Q&A With Founder of New Anonymous Group “Swat Sociopaths”

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

An advertisement for a new student group called Swarthmore Sociopaths appeared on the Reserved Students Digest in the weeks before spring break. The post describes Swat Sociopaths as “an anonymous group for Swatties identifying as sociopaths, psychopaths, ASPD, whatever you feel like calling it, diagnosed or otherwise.”

The email address for the group’s creator, who is going by the pseudonym “Nicholas the Silent,” was included in the RSD post. He answered a few questions about the new group by email.

There won’t be any in-person meetings. Instead, the group will conduct meetings by email. “Nicholas” declined to state the sort of response the request had received so far.

What is the purpose of Swat Sociopaths?

The purpose of the group is just to provide some sort of mechanism for sociopaths to communicate with one another. Most sociopaths go through their lives without really knowing other sociopaths, we obviously can’t live our lives openly, so I’d like to allow sociopaths to talk to one another.

It’s not really a self-help group. We’re not trying to heal, we’re not trying to get better, we’d just like to meet other people who think like us.

What does it mean to be a sociopath?

Sociopaths often don’t recognize themselves as such, but at the same time, it’s unlikely that anyone else would. Sociopathy is a way of thinking. It is to be devoid of empathy, of conscience, and of remorse. Yes, this sounds scary to neurotypicals, but it’s not that bad. It’s just different. I don’t have empathy for people, but I fake it, I put on a mask, outwardly showing socially-appropriate emotions that I don’t necessarily feel, and this works for me. People act all the time, mine is just a bit clearer cut, and I’m also better at it than most. I have to be.

Sociopaths also tend to have poor impulse control. Most of what separates the low-functioning from the high-functioning is ability to manage impulses. I’ve had to teach myself impulse control. It isn’t natural, it doesn’t come easily. I still feel powerful impulses pushing me towards actions, but I step back and think about things rationally. I think about how that would affect my mask, how it might out me. What comes to others naturally I have to make a concerted effort to do. I rely on reason and rationality to hold myself back from my impulses, and it works. Outwardly, I am normal. In my own mind, I am strikingly different.

Will the group work to “treat” sociopathy in its members?

Different people see it differently, and I won’t speak for all sociopaths, but I don’t really see it as a disease that can, or should, be cured. It’s just a part of my personality, it’s just who I am.

There are low-functioning sociopaths, those who can be clearly identified as such from the outside, those who are violent, those who are destructive to themselves and others. Their problem isn’t that they are sociopaths, its that they don’t know how to handle it. Sociopaths who have made it to Swarthmore, however, are likely very high-functioning. You would never know that I am a sociopath by meeting me. You could know me for years and it would never cross your mind. This isn’t hypothetical, it’s actually true: no one knows that I am a sociopath.

I think how this group can help fellow sociopaths is by sharing mechanisms for handling everyday life. Some do it better than others. I don’t think professional help is the way to go. Anti-sociopath stigma exists even among psychotherapists. Going to CAPS would be a bad idea. There isn’t any cure, nor really any treatment mechanism, and that’s fine: I don’t want one. What we can do is help each other by sharing the ways that we have learned to fit in.

How did you come up with the idea for Swat Sociopaths?

I came up with the idea because I thought it would be useful for sociopaths to be able to speak to one another. I thought that I would like to meet other like-minded people, but there is absolutely no way to do that in general life. Thus, an anonymous forum of sorts seemed the best way to go about it.

Explain how anonymity functions in the group.

Anonymity is critical, and absolute. No member of the group knows who any other member is. We communicate only by email, there are no in-person meetings of any kind. Moreover, we all use assumed names, none of us use our real names. This is the only safe way for the group to operate. There is no way that we could verify, as it were, whether anyone who made contact with us is a sociopath, or that they can be trusted. Our identities can’t get out for our own safety. The social stigma against sociopaths is so great that none of us can afford to have that piece of our identity known, which is why it is so hard to knowingly meet other sociopaths. Anonymity is what allows this group to exist.


  1. thanks. I was really pissed to see that article in “the scallion” about the sociopathy group. It was such an unfunny, inaccurate joke. Like they managed to pick on a group created in sincerity based off of a clinical condition that is actually misunderstood and marginalized both at Swat and beyond. It’s like using “autistic” as an insult: ignorant, and just plain mean. Plus it must have made the members of the group feel misunderstood (and threatened) by a larger population of Swatties than just the two ill-informed writers involved.

    So I’m really glad that this interview clears up exactly what the sociopathy group does and stands for, and I’d be happy to read anything else that this group puts out in the form of educational materials or op-eds or whatever.

    One thing though: I would give CAPS a little more benefit of the doubt. Though anti-socipath bias is a real thing, it’s unfair to write off our therapists without even seeing them and voicing these concerns.

    • I’d guess that Nicholas is more saying that he prefers not to go to CAPS because CAPS is for processing/treatment of problems, and that that’s not what he’s looking for, rather than writing CAPS off as a place for people who are looking to process and heal.

      • I agree that CAPS isn’t what Nicholas is looking for, but he implied that “going to CAPS would be a bad idea” for all sociopaths. I think he has an outdated view of therapy. Therapy isn’t necessarily centered around the idea of a “cure”. You can go to CAPS just to have an open, unstructured conversation with a good listener. I don’t think any value judgments are made, and if they are, that would be really unprofessional, and probably worth writing a loud op-ed about. It could be fascinating for a sociopath to question the therapeutic experience in a therapeutic setting and seeing where that takes them.

    • Sorry, but how does “faking” it sound fun? Sounds tiring like too much work.also, feeling bored and superior all the time? Don’t speak for us when new promising treatments are out! Some of us tried drugs that let us experience the full range of human emotions and it is amazing.

  2. I’m hoping this is a joke, yet I fear it’s not – just another sign of discouraging trends in the make up of this community.

    • I was concerned as well when I first saw that this group existed, but it seems from this article that this group probably is not as harmful as one might expect. I was worried that the group was intended as a space for sociopaths to take pride in their identity and to excuse any behaviors that might be caused by their disorder. I’m glad that it instead appears to be for the purpose of encouraging strategies for coping with sociopathy in a manner that is not harmful to others. I think it’s great for people with serious mental illnesses to seek help in learning how to become higher-functioning, as opposed to just accepting the ways in which their disorder negatively impacts their life and those around them.

  3. This is extremely interesting. I don’t really know much about sociopathy, so I really appreciate this clarification. I think a lot of it is still hard for me to understand because it is not my mindset or way of being, but I think that this is a good way to introduce the topic and also for students to at least begin to understand something that may be uncomfortable for them at first. I know that I hold my own stereotypes of what it means to be a sociopath, but I recognize that there is a lot for me to learn.

    While I know that you want to remain anonymous, I hope you can do something for the campus. I would personally be really interested in learning more.

  4. I think that there is a difference in moral, empathetic behavior and behavior that is rationalized by “how that would affect [the] mask, how it might out [the sociopath].”

    For example, if a normal, caring Swatty picked up a wallet and found a hundred bucks inside, they would return the wallet to the original owner, even if no one saw them take it. But as long as there was no one around, a sociopath could easily rationalize stealing the money.

    I’m all for tolerance and open-mindedness, but I also think that empathy is a basic and essential human quality.

    • It’s true that empathy is necessary for human society to function, but what else would you suggest that sociopaths do about their lack of empathy? Since it is impossible for them to learn how to empathize, the closest they can do is learn how to fake it. I think it’s admirable that these people are trying their best to become as socially functional as they can be despite their disorder.

    • “I’m all for tolerance and open-mindedness, but I also think that empathy is a basic and essential human quality.”

      You’re definitely not “all for tolerance.” You just explicitly said that someone who does not experience empathy is not human.

      • That’s not what they said, and I don’t think what they said was intolerant. Empathy is a very important feature of humans in general and it is a large part of what allows us to function so well as a species. However, just because someone is deficient in an important human quality does not mean we must exclude them from society.

    • There are two dimensions to empathy, only one of which is lacking in sociopathy. Sociopaths are high in cognitive empathy but low in affective empathy (by comparison, autism spectrum people are the reverse: high in affective empathy and low in cognitive empathy). Cognitive empathy allows for perspective taking, which is enough to make many complicated interpersonal (and moral, though without the feelings of guilt/responsibility associated with “moral”) decisions. Professor Dan Grodner of the Psych dept researches this stuff, so if this sounds interesting, I’d go talk to him about it.


  5. For anyone who has additional questions about the group, concerns, issues for debate, or would just like to understand the perspectives of sociopaths, I encourage you to make contact with me directly. I will answer any and all emails.

    Those of you who have shown your support, thank you for it. Those of you who have not, I hope you will be willing to engage me in reasonable discourse.

