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Extreme anxiety - unable to stop thinking - anxiety that i may be a sociopath.

I would really appreciate it if anyone took the time to read all of my post here despite it's length:

I'm in an entirely different place to what i once was. I feel like i've opened pandoras box and i'm stuck in a strange world with no concrete answers. I perhaps make this sound dramatic... and although I feel.. ok at the moment, the states of mind i find myself in at times during each day are nothing short of dramatic (at least to me).

Firstly, from what i've read on this site, it seems that readers/dr robert are maybe a bit fast in "agreeing" with inquisitive "sociopaths" that they must be sociopaths.

I'm a very anxious person and for the last 5 months i've had an on/off fear that i might be a sociopath/psychopath. I've convinced myself dozens of times that all is lost and i'm destined to never love. At the same time i've also convinced myself dozens of times that there is no way in hell i'm a sociopath.

I've asked a therapist about my worries, I've asked my parents, i've seen a GP, i've seen a pyschiatrist and i've posted questions on the internet at least 10 times (including once here, although it wasn't replied to). Everyone i've gotten help from has told me that i'm not a sociopath, besides my therapist who didn't offer an answer one way or the other but proclaimed that diagnosis doesn't mean anything.

However, i'm pretty good at convincing myself I have problems.. and I worry that perhaps Dr Robert or a reader would reply that I am a sociopath based upon my anxious description of myself. On the flipside, i really do question my mental state and would be grateful for some thoughtful replies from whoever. So with that in mind (and if you're still reading!):

I'm 20 and a male.

A common "proof" people seem use to determine if a person is sociopathic is if they feel guilt or if they hurt for others etc. So, although I doubt the validity of personal emotional understanding and description (I'm far too skeptical), here is a list of things that i consider might shift me into the "relatively normal conscience" catogery:

-I have no willfull desire to physically harm others.
-I'm not a very angry person, more passive.
-I have a lot of patience.
-I'm very self conscious and often insecure.
-I'm very self-aware and, i'd like to think, understanding of the world around me.
-I sometimes cry by myself, usually in nostalgia or a feeling of tragedy and/or beauty.
-I feel guilt in some situations, usually, i've found, when I imagine a person i've hurt as being weak, unexpecting, confused, childlike or of looking to me for comfort.
-Literature and film can make me cry.
-I've cried at the funeral of a family member.
-My childhood was very good. I was always told how much i was loved, how i would be loved no matter what i did and all that stuff. Although my parents split in my early teens, it wasn't too dramatic.

So, i assume you might have read that and be wondering what my worry is? Well i'll now write a list of things that make me worry i'm sociopathic or that worry me in general about my mental health:

-I recall, as a kid, planning a "torture bath" of a bowl of electrified water to put woodlice in.
-I would shoot spiders with a bb-gun.
-I once or twice held the cat near the flushing toilet to see it's reaction.
-I am desensitized to tragedy on the news.
-I'm very stoic and straight faced.
-Empathy doesn't come as easily as i assume it should, if indeed what i feel is empathy and not something else.
-I think a great deal. Thinking got me interested in philosophy. Philosophy got me interested in skepticism, existentialism, metaphysics, nihilism. I'm very thourough in my thinking/logic and this tended to lead to extreme doubt and views such as absurdity, subjectivity, moral relativism, logical egotism etc.

I hope/assume that my outlook on life changed because of my rational understandings rather than because of a lack of feeling or empathy etc.

As an example, a person who is given a gun and told to shoot at what they are told IS NOT a human but a realistic model for $100 would have no rational reason to not shoot. Regardless of whether the target is known to be a real person by other people, to the shooter, it is rational to shoot. This is the same logic that means people have no/less guilt about shooting the enemy in a warzone, as it is not the act which makes us feel guilty but the logic behind committing the act.

I have never harmed anyone badly let alone killed anyone, but that example is to explain why I HOPE it was my philosophical ponderings rather than sociopathy that made me a selfish person.

