Saint or Sociopath? (or something in the middle?)

This week I was thinking about my recent interactions with people, some nice, some not so nice. I thought, on the one hand, there’s thoughtful, sensitive people, and on the other, there’s pushy, self-centered people. These were the two terms or labels that came to mind. I’ve given it a bit of further thought and in my time I can’t recall anyone I’ve known who was both, that is, sensitive & thoughtful AND pushy & self-centered. They seem like two poles on a continuum. Maybe a rare individual could theoretically harbor stripes of both personalities but it seems unlikely. Thoughtfulness and pushiness are such opposites. One seems to cancel out the other and if someone was sensitive half the time, say, and self-centered the other half, well, I’d start to suspect they had a personality disorder and that’s not what I’m considering here. (I’m also not contemplating when someone has the occasional “off” day or when a person acts “out of character” once in awhile.)

I realized though, that my two distinctions aren’t really the two poles. the two poles are further apart. Here’s what I imagined instead:

IMG_20200715_180855_kindlephoto-29433234

 

I’m not religious, hence the quotes on “SAINT” but I think most of us have a shared idea of what a “saint” is, someone of exemplary character who lives their life to the highest standards, basically a person whose existence makes the rest of us look bad in our shabby, little lives.๐Ÿ˜ I have never personally met a “saint.” I do believe, as I have discussed on occasion in this blog, that sociopaths exist, and I do believe I met at least one in my life ( I expect that I probably encountered more but ran for the hills rather than stick around and confirm it). That said, I’ve met far more narcissists, a category I’d place somewhere in between “pushy, self-centered person” and “sociopath” on my simple line graph.

I don’t believe I’m exactly making earth-shattering discoveries here but rather that I’m not sure I’ve thought about people and personality types inย quite this way before. It’s a useful way to consider people to me. I need to consider, or perhaps remember, when I encounter pushy, self-centered people, where they are on my own little line graph. It’s not insignificant that they fall closer to sociopath than saint. I’d like it if ALL my dealings were with people on the LEFT side of my continuum but I realize that’s beyond my control. However, when I DO have a say in it, that’s the side I want to pick from.

 

10 thoughts on “Saint or Sociopath? (or something in the middle?)

  1. Pistachios

    Hmm… what if they were pushy with their thoughtfulness? Like an over-bearing parent, always making sure you eat well, keep warm, and get enough sleep – based on what they thought was right?

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    1. Colette Post author

      Oh, that’s a good one. After I wrote this post I was thinking how I hadn’t mentioned needy people and how, to me, neediness really is a form of pushy, self-centered behavior. My first instinct on considering your idea is that aggressive thoughtfulness is driven by need not altruism. A truly thoughtful person responds to feedback and can adjust their behavior. Whatya think?

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      1. Pistachios

        Yes, good point – an aggressively thoughtful person is probably trying to be controlling, but I think it could also be misguided kindness. But then, like you said, if they were truly thoughtful, theyโ€™d change if they realise their kindness is not welcome

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        Reply
    1. Colette Post author

      Oh I know, I have so little patience for narcissists, people that (secretly) make you want to shout, “HELLO!? I’M HERE TOO.”๐Ÿ˜

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      Reply
    1. Colette Post author

      Point taken but I see self-centeredness as different from a hard exterior presentation. I will say the way people present initially is not necessarily representative of the way they act on a day-to-day basis. Nerves & self-consciousness can make people act badly.

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