prison, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist

Not Everyone Behind Bars is a Sociopath. Not Even Close!

prisonI shared the following volunteer story with Leah Oviedo on her new blog, Up To You Project, dedicated to encouraging community involvement on a local and global scale.

As I wrote it, I thought about what I have learned in recent months about sociopaths and other pathological liars and delusional individuals who get away with the most base crimes across the nation, but rarely, if ever, are prosecuted.

I’m talking about the child molesters, child abusers, rapists, spouse abusers and con artists who I believe are behind the creation and “nurturing” of the majority of petty thieves, drug dealers and addicts that end up in our system.

Here’s a not-so-startling statistic:

“A reported 85 to 90 percent of women who are either currently incarcerated or under the control of the justice system in the United States have a history of domestic and sexual abuse. Risk factors contributing to women’s criminal behavior include substance abuse, mental illness, and spousal abuse.” (Center for American Progress – The Top 5 Facts About Women in Our Justice System)

Most of the people I encountered during my volunteer experience described below simply needed someone to give them hope that there was still good in this world. They needed a little push, a little motivation and incentive to change.

Those who were clearly criminal and evil by nature, I gladly watched return to their cells. There is no changing a sociopathic mind.

My Volunteer Story and What I Learned

In 2004 when I was a graduate student attending Regis University in Denver, CO, I joined AmeriCorps, the domestic-based equivalent of the Peace Corps. The organization I chose was Community Educational Outreach (CEO), a non-profit that outreaches to the at-risk and in-need community members providing free GED, ABE, Life Skills and other valuable classes and training. I took on the volunteer assignment with only one expectation: to help someone pass the GED. I had no idea that I would be gifted with much, much more.

The CEO outreach partner where I chose to begin volunteering was located in a community corrections facility which housed male and female offenders out on probation/parole transitioning back into the community. The program was created due to over-crowding and a need to get these folks out of the “encaged” mindset and into one of independent thinking and doing. Although the facility was run by security guards and other correctional professionals, when the offenders walked into the CEO classrooms, they became students. They were no longer referred to as inmates.

Most of the young people (those under 30) were clearly high-strung and not very trusting of me. Most couldn’t understand why I would wish to help them for nothing. Even after explaining to them that I just wanted to help them, they couldn’t “get it.” I then started answering them with, “Well, if you continue to fail, all of society continues to fail. I want to be a part of a successful community and helping you is a step toward belonging to a healthier community.”

This approach seemed to work. I guess in their thinking, there had to be something in it for me because, more than likely, they were acted upon their entire lives by people who wanted something from them, otherwise they had no value.

There was something in it for me but that “something” was difficult to describe to my students:

  • I helped men who had never had a proper job in their lives fill out applications and compose their first resumes.
  • I got to see a woman who had lost most of her teeth to meth addiction, smile proudly for the first time in many years after we found her a dentist who was willing to give her new teeth pro bono.
  • I saw the simple joy in the eyes of many after passing the GED on their first or second attempt.
  • I got to see that there is hope and that rehabilitation and cognitive therapy and learning programs can help some of the forgotten and thrown away in our society.
  • I also became very aware that many can’t be helped. Many need the correction system because they can never change their mindset.

But I was thankful that I could be a part of a program and project that helped those who desperately wanted to be helped. Regardless of a person’s past or upbringing, they are human and deserve our empathy and trust, at least until they prove, one way or another, that they don’t deserve it.

Why not share your volunteer story with Leah?

Note: Although I began this experience as a volunteer, within weeks of helping I was offered a part-time job but continued working unpaid on Sundays.

Namaste!
~ Paula

 (image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/351912440683909/)

lessons of past, PTSD, recovery, psychopath, sociopath, awareness, dating a sociopath, divorcing a narcissist, Paula Carrasquillo, Paula Renee Carrasquillo, Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

We’re to Blame for the Misuse of the Terms “Sociopath” and “Psychopath”

lessons of pastYesterday’s HuffPost Live broadcast, originally titled Learning to Love the Sociopath but later retitled Sociopaths: They’re not all Evil, awakened something in me.

And I’m a bit pissed it took so long.

Admittedly, for the past year or more, I have been living in a very sociopath-centric place. Everything I write, read and share has been in hopes of bringing awareness and education to myself and everyone else who has or thinks they have been in a toxic relationship with a sociopath/psychopath. To understand “what struck us” has been a priority. The other priority has been to heal and recover from the side effects of eating the shit sandwich we were served.

