Reading sociopaths

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gregory's Avatar
gregory  gregory is offline
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Originally Posted by Grizabella View Post
I was surprised a few years ago when I read an article that said there are varying degrees of sociopathy/psychopathy and that we live with and deal with millions of them in our lifetime without even knowing it.
Yes indeed. May I recommend an excellent book: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. There are HUGE variations.
Originally Posted by Grizabella View Post
The ones who are at the extremely dangerous end of that category are hard to miss in person, but I don't think we'd be able to pick that up in the cards unless we were educated the way a psychiatrist or psychologist is. While a lot of or readings are done with higher than normal levels of intuitive ability, I think we'd be more likely to just pick up on things like the sense that a certain person is mentally unstable.
I think the cards will pick up - IF it's relevant. It isn't always. I picked up schizophrenia on one memorable occasion - my sitter had asked about something else, and I just said (motormouth here... it came out of my mouth before I could stop it) Is there any possibility he's schizophrenic. YES he was diagnosed and everything.
Top   #11
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violetdaisy  violetdaisy is offline
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*Sociopath* - Antisocial Personality Disorder
Which is, I believe, a type of Psychopathy that can be diagnosed and marked with a *score* to determine severity. So there's a cutoff of having it or not having it but if someone has it there are certainly degrees of severity and since people are individuals they may display one or more signs more than others.

As far as picking up on those traits reading, I'm kinda torn. As a person with a "mental illness" (not above - other), sometimes I function perfectly well and don't display any symptoms....other times, I most certainly do. I think that if my current state was stable, productive, within the range of *normal* (has been for a long time medicated) someone reading for me may not even know that I'm *not normal* (I hate that word but for the sake of simplicity I use it here).

So I see three options - 1. She didn't know that you knew he had a problem and was uncomfortable interpreting things that way so she chose an alternate.
2. Like another has said the answer was there and she either didn't see it or wasn't open to seeing it.
3. His current mental state was perhaps (even briefly) *normal* and he was at that moment embodying what she was seeing.
Top   #12
gregory's Avatar
gregory  gregory is offline
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Or 4. It wasn't relevant to the question, so she didn't see it - and didn't choose to go further after she was told. Sociopaths can be great guys too.
Top   #13
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chowdmouse  chowdmouse is offline
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I think it would be helpful to consider the mindset of a narcissistic person (sociopath being the extreme).

Let us consider a generality of the human mind: we take in data constantly, and actually only utilize a small portion of that data. A tarot reading is going to give us a few more data points to be used for whatever purpose, and can be classified into two categories- information about ourselves and information about others (others, the world, state of the universe, etc).

Most mature adults are ok (at least to some extent) with using information about ourselves, having introspection, etc. The group of people here on would be highly skewed towards very introspective, I would think (at least compared to "average"). Kind of by definition, in having interest in tarot!

People on the wrong end of the scale of narcissism, by comparison, are not. Not at all. They do not see the world in terms of how their own behavior affects their life. They only think in terms of how others can be blamed or how others caused their problems. They will twist information to that end- manipulate the external (including other people) to fit their needs. And blame them when it does not go their way. The crux of the problem is that this is all done unconsciously & they are unaware of this mental manipulation, and that there is anything bad about it.

Here is a very simple example:
Querent asks "why did I not get the job"
Card pulled: Hierophant, interpreted as having to do with getting an education or pursuing knowledge.

An introspective person might receive this information & think that they were not qualified enough and need more education, or perhaps another applicant had more education than they did, and that is why they did not get the job. They will tend to think introspectively.

A narcissistic person will receive this information and interpret it in such a way that they are not at fault or responsible. It is all about "others". Period. It is someone else's fault. So they will see it as representing an educated snob that took the job away from them unfairly. Or they will see an oppressive educational system that unfairly bullies people to weed them out. Or they see it as an oppressive teacher that unfairly failed them (and did not allow them to get the education they needed to get the job). It will not occur to them that the card means that they were at fault or lacking in any way.