    Nicholas the Silent

  6. Hi Nicholas,

    I’m curious, if you feel comfortable sharing, how many members there are. Maybe it’s because of stigma, but I was surprised that you seemed reasonably confident that there were other sociopaths at Swat. I thought sociopathy was very rare. Anyway, I hope you get the connection you’re hoping for out of this group!

    I was also wondering how your conception of sociopathy is similar to and/or different from psychopathy, as well as antisocial personality disorder.

    • Obviously, Nicholas cannot disclose how many students contacted him. There is a statistic that sociopaths make up 4% of the population. However, I actually believe that everyone is a sociopath, but at different degrees. Nobody really feels empathy. People delude themselves into thinking they are really concerned about others, when all they care about is the preservation of self. What is empathy, really, but the projection of self into unwilling others? It’s like rape in a sense. Everyone should email Nicholas to learn more.

      • Please don’t compare anyone’s mental behavior to rape. Thoughts are not actions and rape is a very serious crime that should not be treated lightly.

      • This is really disturbing to me. However, I see what you’re saying and it is an OPINION. A legitimate opinion. But there’s no reason to believe that what you’re saying is undeniably correct. There is lots of research about altruism that both supports and counters what you’re saying. Please don’t present your argument as the word of Jesus fucking Christ.

      • It’s not at all obvious to me why Nicholas cannot disclose how many students contacted him. I’m asking how many, not who.

      • I’m confused…why is it obvious that Nicholas couldn’t disclose how many students contacted him? It doesn’t seem that doing so would reveal their identities…
        I’m likewise curious to know how many members the group has. I haven’t really heard that much about sociopathy before so I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that it was pretty uncommon.

      • Doesn’t it seem like you, as a sociopath either professionally or self-diagnosed (given your membership in Swat Sociopaths), are not in the best place to theorize about what happens in the minds of people who are not (diagnosed as) sociopaths? You don’t know what it’s like to experience the thing we call ’empathy’ in any other mind but your own.

  7. There is a reason this group won’t be meeting in person. They do much better hanging around their victims, not other psychopaths. Psychopaths are monsters who will destroy people and not even care. It is not a way of thinking. Psychopaths are born that way. In my opinion, they don’t even qualify as human beings.

    To get a real taste of what psychopaths are like, take a look here: http://www.psychopath-research.com/forum/. Read about people’s actual experiences with them, and you will see.

    There’s also a reason that the founder of group states that it’s not about healing or getting better. It’s because they like the way they are, and if they go to therapy it will just make them worse because they will learn how to manipulate people with even more skill.

    “It’s not bad, it’s just different.” Give me a break! Outwardly, they only seem normal until you get to know them. And even the non-violent ones are monsters who will destroy people and not even care. Yes, they can do it. Don’t believe the lies that psychopathy is ok, it just needs to be understood.

    @Sam Zhang: psychopaths are nothing like autistic people. It would be nice to pity them. The problem is they are so predatory that is just isn’t a good idea.

    It is not a good idea for any university to host such a group.

    • It’s true that psychopaths can be very dangerous, but they’re still living beings with free will. They’re capable of controlling their own actions and shouldn’t be written off as complete lost causes. I don’t think it’s fair to tell anyone that it’s impossible for them not to be evil. If they want to be functional members of society – and therefore want to make a commitment to not harming others – why not give them that chance as opposed to just accepting the idea that these people will harm others no matter what? It seems to me that if we want to minimize harm caused by psychopaths, we need to work together with them.

    • You are correct.

      I remember reading somewhere about how therapists in prisons came to the conclusion that therapy for sociopaths is, at best, useless. They cannot be changed. All that therapy can do for them is give them more insight into how to fake real feelings.

      Sociopaths fake empathy not to “fit in” with “normals” but to be able to victimize others. Sociopaths are actually extremely skilled at faking natural human emotion, as well as at reading emotions in others. One reason they are able to do so is that they are mostly emotionless themselves — they go through life constantly calculating and operating.

      They are often highly successful in life. It has been shown, for example, that a good percentage of CEOs are sociopaths. Male sociopaths who do not engage fully in the economic field and remain idle often spend their whole lives in the practice of victimizing women, both for sex and to wheedle money out of their lovers.

      One man I knew where I used to live did exactly that, taking every woman he could find, young, old, married, unmarried — a sociopath lives for CONTROL of as many people as he can get his hands on. I remember one particular case where this 50-something sociopath went on a campaign to steal a live-in girlfriend from her boyfriend — they were both in their 20s. The sociopath succeeded. And as he went on his campaign, he was also careful at the exact same time to become extra buddy-buddy with the boyfriend. The upshot was this long-standing couple broke up, the girlfriend moved out from the apartment she shared with her ex-boyfriend, continues to be a member of the sociopath’s “harem” while at the same time the ex-boyfriend remains completely under the sociopath’s sway.

      Which leads to another point. The whole PUA (pick up artist) movement out there is about taking “normal” men and training them to think and act like sociopaths.

      The only benefit to having a Sociopath Group — on campus, or anywhere — would be if it could be publicized who the members were – so that people could know up front to stay away from its members and not become victims.

      And you’re right. A sociopath is not equivalent to someone with autism, Aspergers, OCD or any other mental health diagnosis. Accepting a sociopath is not open-minded tolerance; it is like the story of the frog who takes the scorpion across the river on the frog’s back. The scorpion WILL sting you, even if it dooms both of you. It is their nature.

    • To this Tyler person….
      This is just the most insensitive thing I’ve ever read. How dare you call a fellow human being a monster when they were born with a disorder that they cannot even control. If they are trying their hardest to fit into society, especially with the intention of making sure they will not cause their peers harm, then kudos to them!

  8. Hi Julia,

    Theres one little problem with your theory that
    ” They’re capable of controlling their own
    actions and shouldn’t be written off as complete
    lost causes.”

    They like the way they are, and they don’t want to change. Who would be the people to work with them? The therapists? It’s already quite well known that therapy only makes them worse, because they learn from the therapists how to manipulate people better, and they will manipulate the therapists themselves.

    Who else then? Regular people? Julia, you are just
    setting yourself up for being victimized.

    Yes, they do want to be able to pass as functional
    members of society, but they also want to be
    able to get away with behavior that destroys
    people. Passing as functional is the key goal here.

    Regarding free will: One symptom of psychopathy is
    delusions of grandeur. What causes the delusions of grandeur? It does not make sense that this could be caused by their lack of oxytocin receptors, that sounds more like mental illness to me. So they, imo, have mental illness going on, on top of the genetic defect of lack of
    oxytocin receptors. Do mentally ill people have enough free will to control their illness?
    I don’t think so.

    I have to question why Swarthmore is fostering a group that is not about helping mentally ill people to get better in any way. Which is not possible anyway, not for this one. I have to question why the University newsletter is promoting it. Who do I contact, at Swarthmore,
    to complain about this?

    • If you’d like to complain, I’d be more than happy to hear your complaints. I understand that you probably don’t want to engage engaged sociopath, and that’s fine, I understand. But I don’t know you, you’re anonymous to me. Stay as such, drop me an email (my name at Gmail, also listed above), and we’ll chat. I fully realize that you likely won’t, but I think we could both profit from the exchange.


    • Tyler,
      You’ve said a couple of very ignorant things here that I find really upsetting. Let me try to deal with them one at a time. I’m splitting my response in half since it’s pretty long.

      1. “Do mentally ill people have enough free will to control their illness? I don’t think so.”
      This kind of thinking is exactly the reason I’ve been defending this sociopath support group in the first place. Mentally ill people can ABSOLUTELY control their own illnesses via their own free will. Let me explain to you where I’m coming from and then maybe you’ll see why I feel so strongly about this. When I was young, I had very bad social and behavioral difficulties and was given a diagnosis of autism. But nowadays, I can care for myself and maintain interpersonal relationships, and I no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. Did my autism go away? Was it somehow “cured”? No! Autism is a lifelong disorder and it cannot be “cured”. What happened was that, through working with therapists, I developed coping strategies that allow me to act like a neurotypical person, even though I am not. Now, many people are of the mindset that since there is no “cure” for autism, autistic people are permanently broken and therefore doomed to never become functional members of society. I hate it when people think this way. Anyone with a mental illness can and should work to overcome their disability instead of accepting it as a death sentence. The people of Swarthmore Sociopaths are trying to work past their disadvantages, and it makes me angry that you say that they’re monsters who can never get better.

      Please note: I am NOT saying that we should accept all sociopaths as they are with open arms. I am absolutely against that attitude as well. Mental illness is never an excuse for immoral or harmful behavior. If they understood what they were doing, we should treat a mentally ill person who commits a crime just like any other criminal. But you have no right to assume that just because someone is a sociopath, it is inevitable that they will harm people. Judge others by their actions, not their inherent tendencies. These people are trying to learn how to exist in our society. It seems to me that they are doing so by trying to learn how to stop themselves from acting on harmful impulses. I personally don’t care whether they truly have empathy or just act like they do, as long as the end result is that they do less harm to others than they otherwise would without learning coping strategies. I’m sorry my viewpoint seems naive to you, but I firmly believe that any person with a mental illness can work towards becoming more functional and should be allowed to do so.

