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sociopaths and children

Note: the correct term for sociopath is Antisocial Personality Disorder. A lot of people use the term sociopath, however, because of its easiness of use.

While this blog is primarily focused on narcissists, bullies and alcoholics with anger management issues, I thought this topic was important to cover if only because one finds that narcissists are often paired with another Cluster B personality disordered person in some way, at some time, either a borderline or sociopath.

You may want to read my posts on what abuse is and narcissists and children to get some background before proceeding with this post.

Generally narcissists tend to find themselves with borderlines because borderlines are more common than sociopaths.

Unenlightened borderlines sometimes find themselves as accomplices to narcissists, especially in the way of enabling or helping the narcissist, but they are also inconsistent, chaotic, emotional and can be tearfully regretful and guilt-ridden after they have done something wrong even if willing to go along with the narcissist's agenda initially. In other words, narcissists often find that Borderlines are too unreliable in terms of carrying out bullying agendas, and other wishes of the narcissist. Narcissistic bullying tends to be more ineffective with the borderline than with the sociopath, because borderlines self reflect. However, narcissists like drama, and they like to blame anyone and everyone other than themselves, and they like to be dominant, and the borderline usually provides that.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, have no regrets about bullying. The drawback to the sociopath for the narcissist is that the sociopath tends to go overboard, unconcerned with social acceptability, isolating the narcissist from formerly "counted on" narcissistic supply, social standing and social acceptability. Sociopaths will do just about anything to get the narcissist to believe no one is good enough or grateful enough, and while the narcissist is rejecting people for these reasons, the sociopath is dividing and conquering and has all of the power and control in the relationship. In fact, most narcissists eventually realize the sociopath has stripped them dry, and has isolated them in the end. Since narcissists do not put the welfare of their children first, the harsh "punishments" that sociopaths are known for are likely to go unchallenged by the narcissist. The only time that the narcissist might challenge is when their social standing is suffering. Regardless, the sociopath usually gets his way in terms of how victims are treated and are to be perceived. Most narcissists learn to live with the sociopath's agenda, despite how empty and devoid of narcissistic supply their world becomes, because they know how retaliatory the sociopath can be if they withdraw from them. One of the reasons the sociopath tends to go overboard is to show the narcissist not to mess with him.

I talk more at the end of the post about why the sociopath-narcissist "bully team" should be abandoned.

Not all sociopaths are violent or break the law, but they are more likely to do so than anyone else. Whether they break the law largely depends on whether they were brought up in a stable home, and had financial and emotional security in that home. Sociopaths who break the law account for roughly 45 percent of all sociopaths (this can include reckless endangerment of a child, child neglect, and other child abuse crimes).

Sociopaths who come from stable homes and excel in school are often described as "high functioning sociopaths", the ones less likely to commit crimes.

According to Tanya J. Peterson (from this article):

High-functioning sociopaths are extremely skilled at faking emotion. Depending on the party and attendees, he manipulates by expressing a range of human emotion: happiness, joy, excitement, incredulity, shock, disappointment, sadness, and grief. If he wants to, a sociopath can cry. These false feelings are purely superficial. Non-sociopaths feel things on an emotional level as well as on a physical level. No butterflies flutter in a sociopath's stomach. He never feels his heart race in anticipation or pound in fear.

The shallow and insincere expressions of feeling are mere tools used by a sociopath to entrap people.

... A sociopath is incapable of feelings such as empathy, regret, and remorse. She doesn't experience emotional pain herself; thus, she can't understand the expression of those feelings in others ...

... Brain scans and imaging such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests show that the sociopathic brain doesn't register emotional words and pictures the way a "normal" brain does ...

... Beyond primitive emotions like anger and rage, sociopaths don't have feelings. Remarkably, their social skills are so honed, so highly developed, that no one can tell ...

As for the last sentence, domestic violence counselors who have a lot of experience dealing with perpetrators can often tell if someone is a sociopath, as the types of self expression have similarities between one sociopath and another. The acting skills of the sociopath can even be more easily detected. Most counselors also understand that with sociopaths, it is always more important to look at what they do and don't do, than what they say to explain away their actions. 