My point is, introspection is simply not something that a narcissist is capable of (that being the core of the problem). They had some elemental emotional needs that were not met as children, and they are stuck there- like a perpetual 8-year old that always points the blame away from him/herself. They never made it to the stage of emotional development of self-introspection. Narcissists take all information they receive and turn it into a weapon, to either excuse their own behavior or use against other people when trying to justify why it is someone else's fault. That is why it could be said that narcissists cannot be read for.

Anyone who is looking for more info- this is a helpful, quick link:
Top   #14
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Qofcups  Qofcups is offline
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Chowdmouse--Very good insight into someone with antisocial personality disorder.

I don't think someone on this spectrum would really ever go for readings for any purpose besides trying to manipulate the reader anyway. It is the same as someone on this spectrum seeking therapy. Most therapists will refuse to treat someone whom they suspect have this disorder because they don't really want to be fixed--they see their disorder as a benefit. And they can manipulate so easily. Therapy is more of a game for them then a tool.

However, I think it is useful to be able to pick up on the dynamics when you are reading for someone who might be a target of someone with ASPD. I just divorced one. And no, he isn't diagnosed--most aren't--but the patterns and destruction he has caused all points to this. He flipped the switch on me after I started asking too many questions about the "friend" that ended up replacing me. After I took over the finances and didn't give him free reign over my bank account. After he changed the passwords to our joint account I started asking him for them. For the first time in 14 years of marriage I saw what was behind the high priestesses curtain.

I finally got to see the side that he kept hidden. Throughout our relationship I would see flashes of, but then he would turn it off so fast that I thought I was imagining it. I would tell myself I was just being silly. The icy eyes would flash and melt away just as quickly. We all knew to move away from him without understand why, but then the man I loved would reappear and I convinced myself it was just me.

The convert ones are the most dangerous. They are the heroes, the philanthropists, the popular ones who are the "salt of the earth". Always sticking up for the little guy while they are tearing him down. They are the ones who always have the "crazy exes" and people believe them because they target people they deem weaker. They build them up by focusing on flaws and insecurities. And they make those flaws seem bigger than they are, while they are also love bombing them because of those flaws. You open up because you trust them, because they love everything about you, especially the things you hate most about yourself. Then suddenly one day--everything they loved about you, that you started embracing about yourself--gets dumped on you in a way that leaves you confused and broken and agreeing that you are worthless, crazy, never enough. And you discover that they have been slandering you to your entire social circle (that they have pared down and picked out for you without you realizing it) for those very reasons that they claimed they loved about you. And you AGREE--you take all the blame--you beat yourself up wondering how you failed this person so badly. When the switch flips everyone believes the sociopath--even you.

Well, not everyone--the people who don't believe him, he had long since cut out of both of your lives--isolated you from anyone who might call attention to reality of the situation. You are left alone on an island unsure of what happened. And if you are still in the middle of the confusion he will continue to play with you, like a cat with a mouse--to get as much info as he can to make sure the discard leaves you stripped of everything that ever mattered to you (even your children--which my ex almost accomplished but luckily I wised up and got a very good lawyer).

So I do think it is valuable to see when someone is the target of a person with this personality type.

I stepped away from reading for a while, but recently I was wondering about my ex and the new target. Sometimes the cognitive dissonance he caused makes me question of it really was just me, and I was just imagining everything. If maybe now with her, he is the man I believed him to be for real. So I dusted off my Robin Wood deck and started asking questions again.

And the same cards come up for him now that used to come up for him before when I was confused and caught in the sweet cycle (before the discard). For her, 5 of cups, lovers, moon, 5 of pentacles (same as what I used to get)--someone jumping through hoops that keep moving. She also gets 7 of swords often.

For him--4 of cups, 5 of swords, magician, king of swords, emperor. Nothing has changed. New target, same man. My kids have to deal with it 50% of the time and there isn't anything I can do about it. When I was there I would take them out when he would go into his silent rages. Rumor has it she is doing the same (but with 5 kids caught up in this mess). He used to get 7 of swords with readings regarding our relationship.

