A theory of male and female Sociopathy pt 3

Note: this is just a theory, developed in reaction to recent conversations. 

From Twitter user FinchesofDarwin comes an interesting tale, about a polygynously-married woman in Guiana: 

Manwaiko had two wives, and each of these had a family of young children. … Between the two wives and their respective children little kindness seemed to exist. One evening, while the party were squatting on the ground, eating their supper… one of the wives, who with her children had been employed in cutting firewood, discovered, on her return, that the supper for herself and her family was not to be found, having been carried off by some animal through neglect or connivance of her rival. It could hardly be expected that she would sit down quietly without the evening meal for herself and her children… and she accordingly applied to Manwaiko for a share of his allowance, which was ample. He treated her request with contempt… She then commenced a furious torrent of abuse, during which he finished his meal with great composure, until, being irritated at his indifference, she at last told him that he was no “capitan,” no father, and no man. …  

Such stormy ebullitions of temper are rare in the Indian families, though, where polygamy is practiced, continual variance and ill-feeling are found. 

From The Indian Tribes of Guiana, their Condition and Habits, by Reverend Brett, 1868

As we were discussing Friday, one form of female sociopathy (at least relevant to this conversation) likely involves manipulating or coercing others into providing resources for her children. On Monday we discussed mental illness and its effects on fertility (generally it lowers fertility in men, but depression has little to no effect on women, neuroticism may enhance fertility, and sometimes the sisters of people with mental illnesses have slightly increased fertility, suggesting that low levels of certain traits may be beneficial.) 

Here is where I get 100% speculative, and to be frank, I don’t like saying negative things about women (since I am one,) but if men can be sociopaths, then women can, too–and conversely, the majority of men are not sociopaths, and neither are the majority of women. 

In the quoted passage, we see two common tropes: First, the evil stepmother, in the form of the wife who let wild animals make off with half of the family’s food. Second, the crazy bitch, who goes on a tirade questioning her husband’s manliness because he has failed to provide food for her children. 

In this case, only the first woman is truly sociopathic (she has harmed the other woman and her children,) but we can see how the second’s behavior could easily spill over into unreasonable demands. 

Female sociopathy–manipulating men out of their money–only works as an evolutionary strategy in an environment where men themselves vary in their trustworthiness and cannot be easily predicted. If the men in a society can be counted upon to always provide for their offspring, women have no need to try to manipulate them into doing so; if men in a society flat out refuse to do so, then there is no point to trying. Only in a situation where you can affect the amount of resources you get out of a man will there be any point to doing so.

Given the environmental constraints, sociopathic female behavior is likely to increase in reaction to an increase in sociopathic male behavior–that is, when women fear abandonment or an inability to care for their children.

This manipulation has two targets–first, the father of the child, whom the woman wishes to prevent from wandering off and having children with other women, or baring that, from giving them any resources. Second, should this fail, or the male be too violent for women and children to be near, the woman targets a new male to convince him to care for her, her children, and possibly beat the resources out of the old male. 

Since children actually do need to eat, and getting enough resources can be tough, society is generally fine with women doing what they need to provide for their families (unlike men doing whatever they need to maximize reproduction, which usually ends with the police informing you that no, you cannot go “Genghis Khan” on Manhattan.) 

But at times women really do go overboard, earning the title of “crazy ex.” Here’s part of one woman’s helpful list of why she went crazy:

1. He told me he loved me, then he left me. … I wasn’t going to make it easy for him to leave me. I promised myself I’d fight for my relationship because I loved him and he said he loved me. …
3. If you didn’t know, one of the quickest ways to drive a woman insane is to ignore her. … This was the most severe phase of crazy for me. I was infuriated that not only was I losing my relationship and wasn’t given a reason why, but I was being blatantly ignored by him too! …
4. He told me not to worry about his “friend,” and now he’s dating her.

Back before the invention of birth control, a woman who got dumped like this was most likely pregnant, if not already caring for several children. Abandonment was a big deal, and she had every reason not to just let her partner wander off and start impregnating new chicks. 

In our modern world, he made it clear that he didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore and left. 


And a similar story on Quora

After my ex boyfriend broke up with me I went crazy… After he dumped me for the third time I felt used and devastated. I wanted an explanation and answers. He was a jerk to me. A cruel son of a bitch. I kept begging, calling, and begging. I never got a reply back. This went on for over 3 months. …

Third. Time. 

This isn’t the only kind of “crazy” I’ve seen around, though. 

An acquaintance recently recounted a story about an ex who actually ended up in the mental hospital for suicidal ideation. She listed him as her contact, something he was not exactly keen on, having already told her the relationship was over. 

Then there is the phenomenon of people actually claiming to be crazy, often with rather serious disorders that you would not normally think they would want to revealing to others. For example, I have seen several young women claim recently to have Multiple Personality Disorder–a condition that is not in the DSM and so you can no longer get diagnosed with it. Though you can get diagnosed with Disassociative Identity Disorder, this disorder is rare and quite controversial, and I would expect anyone with a real diagnosis to use the real name, just as few schizophrenics claim to have been diagnosed with dementia praecox. 

MPD is less of a real disorder and more of a fad spread by movies, TV, and unscrupulous shrinks, though many people who claim to have it are quite genuinely suffering. 

(I should emphasize that in most of these cases, the person in question is genuinely suffering.) 

Most of these cases–MPD, PTSD, etc–are supposedly triggered by traumatic experiences, such as childhood abuse or spousal abuse. (Oddly, being starved half to death in a POW camp doesn’t seem to trigger MPD.) And yet, despite the severity of these conditions, people I encounter seem to respond positively to these claims of mental illness–if anything, a claim of mental illness seems to get people more support. 

