It seems like everyone has a problem friend. No matter where you live or what you do, there always seem to be that one person that just upsets the rest of the balance in the group. We try a variety of measures to cope with this person. In my circle of friends, we even tried the kill her with kindness tactic. We started to refer to this difficult person as our "pro bono" friend. Our line of logic was that if we spent enough time with her, and she saw how we interacted with each other and with our children, maybe some of our better parenting traits would rub off on her. Not that we are perfect, but as a collective group, I must say we've got a pretty good handle on this job we call being a mom.
But, alas our pro bono problem only grew more tiresome. I managed to remove myself from this person last year when after repeated attempts at just taking me for granted, I created a boundary that she hasn't even come close to crossing. As Thing Two tells it "she's afraid of you Mom!".
Recently, some new friends have joined us in our neighborhood group of moms. When retelling of the escapades of our resident toxic female, the newbie said "oh man, you SO HAVE TO READ this book". It is called The Sociopath next door by Martha Stout.
I wasn't making any promises. After all, I've already admitted my issues with reading non fiction. But, I found the topic to be fascinating and was thus able to get over the fact that it is a nonfictional work. The author does a good job of weaving interesting case studies into her presentation so you are being enlightened/educated while also being entertained (if it is proper to admit to being entertained by the tales of misery involving others?)
For starters: did you realize that 4% of the population has no conscience? And that absence of conscience is the basic element of a sociopath? Not every sociopath goes on to commit the horrific acts we often think of when we hear this term. In fact, most identified criminals are not sociopaths but instead have normal personalities whose behavior is the product of negative social factors such as drugs and abuse.
Well, without boring you to tears, I will say the jury is still out on whether our resident toxic friend is a sociopath. I'm not a psychiatrist, nor do I pretend to play one on the internet. But I would say that enough of the traits described in this book apply to her and add insight into the frequent tales of woe that star her and her family. So, at least for now, I will have to say, yes, there seems to be a sociopath next door (thankfully, not technically next door but close enough).