What is the Sociopathic (Psychopathic) Continuum?
As we look at The Sociopathic Style™ from the perspective of wanting to educate the victims as well as minimizing the style in all relationships, we need to understand the levels of commitment to the Sociopathic Style.™ The greater the narcissism in the personality, the greater the commitment to the style.
As the personality style progresses from the top to the bottom of the continuum, (Phallic Narcissistic to Sociopathic) there is an increase in narcissism and a decrease in the body and feeling. One has to see two aspects of “Ego” here. There is the “Ego” that is developed from the reality of self that is based in the head and the “Ego” that is based in the reality of the body. Developmentally, as the growing child is responded to from “real” interactions with the body of the child to the body of the caretakers, the child develops a “Body Ego”. As the child is responded to from the idea of the child on the part of the caretakers, the “Ego” of the child develops as an idea of self.
As the idea of the caretakers denies the reality of the body of the child, the child has to deny the reality of their own body. This is necessary to resolve the cognitive dissonance of the self-perception. Without the resolution of the cognitive dissonance the child would “go crazy”.
This is most easily seen in the case of the sexually abused child. The reality of the child as it is developing is that it is not prepared for a sexual relationship until it has reached the biological stage of adulthood. Although the child is experiencing genital sensations from the age of three years on, it is not prepared for adult sexual activity until the completion of puberty. When an adult relates to the child genitally, the child is misperceived by the adult as a fully developed sexual partner. This is impossible for the child. Therefore, an ego of the head, a Narcissistic Ego, must be developed in order to cope with the cognitive dissonance. If the child did not deny the reality of the feelings in the body the child would go crazy.
This is seen less clearly but just as poignantly when the parent wants a boy rather than a girl and is disappointed and cannot accept the girl. To draw an analogy from the movie, “Carrousel” and the song “My Boy Bill”, Billy says: “What if is he is a girl?” If Billy doesn't’t resolve his expectations with reality, his girl will have major life problems and will have to develop an “Ego of the Head” and deny the “Ego of the Body”.
Most people have experienced a degree of being forced to deny the reality of their bodies when they have been told as children not to be angry or not to cry. Or “Don’t be afraid, there is nothing to be afraid of, only sissies are afraid.” Some people have experienced the necessity to live out the life the parents have wanted for them and not the life they are designed to live out for themselves. The degree to which the parent’s idea for the child is dissonant from the reality of the child is the degree to which the narcissistic ego will develop. Thus, we have the continuum.