With moral relativism and rational egotism (something i now deem to be illogical) in mind i was a selfish person. During my late teen years i drank a lot and took a lot of drugs. Because i thought at the time that selfishness was "the" way to be i would tend to put myself before any of my friends. I would sometimes use them to pull girls and I tended to keep what MY aims that night were in my head at all times. A couple of times I recall telling my friend that "every act is inherently selfish anyway so i do what i want". On another ocassion with the same friend i recall telling him how he has to stop being the "nice guy" because it never got me anywhere and the "bad guy" always wins.

These kind of recollections worry me because they sound like something a sociopath might say or do.

I never used to get into fist fights or use anyone particularly badly but I was still very selfish in my actions.

I might add that without alcohol I am and was far less of a confident person. It is probably true to say that i drank to make socialising easier and dull my over-thinking mind to a point where I was too drunk/lazy to worry about my appearance.

Towards the end of my drinking and drug taking party lifestyle (which ended about a year ago) I became very down and felt isolated from my friends. I let ideas of solipsism (that i'd gained again from study) consume me and i'd feel very lost. I would become desperate to connect on a "real" level to random girls in clubs rather than the fake superficial type of connection that you tend to find. I really want/wanted to connect intellectually and shed all of the small talk and egoism that grows from insecurity.

During April last year I had what i'd call a "breakdown". I'd get extremely anxious about abstract philosophy, existential anxiety, subjectivity of consciousness and again solipsism. I'd go almost insane thinking at 100mph. I'd wake my mom up at 3am just to help me offload some thoughts and calm down. I started thinking about my past and began intense amounts of introspection.

Finally, after seeing a therapist I managed to calm my panic attacks to some degree. I felt/feel like I was far more aware of existing. I became interested somewhat in Buddhism and spirituality dispite my prior extreme skepticism and atheism. I guess, in some ways the spirituality is a leap of desperation (some call it faith) to build some foundations that i can begin to live upon. I feel that skepticism, or thought in general will take you to some dark places if you take it to it's conclusion. I feel that these existential ponderings are what has left me in such a state.

Although I manage to keep my panic attacks to a minimum now... i become obsessed with ideas for weeks at a time that make me very anxious and paralysed to the state where I do nothing but eat, sleep, use the internet and play guitar.

Sociopathy was my first "obsession" and lingers still, as is the point of this post. Another, recent worry that is very, very, very dibilitating is "lack of free will" or determinism. I feel a product of my surroundings.. and i feel like i have no control. Yet I exist and feel like i do... which is it?

On a more serious and less anxious note I have considered that i might have OCD or PURE O. I know that i suffer midly from ocd and i think i have intrusive thoughts.

Every time i manage to overcome the anxiety of one topic i fall prey to another. The sociopath worry is a particular issue because it makes me feel like even if i DO manage to function in society... i won't be able to love or connect, rendering life pointless. I'm very familiar now with feelings of derealization and i lose track of the days and my sleeping pattern is terrible and my dreams are very deep and confusing.

I've read (in my extensive googling) that psychopaths lack in "arousal"? And i've read that to have lots of arousal is to be very aware of your surroundings to a point of anxiety and fear? If so would that make me less of a psychopath as i certainly feel like i'm in the latter catogery?

In short, i am not a happy person at the moment.
I want to love, to be normal, to create art, to understand, to be aware enough to apreciate life before i run out of time but not so aware that i feel insane.


Re: Extreme anxiety - unable to stop thinking - anxiety that i may be a sociopath.

Hey Richard, what’s happenin’?

Let’s get to it. First of all, you are not a sociopath. If you are worried about being a sociopath because you fear losing out on loving and being loved, then you can feel confident about being a non-sociopath. Sociopaths, from what I have read and heard, don’t worry about such things. Nothing you have said “proves” to me that you are a sociopath. And even if you were, are you sure you would not be able to love or be loved? Are you so certain that you wouldn’t be able to experience happiness?