    • 2. You say that sociopaths have a “genetic defect of lack of oxytocin receptors”. Firstly, I believe that you are making this up. I cannot find a single paper that claims that sociopathy and oxytocin are linked. I am a neuroscience major who is currently conducting laboratory research on neuropsychiatric disorders so I am fairly well read on this topic. Furthermore, oxytocin is not an “empathy hormone” as you may have been lead to believe by sensational news articles. In fact, oxytocin has only been shown to increase empathy towards family members and loved ones; high levels of oxytocin have actually been shown to increase racist behavior. Like all neurotransmitter circuits, the oxytocin circuit is very complex and cannot be simplified to an “empathy” function.

      Your sentence “It does not make sense that [delusions of grandeur] could be caused by their lack of oxytocin receptors, that sounds more like mental illness to me” is problematic on multiple levels. Firstly, you are not qualified to say what it does and does not make sense for oxytocin to do. Oxytocin is involved in functions as varied as lactation, sexual arousal, stress, wound healing, and urination. Why couldn’t it affect delusions of grandeur as well? Secondly, and more importantly, you are drawing a distinction between psychological disorders and biological defects in the brain. This distinction is completely arbitrary and non-useful. The brain and the mind are one and the same thing, and the brain changes its physical characteristics (such as receptor densities) in response to psychological stimuli. The brain of someone who is depressed due to a genetic predisposition looks the same as the brain of someone who is depressed due to the death of a loved one. Not exactly the same, of course – everyone’s brain is different in innumerable ways. But what I mean to say is that the mechanism of depression is the same whether it has an internal or an external cause. And regardless of whether mental illness is caused by a genetic lack of receptors or a psychogenic delusion, it can always be overcome to at least some extent via the hard work of the person of the disorder. The brain is incredibly malleable – with the right therapy, even people missing an entire hemisphere of their brain can recover and lead a normal life. So please don’t be so pessimistic about the possibility of recovery from mental illness.

      • I’d like to apologize for posting “Hypocrisy” earlier. It was a personal attack and completely out of line for this forum.

    • You aren’t a student here. What right do you have to interfere in our affairs, particularly when your discriminatory statements are contrary to everything our community stands for?

      • He may not be, but I am. Sociopoathy is diagnosable, you cannot self-diagnose yourself to be a sociopath. While I don’t know if anyone at Swarthmore is really I sociopath or not, and don’t really care at the moment, it is bizarre and twisted to give this group a stamp of approval, and I do not. Sociopaths aren’t a group or class of people who need special protection or liberties that aren’t already owed to rest us, you’re foolish and confused if you think so.

        • I’m foolish? Where did it say anything in this article about people self-diagnosing as sociopaths? Where did it say anything in this article about special privileges for this group? Are you so intelligent that you can read words that aren’t there?

          • I’m not trying to get into this debate, but I do want to point out that the advertising for the group welcomed anyone who thought they were a sociopath, and the way it did so seemed to include even people who like to joke about taking over the world. Let’s just say I was very confused when I read the advertisement.

  9. No, what I’m interested in is contacting the editors of this newspaper, and the people who decided to let you have this club.

    Now, for anybody who’d still like to learn more about psychopaths, here’s some info:



    And here’s a book:

    Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare PhD

    Hare is a leading authority on the subject.
    You could also read that forum. You’ll really get an eyeful that way, plus there are more book recommendations.

    • Tyler, it’s very easy to contact the editors of this paper: editors@daily.swarthmore.edu.

      And nobody “decided to let [them] have this club.” It’s not a college-sanctioned organization, it’s a few people talking to each other via email. You’re welcome to start an equally official “people with a google alert on ‘psychopaths’ who get upset about what they see at places that have nothing to do with them” club if you’d like.

  10. I think the group is a great idea both for helping sociopaths function better in an empathic society and also for trying to dismantle the extremely negative and false stigma and assumptions attributed to sociopaths.

    First and foremost, everyone should know that to be a psychopath (psychopathy is a sub-category of sociopathy) does NOT in any way mean that you are a monster, that your main goal in life is to destroy other people, or that you are sub-human. Yes it is true that some psychopaths are dangerous criminals but they are in the minority. Furthermore there are plenty of extremely malicious people who are in no way psychopathic.

    Let me try to shed some light on what psychopathy actually is in the most general sense.

    If a psychopath is driving a car down a street with people walking up and down the sidewalk, the psychopath will simply view these bodies as objects more or less hierarchically indistinguishable from the trees or fire hydrants whizzing by. This is not to say that a psychopath does not think these bodies are as inanimate as a spoon or brick but rather are incapable of seeing these bodies as people like the psychopath views him/herself.

    As for the manipulative nature of psychopaths, absolutely no psychopath acts as a sort of hunter of other humans. To think psychopaths function in this manner is simply not consistent. Psychopaths, due to the fact that they, by definition, view other people as objects, simply use the people they come across to achieve whatever goal the psychopath wants/needs to. So to say they they have a DRIVE to actively seek out and harm or manipulate others goes against the psychopath’s primary aim: self betterment.
    To actively seek out people for the sole purpose of harming them would imply there is something to be personally gained by doing so. Due to psychopaths’ object based, and therefore selfish–I say selfish not as an insult or in a derogatory sense–view, to “hunt” people for the sole purpose of “destroying” them (whatever that means) would simply be a waste of energy.

    Even psychopathic killers do not function in this monstrous way. They kill, in a general sense, those who they come across rather than actively seeking.

    Finally, most sociopaths/psychopaths do not know they are one. I completely agree with Nicholas the Silent, and would like to re-emphasize his statement that

    “There are low-functioning sociopaths, those who can be clearly identified as such from the outside, those who are violent, those who are destructive to themselves and others. Their problem isn’t that they are sociopaths, its that they don’t know how to handle it. Sociopaths who have made it to Swarthmore, however, are likely very high-functioning.”

    Most sociopaths and psychopaths are not harmful and they are not people to fear like a Salem Which.
    Many of the manipulative behaviours and relatively hyper-selffish traits exhibited by psychopaths are in any neurotypical, most likely more than we are aware of, just at differing degrees.

    In closing, I am of the opinion that to call sociopathy and psychopathy a mental illness is just as unjust as calling homosexuality a mental illness. Both are simple results of brain wiring. Some people are born a psychopath just as some are born homosexual. Neither are a disease and neither should be thought of as one. Most importantly no one should consider members of either community to be in any way sub-human.


    • I follow what you’re saying but please do not ever equate sociopathy to homosexuality. I know you’re intent wasn’t to make them seem comparable, but please don’t do it. It’s offensive.

      • I did not say sociopathy was equivalent to homosexuality. I said sociopathy and homosexuality are NOT disorders and both are the result of wiring in the brain. I did not say that they are the same or in any way imply that homosexuals are sociopaths or vice-versa.

        • I understand your intention. But it can come across to people as equating the two. As a gay person, I’d really prefer if you didn’t do that. You can easily make the argument without using that analogy.

        • Your comparison is still flawed. Sociopathy is a disorder in that it causes harm and distress to the sociopath and those around them. Homosexuality is not a disorder in that it does not cause anyone harm or distress.

      • It’s offensive? So, a person I’m assuming would be furious at intolerance against homosexuals is fine with perpetuating intolerance against sociopaths? The original poster is making a great point about how we shouldn’t condemn people for how their brains are wired–don’t cheapen it by bringing in your own prejudice.

        • They just aren’t comparable. Sexual attraction has nothing to do with sociopathy. I don’t know enough about sociopathy to determine whether or not it should be considered a psychiatric condition. I have no real opinion either way. However, I know being gay is nothing like being a sociopath and I would really prefer if the two weren’t conflated. Just because I don’t want to be compared to a sociopath doesn’t mean I think sociopaths are necessarily evil. Just like how being gay isn’t like being black. Being gay isn’t like being a sociopath.

        • Intolerance of sociopaths is far more understandable than intolerance of homosexuals, even if the former is not necessarily right. Homosexuals are not inherently predisposed to cause others harm. Sociopaths are. Therefore, there is an actual reason to be distrustful of sociopaths.

    • S. T.– what you did seem to say was that it’s acceptable to treat people with “diseases”, people with mental disorders as being sub-human. You qualified sociopathy as outside of that category and used that qualification as the justification for treating sociopaths as normal. Considering how well informed you seem to be I was surprised at your suggestion that mental disorders are not a result of what you call brain wiring. Obviously research would suggest that most mental disorders are the result of altered pathways/sensitivites leading to altered neurotransmitter levels. I guess I’m not sure this is any different. I guess I wish it weren’t offensive for a sociopath to be compared to someone like me.

      • Hannah, thank you for making these points! I, too, was surprised by your implication that mental disorders are not the result of “brain wiring.” And, like Hannah, I was concerned that you justified the respectful treatment of sociopaths by the fact that, in your opinion, they do not have a mental disorder.

      • Hannah,
        I can see how my statements were too broad to accurately represent my argument which, I see now, come across clearly. So I shall, partially for my own benefit, attempt to lay out the details of what I believe/ed. So often people have beliefs and might not realize the potential faults in it until they are forced to write/talk it out and I am certainly no exception haha.

        My initial intent was to say how I believed psychopathy , in its most factual terms, is not really a mental disorder. My basis for making this claim was that I viewed mental disorders as being cause by a misfunctioning part of the brain. Up until recently, which forced me to read quite a lot of scholarly articles, I did not think psychopathy was caused by a misfunction of the brain, but rather the psychopathic brain was formed without empathy circuits. I now know this is not the case and that my semantic argument was misguided. Psychopathy is believed to be the result of partial dysfunction of the amygdala and ventromedial pre-frontal cortex. Psychopathy is indeed a mental disorder.

        Yet one other thing I would like clarify is how this argument of mine does not, and never did, extend to anything much beyond semantics; classifications if you will. My judgement and treatment of psychopaths and sociopaths are based on the fact that most are largely harmless. Most studies of psychopathy involve the scanning of identified psychopathic criminal brains. This is not however representative of all, or even most psychopaths. It just so happens that the criminal population is more populated with psychopaths than the general public. This is understandable due to the simple fact that there are far less criminals in the world than non-criminals. This, understandably, creates the false notion that most psychopaths are natural-born criminals. They are not.
        So, with that as my backing (I shall post the source for my previous statements as soon as I find it again)
        I restate that I judge people my their actions as a whole and in my opinion, it is irrelevant what people are called

        I hope that cleared things up,
        I know it did for me

        All the best, and thank you are bringing up those points Hannah

    • Hey– just a quick point. Disregarding te homosexuality analogy, socio- and psychopathy ARE mental illnesses. I am in support of this discussion group and think that people with these illnesses can and should be encouraged to function normally in society, just as someone with depression, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness might. However, I think it’s really not helping anyone to say that mental illnesses aren’t what they are. We (and here I mean we as a society) should be working to reduce the stigma around mental illness and increase opportunities for those who deal with them to heal and cope. Denying mental illness status as a way of saying “it’s harmless!” Is really not productive. Instead, we should encourage the recognition that people with mental illnesses are just people!

      • They are most definitely not real people! They are evil and should be rounded up and put in prison preemptively!

        They aren’t encouraging each other to function normally in society, they’re giving each other tips on how to best commit devious crimes.

        • The day you see advocacy of internment camps on Swat DG thread

          Guys, sociopaths are people. Just like you’d be on the lookout for an empath treating you like shit (and arguably, most people experience more of this treatment from empaths than from sociopaths throughout their lifetime), look out with a relationship with a sociopath starts to get a little weird, or if you feel you’re being manipulated. But really this discrimination is disgusting and I’m really disappointed to see it coming from presumably educated and intelligent people.

  11. Thank you for this interesting and enlightening interview! I was initially concerned about the Swarthmore Sociopaths, but this has really clarified the purpose of the club.

    For those of you disparaging the Swarthmore Sociopaths, just something to think about: Nicholas the Silent could easily be a close friend of yours. You wouldn’t have any way of knowing. So before you judge sociopaths, stop and think about how informed you really are the people your words could be affecting.

  12. Either this is an elaborate joke or Nicholas the Silent has an even poorer understanding of irony than he does of sociopathy.

  13. One minor problem I have with this interview is that Nicholas is very adamant about the fact that nobody knows (s)he’s a sociopath, yet I am around 95% sure that I know who he/she is. I honestly think Nicholas is deluding himself when he says that nobody has any idea that he doesn’t have normal human emotions, and if he were so “rational,” he would probably realize that.

    • Thanks for your comment, I’m intrigued. Tell me who I am, then. Email me with my name, and I’ll give up this whole idea. If you’re so confident, prove yourself.

      I must say, this comment is far more interesting than the discussion of how human sociopaths are, kudos.

  14. @S.T.: Let’s look at what I actually said. I said that “they do want to be able to pass as functional members of society, but they also want to be able to get away with behavior that destroys people. Passing as functional is the key goal here.” Now, how does this work? Do people who want to do both of these, simply go around destroying people wantonly? No, they don’t. What they do is to determine how manipulative behavior could lead to their own betterment at the expense of others around them, if it serves their purpose. Now, we all do this to a degree. What is different about psychopaths? They don’t care if they damage others in the process, and they will do much worse things to get there. One would think this is common sense. I would have thought I didn’t have to spell this out, but I guess I was wrong.

    Now, perhaps we can think more clearly about this by taking out the labels and looking at the behavior. Going by the Hare psychopathy checklist:

    Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”

    Glibness/superficial charm
    Grandiose sense of self-worth
    Pathological lying
    Lack of remorse or guilt
    Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
    Callousness; lack of empathy
    Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

    Factor 2: Case history “Socially deviant lifestyle”.

    Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
    Parasitic lifestyle
    Poor behavioral control
    Lack of realistic long-term goals
    Juvenile delinquency
    Early behavior problems
    Revocation of conditional release

    A person who exhibits these behaviors and traits is a psychopath. A person who does not exhibit these behaviors and traits, is not a psychopath. Now, if Nicholas the Silent does not exhibit these behaviors and traits, then he is just a wannabe (they do exist), and he might as well just join the Young Republicans. If he does exhibit these behaviors and traits, then he is a psychopath, and he just wants to soothe the sheep a little the better to sheer them, by misinforming people about what psychopathy actually is. Either way, what he’s doing is not a good thing.

    So I will ask: Does Swarthmore, and its University newspaper, want to promote parasitic lifestyle, pathological lying, conning and manipulative behavior, lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility, and lack of realistic long-term goals? Really, Swarthmore?

    @Food For Thought: No, he could not easily be a close friend of mine without my knowing it, because psychopaths exhibit psychopathic behaviors. Please see my answer to S.T. above.

    Doesn’t anybody read the links I post?

    • Tyler, I was not responding to your posts and there is no reason to get defensive.
      Regardless, most psychopaths do not have the sense of malicious intent you claim they do; ” soothe the sheep a little the better to sheer them”

      I disagree with your statement “…and they will do much worse things to get there” for being a psychopath does not suddenly open up a higher category of “worse things” one is capable of. Closer to the truth would be to say that most psychopaths execute a higher number of manipulative actions, oftentimes more sophisticated than many neurotypicals. These actions are not always worse

      As for Swarthmore promoting “parasitic lifestyle, pathological lying, conning and manipulative behavior, lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility, and lack of realistic long-term goals?”
      In no way is Swarthmore encouraging these things by having a sociopathy group because 1) on the basis that most sociopaths here at swarhtmore are high-functioning, their behavior will be unaltered by the presence of this group.
      As a side note,although these traits are present in psychopaths, not all psychopaths exhibit every one of these traits ABSOLUTELY. Just as neurotypicals can exhibit various personality traits to varying degrees psychopaths can as well. I’m trying to make it clear that psychopaths are not monstrous predators. Rather that most are quite harmless.

      2) I do not believe having an open forum on a group or issue automatically equates to promotion. Isabel Knight did not take any particular stance on the group. Furthermore, Swarthmore is not putting forth any of its resources towards this group.

      I encourage all who are reading/taking part in this discussion to research on your own what psychopathy is, factually before placing any judgement on this community (as with anything you possibly don’t understand or could understand more clearly).

      In my opinion, Tyler, you are depicting psychopathy and sociopathy inaccurately and in an unrealistic sense for the above reasons (among others)

      That is my opinion and I have now said all I believe I can say regarding this matter and will leave the readers to decide for themselves.

      Thank you Isabel for conducting and publishing this interview.


  15. Nicholas the Silent,

    I could not agree more with ‘One Thing’. You need to be aware of the fact that not only is it extremely clear who you are, but that you have also caused several people at this school to feel very uncomfortable and unsafe over the years.

    It is so concerning to me that you say that you do not want help. At the very least, I’m sorry to inform you that you need help in constructing your “mask” a little better.

    Before you tell me to email you and tell you who you are, I’ll respond right now and say I won’t. Why? Because I am legitimately afraid of you. Several people are. In no way do I want to be present in any of your thoughts.

    I’m not saying these things to hurt you but to make you aware of the reality of the situation.

    • I’ve been in contact with the previous poster, and unfortunately they were completely wrong. I’m not who you’re thinking of. No, I have no way to prove this, I’m anonymous. But I can guarantee you that you are wrong in your conviction. He may not be good at masking, I am.

      • Of course Nicholas the Silent would say this. There’s no way of knowing whether he’s lying, so it’s in his best interest to deny anything.

      • funny, I just spoke to that individual and they haven’t contacted you at all. lying isn’t going to help this conversation

        • Sorry, that was a misunderstanding. I was contacted by someone with a name, and the name they put forward is not mine. I assumed it was you. Given the time proximity, I had no reason to think otherwise. An unfortunate byproduct of anonymity, that.

          I’m still fairly convinced that I’m not who you think I am. I know people who seem outwardly like low-functioning sociopaths, and maybe the person you’re thinking of is one. Or maybe not, they’re most likely just a dirtbag. I’m not like that, I have actively taken time to craft my persona.

          Again, I will happily engage anyone, anonymously or otherwise, over email, I won’t answer questions directed to me about sociopathy over these boards, some people just get ridiculous. I’ll answer any questions you have about the group, or myself. I invite you all into reasonable conversation.

          • So you’re saying that you think somebody else read your challenge to “one thing,” to e-mail you with what he thinks is your real identity, and then somebody else e-mailed you, and tried to guess who you really are?

            That is not very believable.

  16. I also think I have a pretty good idea of who this Nicholas is. I could be wrong; maybe Swat has several “sociopaths” running around screwing with people’s minds.

    But if he is who I think he is, then sorry, Nick, but you’re not a real sociopath. You’re a wannabe sociopath, AKA, a major douchebag. Nothing really romantic about that.

  17. If you know who he is, please tell make this information available so that we can avoid him, for our own safety.

    • oh my goodness I am dying to know

      but PLEASE actually DON’T tell us. If Nicholas is not doing anything actually wrong, then we should not stigmatize him or lead a witch-hunt.

      • How about instead of revealing Nick’s identity, reveal the identity of other sociopaths who are and have proven themselves harmful.

      • yo bro
        in this article we talkin about psychopaths
        do you have anything you wanna say about psychopaths??? pls post ok

    • In the slight chance that the person I think it is isn’t in fact Nicholas the Silent, I won’t say anything. Sorry. Don’t mean to be a tease, but I’m not trying to ostracize anybody.

  18. @S.T. What is your proof that psychopaths do not have a malicious intent?

    Once again, this is the kind of behavior that psychopaths exhibit:

    Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”
    Glibness/superficial charm
    Grandiose sense of self-worth
    Pathological lying
    Lack of remorse or guilt
    Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
    Callousness; lack of empathy
    Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    Factor 2: Case history “Socially deviant lifestyle”.
    Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
    Parasitic lifestyle
    Poor behavioral control
    Lack of realistic long-term goals
    Juvenile delinquency
    Early behavior problems
    Revocation of conditional release

    If a particular individual does not exhibit these traits, then he or she is not a psychopath. If he or she does, then they are. Now, are you saying that you think these are not bad traits? You said:
    “these actions are not always worse.” Which actions are not always worse? You want to split hairs rather than get the point that these people cannot be treated, don’t want to be treated, and are dangerous to be around.

    Show me some peer-reviewed articles that prove they are not harmful people. Something better than that Psychology Today article you posted a link to, which was pretty stupid, imo. I posted what I thought about that one, in that article’s comments.

    Furthermore, who said that psychopaths have to exhibit every one of these traits absolutely in order for them to be quite harmful to other people? I did not. They most certainly are not quite harmless. Once again, psychopaths exhibit psychopathic behaviors and traits. I refer you again to the psychopath checklist that I’ve now posted twice.

    A person who does not exhibit psychopathic traits, is not a psychopath. A person who does, is a psychopath, because psychopaths exhibit psychopathic behaviors and personality traits. I hope that is clear. Are saying you think the above list of behaviors is harmless to other people?

    Swarthmore certainly is putting forth its resources towards this group. They are putting forth their recommendation, their reputation, and the attention of their students. Allowing this social club is akin to allowing people to start a “con artist” social club, which many psychopaths are. That is not likely to happen, and the reason is that most universities want extracurricular activities that are beneficial in some way. Promoting a “con artist” social club would not be. Sure, let’s have a social club allowing con artists to get together, they need understanding just like the rest of us! Right. BTW, this is just an example, for those of you would take me too literally.

    Yes, everyone , please do go do your own research. Talk to those people on that forum I posted a link to. Read books. You sure won’t find many that are favorable to the psychopaths. Any therapy student or therapist who tells you you should be sympathetic to them because someday maybe there might be a treatment, is setting you up for victimization. Sure, someday we might be able to genetically engineer cobra snakes to have no venom, but in the meantime, stay away from them.

    As for your statement that I am depicting psychopathy and sociopathy inaccurately, well. I have been quoting Dr. Hare a lot. Dr. Hare is a well recognized authority in the field. Are you saying you have more expertise on the subject than Dr. hare? Somehow I doubt it. Stop pretending to have authority that you do not possess.

    • Wow. I am amazed by the extent of your hypocrisy.
      First, your request for ST to cite peer reviewed articles is admirable. I learned so much from the peer reviewed articles you supplied:
      -Wikipedia, the gold standard of “peer review”.
      -an internet forum.
      -psychology today, the same magazine you criticized ST for citing.
      If you do not understand why these sources do not count as “peer reviewed”, I suggest you repeat high school–from your earlier comments, I feel this could be useful to you anyway.

      The burden of proof does not fall solely on your opponent. You can’t cite anonymous anecdotes on the “Psychopath Victim Support Community” message board while criticizing your opponent for not providing you with peer reviewed articles–ST was probably only picking sources of information they thought you would actually be able to understand. If you want us to take you seriously, you should use the same standard of proof you criticize others for not having. Hypocrite.

    • Do you know what peer-reviewed means? I’m guessing from the sources you cite in this thread that the answer is no.

    • “Stop pretending to have authority that you do not posess” ??

      People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • It seems to me like a big part of the disagreement here is over the definition(s) of psychopathy/sociopathy, which even experts disagree over. This doesn’t seem all that important to me and seems to be getting in the way of more valuable discussions.

      According to Hare’s definition of psychopathy, which requires antisocial behavior as well as a lack of empathy, Nicholas the Silent is not a psychopath. However, Nicholas the Silent identifies as a sociopath. These are just labels; let’s remember what Nicholas the Silent actually says about himself and what he means when he says “sociopath.”

      Tyler, even if you’re right that Swarthmore is promoting psychopathy/sociopathy by publishing an article about it in our college (we’re not a University) news bulletin, the psychopathy/sociopathy it “promotes” does not include behaviors that harm others. So what’s the big deal?

    • Just because someone is not showing symptoms of a disorder does not mean the underlying disorder is not there. Because psychiatrists are limited to diagnosis based on observable behaviors, the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy are based on antisocial behaviors. However, it is entirely possible for someone to be a sociopath and not meet the diagnostic criteria. Sociopathy predisposes a person towards antisocial behaviors, but just because someone is a sociopath does not mean that it is a 100% sure thing that they will harm others, just that they are more likely to. See my above anecdote with regards to myself and autism.

      It is possible to be both cautious and sympathetic towards sociopaths. Just because I am advocating for rights for sociopaths does not mean I personally would trust one. We don’t have to embrace cobra snakes, but we don’t have to lock them all up either.

      Swarthmore is not in any way supporting Swarthmore Sociopaths other than by not shutting it down. You seem confused as to how much Swarthmore interferes in its student’s lives.

  19. Can sociopaths have romantic relationships in any meaningful way? What about with other sociopaths?

  20. True sociopaths lack empathy. Without empathy, I think it’s pretty hard to have a meaningful relationship. That’s not to say that sociopaths don’t date. Sociopaths actually love to manipulate women.

    However, it’s important to note that sociopathy occurs on a continuum. Some people are only partly sociopathic. I guess these people could have partly meaningful relationships. But I wouldn’t suggest dating a sociopath. Your average person is already plenty narcissistic and dishonest enough.

    Please be wary of romanticizing sociopathy. People who are wannabe sociopaths romanticize it. People who fall in love with sociopaths romanticize it. But actual sociopaths are not romantic at all. They are not desperately lonely. They are not sexily dangerous. They’re just people who will use you and throw you away, like a wad of toilet paper.

    • “Sociopaths actually love to manipulate women.” Because all sociopaths are apparently heterosexual males? You seem to be really into overgeneralizing.

      No one is romanticizing sociopathy here. I think we all agree that sociopathy is a very harmful disorder. You may be projecting.

