Society — 28 April 2012
How to spot a Sociopath


As scary as a sociopath can get! Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’


by Karen Mcklaren


So now you are wondering what in heaven’s name one of these is? A Sociopath is somewhat of a goal orientated liar who has little or no concern for the target of their constant lies, as the lies are a means to an end that always favours them.  Their main concern is to fulfil their own needs and desires and they are selfish and egocentric in the extreme. These people are usually very charming and charismatic, but they use their social skills to manipulate others for their own gain and are self-centered, self absorbed little souls…..bless! These individuals are very dangerous to the hearts and minds of others;  worse case scenario they risk lives. They differ to compulsive liars who’ve often formed their behaviour from childhood and will lie about the most trivial of things (“I bought apples this morning”…..LIE!!), out of habit but without any real desire to be cunning or deceptively. They are also different from psychopaths, whom seek to exact their desires by way of violence. Both the psychopath and sociopath have hidden agendas that favour them, at your cost; they just have different ways of going bout harming you. There is scientific evidence to support that the temperamental traits of a sociopath are hereditary. Sadly I discovered this of a family I recently encountered, with mother exhibiting manipulative traits to obtain her desires whilst also enabling the sociopathic behaviour of the manipulative son to a degree that allowed him to continue with his poor behaviour without regard for wife, children or anybody that stood in the way of his desires. The sociopath son was a carbon copy of the father, exhibiting the same delusions of grandeur if and when he made an appearance (he was a very absent father), and he was not willing to accept responsibility for his role in the chaos he created in the lives he left strewn behind him; in essence everyone should simply be honoured that he had graced them with his presence.



Dr. Martha Stout, a clinical psychologist on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, reveals that a surprising number of people are sociopathic.  In the publication “The Sociopath Next Door,” she cites that 1 in 25 people is sociopathic.  However the broad definition she used in her study has been both praised and criticized.

Dr. Stout (2005) indicates that common sociopathic traits include: egocentricity, callousness, impulsivity, conscience defect, exaggerated sexuality, excessive boasting, risk taking, inability to resist temptation, antagonistic, deprecating attitude toward the opposite sex, lack of interest in bonding with a partner.

Any three or more of these traits can be used by an author to build a sociopathic character.  Believe it or not, even a character with no conscience can have depth and complexity.   Life looks different through the eyes of a sociopath–and it is definitely a life worth looking at, full of darkness and lacking in mercy.

Has too broad of a definition of sociopathic behaviour been developed, or are we actually creating sociopaths?   Desensitization to violence, cruelty and death through video games to television and movie viewing, may cause a disproportionate number of youngsters to develop sociopathic characteristics, but to what degree, we cannot clearly define.

One myth that has perpetuated in popular fiction is that sociopaths are highly intelligent when in fact, they are statistically no more intelligent than the average person.  Along with average intelligence, they also have a difficult time concentrating on one thing at a time and will quickly lose interest in anything that does not concern them.  So developing a sociopathic character that has the ability to contemplate elaborately detailed plans would be inaccurate and overdone.   Sociopaths are methodical in short bursts and look for instant gratification.


Sociopaths don’t grow up, they just become more out of control, as Rihanna found out to their cost.


They learn early on to be charming in order to manipulate their surroundings.  They lie very easily and though some lies are deliberate, most of their lies are unintentional and usually a part of boasting about their lives.  Because they seek instant gratification, they speak about the things they wish to accomplish as though they already have accomplished them.

The criminality of a sociopath may well be unintentional too.  Remembering that their only intention is to gratify themselves, they will commit a crime if to achieve gratification means breaking the law.  These people aren’t natural born predators in the sense that they always seek to destroy others.  Their motives are selfish and if others get in the way of their desires, they will victimize others to get what they want.  They simply don’t see their actions as criminal because they cannot see the harm they are causing through their actions.  For a sociopath, the ends justifies the means. So, do you have a sociopath next door?


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