The high-functioning sociopaths are slightly harder to detect, especially if the sociopath is at all trained in social graces, psychology jargon and matters of the law (but there are ways a skilled professional can still get to the bottom of what is going on). According to the same author, from a different article, the high functioning sociopath is:

... adept at morphing themselves into what people want to see ... They very quickly learn what makes people tick, and they know just how to engineer and oil the clock. This type of sociopath
* has superior intelligence, as demonstrated by observed behavior and IQ tests;
* possesses impeccable social skills and exudes charm;
* often comes from a strong family background;
* is driven—she knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it ...

In other words, the higher functioning sociopaths tend to be educated. Here are some other signs (according to Steve Bressert, Ph.D. of Psych Central):

Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal (e.g., feel that ordinary work is beneath them or lack a realistic concern about their current problems or their future) and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and verbally facile (e.g., using technical terms or jargon that might impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic) ...

Most articles on sociopaths describe a lack of remorse when hurting others as being the biggest sign of their disorder (in other words they try to explain it away). If they are not the perpetrator in an incident, a lack of appropriate response and empathy for people going through a tragedy, or in pain, is also a tell-tale sign. In speech they sound haughty, like know-it-alls. "They deserve what they had coming to them" is also a typical pronouncement of the sociopath, even when it comes to small children, pets and woodland animals. They are usually extremely opinionated as well, insisting that people adopt their opinions, often insulting people with opposing views from their own.

Anyone can see why a parent with this disorder will be woefully out of touch with his child's feelings and be a horrific parent. Since sociopaths do not have a range of emotion, they cannot understand the feelings of others, or how to respond to feelings. With so little emotional depth, and an inability to feel love and affection, sociopathic homes, at the very best, tend to be cold, extremely mannered, rigid with many members looking over their shoulder to see who will stab them in the back. There can be conversation in their homes, but they often insist on no emotional "coloring". Unfortunately, most sociopaths don't stop at the cold family environment: they tend to be predatory and abusive to all children. Like narcissists, they devalue and discard their children, but they tend to do it longer than narcissists do (years or a lifetime as compared to months). A small offense can mean permanent shunning. Their reasons for discards are usually different from narcissists too. Narcissists discard over issues having to do with lack of narcissistic supply (flattery) whereas sociopaths do it because they get bored or the child is "in the way" of something they want. Both narcissists and sociopaths can be sadistic about discards, but sociopaths more so because they are completely devoid of regret; whereas narcissists can feel regret, at least as far as their images are concerned (social standing, prestige and not wanting to raise suspicions).

High functioning sociopaths are usually emotionally abusive to children at the very least, and care very little for their plight. They can also show very little feeling for the disabled, sick, innocents, animals and pets. If an empathetic child has a pet, for instance, the child can experience more trauma than usual by how the parent treats the pet. Many empathetic children try to protect their pet by insisting that the abuse meant for the pet be directed towards them (the child) instead.

What the child wants, what he is interested in, what he feels or thinks, is not anything the sociopathic parent cares about, or can care about, given their brain chemistry. Gifts given to children are never with good intentions; they are used for leverage, blackmail, IOUs and guilt trips only. Children learn to refuse gifts from these kinds of parents for those reasons. In forums, children of sociopaths find that if they are made to accept gifts from their sociopathic parent, no matter how small the gift is, feel so uneasy and guilt-ridden about owning these gifts, that they give them up by re-gifting. Charity becomes the safest avenue because they are organizations instead of "people" -- it is harder for a sociopath to target bureaucrats with an IOU than it is an individual person.

Christopher McCandless was an alleged victim of child abuse, for instance, and gave away the money his parents gifted him to Oxfam.

Since children are ineffective at rebelling against how they are treated by their sociopathic parent, they can become unusually quiet, appear distant, disturbed and uneasy (distrustful of others, the signs of the lost child in family systems theory). Unless there are mitigating circumstances, like an empath mother winning custody, children from sociopathic homes tend to have severe PTSD. While some children mimic their parent, becoming another sociopath, others try to create distance, plan on what to say to their parent to keep safe and not be a target, and try to make themselves invisible.