As a direct result of being consumed with trying to figure this out and going out of my way to connect with others who are desperate to find peace, too, I have taken for granted that not everyone understands or even knows how to define “sociopath” or “psychopath” or “pathology,” for that matter. Not even the so-called experts.

Yesterday’s show revealed to me that society misuses, not overuses, the terms, and we’re partially to blame.

When the show’s host asked the docs on the show to define “sociopath” and “psychopath” to clarify any misunderstandings the audience may have, they failed to deliver and instead, danced around the issue.

Why?

I’d rather not speculate (or at least reveal my speculations) here, on my blog, because real people were involved yesterday on the show. I don’t want to insult anyone.

Oh, hell. Screw that! I was insulted! Here is my speculation:

No one on that panel (besides me) has ever been on the receiving end of another’s pathology. The true receiving end. Sitting behind a desk listening to a “maybe” sociopath/client discuss their behavior does not make one an expert in pathology. Counseling a psychopath/sociopath (like M.E. Thomas believes she is and James Fallon purports he is) gives a person only HALF of the reality associated with pathology.

The other half missing in their analysis and expert opinions is us, the victims and survivors of these fools.

How can these people, the experts, intelligently talk or share an understanding of something they have never fully experienced themselves!? At best, they are speculating and playing an intellectual game, something pathology education and awareness has no time for.

I wanted to jump in and interrupt them several times. Instead, I sat back and smiled, because I am familiar with people giving me the hairy-eyeball stare when I reveal that I dated a sociopath. So chiming in and interrupting these “scholars” probably would have resulted in a nation of hairy-eyeball stares and nasty comments. Who needs that shit?

Instead, I sat back patiently thinking to myself, “THIS is why society calls every politician, lawyer or national leader a sociopath: not even the so-called experts are willing to admit that there is a human anomaly that exists in this world that even they can’t explain. Instead of trying to explain it using brain scans and with testimony from the lying and manipulative disordered, why not try to explain it from the point-of-view of the people most negatively affected by sociopathic behaviortheir victims?

I also wanted to say that the only people walking around over-using and misusing the words “sociopath” and “psychopath” are people who have NEVER been impacted directly by true sociopaths or psychopaths. REAL victims struggle to define their tormenters/abusers with such terminology. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it took me a couple years before I was willing to say that the boy in my story was sick. It took another year+ to be willing to admit to myself that he was, in fact, a goddamn sociopath!

Until I was willing to admit to and accept that, I was walking around thinking I was the cause of all the problems because the sick bastard told me I was. (Remember how they do that?)

So if we want to blame anyone for the misuse and overuse of the language of pathology, let’s blame ourselves. I had an opportunity to at least get the conversation moving in that direction yesterday, but I failed. If they had just given me more time or if I had just been more willing to behave like an asshole and interrupt the verbal chaos.

Lesson learned! Maybe next time. 🙂

~Namaste!

Link to the show: Learning to Love the Sociopath?

(On a related note: I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all three of the other participants. It was a great experience, and I’m glad I accepted the invitation from the show’s producers)

redflagforest600_775 Ilustrations by Laura Lee

Why We See the Red Flags of the Narcissistic Sociopath as Green Lights to Nurture…at first.

redflagforest600_775 Ilustrations by Laura Lee(This post was inspired by Dr. Malkin’s latest article on Huffington Post: 5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist)

The 5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist/Sociopath

  • Projected Feelings of Insecurity
  • Emotion-phobia
  • A Fragmented Family Story
  • Idol Worship
  • A High Need for Control

I appreciate Dr. Malkin’s thoroughness and insight in providing his list, but I wonder what he means by early? How many of the five behaviors did you miss as red flags of your narcissistic sociopath partner? How early did you start realizing that these behaviors were indicative of evil and pathology?

I can check, double check, triple check (you get the idea) each of them as behaviors I observed early in the relationship, but at the time, I glossed over them as being nothing more than signs that the sociopath lived a sad and pathetic life before me.

Why did I gloss over them in such a way like so many others who came before and after me?

Well, unfortunately, because the love-bombing phase/idolization phase coincided with my first peak at these behaviors, I did not recognize them as warnings. I simply viewed these “signs” as nothing more than simple flaws in the sociopath’s makeup. These flawed behaviors made me pity the sociopath and empathize with his position and misfortune. My interpretation of the behaviors as flaws allowed the sociopath to be humanized in my eyes, exactly what he intended.

(No wonder we didn’t jump ship when we first experienced them! We’re a bunch of suckers who wanted to help the losers escape their past and live a better life. Pfft! We know better now, huh?)

