Having long suspected sociopathic tendencies within myself, and realizing that the pot calling the kettle black is sometimes the only way towards true enlightenment, join me below, as I look in the mirror and offer a
confession, suspicious rant, public service announcement on the nature of the sociopath, followed by a link to two fantastic articles (by Texas writer Glenna Whittle) from the Dallas Observer about a particularly noteworthy specimen (left) named Sandra Bridewell.
The FIRST defining trait of an upwardly mobile sociopath? Truly evil people don't see themselves as evil, they see everyone else around them as evil. The fact that a sociopath's identifying characteristics and sinister ways may be obvious to others is a moot point. Sociopaths may not know the difference between right and wrong, but the smart ones learn to fake it. They say the best way to pass a lie detector test is to believe the lie as if it were the truth. A sociopath does this like other people breath or turn food into poo... it's natural. All sociopaths live in a fantasy world of ego-centric superheroism, even while forging a road paved with skulls straight out of Hell. This fail-safe method of denial/confidence allows them to seamlessly smother obstacles in their path (obstacles that normal people might take pause with) without hesitation. Hieronymous Bosch's painting "Hell" looks like a sun-laden, green hill-ed Teletubbie landscape to a sociopath - it's their unique perspective. In reality, a sociopath may be a Richard Ramirez-type who goes around sneaking into people's houses at night and torturing them to death... but inside their minds its like they are a sobbing Richard Simmons... helping fat people to regain their dignity. Their ultimate grinning death mask of denial turns their hammer of sick doom into an selfless act of pure kindness ...with a well-deserved bonus "prize" for them in the end. Which leads to...
The SECOND trait of sociopaths? They expect a payoff due to their innate sense of entitlement. They aren't slugs. They have goals. Wanting to help is a means to an end and Karma is as automatic as a vending machine to them. They have a black and white interpretation of the concept "give and take." Whether their goal is a series of carefully staged serial murders that form the shape of a pentagram when looked at on a map, or becoming the top editor of a high fashion magazine, sociopaths dream big, and they aren't afraid to "gift," "give," "help" or "lick major ass" in the beginning stages of any scheme. Acts of selflessness that have high visibility are the first stages in any sociopath's ladder to the apocalypse. Being a good samaritan is a good thing indeed, but to a sociopath it's nothing more than a foot in the door. And if payoff isn't eventually received for these acts down the line, and to their liking, a sociopath's true colors will emerge (which they always keep hidden). Which leads to...
The THIRD trait of a sociopath? Social graces! Social graces are nothing more than the learned ability to conceal. For a sociopathic "go-getter," the primitive predatory instinct to stalk, hunt and kill translates into the ability to imitate, infiltrate and annihilate within the civilized social circles that hold things they want. They maneuver in the shadows and scurry with glee up the evolutionary chain. Some are better at it than others (see Sandra Bridewell linked below). But, much like toupees or well-concealed colostomy bags, it's only the ones that don't fool you that you ever notice, and that end up falsely representing the sum of the whole. Having the ability to shape-shift into innocence even in the most hellish of circumstances of their own design allows sociopaths to be judge, jury and secret executioner to the inanimate objects that are the people in their lives.
The FOURTH trait of the sociopath? Life is a stage! Sociopaths are born extroverts, but they avoid the spotlight during "working" hours. Acting is a craft! The old saying "never let them see you sweat" becomes "never let them see you stab." Their goals are a secret yearning for the waves of love that only silent, inner applause can provide - and they are willing to Eve-Harrington-their-way to that imagined standing ovation, while trampling over everyone else's "secret garden." Are you a born "ham?" Thy name is sociopath!
So, SUMMING UP SO FAR: reward for actions in a sociopath's life is a given, guilt is something to project on other people to manipulate them with, revenge by them is nothing more than "helping Karma along," and skulls are crush-able thank you. Of course, this unique concept of right and wrong, and an insatiable need to succeed - can make for some pretty slapstick situations in the average sociopath's life. Which leads to...
The FIFTH identifying mark of a sociopath? A predisposition towards "hair-brained schemes." Again, some are more so than others, but sociopaths are, by nature, idiot savants. They just can't help it. The extreme fast-track is always the obvious choice for a sociopath. Why work your way up the corporate ladder when you can just secretly poison the boss and assume his identity? Why wouldn't that work? Because of their lifestyle choices, everyday hassles get compounded into hilarious horror shows. True sociopaths share as much in common with Genghis Khan as they do with Don Knotts. "Murphy's Law" takes on some pretty strange permutations for them. They feel unfairly oppressed by others and even hassled when accomplishing things... things like oh, say... shooting to death the overly-inquisitive sister of someone they are conning, and propping the corpse upright in the driver's seat of a car in a remote parking lot at the airport to make it look like a suicide. The whole time they are positioning the gun against their victim's chest at just the right angle, and furiously wiping away their fingerprints with Windex, it's all "Dammit... god... geeze! Why is everyone doing this to me?!" ...and then they realize they locked their keys in the car. Trying to maintain dignity in an impossibly undignified situation is one of the keys to comedy, but then again people are funniest when they don't realize they are being funny.
Such is the lurid/compelling tale of Sandra Bridewell. Sandra is a 60-something, ironically lucky, maladroitly crafty, predatory, bipolar, Multiple Personality Syndrome-ish, pseudo-New Age Christian murderer/con-artist/black widow nut job who has left a trail of complex, messy chaos, bizarro clutter and jaw-dropping dysfunction (and a suspicious body or two) in her strange, sad wake. Her run has spanned several decades due to her ability to repeatedly sluice out of the grasp of law enforcement at every last desperate hour. Like a sit-com character from an evil dimension, Sandra seems to always fall just one forged check, one phony plea, and one secret corpse short of becoming queen of the world.
"I'm no longer a slave to sin. I'm fully delivered from the power of sin over my life. Meditation in God's Word will form explosives, it rearranges things. $$$ is looking for me NOW--$10 billion looking for me NOW. Meditate on 'money cometh.' My seed goeth while I'm expecting 'money to cometh.'" "Bring my Boaz to me now!" "AM A MONEY MAGNET - I ATTRACT MILLIONAIRE/BILLIONAIRE MENTORS - I ATTRACT MY DREAM TEAM - I AM A BILLIONAIRE IN CHRIST JESUS - I AM A GIVER, A GENEROUS CHEERFUL GIVER - I ATTRACT MULTIPLE SOURCES OF INCOME!" reads hand-scrawled notes from a notebook found amongst Sandra's desperate, bedraggled belongings - abandoned in the dead of night when the fake trust documents used to finagle her way into multi-million dollar estate were exposed (again!), and the poisoned corpse of an ex-friend was pointing it's boney, post-mortem finger once more in her direction. Sandra Bridewell, despite being still on the loose (and perhaps because of it), seems to be able to turn the world on with her smile, take a "nothing" day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.
Texas writer/investigator Glenna Whitle recently wrote two superb, in-depth, pieces for The Dallas Observer spinning the yarn of Sandra Bridewell's plight to the top. Jaw-dropping, coffee-spilling, edge of your seat reading - highly recommended. Like watching an episode of "I Love Lucy" with Myra Hindley in the lead role: