Emily Lund: Tears of a Sociopath

As I sit in my office staring blankly at the woman across the desk from me, I wonder if I’m a sociopath. She’s crying and pounding on the desk.  She feels she is exceptional in every way; she does not accept my appraisal of her work. I remember reading somewhere that a sociopath is someone who doesn’t feel any emotion (happy, sad, angry) about anything and can only focus on himself/herself. Presently, that seems to describe me. I can’t even muster a face that is appropriate.  I am searching my brain for the correct sympathetic or empathetic response to this woman’s emotional state.  I’m searching for a feeling to convey…”You are not exceptional in every way”, I say.  Did that sound caring or concerned?  Based on her continued sobbing, I will guess no.

Today’s meeting is the third or fourth time this week I have felt nothing when confronted with crying or screaming men and women.  This week’s events haven’t made me angry, happy, sad or confused.  They have made me feel less and less emotion with each tiny tear. Perhaps each watermark stained evaluation form has turned my heart to a piece of iceberg that never melts.  I do not care and the only thing I can think about feeling or doing right now is napping.

According to various sources that I have not verified, 1 out of 20 people is a sociopath.  19 people report to me, which plus me, equals 20.  Chances are, since I seem to be the one NOT crying on my team, I am the sociopath.   If I turn to Buzzfeed or Facebook for some link about restored faith in humanity, will I feel a pang and my heart will remember emotion?  Whilst I stare intently at the article titled “This Guy’s Wife Got Cancer, So He Did Something Unforgettable. The Last 3 Photos Destroyed Me”, I wait patiently for an emotional response, scrolling down through each picture.  She is getting sicker and sicker.  This is sad.  Then a thought enters my brain, “what’s the deal with the title of this article? It’s not even a title.”  Then I notice that my husband has posted something about burritos.  That seems more interesting.

That didn’t prove much.  I did feel sad for this woman with breast cancer, although it made me think about what would happen if I got breast cancer.  It made me feel bad for my husband who would be left without my awesomeness for all time.  As I look for something else to pull at my heart strings and discontinue reading the rant about burritos, I come across this test.  It’s called “The Are You a Sociopath Test?”  Seems appropriate and maybe I’ll find some truth in here.

Question 1: Are you male or female?   Fortunately, I don’t have to think about this one and I only get two options.
Answer 1: Female (I think I aced this one)
Q2: Have either of your parents been institutionalized or were in a consistently bad mental state while you were growing up?
A2: Nope, they are totally calm and not crazy.  My mother was a high school teacher and she probably dealt with future residents of sanitariums, but she herself only visited.
Q3: Have you ever been institutionalized?
A3: Nope.
Q4: Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a gross misdemeanor?
A4: No…man so far I feel like I’m really failing at being a sociopath.
Q5: When you were a child, did your parents often berate you for being cruel to the family pet or other animals?
A5: Um…no, that’s kinda messed up.
Q6: What was your social life like in Elementary / Middle School?
A6: I was picked on all the time by bullies
Other kids didn’t notice me
I got a reputation as being a bully
I got teased a little but it wasn’t really a problem (I did get teased but I teased my fair
share too.  I don’t feel anything abnormal about my experiences.)

You get the picture.  I continue on with my test to the section about morality.  Do I strongly agree that sometimes it is better to lie than tell the truth; do I prefer love or sex?  Blah blah blah, this test goes on for 50 questions to which I can almost not make it to the end without scratching my eyes out….and the results, I’m 15% sociopath which basically means I’m pretty healthy and normal.  So, what the hell is wrong with me?  Why do I feel like napping when people are crying or angry with me?

Why am I not sympathetic to these peoples’ struggles?  Why can’t I connect on an emotional level with this crying woman? I didn’t survive a war and I haven’t been trained by the military to remove all emotion from my thought process.  Perhaps there is a wall I put up to protect myself from feeling or acting vulnerable? Perhaps I only feel things when there isn’t a logical approach to choose?  Perhaps I know that my assessment of this woman’s work is correct and therefore I cannot muster an emotion?  Whatever the reason, it appears that I am not a sociopath.  I’ve also ruled out psychopath, bipolar and narcissist all during this review.  Amazingly, they have tests for this on the internet as well (see links above) and these tests have told me I’m none of those either (they must be right).

My study hasn’t helped me much and now, two hours and 33 minutes have passed with this particular crying review.  The only course of action I am compelled to take is make someone else a manager and force him to do her review next year.  Likely, that isn’t the emotional response “exceptional” is hoping for, but there’s always a chance next year’s manager will be kinder and more in touch with sympathy and empathy.  Of course, there’s always a chance he’s the sociopath in the bunch.

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