On television, the word sociopath is used to describe a variety of different types of people. Often, it is used on true crime shows to describe serial killers, murderers and rapists. In reality, this term can describe a much broader range of individuals. Your boss, friend or family member could be a sociopath. This type of person is known for being extremely charming. They are often narcissists, so they will do their best to be well-groomed, presentable and attractive. Under this charming demeanor, the true sociopath is a manipulative person who will use lies and constant manipulations to get their way.
This type of personality disorder is actually quite complex. Psychologists say that someone with sociopathy displays a wide range of maladaptive behaviors. The entire disorder is actually a syndrome that includes a number of different symptoms. Each person may have more or less of these symptoms. If they have enough of the symptoms to a severe enough level, then they are technically classified as a sociopath.
What Is a Sociopath?
Sociopaths are individuals who have an antisocial personality disorder. They typically demonstrate a consistent pattern of disregard for how other people feel or their individual rights. While many people think of criminal sociopaths when they hear this word, this is actually not entirely true. The majority of sociopaths are actually not criminals and just exhibit an antisocial personality disorder. To officially be considered a sociopath, someone must be over the age of 18.
This age limit is set because of the way that people change as they age. The brain is not even entirely formed until the 20s, so it would be irresponsible to classify a young child as a sociopath when they may grow up to be a perfectly normal adult. Until someone reaches the age of 18, they are not officially considered a sociopath yet.
What Are the Common Signs of a Sociopath?
If you think that you may be dating or friends with a sociopath, you should look for the common signs.
1. They Completely Lack Remorse for Their Actions
It is impossible for a sociopath to feel emotions like guilt, remorse and shame. Their minds are not wired to have these feelings, so they are unfortunately not held back by them. Killing someone, making a threat or stealing are things that they can do without worrying about the emotional consequences. If anything holds them back, it is the fear of the legal or financial repercussions if they are caught. Because of these qualities, sociopaths generally pursue their self-interest, and it is often at a detriment to those around them that they end up becoming successful.
2. They Are Exceptionally Charming
One of the biggest things that sociopaths are known for is their charisma. They ooze a natural charm that makes other people want to be around them. Members of the opposite sex find them attractive because of this, so it is easy for a sociopath to cheat, have a fling or meet new partners. Keep in mind that someone who is charming or sexually appealing is not a sociopath—it is just likely that someone who is a sociopath is also charming.
3. They Can Hypnotize You With Their Speech
This is a corollary to the previous trait. One of the reasons that sociopaths are charming is because of their ability to manipulate the language. They can make an argument for just about anything, and you will not even realize that you are doing exactly what they want you to until much later.
4. Sociopaths Always Want to Win
Winning is the only goal for the sociopath. Whether they want to be rich or get a promotion, they will win at all costs. Even losing a relationship argument is reprehensible to the sociopath. If they cannot win, they will not be happy. They may have to twist logic or resort to questionable activities to win, but they are more than willing to do whatever it may take.
5. They Believe That Everything They Say Is the Truth
Sociopaths are more than willing to twist logic and the truth to make their point. The terrifying thing is that they often do not realize that they are lying. Once the sociopath says something, they will continue to twist logic and will genuinely believe that what they said before was the truth.
6. They Are Extremely Intelligent
Unfortunately, many sociopaths are quite intelligent. Rather than use their intelligence for good causes, they will use it to advance their own goals and deceive other people. This makes sociopaths exceptionally dangerous because they have the IQ to do what they want and get away with it. Many serial killers who are sociopaths are able to avoid the police because of their natural intelligence.
7. They Are Talented at Creating Lies
It makes sense that this would be true. Sociopaths are charming, good at speaking to other people and not bound by the truth. Their charismatic nature make you want to believe what they are saying. Even when they are outright lying or just exaggerating the story to unbelievable proportions, you want to believe them because of their attitude, demeanor and charisma.
8. They Are Truly Incapable of Loving Someone
A sociopath cannot love someone else in the same way that you love them. They are too self-serving to be able to love others in a selfless way. Instead, they often have to pretend to feel love or compassion. In many cases, this is to get their way and to achieve their next goal.
9. A Sociopath Will Never Apologize
Since a sociopath does not feel guilt or shame, it makes sense that they would never truly apologize. Even if they have to apologize to achieve a goal, they will never actually mean it. If you prove that they were incorrect and ought to apologize, they may even go on the offensive and start attacking you or your argument.
10. They Like to Be Intense and Spontaneous
In general, sociopaths tend to be more impulsive and intense than other people. They do not feel like the rules of society apply to them, so they are likely to resort to irrational, dangerous or risky behaviors.
What Is the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?
Sociopaths have an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Psychopaths have the same disorder and are also known to be delusional, lack empathy and lack a conscience. Socopathy typically develops due to environmental factors like upbringing, poverty, bullying or parental neglect. In comparison, many psychopaths develop because of the innate characteristics of the individual.
Sociopaths tend to display erratic behavior and can be highly impulsive. Psychopaths are better at controlling their actions and are rarely impulsive. While many psychopaths are violent, a smaller proportion of sociopaths are.
Socially, a sociopath is more likely to fit in among others. At least superficially, they will seem like a normal part of the group. They may even feel some level of guilt if they harm someone who is close to them. In comparison, a psychopath is essentially unable to maintain any type of normal relationship. If they are in some type of relationship, it is only because they receive a benefit from it. If a psychopath hurts someone close to them in their family or friend group, they will not care or feel guilty.