Friday, October 19, 2012

Patsies, Pawns, Patrons, and Police: Understanding Sociopathic Relationship Roles

At least one time in our lives each of us will make the mistake of trusting someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Especially when we consider the statistics that one out of every twenty-five people in the world are individuals with APD (sociopaths). In the best-case scenario, this betrayal only inconvenienced us, but more often we will have been conned, cheated, or abused. How do we recognize and avoid relationships with sociopaths?

To protect ourselves, it is important to understand sociopaths’ motivation for developing relationships. Their reasons are not the same as ours! Lacking a conscience, they are unable to form emotional attachments and are disinterested in developing a bond with others.  Instead, they are thrill seekers, and use relationships to achieve this goal.

In pursuit of their next big emotional charge, sociopaths tend to cast others into three main roles: “pawns, patrons, or police.”

“Pawns” are individuals with little or no social or political power who can be manipulated to advance the sociopath’s agenda. Just as in a chess game, they are easily used and quickly discarded. For example, serial rapists are often married men; their family conveniently provides them the screen of “normalcy,” thus helping them to avoid suspicion.

“Patrons,” on the other hand, have considerable social or political power. They usually occupy high places at the office or in the community. Through the use of charm, they are wooed and won over. The sociopath uses them either to protect himself from accusations or to betray them as he navigates himself toward his end game. 

Finally, there are the “police.” These are individuals who could get in the way of the sociopath’s agenda and must be neutralized.

To make this picture clearer, let’s use a current ABC’s show, Revenge, to understand these roles. (This program seems to celebrate the Antisocial Personality Disorder!) There are three main sociopathic characters: Emily Thorne, Victoria Grayson, and her husband, Conrad Grayson. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on Emily and her relationships.

Emily’s “pawns” are (the fake) Amanda Clarke and occasionally Jack Porter. Neither have useful social connections or power in this rich Hampton community, but both are used as alibis or fall guys as Emily takes her revenge.

The “patrons” are Ashley Davenport, Nolan Ross, and Daniel Grayson. Emily initially used her friendship with Ashley to gain access to the Grayson family and then regularly takes advantage of Nolan’s wealth, computer acumen, and social access to reap havoc on the Graysons and their friends. And of course, Daniel Grayson, the son of Conrad and Victoria, is used to gain even greater access to the Graysons’ secrets and as a weapon to hurt the Grayson family.

The “police” vary from episode to episode. Sometimes it is the legal authorities, other times it is outside sources that threaten to upset Emily’s plans of revenge.

There is one more role in the sociopath’s world, the “patsy.” This is another name for victim. This person may have previously been a pawn or a patron who now is of no further benefit to the sociopath, or this individual could be the target. Unfortunately, one becomes a patsy when the game is finished. At this point the sociopath has played out his moves and has moved on.  Meanwhile, this person has been deceived, betrayed, cheated, blamed, used, ridiculed, abused, or in the worst-case scenario, killed. 

How does one avoid becoming a sociopath’s patsy? The next article will identify useful strategies to protect oneself from a sociopath.

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