  21. Thanks, Oh sure, that is exactly right. They will just use you and throw you away like toilet paper.


    There’s one problem with your comparing psychopathy and autism. You wanted to get better. Psychopaths don’t. They like the way they are. I’ve said this already, more than once. I think this is the third time now. Ask “Nicholas the Silent” if he wants to get better. I believe he’s already said that he doesn’t. It is dangerous to apply the things that work for other mental illnesses to this one. Perhaps you need to become a little less, ahem, ignorant about it. What is more likely to happen with this social club, is that they will connect with each other in order to trade tips on how to manipulate and take advantage of other people.

    This is how I will explain to you how I can make this assumption that sociopaths are harmful to others: You know that Hare psychopathy checklist that I posted for S.T.? If a person does not exhibit those behaviors, they are not a psychopath, and if they do, then they are. In short, actual psychopaths actually do these things. If they don’t do these things, then the label does not apply. And yes, the behaviors and traits in that checklist are indeed harmful to others. And this is how you figure out whether or not a person is a psychopath: you have to observe them, and it can take time to figure out whether or not a person is one.

    Now, how do you know they are trying to learn how to stop themselves? Where is your evidence for that? The real psychopaths like the way they are, and they don’t want to change it. It’s nice to try to be altruistic and have compassion for them, but like I said, they are just too predatory for that to be a good idea. Take a look at that list of behaviors provided by Dr. Hare, and then ask yourself is those are predatory behaviors. Yes, they are.

    How can you be fairly well read on the topic if you can’t find a single paper that claims that sociopathy and oxytocin are linked? Whatever, there is something seriously wrong with them.

    Are you qualified to say that oxytocin does affect delusions of grandeur? Doesn’t sound like it to me.

    It’s nice to suppose that psychopaths can help themselves just like people with other types of mental disorders. They don’t want to. Maybe in some completely totalitarian future dystopia they could be forced to, but hey, not in our lifetimes. You are wasting your good wishes for their mental health on people who don’t want it. Or are you planning on forcing them?

    As I’ve stated before, therapy only makes them worse because they learn from the therapists how to manipulate people with even more skill. It is well known. I’m sure the high priests of the therapy religion don’t like to hear that, but it’s true.

    So, where is your evidence that they are trying to learn how to stop themselves?

    • Please don’t take things out of context. When Nicholas the Silent said he (or she, but I’m just gonna stick with “he” for convenience/flow) did not want to get better, he was saying that he did not feel the need to develop empathy (and didn’t think he could). He’s already made the decision to change, and done so, when it comes to impulse control. Why does it matter whether he feels empathy if he’s treating others well?

    • Let me try to break this down for you as simply as I can:

      1. The diagnostic criteria for sociopathy indicate that sociopaths do harm to others.
      2. Swarthmore Sociopaths is a group for sociopaths who want to fit in to society better.
      3. Fitting into society involves not doing harm.
      4. Therefore, Swartmore Sociopaths is a group that will cause sociopaths to do less harm.
      5. Therefore, Swarthmore Sociopaths is a group for people to overcome a symptom of socipathy.
      6. Clearly, if sociopaths are joining this group, they want to “get better” in the sense that they want to control their harmful behaviors, even if they are not truly gaining empathy or anything like that.

      You also still seem very confused about how neuropsychiatry works. When I said I was fairly well-read on the topic, the topic I was referring to was the topic of mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders. There is no such topic as oxytocin’s role in psychopathy because the two are unrelated. I am, however, fairly well read on the topic of oxytocin and the topic of psychopathy, so I can feel confident in my assertion that the two do not overlap. I also never said that oxytocin affects delusions of grandeur. Given that I am saying that oxytocin and psychopathy are completely unrelated, I would have no reason to make such a claim. All that I said was “Your assertion that oxytocin does NOT affect delusions of grandeur is completely unfounded.” You have zero evidence to say one way or the other whether oxytocin has any effect on delusions of grandeur, so you cannot say affirmatively that it does or does not. If you want to talk about science, please try to understand basic scientific principles such as falsifiability first.

  22. I’m kind of confused by the attacks on Tyler. What’s more disturbing, his scholarly incompetence or sociopaths? Personally I think the sociopaths are a little bit scarier than a guy who cites Wikipedia. The people who are complaining about Tyler have obviously never had a close encounter with a sociopath. Trust me, it’s memorable.

    • Be careful when making assumptions. I have a close friend, not at Swarthmore, who is a sociopath. I have a disorder that makes me the reverse of a sociopath: I am so empathic that I pathologically value others above myself. And yet somehow our friendship works. Mostly, because the arguments that ALL sociopaths deliberately intend to hurt people are wrong. My friend and I do not operate on the same emotional level, and yet we have found a way to make things work.

      Before you say awful things and suggest that my friend will take advantage of me, or is biding his time, let me clarify something. As an empath, I have been taken advantage of by numerous people in my life, most of them neurotypical (a few with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder). By now, I have learned who I can trust and who I can’t. I KNOW I can trust my sociopathic friend.

      Tyler’s scholarly incompetence disturbs me, but I am even more disturbed by his clear intolerance for people who are different from him. I am hurt that someone would make sweeping assumptions about a broad spectrum of people, and speak in such a cruel manner. It reminds me of the people saying that we should place all depressed people on a national “potential mass shooter” registry. I had hoped that we would be more understanding than this at a place as diversity-conscious as Swarthmore.

      I lost a family member to intolerance–he took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I will ALWAYS condemn bigots, ALWAYS fight for human dignity to be recognized, and ALWAYS condemn the stereotypes of others. I do find Tyler’s blatant prejudice threatening, and I will fight against it.

      The intolerant should always scare you.

      • The relevance of your story about your friend in this context is basically the flip side of a white dude saying he is justified in using the n-word because his one black friend from back home is okay with it.

        • I’ve reread my comment several times, and am just not seeing it. Please explain how my comment in any way resembles “the flip side of white dude saying he is justified in using the n-word because his one black friend from back home is okay with it”.

        • I’ll try to answer. I am not saying “my friend is still a good person, so all sociopaths are good people”. I am saying “I know a sociopath who is a good person, so your argument that they are all bad people is wrong”.

          The reason I mentioned my friend was not to draw a conclusion about sociopaths as a whole (unlike Tyler, I do not believe that one experience with one person allows me to draw sweeping conclusions about everyone who happens to share a trait with that person), but to point out to “Oh sure” that I do in fact know a sociopath, invalidating “Oh sure”‘s claim that “The people who are complaining about Tyler have obviously never had a close encounter with a sociopath”.

    • Actually, I’d probably say that getting into Swarthmore and citing Wikipedia is a little scarier. You could probably classify that as a mental illness in and of itself.

      • At this point in time, Wikipedia is much more reliable than any website that isn’t an academic journal article. Please stop parroting that nonsense you were told in high school about Wikipedia not being a reliable source.

  23. The most basic definition of a sociopath is someone who has no conscious or empathy. I would love to see someone explain how this is not a bad thing. Yes, perhaps many people can control it and manage to fit in with “neurotypical” society, but how does this necessitate the existence of a group for them?

    Perhaps this analogy is appropriate. If there were a group of pyromaniacs that had a closed anonymous group where they talked together presumably about their pyromania with no desire to “get better” or “healing”, don’t you think it is more likely that one of them is going to eventually set something on fire, no matter how “well adjusted” or “in control” they might claim to be?

    It is very unlikely that many if any people that are beyond the shallowest part of the sociopathy spectrum would even desire to be in a group such as this. At best this group is very poorly named and its existence is questionable, at worst it could potentially result in very real harm to the community.

    • I don’t see anyone saying that sociopathy is not a bad thing. I see people saying that sociopaths deserve basic human rights despite having a mental problem. There’s a big difference.

      Your pyromaniac example is pretty nonsensical. Presumably, a support group for pyromaniacs would involve them sharing strategies for coping with their pyromania in a way that is not disruptive, i.e., lighting non-valuable things on fire. I don’t see anything wrong with them doing that, just like I don’t see any problem with sociopaths trying to be less disruptive. To the extent that this group lets them do that, it’s beneficial to the community.

      • Where did “Nicholas the Silent” say that he wanted to help other sociopaths be less disruptive? He didn’t. What he said was:

        “It’s not really a self-help group. We’re not trying to heal, we’re not trying to get better, we’d just like to meet other people who think like us.”

        “Sociopathy is a way of thinking. It is to be devoid of empathy, of conscience, and of remorse. ”

        So he wants to meet with other people who actively do have sociopathic traits.

        Next, farther on in the article he states:
        “I think how this group can help fellow sociopaths is by sharing mechanisms for handling everyday life. Some do it better than others. I don’t think professional help is the way to go. Anti-sociopath stigma exists even among psychotherapists. Going to CAPS would be a bad idea. There isn’t any cure, nor really any treatment mechanism, and that’s fine: I don’t want one. What we can do is help each other by sharing the ways that we have learned to fit in.”