Sociopathic parents and step parents tend to have such a heavy disciplinary hand that it can and does cause tremendous trauma to their victims, and for life, especially children, as children have a more sensitive constitution than adults.

"Time-outs" are usually sadistic, lengthy and definitely not "child learning experiences" (i.e. they are for torture only, for the sociopath's pleasure).

Sociopaths also love to rewrite history and insist that their children believe in and recite altered truths and versions. They lie much more than other cluster B disordered people.

If a child is being bullied at school or in the home by another family member, the sociopathic parent will rarely, if ever, come to the child's rescue or deal with the issues in an appropriate way. "What did you do to deserve it?" and similar phrases are used. Children who are bullied often find that they are not believed. The reason why is because sociopaths use projection: they always pretend to be victims themselves and assume their children are pretending too. As a result, children can be defenseless, and even stalked, tortured, sexually abused, raped and abducted from the lack of parental intervention and supervision. The sicker sociopathic parents prefer that their children be bullied to get the child to believe in themselves as intrinsically less worthwhile than others, too stupid and crazy to function without the parent telling them what to do, and why they can never measure up other than to be a family slave or family punching bag. Survivors who become adults often wonder why they were not protected by their parents like other children were. What I have explained here should help with those answers.

Low functioning sociopaths tend to be more violent, rash and somewhat less haughty and charming than the high functioning variety. They are less known for devious planning than impulsive outbursts of temper or violence. They are less aware of how they effect children, what laws are, what proper social interaction looks like, that they usually blatantly break the law at some point. They are also more exploitative as they tend to come from families which are broken, with little financial security. This means that they often steal from their own children.

Because sociopaths in all of their varieties have very little respect for the boundaries of grown children, and show so little capacity in understanding anything emotional, they cannot be counted on to have any kind of normal response to the pain of others. Almost all therapists and psychologists advise their clients to abandon sociopaths. When the sociopath is a parent, the advice is still abandoning the parent, especially if the child has been abused. If the adult child cannot bear the thought of abandoning his parent, the therapist or psychologist often teaches the client how to put in place strong boundaries which will be respected. Those boundaries have to include no communications about emotional, personal or professional subjects, ever, as sociopaths use information about these subjects to hurt the child. Law enforcement is sometimes needed and used to help set boundaries since sociopaths generally do not respect the boundaries of adult children, and are known to keep pushing at boundaries. It is also suggested that the contact be in the context of family gatherings and never one-on-one meetings.

Most children who have been abused by a sociopathic parent find that they cannot maintain low contact because the sociopath's manipulative wheels are still always turning. Forums for children of sociopaths often describe the "sociopathic stare". It is a stare that lets the child know that the parent has cruel retaliatory intentions. Sociopaths make it much clearer to children than narcissists do that children serve no intrinsic value outside of what they will do for the sociopath. The only value a child has to a sociopath is if they are useful in some way to the parent.

Name-calling (verbal abuse) towards children tends to take the form of the following phrases:
* "You're useless."
* "You're a waste."
* "You're no good."
* "I don't need you or want you."
* "I don't care about you."
* "You're poison."
* "You're evil."
* If sociopaths use animal "insult" names where their children are concerned, it tends to be animals that have a reputation of being evil: snake, serpent, rat, viper, black widow spider ... or of being stupid and lazy: dodo, sloth.
* Since sociopaths do not value children very much, this comes across in such phrases as "You're nothing" and referring to a child as "it" instead of by their name.
* They also regularly make it clear that children are not important to them. Parental rejection is so widespread and common among sociopathic parents that it is a given (in contrast, narcissistic parents use "silent treatments", which amount to the same thing as rejection except they expect a cycle of make-ups and breakups -- see wheel of abuse).
* Sociopaths are not hurt if a child rejects them back (though they may feign tears to make an impression), whereas narcissists think they are so desirable and incredible that they experience narcissistic injury and they will test their victims to see if they can "get back in" with hoovering (i.e. to count on continuous narcissistic supply)
* Sociopaths tend to break some kind of law eventually where it comes to children. Child neglect and cruel and unusual punishment are the most common. But many also break other laws where it comes to children and adult children: coercion, harassment, false imprisonment and threats. Note: false imprisonment and threats can easily turn to physical abuse because they are already trying to physically restrain. If you are a child or stepchild of a sociopath, it is important to become knowledgeable about what the law can and can't do to help you create good and lasting boundaries with the sociopath. Sociopaths use a heavy hand, so it is the only thing they understand when it comes to your boundaries. Getting police and lawyers involved is often the best way to deal with sociopaths who are harassing you, stalking you or who have used false imprisonment in some way.

