A sociopath can be more than just the rapists and serial killers you see on the news. They can be your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even your soul mate. Sociopaths are manipulative and charming. When you first meet them, you think they are well-groomed, but in reality, they will bury lies and secrets beneath the mask they show to society of a well-mannered person just like everyone else.
If you are wondering what is sociopath, then the answer is complicated as this is actually an incredibly complex personality disorder. The condition is hard to diagnose due to the wide range of maladaptive behavior sociopaths display. Instead of being a single trait, sociopathy is a syndrome, a whole cluster of symptoms related to each other. A certain number of these symptoms must be present for a person to be diagnosed as a sociopath.
Part 1: What Is a Sociopath?
What is a sociopath? As an essential step to understand sociopath, getting to know the definition is necessary. Sociopaths are people who have antisocial personality disorder and demonstrate a pattern of disregard that is pervasive, particularly in terms of the feelings and rights of others.
Most people consider sociopaths to be criminals, but while it is possible, this is not a requirement for a diagnosis as having antisocial personality disorder. Instead, the patient must show a specific set of behaviors consistently (both in set circumstances and over time) and be over 18.
Part 2: 10 Red Flags You Should Notice of a Sociopath
Sociopaths tend to be charming and charismatic, attracting people who simply want to be close to them. When seeking answers about what is a sociopath, charming is one those traits. They typically attract those seeking direction or guidance. They usually have strong sexual attraction or seem sexy. Yet, remember that not every sexy person is a sociopath, but you should still pay attention if someone has weird fetishes and extreme sexual appetites.
Sociopaths are typically very intelligent. However, instead of letting their knowledge empower themselves, they use it for deception and advancement. This means that the high IQs of sociopaths can be dangerous, with examples being found among serial killers who evaded the law.
No Remorse, Guilt or Shame
Sociopaths can't feel remorse, guilt or shame because their brains don't have the proper wiring. This means that they can threaten or harm people or betray them without worrying about the consequences. What is a sociopath? The answer usually leads to people who pursue their self-interest, even if it harms others. As such, successful sociopaths can be found in top government positions worldwide.
Intense and Spontaneous
Sociopaths are usually more intense and spontaneous than others. They aren't bound by typical social contracts and may engage in behavior that seems extremely risky or irrational. They also do bizarre things that others wouldn't.
Seek to Win
These people will hate to lose any fight or argument, leading to defending their lies at all costs, even if it becomes absurd based on logic. They simply want to win or dominate other no matter the cost.
Incapable of Love
People with this condition are completely self-serving and cannot love. They might pretend to have compassion or feel love to get their way, but they don't actually feel the emotion in the same way that others do.
Sociopaths invent lies concerning their experiences that are outrageous in nature. They rely on storytelling and their charismatic nature to achieve their words. They may exaggerate wildly, but somehow make their absurd tales seem believable when they tell them to you.
Sociopaths can speak poetically, creating a hypnotic and intriguing monologue in the stream of conscious style. They can be expert storytellers and sometimes poets as well, using their words to spread lies in a hypnotic manner.
Looking at what is a sociopath shows people who never feel guilt or accept they are wrong and will therefore never apologize. Even in cases where they are given proof that they are incorrect, they won't apologize, attacking instead.
Believe They Make the Truth
Sociopaths are delusional to the extent that they think that things they say become truth just because they said it. Charles Manson, one of the most famous sociopath murderers, is known to have said that he hadn't killed anyone and doesn't have to live in the "physical realm" as he can kill people in his head.
Part 3: Differences Between Sociopath and Psychopath
Sociopaths suffer from antisocial personality disorder (ASPD); in addition to ASPD, psychopaths also lack conscience or empathy and are delusional in nature.
The causes of the two conditions are commonly used to differentiate between a sociopath and a psychopath.
In the majority of cases, sociopathy will develop due to upbringing and other environmental factors, leading to the development of antisocial personality disorder. Sociopathy is typically caused by nurture, such as delinquent peers, parental neglect, or poverty.
Yet, psychopathy refers to a condition that is based on a person's innate condition, according to psychologists. Psychopathy and its origins come from nature, as opposed to nurture, such as a fearlessness, cortical under-arousal, or impulsiveness.
The difference in predisposition to violence between sociopaths and psychopaths is also very different. While psychopaths have a high predisposition, it is varied for sociopaths. For sociopaths, it changes from person to person.
The level of impulsivity is also different for sociopaths and psychopaths. Sociopaths tend to be highly impulsive, while impulsivity in psychopaths can be varied, but is typically fairly low.
As mentioned earlier, sociopaths typically display erratic behavior that may seem abnormal to most people. Psychopaths, in contrast, tend to be more controlled in their behavior.
Criminal behavior between the two types of people is different as well, with sociopaths typically acting impulsively and leaving behind clues. Psychopaths will be more likely to make calculated risks which minimize exposure or evidence and participate in schemes.
In terms of criminal predispositions, sociopaths tend to display criminal behavior which is opportunistic or impulsive, such as opportunistic or impulsive violence or excessive risk taking. Psychopaths are more likely to take part in premeditated crimes under controllable risks, such as opportunistic or calculated violence, fraud, or criminal opportunism.
Sociopaths typically seem normal (superficially) in their social relationships, but are frequently social predators. They will empathize with family or close friends and may experience some guilt if they harm those that are close to them.
Psychopaths, on the other hand, cannot maintain any normal relationships, only valuing those relationships that provide benefits. Even if they hurt their close friends and family, they may not feel guilt.
A video helps illustrate the difference between sociopath and psychopathy with more details.