        They don’t want help. They want to share mechanisms for handling everyday life. They don’t want any treatment or cure. They want to share how they have learned to fit in.

        So Harrison’s analogy is completely appropriate, but it would be slightly better framed as a social club for *untreated* pyromaniacs. What if a group of pyromanics who are not getting some kind of treatment decide to get together and have a social club, and the purpose of that club is merely
        social, and they definitely do not want not to get better in any way? Yeah, that is trouble waiting to happen. Would Swarthmore sponsor a group for untreated pyromaniacs, or would they have the sense to realize that it may not be a good idea?

        The problem here is that psychopaths lie. They are known to lie. If Nicholas does not want any treatment or cure (which doesn’t exist anyway), then how is he going to fit in? I believe he is kidding himself that nobody guesses what he is, and a few comments I’ve seen on here would seem to agree.

        And, Nicholas really has you going, Julia. They already have basic human rights, and they already “fit in” quite well in many ways, due to being able to charm people. Or didn’t you know about that? How much do you actually know about them?

        The way it actually works in the real world, is that they blind people with their charm,
        and it’s only when their actual psychopathic behavior starts to cause problems
        (which can take a long time to get to the point that no one can deny it any more),
        that they can no longer “fit in.”

        So if these people do not display any psychopathic traits as Nicholas claims,
        (meaning himself and any Swarthmore sociopath), then they don’t need to worry
        about fitting in, do they? Heh.

        Your belief that this group will be socially redeeming is incorrect, especially considering that Nicholas the Silent has outright stated that the purpose of the club is not to help each other “get better.”

        • (Correction on the baldy formatted paragraph):

          The way it actually works in the real world, is that they blind people with their charm, and it’s only when their actual psychopathic
          behavior starts to cause problems (which can take a long time to get to the point that no one can deny it any more), that they can no longer “fit in.”

          So if these people do not display any psychopathic traits as Nicholas claims, (meaning himself and any Swarthmore sociopath), then they don’t need to worry about fitting in, do they? Heh.

    • I’ll admit, when you put it that way it does sound pretty bad. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m pro-sociopath, just that I’m in favor of the right of people to seek treatment for their own mental health problems in whatever form they like. I do think the way other people in this thread are looking at sociopaths solely as victims of prejudice are being pretty naive. Caution around sociopaths is completely warranted.

  24. I’m not terribly knowledgable of sociopathy, but some here seem to be making the case that since sociopaths are manipulative, unemotional, etc. that we should not support this group or Nicholas – that they are not worthy of tolerance in the same way that we tolerate gay, lesbian, trans, and other communities.

    I object to that argument. As someone who is not a sociopath, I do have the capacity for empathy and forgiveness, and in a twisted way, for me not to have empathy for a sociopath would make me a sociopath of sorts.

    I’m aware that by empathizing with such a group, one takes the risk of being left vulnerable or manipulated, but I’m okay with that since I consider my ability to empathize with different people one of the most important characteristics of myself.

  25. Listen to Harrison. He’s got some sense in his head.

    To those of you putting me down for blatant prejudice and intolerance: I have actual experience with a psychopath, and after I successfully got away from the person, I talked to a lot of people and read books. I did not just come on the comments section of one article and start spouting about intolerance and understanding without knowing what they are, like many of you people. It’s been a while since I read about oxytocin receptors and psychopaths, and I can’t argue with everyone at once. But really whether or not I have studies to show about the oxytocin receptor doesn’t matter so much, because I am not basing my comments here on that. I experienced psychopathic behavior myself, educated myself about it as I was going along, and talked to other people who also had experience.

    @pot and kettle: Sounds like your friend is on the low end of the spectrum. That still does not make it a thing to admire. Have fun with letting both psychopaths and non-psychopaths alike take advantage of you.

    I will refer you back to Dr hare’s checklist. Here’s how we can think more clearly about it:
    If a person exhibits psychopathic behavior, chances
    are they are a psychopath! Do you consider Dr. Hare’s list of behavioral traits to be a sweeping generalization? I’d bet he knows a lot more about it than you do, and he’s not the only one who’s written about it. Go to amazon, type in psychopath, and you will see many books.

    Now, I am doing this to make it more clear, for those who do not yet understand what a psychopath is. A psychopath is a person who exhibits those behavioral traits that I have now referred to many times. Look the list of traits, and ask yourself if those behaviors are good ones. Ask yourself if you would want other people to do those things to you personally. No?

    Don’t just take my word for it. Go do some reading on that psychopathy victim forum I posted a link to. Ask them what they think about “unfair prejudice against psychopaths.” In fact, I may just go do that myself, because I don’t think y’all will go to that much trouble. You just want to sit here on this comment thread and lambast me for being a bigot. But the people on that forum will probably either laugh at you or react with stunned silence.

    I am glad to see that there are a few people here that do seem to have some realistic knowledge about psychopaths. Thank you for speaking up.

    • Throughout your comments it has been painfully clear that you are bitter over a previous experience with a particular person. Unfortunately, writing off the humanity of an entire group of people is not a good way to respond to being hurt. It would be more healthy to write in your diary, warn your friends about this particular person, and then move on with your life.

      I have a friend who dated a clinically depressed man. He abused her and blamed it on his depression. Would it be right for her to blame the disease and tell everyone to avoid depressed people? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Blame the person, not the disorder. Your psycopath was a jerk to you. My sociopathic friend is nice to me. Either there is some major difference in your definition of psychopath and my friend’s definition of sociopath (they are different, but not so fundamentally different) or, MORE LIKELY, the difference in our experiences is explained by the difference in individuals.

      One note: it doesn’t matter how you came upon your intolerance. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR INTOLERANCE. Your personal experience validates concerns with a particular individual, not spewing hatred against an entire group of people on a random message board.

      You have tried to make your point. You have failed miserably. Swarthmore is a place that values respect and tolerance. Please take your biased and ignorant views elsewhere.

  26. Tyler, a few tips to help you in future:
    1.When someone challenges your argument, respond to their argument with challenges and clarifications of your own. Don’t just whine “have fun letting people take advantage of you”.
    2. Don’t just repeat the same argument over and over. You’ve posted these comments already. Try to come up with something new.
    3. Your personal experience is not the word of God. You had a negative experience with a sociopath. There are people on this thread (more than one) who had positive experiences with sociopaths.
    4. When someone challenges the validity of your sources, don’t tell us to refer to them. Find better ones, or explain why they are valid.
    5. We are discussing sociopaths, not psychopaths. As Sherlock would say, “do your research”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9sUVrVS4co.

    • Technically, using “sociopath” and “psychopath” interchangeably is considered acceptable in the psychiatric community.

  27. There’s just this one thing: Nicholas the Silent has already been caught in a lie. But that got glossed over, didn’t it? You feel my attempts to warn you are a worse sin, though, right? Wake up and think!

  28. And by the way, no I haven’t failed miserably. I don’t see anybody that I’ve directly challenged
    answer it. For example, Neither Julia nor S.T. answered my questions to them. They didn’t answer because they couldn’t answer. That is their failure, not mine.

    Please show me where anybody actually challenged the validity of my references to Dr. Hare. I have not seen any valid challenges, only pot shots made by people who come and go. Would you yourself like to make a real and valid criticism of Dr. Hare?

    That you tube video you posted really packed an authoritative wallop, thank you. Boy, that was so much more valid than any link I’ve provided.

    So here’s another one:


    And here’s a Forbes article about sociopaths:


    Here’s a nifty quote from that Forbes article:
    “Add that to the fact that science now is questioning whether there is any difference at all between sociopaths and psychopaths, and that those with narcissistic personality disorder also have some of the same characteristics (an inability to care about anyone but themselves), it means that “evil” is all around us, even at work.”

    Got any more clips from TV shows to back you up?
    Great way to diss me, really great.

    • No one is arguing with you about the symptoms of psychopathy. Dr. Hare’s description of psychopathy is completely accurate. I think psychopathy is a terrible disorder that can cause people to be very destructive to others. That doesn’t change my arguments.

      • You mean your argument that maybe they might be able to get treatment someday? What does that have to do with the usefulness of a social club for psychopaths at Swarthmore? If you want to help them, put them in laboratory and stick needles in them. I’m sure they would do it for money. But don’t foist them on society by supporting this.

        • We do not get to remove people from society for having a mental condition different from our own before they have done anything wrong.

          People are not guilty before they have actually committed or conspired to commit crimes.

          Look, I find it hard not to have a bias against sociopaths, too. Empathy, sympathy and compassion are important to me. I don’t think sociopaths have my moral compass, and that means that they probably have a greater potential for committing cruel and immoral acts than I do. But if Nicholas, for instance, is trying to live within the rules of society, the fact that he doesn’t feel for those rules doesn’t mean we get to take him off the streets.