Since sociopaths like "easy prey" they tend to move away from people who show an intent to use the law.

Sociopaths primarily use erroneous blaming for their sadistic punishments of children such as:
* "You need to be punished for that look on your face."
* "You need to be punished for that attitude."
* "I will make sure that you never see your mother again."
* "You will never see a dime from me again for your lack of gratitude."
* "Every time I see that smirk on your face, you're going to whipped. So if you don't like being whipped, I suggest you change your attitude."
* "If you're going to cry, I'll keep hitting you until you stop!"
* "If you insist on talking like that, you'll get it."
* "You need to be whipped, then you're going to walk on glass, then you are going to kneel on popcorn kernels for at least an hour, all without crying or saying a word, or we will start the process all over again until you learn to be quiet when I tell you to be quiet."
(note: the above are all about the adult interpreting the feelings and thoughts of the child in a negative way, and punishing the child for those interpretations ... Children in these situations learn to feel ashamed of feelings, facial expressions and thoughts, even if they are perfectly innocent ... more on why this is so damaging to children in another post).
Here are a few other kinds of phrasing:
* "No one likes you or loves you, so you will go straight to your room for several months after you come home from school until I can tell you that you can come out." -- isolation is a very ineffective disciplinary tool, and can do a lot of damage, but sociopathic parents are known to love and use the isolation tactic to its extreme
* "You deserve to drown if you play near the water."
* "I brought you into the world, and I can take you out." -- very common
* "If it wasn't for me, you would have nothing at all, so be grateful for the little you have or you'll get smacked."
* If your kitten misses the cat box again, I'm going to wrangle its little neck! And you're going to watch me while I do it ... or you're going to figure out how you will train that damned kitten to do what it is told!"
* "If you are going to disagree with me, then we're done."

Some other signs of sociopaths:
* when others talk about love or compassion, sociopaths tend to shift around and look uncomfortable (with a nose in the air is another sign)
* they are generally not comfortable hugging anyone (unless the person in question is a conquest of some sort)
* they become animated and alive when insulting people, acting superior, goading, threatening, insulting, and punishing, but otherwise they appear emotionally flat and bored
* if you talk to a sociopath about a person needing empathy, leniency or "a break", the sociopath is likely to argue points about why they do not deserve empathy; they will tend to say things like "he deserved it" or "in fact, it wasn't harsh enough." If you suspect someone is a sociopath, talk about empathy A LOT, and take notes on the answers you receive from them.

What sociopaths have in common with narcissists:
lying and gaslighting: it is even more severe in sociopaths than narcissists. In fact, there is so much altering of events and attempts to make it seem that everyone but them is stupid or crazy. They strong-arm people closest to them to recite altered versions of events and people. They will attack people who have proof of the opposite of what they claim. When you are a child of a sociopath, you learn to pretend to go along, walk on eggshells and lie back to the sociopath to keep safe, that the sociopath literally lives in a world of lies and made-up experiences (fantasies).
erroneous punishments
triangulation -- another word for divide and conquer
verbal abuse -- they are masters of insults and name-calling, often using humor if it is in front of others
taunting and goading
enlisting bullies to gang up on someone
using trauma bonding 
word salad arguments
blame-shifting (and pretending to be a victim)