It wasn’t until about 8 months to a year into the toxic relationship (when the sociopath began his devaluing, blame and shame phase) that I looked back and shook my head at myself for being so blind. The five signs finally became the warnings that propelled me into sadness and depression but later lifted me out of the darkness and back to my sanity.

You see, even if we had this list in front of us when the relationship began, none of us would have been able to see them as warnings. None of us would have given up on the sociopath and abandoned the relationship so quickly. It’s not our nature to dismiss people due to a few flaws.

We still would have tried to understand why the sociopath was so negative and harsh and rage full and controlling. We still would have sacrificed our own souls to fix his.

Looking back at how we interpreted and reacted to these behaviors of the sociopath will help us finally understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with us. It’s the nature of good people to nurture and help others.

On the other side of the toxic and pathological relationship, we now realize that some people don’t deserve our help, especially those who demand and insist we give up our lives to feed theirs.

Below are my reflections on how I interpreted these early behaviors, not as red flags to run fast in the opposite direction, but as green lights to help nurture the sociopath and infuse his life with love and light.

1) Projected Feelings of Insecurity

The sociopath in my story never attended college, not even a community college course. Nada. Nothing. He blames his mother for his lack of formal education. Somehow it was her fault that he never motivated his own lazy brain to find a passion and interest and learn about it.

To me, education means many things. I know and admire many autodidacts who are some of the brightest people I have ever met. But I have also worked alongside those with PhDs who are just as impressive. Having a diploma or certificate to hang and display does not equal intelligence, in my opinion.

However, I love school. Always have. Meeting people and sharing ideas in a classroom or on a message board has a certain appeal for me. Just before beginning the relationship with the sociopath, I earned a master’s degree in communication and adult education. I am very proud of myself, but I am not one to go around announcing my credentials (unlike I just did) so I never thought to mention my degrees to the sociopath when the relationship first began.

He didn’t learn that I had a master’s degree until a few months into the relationship. He overheard me talking to someone at a backyard BBQ about my experience writing my thesis.

The sociopath’s eyeballs nearly flew out of their sockets! He immediately interjected himself into our conversation. It seemed he was impressed, but then he made certain to tell us that he believed formal education was over-rated and that his real-world experiences were just as valuable.

Hmmm? I thought to myself, “Of course, our real-world experiences are very valuable. I have many of those, too. Is he that insecure that he needs to point this out to me?”

I didn’t know how to respond, other than, “Yes, I know many people who don’t have a college education who are probably some of the smartest people I know.”

(FYI – I do not and never have included the sociopath among those brilliant, non-degree holding folks I highly revere.)

Maybe he recognized that he had an empty skill set even with his real-world experiences and just wanted to dismiss my accomplishments in an under-handed way to make me feel insecure, too.

Oh, well. It didn’t work. I know I’ve got skills. Real-world skills and academicly-honed skills. I love my skills, and I love my student loan payments about as much as I love school! Hehe!

2) Emotion-phobia

The sociopath got very nervous around me if I cried, like he was uncomfortable and had never seen a woman cry before. I cried because I missed my son. I always missed my son. The sociopath didn’t understand why I missed my son.

He would say things like, “It’s only two days without him. Can’t you just be happy being here with me? Don’t you love me?”

(See how it always goes back to them? Because I loved and missed my son, I somehow didn’t love or respect him. I didn’t provide him with enough narcissistic supply, I guess.)

So, I tried talking to him about love and mothers. Unfortunately, he had a shitty mother as a model, but she was his model. I respected the model. But I did not agree with the model.

The only emotion he did show, however, was his rage and a few tears over the thought of losing his Shih-Tzu. He didn’t fear losing his dog because he’s an animal lover or humanitarian. Oh, no! He feared losing that dog because that dog was the one and only living thing he could control and use to control others. He couldn’t bear being stripped of his most valuable tool.

(And if he ever has children, they will serve him just as the Shih-Tzu has served him.)

3) A Fragmented Family Story

I have a colorful and memorable childhood. It definitely wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but I loved my childhood.

The sociopath claimed to love his childhood, too.

Based on the fragments of a life the sociopath shared with me, I tried piecing together the sociopath’s childhood in the early pages of my book. The history he shared with me was not seamless, not even close. Nothing he explained ever added up using any logic I could understand.

(Maybe because he was never told the truth about why they moved around so much? Could be.)

But, in the words of the sociopath, his childhood was one of privilege and freedom.

