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What are the Traits of a Sociopath?
The words psychopath and sociopath are often confused and misused. We all know from the movies what a psychopath is, but the term sociopath is widely misunderstood.
So what is a sociopath? It is estimated that about 3.8% of Americans have an antisocial personality disorder (ASP) and would be classified as a sociopath.
Donald W. Black, MD a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine explains: “people with an antisocial personality disorder tend to be deceitful, impulsive. They ignore responsibilities and, in the worst cases, they have no conscience.”
Although the exact cause is unknown, theories indicate in many cases sociopathy is caused by head trauma, neglect or abuse early on in life or the inability to develop proper coping skills.
The Traits of a Sociopath
Chances are you know someone who is a sociopath. If you notice any combination of these specific traits, the odds are likely that they have ASP.
Charming and Charismatic - at first sociopaths can be the life of the party and seem like a magnet drawing you in. But later, you will see the real personality traits come out.
Deceit - sociopaths start lying early on in life and often go to great lengths to deceive and manipulate others. They are supremely comfortable lying to get what they want.
Irresponsibility - sociopaths also have a strong tendency to ignore responsibility.
Manipulation - people suffering from ASP love to manipulate those around them. To them, it is a game, and they will do whatever it takes to win.
Aggressive Behavior - sociopaths are often aggressive and hostile and also interpret other’s behavior as hostile.
Callousness - although some may be violent others may just be cruel or insensitive towards those around them. Sociopaths lack empathy.
Impulsiveness - a person with sociopathic tendencies may display impulsivity in many ways such as taking an unplanned trip, or making a big change without thinking about it. They crave instant gratification.
Risk Taker - without being concerned for their own or others wellbeing, sociopaths can be involved with risky behavior that might include gambling, excessive drinking, drug use or unsafe sex.
Are Sociopath Dangerous
Most but not all sociopaths are outwardly dangerous. They may be difficult to be around and being in a relationship with a person with ASP can be quite challenging. Even if you are not subject to any physical violence, you may suffer from emotional and mental distress.
Because sociopaths don’t feel emotion the same way you do, you may suffer at the hands of their hurtful whims. Often sociopaths view people as toys to play with and find joy and satisfaction in messing with someone’s head.
Sociopaths are more prone to violence, and aggressive behavior and they get angry quickly. You do not want to be around a sociopath when they are in a fit rage.
What to Do, if You Suspect Someone You Know is a Sociopath
Talk to someone else if you believe you are in a relationship with someone you suspect is a sociopath. You may feel guilt or even shame for talking about it or blame yourself for their behavior. Remember, this is a mental illness, and nothing they do or say is your fault.
If it is someone you don’t know well, create separation between you and them. Stop responding to their calls and texts and let them know you are taking a break. If they persist, consider getting a restraining order.
If you are in a committed relationship and you don’t want to cut them out of your life, sit them down and gently confront them. Don’t use accusatory language but let them know you are concerned and you want them to get help. Coincidently, sociopaths are highly unlikely to get help themselves and do not acknowledge their own personality traits as a disorder.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse from a sociopath, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Resources for dealing with a sociopath: https://www.psychopathfree.com/articles/healing-and-recovery-resources.363/
How to cope with a child you believe is a sociopath: https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/sociopath/my-child-is-a-sociopath-is-there-anything-i-can-do