Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Negotiating with a Sociopath: The Submission Principle

“Death doesn’t come until the end of my guests’ visits here, after I’ve grown weary of them. It’s always so fascinating to see their disappointment.” “Disappointment?” “Exactly. Disappointment. They imagine that if they please me, they’ll live. They adapt to my rules. They start to trust me and develop a certain camaraderie with me, hoping to the very end that this camaraderie means something. The disappointment comes when it finally dawns on them that they’ve been well and truly screwed....”

 “You see. You’ve already started to adapt to the submission principle. I hold your life in my hands….You pleaded with me to improve your quality of life, and you did so by using reason and a little good manners. And you were rewarded.”1(p.449-450)
I took a semester off from college to care for my newborn daughter; Peter continued classes. One girl from Peter’s honeymoon confessions was in an evening class. I was dealing with hormones, exhaustion, isolation and my newly deformed post-pregnancy body at just 20. Peter decided to share his struggles with fantasizing about her and with that coerced me into having sex less than two weeks from a vaginal birth to an 8 pound baby. It was very painful and was likely the real reason I ended up back in the hospital. I lived to please him. I adapted without consideration of myself whatsoever.

My only outlet was church activities, where his father was pastor. If I started to connect, even at church, I was discouraged from that activity. Discouraged with silence and withholding. What is important to note is you can never please a sociopath, though I tried with all my might. The faux camaraderie is only evident with complete submission to their needs. I shudder thinking about his expectations and what I gave up for so long. Even a flinch of an attachment or connection outside of him was met with a dark empty coldness difficult to describe. I started to have nightmares and struggled with distinguishing between reality and dreams. My mind was not able to handle the constant strain of contradiction.  Peter suggested I see a therapist, recommended by his father. It was actually his father’s therapist and he thought she would be the best person to handle my mental illness; the whole family had become involved in “helping me.” I had become the “identified patient.” I had been selected to keep attention focused away from the real problem. I later learned this was a deep seeded family secret centered on sexual deviance and misogyny.
Larson, S. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. New York:  Random House; 2008.