I am copying a post I made on Facebook to archive it here for others who may find it.
Yesterday an obvious narcissist came to this page and started ranting that she was a professional and no one had the right to diagnose sociopathy, that shared articles were not real or helpful, etc…. She also told me that therapists have tricks built into mental health assessments so that psychopaths can’t fool them.
Yeah right! I checked her credentials and found her “degree” was from a diploma mill and she hadn’t even spelled it correctly. She definitely hadn’t met a sociopath in real life!
Here’s my take:
No, we cannot officially diagnose people without a license. We know that. I can’t diagnose strep throat either, but I definitely know when my child has it. There is a reason we go looking for explanations for someone’s behavior. When we are living real life with a sick person, it becomes incredibly obvious that they are not like other people. When they fit the criteria for anti-social personality disorder perfectly, we are right to trust our instincts. We know who is pretty normal, who is kind of weird, and who is significantly unlike anything we’ve ever seen. And, we learn lessons. If we see repeats of those bad behaviors, we know that we should be careful.
Yes, articles and real-life stories matter. Even if we don’t use technical terms, there are professional research studies that are shared in articles so that we can benefit. The warning signs are not secrets that only a therapist can know. There are real stories shared by real people who can tell us what red flags they experienced. There is a clear pattern in the behavior of predatory people. It’s distinct from a healthy person’s behavior. Education from a valid university is great, but as most of us know, our real experiences tell us more about living with sociopathy than an inexperienced therapist can learn from a book. Even a full psychologist cannot grasp the reality of dealing with a sociopath from just studying. When one of these emotional terrorists comes stampeding through your life, you KNOW.
For people dealing with sociopaths, it is commonly known that psychological evaluations can be easily fooled. The narcopath I deal with was diagnosed multiple times and kicked out of the air force for it, but later fooled a different psychologist. He had learned to mimic what words and behavior were expected, and he put on his show. An attorney had warned me that it was extremely common for an evaluator to fall for the charm and the act and miss the pathology the same way other people do. Some people are astute, and others are not.
The point of all this is, while professionals can sometimes be helpful, and many of them are well-versed in recognizing sociopathy, many others are not. You know what you’ve been through better than a third party knows. And if an arrogant therapist swears that they will always recognize a sociopath and won’t be fooled, they simply do not know what they are talking about. Trained professionals are often fooled. Unfortunately, some trained professionals are also disordered. It’s not unusual for an unwell person to enter the field for the purposes of trying to fix their own problems or worse, specifically to hold power over others. I had an acquaintance who was divorced from a local psychiatrist and described him as a narcissistic abuser who treated her poorly. Her family stated he treated them poorly as well. They knew better.
Regardless of what anyone says, not one single person can truly know how the sociopath behaves in private except for the target who is with them in private. It is good to trust your instincts. You might need a professional for a formal diagnosis, but you don’t need one to know when you are dealing with a very sick person. Don’t let someone tell you your experience wasn’t real or that you aren’t competent to recognize how bad it was!