The Sociopath Next Door: Would You Be Able To Recognize A Sociopath?

What Is A Sociopath?

The title of this article is actually the name of a book written by Martha Stout (which I highly recommend by the way). I thought it would also be an appropriate title for this hub because it aptly implies that you are probably a lot closer to a sociopath right at this very moment than you may realize.

In fact Martha Stout believes that 4% of the US population maybe sociopaths indicating that if you know a few hundred people then it's highly likely that you know a small handful of sociopaths and given that sociopathic tendencies are often of a covert nature, it's also highly likely that you don't even realize who those people are.

Statistically the numbers seems shocking. However, the term 'sociopath' has become a fairly universal one within the personality disorder niche of psychology and one that is now not officially used or recognized any more. A psychopath and a sociopath are now essentially the same thing though the official diagnosis of someone considered to be a full-blown psychopath has now been labelled 'Antisocial Personality Disorder'.

The term 'sociopath' could therefore be used generically and could refer to a number of personality disorders or the combination of a few, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which explains why the statistics may be so high. All of these disorders possess similar traits therefore it's not uncommon for some people to be diagnosed with, or be believed to have, one or more personality disorder. The was an attempt to narrow this down in the American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 which is officially used to diagnose personality disorders, in order to result in a more accurate diagnosis and to prevent personality disorders from overlapping with each other. The aim was to be able to diagnose an individual with having just one of the disorders without having to consider the possibility they may have several.

Would You Know If Your Daughter Was A Sociopath?

According to these statistics I think it's pretty safe to say that everybody probably knows a sociopath or two. However, how would you recognize them? How would you pick them out from the rest of the crowd? You can't. Sociopaths are born with an invisible secret that only they know about and that they can use expertly to their advantage throughout life to get what they want without anyone having a clue as to what's really going on. The only person who might have any kind of suspicion on the matter would most likely be her boyfriend or husband who may be being abused without even realizing it.

For now, imagine you only know 100 people. The chances are that 4 of those people are sociopaths. 4 out of every 100 of your Facebook friends are probably sociopaths! Would you even know if your own daughter was one of those 4 inflicted people? How would you be able to tell?

The reason I ask about your daughter and not your son is because there is already a major bias in society of the man being the abuser and the woman being the victim in a typical case. However, many women are also sociopaths and the true statistics regarding abuse are now starting to come out of the closet. In actual fact, male victims of domestic violence wrongly suffer from gender bias despite research showing the opposite.

A study of 11,000 men and women aged 18-28 at the Harvard Medical School and US Center for Disease Control showed that 24% of heterosexual relationships involved abuse. Half of them had experienced reciprocal violence (each partner assaulting each other) and of the other half, women were responsible for over 70% of the non-reciprocal violence, the women were the ones who struck first. In addition a study which was part of the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center shows that there is more abuse/violence in lesbian relationships that there is in heterosexual ones. Statistical research clearly shows that women are more abusive than men and that 70% of single-partner abuse/domestic violence is committed by women.

Recognizing Sociopathic Abuse & The Damage It Causes

In the case of your daughter (metaphorically speaking, of course) you would need to take a look at her life-partner/husband/boyfriend. That's assuming she has one and has been with him for a few years or more. Ask yourself the following questions:

Has he distanced himself from you and your family and/or friends over the years?

Does he sometimes seem ignorant or weary of you and unwilling to get too close?

Does he seem stressed out (long-term) or like he wants to say something to you but can't?

Does he look worn out, tired, anxious and/or uptight?

Does your daughter accuse him of abuse, lies or cheating?

Does he appear to have no money, no value, no car, unable to take family on holiday and unwilling to go out to work?

Can you remember a time when he used to seem happier, talk more and communicate with your more?

Does your daughter regularly complain that she's had enough of his accusations?

Would he rather be on his own than go out with your daughter and her friends/family yet he previously used to?

If the answer to the above questions are yes then there's a good chance that your daughter may have subject him to secret (covert) sociopathic abuse. Of course, you need to do much deeper digging than that to find out the reality, sociopaths are experts at fooling everybody around them and using people without them even realizing it and a true diagnosis is not something which is easily done.

Sociopathic women usually pick out a nice guy, someone who's quiet but friendly, open minded and honest and someone that doesn't like to say no to people. Over time they subtly suggest that he may have mental problems and eventually, after years of subtle abuse, openly tries to convince him that he's sick in the head and paranoid for making accusations or that he needs to see a shrink. This is, plain and simple, mental abuse which is used to cover up and get away with the fact that she is the one committing the abuse.