          I wish there was a way of preventing violent acts before they’ve happened (but I’ve seen the Minority Report). I don’t think stigmatizing and persecuting people with mental illnesses who are trying to live in our society is the way to do it.

    • Moron. The youtube video was not meant to be a piece of proof. It was clearly a joke from a tv show that is really popular amongst Swarthmore students. Your failure to recognize this point just shows that you’re not familiar with this community. That fact leads me to repeat my question: Why are you here?

      As for the potshots, I don’t feel like engaging fully with you. There is no cure for deep stupidity.

  29. Nice. You can get away with any kind of ID stealing games when there is no registration.

    So here’s a further thought for you all:

    Nicholas the Silent has been caught in a lie, and the guy he lied about did not appreciate it. I hope you people are not going to try to tell me that is harmless. It is not harmless.

    Therefore, if these supposedly harmless psychopaths do exist somewhere, Nicholas the Silent most certainly is not fit to lead them,
    or to gather them together for non-harmless purposes, because he has already proven that he himself is not harmless.

    Swarthmore is promoting an extracurricular activity that is not beneficial to society.

  30. I have a friend who I think may be a sociopath. However, he is definitely high-functioning and I’m pretty sure completely unaware that he is a sociopath. How can I help him? I’m serious.

  31. Yes, Julia, they are promoting sociopaths, by allowing them to have a club which is sponsored by Swarthmore and promoted in the university newspaper to the students. By the way, you haven’t answered my questions. Did you just come back to take another pot shot, or can you answer my questions?

    • Many people have been trying to tell you that Swarthmore College has zero affiliation or involvement with Swarthmore Sociopaths. It is completely run and maintained by Nicholas. Just because the Gazette published an article about it does not mean they are “promoting” it. You are not listening.
      I posted several comments above that I believe addressed all of your questions. Please make a numbered list of the questions I did not answer and I will respond to all of them.

      • Look “Julia,” The group is called “Swarthmore Sociopaths,” and the article was published in the “Daily Gazette of Swarthmore College.”

        If this group had no affiliation with Swarthmore, it would not be called “Swarthmore Sociopaths.”

        Do you have anything actually relevant to say?

        • The affiliation it has is that the members go to Swarthmore. The group chose its name, and the Daily Gazette chose to write about it, but that in no way implies that the Daily Gazette chose to sanction it, that the administration is okay with it or that it’s a chartered student group. Which it isn’t. Swarthmore has a process of chartering student groups, but it’s not like the school is going to sue a bunch of students for using the college’s name without being chartered. Particularly because this group of students is anonymous.

    • It’s hard to take your arguments seriously when you refer to a university newspaper.

      This also makes it hard to understand the relevance of your opinions on the existence of a club at a school, when you don’t even know what kind of school it is…

      • @Sarah, this is what you do: Look at what I actually say, instead of letting any minor errors I may make get in the way of your actually thinking about what I have said.
        I have made important points here. Don’t let minor stuff like this cause you to think in categories.

        • @tylerh, it’s also hard to take you seriously when you can’t reproduce the correct spelling of my name when it is literally right there before your eyes.

          Also, I think it’s incredibly relevant that you’re trying to have an opinion about a community you don’t actually know the very first thing about.

  32. Tyler, you do realize that these comments aren’t in order of posting time, right? They’re threaded. Replies appear directly under the comment they are in response to. Read the replies that are higher up on the page. To reply to a comment, click the “Reply” link in the top right hand corner.

    • Thanks so much for the lesson, Julia. I’m so glad for you that you got an ego point in. Do you have anything actually relevant to add?

      • Uh, I was trying to politely tell you that you may have missed my above comments. Which is pretty relevant. I’m still waiting on that itemized list.

        • Hmm. Before I get to that, I’ve got a new question for you: What is the main point that you are trying to prove here, if you have one?
          I’d appreciate it if you would spell out the main point that you want to prove in this discussion, clearly. Try to do it without insults, and without just reacting to the things I say.

          State your position.

  33. This group and any defense of it is absolutely absurd; a lawsuit waiting to happen. Fellow Swarthmore students- doing ridiculous things with a straight face for the shock value is getting really old really fast.

      • @Miram, it doesn’t matter if they don’t meet face to face, it is being sanctioned by Swarthmore, and promoted in the university newspaper. Why, even the title of this article uses the word “group.” Therefore, it is a group.

        When I say it is being promoted, I mean the fact that it’s even being brought to people’s attention.

        And yeah, it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

        • how is it being sanctioned by Swarthmore? Swarthmore cannot control the fact that an anonymous group of anonymous people are anonymously corresponding through anonymous email accounts. How would they even shut that down?

        • You clearly forget that Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four states that:
          “An Organisation, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students.”

          E-mail clearly counts as an exception to this regulation! However, if you wish to ensure that your other extracurricular activities comply with the administration’s every whim, then remember, students!
          “Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organisation, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organisation, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.”

          • It frustrates me that you’re not taking this seriously. Sociopaths are a serious threat that you should be worried about.

  34. This is ridiculous how many people are stealing my name. It’s impossible to have any sort of rational discussion when people are constantly impersonating others. I honestly expected better of you guys.

  35. Few questions

    1. Is Swarthmore sanctioning in any official way, besides the use of a name, the communication of sociopaths on campus?

    I think it’s been made pretty clear that the use of the name “Swarthmore,” the institution of which all correspondents of the e-mail group a students, does in no way indicate that Swarthmore is sanctioning the group in an official capacity. Interviewing the leader of the group for a DG article also does not constitute official approval: just like how the DG publishes articles on students personal lives, or on cooking, that are not subject to College approval. The existence of a Daily Gazette article is not a proxy or an implication of association or approval with or by College administrative structures.

    2. Why is such communication bad?

    You should probably prove why individuals corresponding with ONE other individual – Nicholas the Silent – is actually harmful. I don’t think it is or will be; I have some friends who have e-mailed him and, from what they’ve generally told me, he seems primarily interested in informing people about the way his experience of sociopathy works. He describes the way he can adopt “masks” to approximate emotions, but I don’t think it’s his mission to offer tips or advice on how to do this. If anything, he seems a little disdainful of those sociopaths who haven’t been able to do it for themselves; see his previous references to “low-functioning” sociopaths.

    Honestly, if you’re so concerned, e-mail Nicholas and ask him some questions about sociopathy. Who knows, he may be willing to Andrew some of your questions.

    3. Are sociopaths actually bad, and what ought we to do about it?

    So I think it’s been fairly established that yes, sociopaths do often exhibit behaviors that we, as empaths, find morally reprehensible. The question I want to ask is this: is it better to be manipulated by a sociopath who’s using you as a logical means to an end, or by an empath who is manipulating you and treating you terribly out of emotional malice?

    Even if you don’t accept these two are comparable, I also think it’s important not to totalize a group. There are sociopaths who commit crimes; there are neurotypicals who commit crimes. It’s important to take each individual in isolation and determine whether or not that individual is treating you in a way you don’t accept; this is just the way basic interpersonal relationships work.

    The question of what to do about sociopathy is an interesting one. Therapy may or may not help them; at any rate, Nicholas and others seem to feel that sociopathy is a) not fixable and/or b) not in need of fixing. I can understand the thinking behind b), which you may the more offensive of the two propositions. Sociopathy, as its been described here, is a way of thinking that these people have had, without their choice, for their entire lives. I personally would not want to shift my entire paradigm of viewing the world so dramatically, especially if I was reasonably content with status quo. Whether or not sociopathy can actually be “fixed” seems irrelevant when the method of doing so would be to force people into counseling or medical treatments against their will.

    The other propositions you make are a little ridiculous. I don’t think we should shun sociopaths as a class of people – if an individual is treating you poorly, fine, but you can miss out on some genuinely rich and enjoyable friendships by excluding this class of people based on a totalized and deterministic view of how they will act in any given situation. I certainly don’t think we should round them up for imprisonment; whether this was actually Tyler, or someone using Tyler’s name, the suggestion is itself offensive and, furthermore, a little ridiculous.

    Sorry if this is tl;dr: Swarthmore hasn’t officially approved anonymous email communication that I don’t think is bad in the first place. Sociopaths are people too.

    Tyler if you have any questions for me I’d be happy to respond to them.

  36. One huge point that everyone overlooks is that sociopath and psychopath are not interchangeable and are two different things.

  37. I was concerned as well when I first saw that this group existed, but it seems from this article that this group probably is not as harmful as one might expect. I was worried that the group was intended as a space for sociopaths to take pride in their identity and to excuse any behaviors that might be caused by their disorder. I’m glad that it instead appears to be for the purpose of encouraging strategies for coping with sociopathy in a manner that is not harmful to others. I think it’s great for people with serious mental illnesses to seek help in learning how to become higher-functioning, as opposed to just accepting the ways in which their disorder negatively impacts their life and those around them.

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