For my daughter, 2 of pentacles, 5 of swords, 10 of swords Her daughters are getting something similar except there is a lot of Moon and Devil appearances when I ask about how they are doing. They never see their dad so they are stuck in that chaos all of the time. My kids at least only have to deal with it 50% of the time.

For my son 8 of cups, 6 of swords, hermit--I think he has learned appropriate strategies when it comes to dealing with his dad. When he is with me he isn't reclusive so I think he is ok. When he is with them he locks himself in his room--which makes my daughter upset but it works for him. When the new woman takes all of the kids out when ex is in a mood, son who is the oldest stays behind. Ex and my son actually bond in a way they never did before so I think it is good for their relationship.

I am curious to see if anyone else has seen similar patterns when reading about a situation like this.
Top   #15

Mystica7  Mystica7 is offline
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In this respect I recommend that you beware of the cards:

- Knight of Wands (+ RX)
- Knight of Swords
- King of Wands RX
- King of Swords (to some degree)
- King of Swords RX
- Magician RX
- Emperor (+ RX)
- The Devil
- The Moon (both straight and RX)

Cards like 3, 7 and 9 of Swords in context can also give you an idea.

Most sociopaths first come off as very charming! If you do a detailed reading rather than picking up a 1 single card to represent the person (like I do), always consider the surrounding cards and remember to use reversals.
Top   #16
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Trogon  Trogon is offline
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Originally Posted by beekie View Post
But it got me thinking, can the cards help identify this type of person or is it up to the reader to be able to intuit certain characteristic from the cards?
I can't really add anything to what others have said about individual cards which might represent the sociopath or any other mental disorder. I can say that I have had mental issues come up in readings a few times. However, it's been a while now, so I don't remember the specific cards.

One thing that came up in a reading for a friend some 20 or so years ago was that she was suffering from some PTSD. She was very short on money and couldn't afford therapy and asked for my help. I was reluctant - I definitely do not believe that Tarot readings are a good way to treat such issues - but she talked me into it. The readings I would get for her each week just gave her mental and spiritual things to work on. Small steps, but in the end it did help her overcome things to quite an extent.

Another time, I had a young woman (she was like 18 or 19) who was having problems in several areas. Again, the reading showed some mental problems (I seem to recall The Moon-rx, along with a couple of other cards). But the "advice" part of the reading led me to suggest counseling. She did take the advice and got counseling, though I haven't heard from her for quite a few years.

The point is, as others have said, these things will show up in readings. They are not easy things to pass on to a client, but they probably need to be. When they come up in a self-reading, they'll be that much harder to see.
Top   #17
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EmpyreanKnight  EmpyreanKnight is offline
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The Knight of Wands Rx, especially if it's surrounded by other "negative" cards like The Devil or even the 5 of Wands may suggest an uncontrollable sociopath to me. I usually ascribe the King of Swords Rx (plus other indicative cards of course) to a cool, calculating, malign psychopath.
Top   #18
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Grizabella  Grizabella is offline
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I see I've posted before in this thread but just thought I'd add another thought.

When I read, I rely on card combinations rather than any single card meaning any definite thing. If I were to see the Magician (he's an illusionist) Knight of Wands and the Moon, I'd maybe suspect something was wrong. And adding a Page would also apply. Psychopaths/sociopaths are said to have no personality of their own. They don't just automatically know how to behave/react to things---they study others and observe how others behave and then they mimic those behaviors. So a Page or two would increase my thoughts that this person might be sociopathic.

Sociopathy isn't an illness, though, it's a condition. It can't be treated successfully like a mental illness.

I've never seen it in the cards, though. I think we can fall into the trap of finding what we're looking for sometimes. If we think somebody might be sociopathic, then we'll find clues in the cards that seem to point that way when they really aren't relevant to that.
Top   #19
SillySicilian  SillySicilian is offline
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I will add this thought to this thread as well, When reading for this type of person you'll find that they are flat, no substance, you can say something profound and they will just sit there and look at you. Their eyes don't light up, nothing there's just no response. They don't grin either, they grimace with their lower teeth.
Top   #20
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