So I suggest a potential mechanism:

First, everyone of course has a pre-set range of responses/behaviors they can reasonably call up, but these ranges vary from person to person. For example, I will run faster if my kids are in danger than if I’m late for an appointment, but you may be faster than me even when you’re just jogging.

Second, an unstable, violent, or neglectful environmental triggers neuroticism, which in turn triggers mental instability. 

Third, mental instability attracts helpers, who try to “rescue” the woman from bad circumstances. 

Fourth, sometimes this goes completely overboard into trying to destroy an ex, convincing a new partner to harm the ex, spreading untrue rumors about the ex, etc. Alternatively, it goes overboard in the woman become unable to cope with life and needing psychiatric treatment/medication.

Since unstable environments trigger mental instability in the first place, sociopathic men are probably most likely to encounter sociopathic women, which makes the descriptions of female sociopathy automatically sound very questionable:

“My crazy ex told all of our friends I gave her gonorrhea!”

“Yeah, but that was after you stole $5,000 from her and broke two of her ribs.” 

This makes it difficult to collect objective information on the matter, and is why this post is very, very speculative. 


14 thoughts on “A theory of male and female Sociopathy pt 3

  1. “I wanted an explanation and answers.”

    I don’t know if you’ve heard the term “oneitis”; it’s a thing where men with limited options think the woman who’s treating them badly, or who dumped them, is The Only One for them. It’s a truism that they think a lot like obsessed women. Most of them just send a few plaintive emails, then a few angry ones, and then they turn to self-pity and alcohol until they snap out of it — but some of them are crazy enough to act out.

    Are women substantially more likely to behave that way, or substantially worse (on average) when they do? I dunno. I bet they’re less likely to murder the object of their affections, anyway.

    I once had a crazy ex who was involved with a lot of men (not serially, as it turned out, to my dismay). She would break up with them, then stalk them if they didn’t want to remain friends with benefits. I don’t know where she got the energy to do all that and make dean’s list. She was a high-powered mutant.


    • Male sociopathy is more likely to result in people dying, so it’s a bigger problem in that sense. We have better numbers on homicides than “crazy exes.” But crazy exes are probably much more common than murderers.


  2. Very interesting series of posts. Makes me reevaluate my woman behaviour. Especially after she got pregnant and after childbirth.

    Does it mean though that if woman feels secure for resources she would be more stable?


    • Rich people have really low divorce rates. The divorce rate for white collar professionals is about 15%, and the one for billionaires *was* about half that. There are so few billionaires that a few divorces can tip the stats.


      • But I hear all the time women divorcing rich and successful guys (Murdoch, Schwarzenegger, Musk, Bezos etc,)

        Seems like they care about resources only sans “the man” part


      • Yes, but why would the media bother to tell you about a rich person who stayed happily married? Or for that matter, a poor person who got divorced? Queen Elizabeth II has been married to Duke Philip since 1947, but you hear a lot more about Charles and Diana.

        And Bezos was cheating on his wife, so I can’t blame that one on her.


  3. Aren’t we all afraid of being deserted? Regardless of who provides the resources? Women often build their lives around relationships more than men. Which could give them fewer distractions when a relationship ends. Which, maybe, increases the risks of acting in socially inappropriate ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. >Second, an unstable, violent, or neglectful environmental triggers neuroticism, which in turn triggers mental instability.

    Pretty close to standard PUA-RP: the idea that women love men who treat them badly, and this love is something akin to dread, i.e. neurotic, fear of losing him. But there is another and more novel aspect which I would ask to think about:

    Unstable means unpredictable. Think about all the stuff SSC wrote about predictive processing, which is easily his best stuff and likely very true. Prediction, predictability really really does matter. Unstability? That is just one way things can be unpredictable.

    And there are multiple ways an environment can be unpredictable for a person. It can be really, truly chaotic. Or the person simply has not enough information about it. It is a big unknown. No idea what could happen.

    So lacking information about your environment means you perceive it as unpredictable. In dark basically.

    And then compare that modern, alienated, anomic, kind of lonely urban environment with the old village where even the smallest news happening ran around on the female gossip grapevine. Why do women love to gossip? They need to know about their environment. They want it predictable. Collect every information possible.

    So I think there is a chance all this modern alienation stuff makes women crazier, they don’t get the needed information their environment which makes the environment for them unpredictable.

    What is the effect of alienation on men? Well, I simply find it boring. Not scary, I figure I will just deal with problems as they come, but boring. What is one way men can alleviate boredom? Well, chasing a lot of tail…


    • My in-laws live in that kind of traditional village with the female gossip grapewine. I remember one story we heard there. Guy comes home, finds wife cheating, gets very angry, close to getting violent, then rather decides to chug a bottle of liquor, gets in his car drunk, drives around the village at high speed yelling to everybody that his wife is a whore, then loses control and crashes the car, with moderate injuries.

      I mean. It is pretty clear why women absolutely need to run a gossip grapewine to share such stories. Even if they don’t intend to cheat, there is a chance that their husbands accuses them of it anyway, and they need to know what will happen. So the story gets shared and every woman updates her risk models. Husband behavior just got a little bit more predictable, with one more data point.

      And then there is the modern anomic alienated city. No gossip grapewine. How do women know what will happen if their man thinks they cheat? They don’t. It is unpredictable. No data. And according to your theory, this can cause crazy behavior in women.


  5. Of course she felt “devastated.” This is normal, not an -itis. We were not meant to live this way. The sexual revolution is not a a workable model. End it and this will end.

    Liked by 1 person

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