One big difference between narcissists and sociopaths, is that narcissists can be generous towards their children (usually for show, to compete with the Jones's, to display their wealth, to have a reputation of being a great parent or a generous parent -- all to fit in with "normal parents"), whereas sociopaths feel no need for societal approval or the approval of other parents beyond the most rudimentary "get by" kinds of actions; they abandon children and the care of children (including child support payments) at a dizzying rate, have no trouble telling people they think their children are bad, even though it raises suspicion ... after all, they reason if they are caught at being unethical, they will just fib their way through it. They are anti-social for a reason. Financial abuse is a "given" when it comes to sociopaths. Sociopaths also expect their children to give them much more than they give to their children (in other words, if the child receives a gift from a sociopathic parent, the re-payment of that gift has to be of greater value -- not less value, not of equal value, yes, "greater value", which is why many children eventually reject gifts from this kind of parent: there are too many strings attached).

Narcissists (as opposed to sociopaths) can be social butterflies, especially the extroverted variety. It is one reason why sociopaths are attracted to narcissists, because the narcissist can lead the way in social graces and the sociopath can hide his unfeeling self behind the narcissist. Even the introverted narcissists want societal approval regardless of how they get it. Sociopaths do not have that agenda unless they see direct and immediate benefit to them, but through the narcissist, they begin to see opportunities for their own agendas through being fake and polite. Even the charming sociopaths tend to show some semblance of social awkwardness and it is hard not to miss their total lack of ability to feel love, affection and admiration for others (they come across as cold, arrogant and stilted no matter how much time and energy they put into "acting skills"). Exuding warmth in a believable way is just not possible. Their speech tends to be "intellectualized", dry, stilted and unemotional. People who are sensitive to the moods and feelings of others pick up right away on the insincerity of the sociopath (it is like a "mafia kiss").

However, empaths can still tend to "give the benefit of the doubt" and project their own character onto a sociopath (seeing goodness in everyone until they get hurt, very hurt, that is). This kind of projecting can over-ride their initial intuitions about people (unfortunately), so sociopaths can seem to slip through the empath's and society's radar. When empaths are told "he is a sociopath" they don't generally go into shock or do a double-take however; instead they quickly validate their impressions: "I always sensed there was something not quite right about him, but my politeness took over ..."

Children of narcissists tend to be more vulnerable to hoovering than children of sociopaths. Children of sociopaths do not wring their hands about what they could have done or said to make their relationship with the sociopath better, or get the sociopath to love them again. Their feelings overwhelmingly run along the line of: "I wish I had a different parent. I wish I had a loving parent like --" They are much more aware they got a raw deal in the parent department than children of narcissists. Because narcissists have been known to hoover children back with big apologies, love bombing, believable tears, and big gifts, it is a little harder to resist it, at least the first time around. Child abuse survivors of narcissists can be much more plagued with fear, guilt or shame than children of sociopathic parents. Sociopaths often find that second chances never work with their children; their disorder is too hard to mask, and for the child to overcome.  

Narcissists who have some sociopathic traits are referred to as malignant narcissists.

Sam Vaknin is a self-proclaimed malignant narcissist, and he is worth watching, if only to hear how he phrases things (matter-of-fact, without much emotion, smiling with the mouth but not the eyes -- all traits). His take on the malignant narcissist's mind may also be worth hearing as he goes into depth about how malignant narcissists think, their inability to feel the range of emotions that most people feel, the "missing empathy" part of their brains, the realizations that they aren't like others, and why they are predatory and arrogant. He is the only malignant narcissist I know about who stopped projecting onto others, and instead wanted to self reflect (possibly from getting tired of being sent to jail). He realized he was different from others. He became passionate about helping people avoid the narcissist's idealize-discard traps. In other words, he allowed himself to be exposed (something narcissists hate doing, and will usually avoid at all costs). Survivors of abuse often rail against him, but he states that his main purpose in life is to try to get survivors to understand the disorder from someone who "suffers" with the disorder:

He seemingly tries to understand the perspectives of survivors even when it is difficult for him (tends to be an intellectualized understanding than an emotional one). He is accompanied by his wife, an empath, who he says helps to regulate his "narcissistic supply needs" so that he can get his message across and not hurt any more people. Note: his exposure, self reflection, shame, self loathing and willingness to learn what others go through is extremely rare to witness; the overwhelming number of malignant narcissists will do anything and everything to avoid it and cover it up with arrogance, lies, displays of grandeur and pretending to be a victim. However (warning, warning!), do not expect any of the narcissists or sociopaths you know to realize anything, not even a smidgen of what Sam Vaknin realized. Sociopaths and narcissists are the most rigid unchangeable people on the planet. They have not even a tiny sense of what it is like to be enlightened. The need for narcissistic supply is so overwhelming for the narcissist, that his life is totally engulfed by it, like a heroin addict going after fix upon fix. The "punishments" that the narcissist and sociopath inflict, keep both of them stuck in a six year old mentality.

However, realize this: sociopaths tend to be attracted to the garden variety of narcissists, not the malignant narcissists. The garden variety's main concern and objective in life is to obtain as much narcissistic supply as can be mustered to keep up with the Jones's. Sociopaths do not tend to be attracted to other sociopaths or malignant narcissists because they intuitively know that the fight for dominance will either put one of them in the hospital (or both), or that it will be an on-going battle (because they both know neither one can stand to lose). This is just one reason sociopaths tend to choose people they deem to be weaker than themselves. While the garden variety of narcissist is not as easy prey as the empath, the narcissist makes it known they need a bullying partner which the sociopath will gladly fill to get his own sadism needs met. The sociopath has an overwhelming desire to punish and control people; whereas the narcissist wants to be worshiped and envied by others first and foremost, and then only punish and control when they deem themselves to not be receiving it. The sociopath fulfills his dream by becoming the punisher of people not handing control, power and flattery over to the narcissist, all the while building conspiracy theories about those other people in the narcissist's head. The narcissist is sucked in by the sociopath's acting job of devotion, worship and "stability". On the other hand, sociopaths also see the narcissist's need for narcissistic supply as a "weakness to exploit".

Therapy does not work with sociopaths because they lie, dodge, and make up so many stories and altered versions that a therapist would practically have to be a ghost buster to break through all of the figments of their imagination (note: this theory comes from Sam Vaknin).

Sociopaths and malignant narcissists do get into positions of power. They do to nations what they do to their families: divide people, start wars, scapegoat someone (whether other political parties or races or groups of people), isolate and favoritize, insult and torture people who do not go along with their world view, go back on their word, believe in authoritarianism (i.e. that they should rule without interference or objection), insult and marginalize people who have proof, object, have a different opinion, etc, tell people to "shut up", are incapable of "fair negotiations", will only negotiate if it does something for them (i.e. give them ever more power and money), think Machiavellian thoughts or have temper tantrums when they aren't getting their way, cut people out who aren't doing exactly what they want (i.e. who aren't total sycophants), aggrandize themselves, use wars and conflicts to elevate themselves, love to focus on how certain people or groups that they deem to be worthless or enemies are stupid or crazy (gaslighting), do not believe in karma, believe in law and order for other people (but not when it comes to themselves), and usually invest in weapons (an arms race) at the detriment of everything else. They usually lose wars and fall from grace in the end.

Child molesters, sexual abusers, pimps and rapists tend to be malignant narcissists and sociopaths. Note: not all malignant narcissists and sociopaths are sexual predators, but all sexual predators are malignant narcissists and sociopaths.  Since malignant narcissists and sociopaths are completely unable to form healthy bonds, the bonds they form tend to be exploitative, and this is just another form of exploitation.

Why the narcissist-sociopath "bully team" should be abandoned:

If you have read about what sociopaths do, and how they treat others, it should be obvious.

Narcissists need flying monkeys to help them with any kind of "devastating bullying", and the flying monkeys that work best are others who like to bully.

Since empaths are out to help people and to be kind, co-bullies can't be found among that population (these people account for 20 - 30 percent of the population).