Sociopathic women are usually very charismatic people that have everyone, including their own friends and family, fooled into believing that they are the 'good girl' of the family, the one that would never do anything to hurt anyone yet they commonly have secret one-night stands, secret affairs (sometimes with family) and they use shock tactics to make people think that they'd simply had too much to drink and have them cover up their lies. Every time there is an attempt to do something about it, literally everything is twisted back around onto the true victim and the sociopath plays the victim successfully manipulating their family and friends into hiding their twisted secrets.

Note: Sociopathy/Psychopathy should not be confused with malignant narcissism/NPD.

By Sparkster

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Comments 22 comments

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Are you saying that sociopaths are basically abusers? Are there other characteristics that would classify them as a sociopath? I thought a psychopath and or a sociopath had much more severe mental problems. I suppose there could be levels or degrees of the illness. Interesting that you said sociopaths are born with a secret that only they know about. Does this mean a sociopath knows they are mental? I know a few people that fit your description but they honestly think their behavior is normal or deny even having the behavior. Thanks for the informative hub.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

No, I'm not saying that sociopaths are basically abusers. I'm saying the word is used generally to describe someone who suffers with a personality disorder, whether it be NPD or BDP or HPD, they are all forms of sociopathy.

No, sociopaths don't know that they are mental. They do know that they have some kind of infliction that can be used to their advantage. However, this knowledge becomes repressed/denied (as you say you know people who think their behaviour is normal), they rationalize it and see others as fools for not getting through the life the same way as they do (ruthlessly).


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Thanks for the info. Scary to know so many are out there.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Just to clarify, the sociopath sees their infliction as a gift. They believe there is nothing wrong with them as such and that they are the one that has been blessed with the gift of being able to manipulate and exploit people without feeling guilt or remorse for what they've done.


VENZKHVAM profile image

VENZKHVAM 5 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

SPARSKTER,

THIS is a really a very detailed hub on the differences of Sociopaths and Psychopaths. THE TWO DIFFERENT irritants in our day to day life is very common . But doesn't come out as the loved ones doesn't want it to be known by the public about their closed one being so abusive or adamant on getting their things done. A fantastic article, at least by reading this those suffering will get a solace that they are not alone. i liked your writing.voted up. and useful


Sparkster 5 years ago

Thanks Venzkhvam, I find the statistics shocking. This is a more widepsread problem than people seem to realize. If you mention the word 'sociopath' people begin to assume that you must be talking about a violent murderer or rapist when generally that's not really how it works.


Naomi's Banner profile image

Naomi's Banner 5 years ago from United States

I believe our society is breeding more and more sociopaths. I don't know if they are born with this as in genetic or if it can be a result of abusive behaviors or if they just develop the disorder as they age. Very interesting Hub though!


Sparkster 5 years ago

Thanks for the comment Naomi's Banner. A lot of people argue that it's genetic because of EEG's showing that certain parts of the brain that deal with empathy, conscience, etc don't seem to be functional.

However, I personally believe this works a lot like the conscious and subconscious mind - they feed each other. Therefore upbringing on abuse over generations within a family is inevitable going to result in those genetic changes taking place anyway.

It's well known within the psychology community that sociopaths have suffered abuse, often sexual child abuse, from a young age or have basically been brought up on abuse believing it to be normal.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Sparkster, From what I've heard and read, in a good number of cases it is not believed to be genetic. Nurturing in the first three or so years of life can determine which parts of the brain will develop. It's a time when brain connections must form, and if nurturing doesn't lead to some connections forming then the brain cells eventually die off. An infant or young child not nurtured in a way that would encourage the development of the parts of the brain associated with empathy (etc.) would, of course, have brain development that reflected that.

Anyone interested in learning more about brain connections are formed through nurturing should do a search like, "effects of maternal nurturing on brain development".


solarcaptain profile image

solarcaptain 5 years ago from california

After many years working with those we fondly refer to as sociopaths, they do tend to be manipulative, highly aggressive, very charismatic, often reckless with the money of others. Males tend to be macho types who are also type A personality who could use some cross cultural awareness.

Why, you might ask, aren't these people thrown in jail?

We don't do that in this or any other part of the world I am aware of to those who run Fortune 500 Companies. These top CEO's exhibit the same characteristics as a good sociopath who never goes to jail. He/she is just to clever. Two of my good friends, one a judge, the other an FBI agent took over any room they walked into. Both were brilliant poker players. I had them take the old MMPI several years back, Both resembled the sociopath profile, and if you believe the test, were willing to act on urges society views as opposed to good order.

