For a long time, I observed a sociopath’s behavior.
One day, at work I came across an article while researching Freud’s personality theory id, ego and superego. How to spot a sociopath. I read through it and realized that I knew someone that fit the criteria. A part of me, dismissed the article but the other part knew that it was accurate. I had even joked to this person that they might be a sociopath. The response was silence.
First things first, we need to distinguish the difference between a narcissist, sociopath and psychopath. They overlap each other but have subtle differences. According to Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Narcissism is a disorder of the self-esteem and considered a trait. Check out her video here. Below are the characteristics of a Narcissist:
- Lacks empathy- They find it hard to see things from others perspective and are usually unaffected by the pain they may cause to others
- Grandiose- They try and make themselves look better than what they are. Focus on high status either in intelligence or material wealth. Sometimes, harbours unrealistic goals and desires.
- Entitled- Self-righteous. Feels like the world owes them something. Looks down on others and considers themselves above social norm. Can be rude to people whom they consider below them.
- Seeking Validation- Fishes for compliments, interprets people glancing at them as being envious or admiring them. Likes expensive gifts or being told how great/right they are. Uses material items to gain respect, compliments and create an illusion of success.
- Arrogant- Self-important. An exaggerated sense of one’s importance and abilities
Now, this blog is specifically aimed at spotting a sociopath so we will make this quick. Dr. Durvasula makes the quick differentiation that ‘not all narcissist can be sociopath/psychopaths but all sociopath/psychopaths are narcissist’ and that the differences between psychopaths and sociopaths is that psychopaths have an inability to feel shame where sociopaths can still feel it. She goes on to say that one is born and the other is made. Dr. Scott A Bonn describes this as “nature and nurture” and that;
Psychopathy is related to a physiological defect that results in the underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotions. Sociopathy, on the other hand, is more likely the product of childhood trauma and physical/emotional abuse.
Furthermore, Dr Bonn argues that sociopaths are generally uneducated and struggled with academics and that psychopaths are educated and highly intelligent. An example of a psychopath is Steve Jobs. This is what makes psychopath more dangerous as they have the ability for premeditated revenge or harm over an extended amount of time.
Let’s get into the goods. This a list constructed by Yi-Jin Yu whose work has appeared on DrOz.com, Stylecaster, and Everyday Health. I will be adding extra descriptions based on the behavior I have witnessed of a sociopath.
Common sociopath traits
- Charismatic and charming- Very good talkers and can convince anyone of anything. They can present themselves nicely and give the appearance of being successful or cool.
- Ignoring social norms- Does not like to follow the rules, listen to superiors or work.
- Criminal behavior and problems with the law- Usually starting when they’re in their teens. Countless arrest/court cases and run in with law enforcement.
- Arrogance- Inflated ego and self-importance. If they feel that someone has challenged their ego they will victimize themselves and seek revenge to punish that person/people.
- Deceitfulness, such as repeated lying or using aliases- Have multiple identities to evade debt collectors, bad credit rating and law enforcement. Compulsive liars and do not think about the consequences of being caught. Even when caught they will deny or convince you otherwise.
- Conning others for personal profit or pleasure- A con artist. It’s easy for them to get what they desire by ripping someone else off. They justify stealing from big companies/organisation such as grocery stores, banks and government support as having enough money, so that they don’t feel bad for stealing, fraud or taking advantage of support systems.
- Impulsivity and a failure to plan ahead- Easily infatuated with material items or ideas and have “must have right now” mentality. This also include gambling where they will impulsively gamble to get “instant’ money but don’t consider the risk.Sometimes, their impulsive behavior can stimulate an adrenaline rush such as seeing an opportunity/ loop hole and stealing.
- Irritability, hostility, agitation- Have problems regulating emotions. Can throw a temper tantrum and become very hostile. Unpredictable temperament and will never apologize for it.
- Aggressiveness, such as repeated physical fights- leads to trouble with law enforcement’s. Easy offended by others and resort to fighting.
- Abusive relationships- Highly manipulative and can be verbally/physically abusive. Most target their victims mental/emotional well-being by using a range of manipulation techniques such as gaslighting, emotional blackmail, joking threats and playing on their fears and desires.
- Inability to learn from negative consequences- They do not self-reflect or learn from their mistakes. They usually repeat the same cycle.
- Reckless disregard for safety- They act before thinking without analyzing the consequences.
- Failure to hold down a job or honor financial obligations- cannot maintain a job because they don’t like being told what to do. Their sense of entitlement mixed in with their irritability usually causes conflict in the workplace. They are not reliable and can miss work for days without an explanation. Can get loans or finance with the intentions of not paying it back. They will just create another alias when they no longer can get credit.
- Lack of remorse- Does not care if they hurt someone even if they are caught red handed. Usually, they will blame it on the victim by gaslighting or convincing them that they were in the wrong e.g ‘I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t made me angry”. They’re very good liars and manipulators. They will pretend they are sorry and show shallow emotions ( such as crocodile tears) but repeat the same actions as an ongoing cycle. They also have a tendency to brag about ‘outsmarting’ or getting away with something which demonstrates a lack of remorse.
To conclude, Experts advice for people that have a sociopath in their midst, is to run. These people will not change because they lack the ability to show genuine remorse, empathy and struggle to reflect. Dr. Durvasula best advice is not to date them, she’s never witnessed anyone being cured and that sociopaths simply ‘view the world as an instrument for their desires’. You can check out Dr. Durvasula’s video on “These are the signs you are dating a Narcissist” here. Although, it’s not the individual’s fault because they have been influenced by a number of social factors such as being under-nurtured and over-nurtured.They will still leave destruction in their pathway for anyone that is involved with them. The best partner for a sociopath or psychopath is another sociopath/psychopath that can keep up with their games and literally give them a run for their money.