People who want normalcy and routine in their lives, who are empathetic to their children and with their spouse, and put their nose to the grindstone when away from the home to feed and provide for the family aren't going to be good recruits for narcissists either (these people account for roughly half of the population). They are shocked and horrified by child abuse, since they are all about family and doing their absolute best for their family members. These people are the ones that narcissists want to appear "normal to" and to fit in with, to be in social circles with, but that is about it. Most narcissists already know not to ask these people for bullying assistance (i.e. to help them denigrate, gaslight, punish, isolate, guilt-trip, slander and devalue their own children).

In fact, narcissists are so aware that they will be frowned upon by these kinds of people, they are not going to say truths like, "We weren't getting worshiped or flattered enough by our children, so we decided to insult them and get rid of them." They are going to be making excuses like: "Our children want their own lives, and they do what most children do: they have their jobs and their families. I just wish they'd call more." This is the great cover-up for abuse, and it is one reason why abusers are so hard to detect in the population.

However, with the sociopath, narcissists don't need to make excuses or explain anything away. The sociopath will not only approve of the former "reason", but will help implement situations that support the thinking. And they could care less if the narcissist lies, covers things up, gaslights, re-explains with word salad, dodges and gives half-answers.

These excuses, by the way, do not fly if the narc is partnered with an empath or a normal: if anything they would be exposed and reprimanded by the partner, for lying and making lame excuses, and being short-sighted about the value of their own children.

So the people left who are going to consider helping with the bullying are the ones with personality disorders, the ones who are already in the practice of bullying and devaluing people in the first place: other narcissists and sociopaths. Sometimes borderlines are chosen too, but there are short-comings for enlisting borderlines (I will talk about the narcissist-borderline "bully team" in another post, but basically it comes down to the fact that borderlines have a conscience, can be overwhelmed with regret, and tend to be inconsistent and highly emotional).

Anyway, the sociopath-narcissist combo is going to be about their "King and Queen fantasy" where the sociopath demands that children bow and fawn at the alter of abusive authority. The sociopath pretends to be an enabler of the narcissist's flattery addiction, and punishes children who don't deliver in the most obsequious way. The sociopath is the judge of how "perfect" the submission is (which it never is: it is an on-going "trial", with many sadistic punishments). Since sociopaths are anti-social (don't like people, children or animals), they most often denigrate and devalue everyone in their social circle at some time anyway, even if just in private. They also secretly enjoy the narcissist's paranoia, because they can swoop in with a "protector role", a role which they love because it puts them in charge of who can and cannot be in the narcissist's life. The smarter, more educated sociopaths denigrate with an impressive vocabulary, often with humor and a knowledge of obscure "facts"; they are intellectual bullies. But bullying is bullying no matter how it is delivered. A vocabulary with clever put-downs and strategies doesn't excuse them.

If you are a child of this combo, you are probably already living on the outside of it with little to no contact with your parents. One narcissist, even if surrounded by no one but empaths and normals can already do a lot of damage (triangulation). When they have made a bully-pact with a sociopath, the damage to the entire family is collateral. Your voice on any subject is NOT going to be heard, let alone considered. They are going to be spending their time with you trying to superimpose what they want you to believe about your own experiences (gaslighting -- except with a sociopath in the mix, this is extreme full time gaslighting x 2). It is more effective to talk to a brick wall because a brick wall is more real than anything they have to say; you also can't get PTSD from a wall.

Domestic Violence counselors generally counsel children to go no contact and sometimes even move away when this Dark Triad power couple is in their lives. But if a child insists he or she wants a relationship with one of the parents, or is worried about the parent being isolated with a sociopath, the only way to do it is to get the police involved in breaking up the co-bullying. The police can contact the parent the child does not want to speak to or have a relationship with (and an arrest can be made based on harassment if the warned parent continues to contact, threaten or bully).

