience? What has she done that makes you think that? I am not trying to question your truth; I'm sincerely curious. For a while, I too thought that my ex must have a conscience, because he was so good at apologizing and pretending to be the "nice" guy. Besides, it was too painful to think that people exist who truly do not care. But, his behavior toward me, once I came out of the fog and accepted the reality of it, proves that he couldn't possibly give a sh** about me, and therefore about anyone else, considering he wasted so much of my time, and, presumably, his time. (I now know he didn't waste his time as all; playing games with me was how he filled up his time). I don't know your ex, of course, but I do know that Ps are very good at acting. I had lots of fun with my ex too. He was good at making others laugh. He did some seemingly kind things for me too. But they meant nothing; they were fake.

      Anyway, I can see that you are very kind in the way that you interact with others here on PF. And whatever the truth is about your ex, I'm glad that you're away from her. It sounds like she really hurt you, and that is unacceptable in any context!
    1. Questionmark -
      Questionmark, I am wondering, how do you know for sure that she has a conscience? What has she done that makes you think that? I am not trying to question your truth; I'm sincerely curious. For a while, I too thought that my ex must have a conscience, because he was so good at apologizing and pretending to be the "nice" guy. Besides, it was too painful to think that people exist who truly do not care. But, his behavior toward me, once I came out of the fog and accepted the reality of it, proves that he couldn't possibly give a sh** about me, and therefore about anyone else, considering he wasted so much of my time, and, presumably, his time. (I now know he didn't waste his time as all; playing games with me was how he filled up his time). I don't know your ex, of course, but I do know that Ps are very good at acting. I had lots of fun with my ex too. He was good at making others laugh. He did some seemingly kind things for me too. But they meant nothing; they were fake.

      Anyway, I can see that you are very kind in the way that you interact with others here on PF. And whatever the truth is about your ex, I'm glad that you're away from her. It sounds like she really hurt you, and that is unacceptable in any context!
      Well, HealingJourney, I am very much puzzled about the fact she is so two-sided as she is. She absolutely displays no sign of a conscience when she is in one of the many moods that always end up getting me hurt, but I've known this woman for years, and I've seen her react to things. She is able of actual concern about her doing things right or treating people well. I'm not talking just about me but also about people in general. She is also compassionate, is capable of grief, and basically any feeling that makes us human. Like I said before, I can't figure it out! She's two persons at the same time, and I need to reject both because I can't have one or the other. I sometimes think she might have some multiple personality disorder, because the differences are so immense, one completely berserk, the other perfectly acceptable. I've often wondered if this good side was just a façade or the actual real thing. I know I am good at judging behaviour, and both sides seem real to me.

      Thank you for the compliments and the confirmation, HealingJourney, I like you too!
    1. HealingJourney -
      Thanks for elaborating, Questionmark. After reading your post, I'm thinking that, perhaps, she has Borderline Personality Disorder?? As you may already know, it's another Cluster B disorder. Apparently more women than men are diagnosed with it. I think that the moodiness you describe is a central part of it, although I'm no expert. But it is so true, what you said...that you need to reject both sides of her. I am sorry that you've gone through that, but I'm glad you're here!
    1. Questionmark -
      Thanks for elaborating, Questionmark. After reading your post, I'm thinking that, perhaps, she has Borderline Personality Disorder?? As you may already know, it's another Cluster B disorder. Apparently more women than men are diagnosed with it. I think that the moodiness you describe is a central part of it, although I'm no expert. But it is so true, what you said...that you need to reject both sides of her. I am sorry that you've gone through that, but I'm glad you're here!
      I'm glad that you and I, and all the nice people out here are here too! Helps getting back our sanity, doesn't it, interacting in a civil way once again, instead of having to stand our ground through the storms all the time!

      I'm no expert, either, that's why I struggle with putting definitions on things, but at least I figured out the most important part: steering clear of continuing the obvious damage she will cause me if I remain or restore being in touch.
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