Second, relax man! Take a deep breath. Let it go. Take another deep breath. Let it go. Repeat. Meditation might do you a bit of good. It’ll slow down all those thoughts swirling in that fevered brain of yours. It might also loosen up the anxiety as well. Speaking of, what are you really afraid of?

Third, you do not have to believe everything you think. You should Google Byron Katie’s, The Work. You don’t have to buy any books or anything. Just get the questions and work through them on the thoughts that create confusion and angst and needless worry within you, like the one where you tell yourself you are a sociopath.

Fourth, look around you. Look at all the blessings you have, like internet access and guitars and food and a place to sleep. There are so many people out there who do not have access to these gifts and yet they still find a way to be happy. How is that? Well one thing I bet many of them do is focus on gratitude. They find things to be grateful for instead of fearful about. Give it a try. Use your ever churning brain to seek out the blessings, both great and small, in your life. Deliberately turn your focus onto all the things you like about yourself and the world around you. It will make a huge difference in your outlook.

Finally, all is well. You may not be able to believe that right now. But what would your life be like if you could believe it? Who would you be if you could believe that you were safe and that the universe was always on your side? How anxious about sociopathy and normality do you think you would be?

All is well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well!

Re: Extreme anxiety - unable to stop thinking - anxiety that i may be a sociopath.

No, you're not a sociopath. Atleast not based on your post. I'll just add that your thoughts and feelings are the exact things people like me (diagnosed with ASPD) laugh at in other people.

Re: Extreme anxiety - unable to stop thinking - anxiety that i may be a sociopath.

Laughing at other people, at the hands of your Mental Disorder? At least you saved her from anxiety :)

Re: Extreme anxiety - unable to stop thinking - anxiety that i may be a sociopath.

I don't even know if i believe at what I'm seeing. Have you searched around the internet for people like you. The stories are all too similar. I too feel and think similar to you. The age group is always around 19 to early 20's. They've smoked weed and drank. My story started after 15 when i told myself to remember to save this video game. I guess i thought too hard about it and then started thinking "what if i never get this thought out of my head". Lets just say i was never the same again. I became afraid whenever someone told me to remember to do something. i was depressed for about 3 years. forgot all about it and was doing alright. i mean i dropped out of school from anxiety. never got a job. smoked weed til where my new problem happened. I had a panic attack while smoking and thought it was a heart attack yada yada yada. you know the story. this happened this past January. I started looking up on the internet all day everyday on how to stop it and started finding out interesting things about the mind and how it works. I found this one technique to stop the panic attacks from It said to actually want the anxiety and you will break the cycle of fear. i started practicing it and i thought it worked. i thought. the next day i started to keep practicing it while out and about and then just out of nowhere i started thinking well if fear is a learned behavior and i can use this step to eliminate it, couldn't i do the same thing to become a murderer or something. that made me really worried. I started researching more into it and found out that all emotions are learned behaviors. This kinda took my spice out of life. The this weird thing happened last tuesday where i started obsessively doubting things and doubting doubts. That made me very anxious and i started freaking out bad. Then i dont even know how to explain it but like the anxiety came from the thought i guess not from doubt but i dont know what exactly it is i fear. anyway i was so nervous i wanted to end my life and then i kept thinking everything was fake. i was so nauseated from the anxiety. everytime i wanted to kill my self i thought "what if my mom came in and saw my corpse and how devastated she would be" then id counteract with "but its just a learned behavior to love me and feel devastated when you see this" that made me even more sick. i was so confused. i had to convince myself that i was fearing that doubt or contradictory feeling and see it as false. But i never look at things the same. i see myself not conversing with people because i analyze why they speak like that or why everything about is of them. I see myself going down the same path as you. i guess in a way i feel connected to you. like we are thinking the same. i can only assume that when you were writing this you felt as though you still had something that you couldnt explain on your mind that you wanted to write but just couldnt. i would really like to hear back from you. and the anxiety i think we feel is we think we can never go back to way we use to think and be. we miss it but we cant go back. Thats why theres so much anxiety is from the apprehension of how we will be able to pretend to be in society knowing the things we do.