Most often the parent the child wanted to retain a relationship with will insist that the child accept the other bully, and to endure more bullying, or be banished (typical). I'm sure that most of you who have these kinds of parents ran into the accept-us-both-or-be-gone-with-you dynamic. One reason this happens is because the narcissist usually is so convinced that they are being "protected" by the sociopath from an unflattering fall-out.

The important thing to keep in mind when they tell you that you have to accept them as a pair (as most likely they will): your parents are telling you that bullying you is the only acceptable relationship they will have with you.

That should help you move away from them, in mind, body and spirit. You will be living your own life, on your own terms, with your own strengths and weaknesses, and without worrying if you did the right thing or acted the right way (because you know there is no winning this -- it is scapegoating on steroids).

Since relationships with children, innocents, the sickly, the poor, pets and animals don't mean anything to sociopaths, they won't care. They may cry crocodile tears to impress the narcissist, or with the flock of people the narcissist is trying to impress, but if they really cared, they wouldn't be into punishing: they would be into ironing things out, value the perspectives of others, and pushing for a make-up. They would insist that the narcissist care about his or her children. They would also insist that cruelty and retaliation against children is not going to work or be socially acceptable. But if anything, sociopaths want to escalate these things, even beyond the narcissist's endurance. It is one way you tell that they are sociopaths. All sociopaths LOVE to punish.

One of the reasons sociopaths break laws is because they love it so much, including work-arounds and attacks-by-proxy, is that they are completely incapable of seeing beyond the punishment as a strategy to resolve conflicts (this should let you know that sociopaths who are book smart are not smart about interpersonal relationships in the slightest: again, they are called anti-socials for a reason).

For narcissists, the relationship with their children is meaningful in terms of how they are perceived and their social standing -- in other words, the relationship with the child only has extrinsic value, not intrinsic value to them, but unlike the sociopath, children still have some value even if it isn't the right kind. When children get the very distinct message that they don't matter (which they will not with a Dark Triad power couple), they can move on without regrets or "wondering what they could have done to make it better." This is because the bullying is so rampant, so illogical and irrational, so over-the-top in terms of cruelty, so escalation-driven, and so obvious. The sociopath-narcissist bully team's actions are NOT peppered with a single about-face or regret.

There is a lot of parent-child estrangement (that tends to extend to grandchildren, in-laws and into other generations) with Dark Triad parents.

The Six Hallmarks of a Sociopath -- by Jonice Webb PhD for Psych Central

How to Spot a Sociopath -- from Wiki (recommended reading)

Children with 'negative' parents twice as likely to misbehave -- by Graeme Paton

A good example of what a low functioning sociopath is like as a parent-figure: 
My mother is a sociopath (MD Junction forum -- the replies may be worth reading too)

Personality Disorders And Parental Alienation -- from the parent-alienate website

Partners in Evil: The Psychopath and Malignant Narcissist Combo -- from Claudia Moscovici

Growing up the child of a Dark Tetrad or Dark Triad Power Couple --
from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Search: are narcissists attracted to sociopaths? -- from The Path Whisperer, An Exploration Into Sociopathy

When Two Psychopaths Meet -- from the Signs of a Psychopath website

Sexual abuse of children and adults common for Dark Triad or Narcopath personality types -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Think of Sociopaths as Aliens -- It May Help You Understand Them -- by Donna Anderson for the Love website

The Differences Between a Sociopath and a Narcissist -- from Sanctuary of Abused website

Pathological Lying: A Psychopathic Manipulation Tool -- from the Psychopath Free website

In Love With a Sociopath? -- Silva Hayes for Hubpages

Here Are 5 Undeniable Signs That You Are Arguing With A Sociopath -- from Health, Spirit, Body website

Narcissists and Sociopaths groom victims to enable abuse -- from Health Blog

Confessions of a Sociopath -- by M.E. Thomas, a Psychology Today post by a lawyer, and high functioning sociopath

The Mind of a Child Molester -- by Amy Hammel-Zabin for Psychology Today

Sociopathocracy: What Information Theory Teaches Us About Tyrants -- by Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D.

Dear Friend: Please do not take back your sociopathic partner -- from the Love Fraud website