Nope! I didn’t believe it! Why? Because I did’t see it. There were no pictures documenting this “fairytale” life he claimed to have lived – Oh, those pictures are in our other house, he’d claim. And there were no shared family stories about this once idyllic life. Not once did he and his brother or parents share a story from childhood. (You know.. the ones where everyone who remembers starts laughing and feeling nostalgic.) None!

And if his childhood had been happy with his family, his adulthood would have been indicative of that happiness, too. It wasn’t. He never hugged his parents or brother and never told them he loved them. They didn’t bother telling him he was loved, either. So sad. Not evolved as he liked to claim. Just sad.

I always pitied him. I felt his family was filled with dysfunction because a family is only as dysfunctional as the secrets they keep. And his family has many, many hidden secrets.

The brief and vague glimpses the sociopath shared with me were all a pack of lies told by a sad and injured boy who desperately wished to have lived a happy childhood. I refused to give him mine or my son’s.

4) Idol Worship

It’s one thing to admire another person. It’s a whole different thing to idolize someone, especially people you have never met before. Again, another source of pity for the sociopath that blinded me to his innate evil.

Not only did he worship me in the beginning and then tear me down once he realized I wasn’t the perfect image he had conjured, he idolized dead rockstars, too.

(And because they’re dead, they can’t tell you the truth behind their masks, either. Read my book for more on that part of his sickness. It’s a doozy of a story! Hehe!)

5) A High Need for Control

When I see someone who desperately wants to control every part of their life from the way laundry is to be done to the way a person should love them, I am saddened for that person. How sad to feel so insecure and out-of-control that you demand respect and order from others for no other reason than the fact you want to be a raving dictator.

I don’t think this one needs any explanation. Control is the middle name of all sociopaths!

In closing, I just want to repeat: these behaviors made us feel sorry for these fools. These behaviors tricked us into giving a shit about a person who doesn’t deserve our love, respect and care.

If I felt that these warning signs could liberate and open the eyes of his current girlfriend, I’d send them to her today. But they won’t. Because, like the rest of us, she must live the shit in order to believe in the shit. And the shit is evil. She’ll see it soon enough.

Namaste! ~ Paula

(image source: Pinterest via cuded.com.)

Don't be Fooled Again - Paula Carrasquillo - Paula's Pontifications

No One is Immune to Falling Victim to a Narcissistic Sociopath…the first time.

Don't be Fooled Again - Paula Carrasquillo - Paula's PontificationsHow many times has someone said or inferred, “What were you thinking getting involved with that fool. You’re smarter than that?”

I find this comment about as insulting as asking a cancer patient what they did to get cancer.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how many degrees or certifications you earn or how old you are. There are no absolute parameters to protect anyone from being a potential victim.

If you have a conscience and are capable of empathy, you are a potential victim.

Sociopaths don’t announce themselves.

They don’t say, Hey, I’m going to make you think I am smart, intelligent and caring. Once I have you convinced we were born to be together, I’m going to start tearing you down. Why? Because I’m a piece of trash, and I’d like you to feel as worthless as I feel. Misery loves company after all. Your mind is going to become so confused. You will experience cognitive dissonance comparable to that of military combatants. You are going to love me and struggle with hating me. You are going to start thinking you deserve everything I put you through. Everyone is going to tell you to leave me, but you are going to stay because I’ll make you pity me. I’ve lived such a rough life. No one sticks around for long. I need love, too. Unfortunately, everyone leaves and abandons me in the end, because I have no idea what love is. I know how to hate and break down good people with ease. However, I have no interest in making them feel good about themselves (unless, of course, telling them gets me something like money, sex, power or advantage).

Would any of us give a person like this a second glance? No. Why? Because we aren’t stupid. We are smart and intelligent and filled with life experiences. We’ve been hurt in the past by relationships and are on the lookout to not get hurt again.

But even due diligence isn’t enough when dealing with a sociopath. They come to us very needy. That’s how they hook us.

They are depressed or stuck or in need of a person or group of people to lift them up. Good people fall for this victim role every. single. time. Don’t be ashamed that you fell for it. Be ashamed if you didn’t.

Having known and experienced a sociopath makes you and me and her and him stronger. We aren’t weak or foolish. We have experienced and survived the darkest side of humanity. Now we know it exists. Now we know anything is possible, including the existence of people without a conscience.

We may not recognize the sociopath at first in the future. But we will be less likely to allow sociopathic characters to infiltrate our lives the same way we allowed it in the past.

Knowledge really is power when it comes to protecting ourselves against pathology.

What’s that Who song? Won’t Get Fooled Again. Yeah. That’s my mantra.

Good morning! Namaste!

~Paula

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