As Patty so brilliantly pointed out, sometimes labels aren't always helpful. Many addicts and alcoholics change their moods from day to day and even every hour. They can't help it, or in some cases they want to fool someone. Most alcoholics are bright, insightful, generous and helpful, when sober. On the MMPI, they will almost always resemble the sociopath or shy, introverted, and passive aggressive personality. Did someone say so what? Goodnight


Sparkster 5 years ago

Lisa HW, in theory I completely agree with you (and of course the research that indicates this). A perfect example would be a sociopathic family where upbringing clearly has effect on people within that family over generations. However, this in itself causes genetic alterations over time which gives researchers a reason to believe that the problem may genetic when in reality those genetic changes were actually caused by the psychology in the first place. Some believe it's genetic and some believe the opposite. Neither can be proven.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Solarcaptain, interesting comments. It's certainly true that many sociopaths manage to gain a high ranking in society and therefore gain the utmost respect of others because of it.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Also, I wouldn't compare sociopathy to alcoholism. Alcoholism is a problem that in many cases becomes resolved. Sociopathy is a problem which is deeply embedded in the subconscious and is rarely ever likely to be resolved.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Thanks for sharing this information. It gets really old, seeing people that are able or willing to hurt others, do so. Basically, innocent people are being hurt those large problems, and they can live out much or all of their lives this way. It is so sad. Education on it all is a beginning. Often, I think those that don't know what exactly is going on, sometimes have a gut feeling, like they know something isn't right about someone. Its good to listen to these vibes, they could potentially protect us, and save us so much grief.

I am so glad you put up warning signs, on these hubs... it could hypothetically be any of us, and would we be brave enough or strong enough to go get help, if need be? That would be a good thing.... much better than hurting others, and hoping no one notices and just takes the abuse in their lives. Again, a great hub, thank you very much.


Erol 4 years ago

BIG Hello From Scotland

Hi There,

I Empathise Entirely with You

I Found Your Site whilst I was Doing-The-Rounds, around the Righteous Handful of Sites Exposing Moral-Imbeciles, like the 1 You've highlighted is pitted against You

Although, so far I've sadly been met by several hypocritical keyboard-hardmen & Infantile-Girls territorially suffering from delusions of grandeur (You couldn't make it up )

I’d like to share My Own Experience with You, where I was targeted by a Female serial-killer … LUCKY ME

She kills through relentless & ruthless attempts at ambient-abuse, abuse by proxy, emotional-black-mail, death-threats etc & as I was to Discover, (AFTER Exposing Her & Her Cronies,) by perverting the course of Justice … She does so for sadistic PLEASURE (You couldn't make it up )

I’d Followed The Teachings of Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa & Gandhi & I ASSURE You I Tried Everything, from a Safe Distance, to get through to Her … However, She’s a 44 Year old with the Emotional age of a 3 Year old & the alloplastic-defences to go with it …

She derives sadistic, (ie Infantile) Narcissistic pleasure from Unspeakable-cruelty & imagines Herself to be clever by Lying-Pathologically & can fool the Legal-system …

She’s addicted to Her-Own Neuro-Chemistry & Adrenaline rushes & is Psychotic … ie Her lies allow Her to program Her bitter Mind for the kill (ie rush) … Her Brain doesn’t Eat Sugar across the Entire Front of Her Brain, due to a dysfunctional uncinate fasciculus, so She doesn’t Actually Exist in Reality

She’s Lead Me to Believe that 6 Men have committed suicide because of Her causing Them PTSD & for Those Who won’t Her Sister has then shot several of Them … LUCKY ME (They’re a gruesome twosome & on-line Their aliases are interchangeable, so They double-team You …)

At a Formative Age, the elder of the 2 smashed the Younger 1's Forehead off the floor repeatedly until She Said She Genuinely Thought She was going to die … ie The Final ingredient to Make a psychotic serial killer … (She has the Exact same Physical Construct of Brain as the mass-murderers She admires …)

I Saw-Through Her & Stood-Up to Her & Genuinely Cared about Her, as I Uber-Empathically harrowingly Saw in Her what She Would have been had She not been born with what She called a broken brain & had She not suffered on-top of That … However, She Informed Me that Her EVERY Action was A Deliberately-Selfish & ENORMOUSLY premeditated Choice

She had Me arrested & I’ve to appear in Court for the TERRIBLE CRIME of Typing The TRUTH on MY Facebook Page (ie Slander & breach of Confidence) which She’d Doctored from a Post I’d placed on My old Facebook profile from 4 Months Earlier, having TYPED nothing about Her in 3 Months by that juncture …

I’d actually phoned the Police 1 Month before She had, as She’d been in My House when I was out working for a Local Charity (I’d no Idea She’d made a copy of My Key) … However, She lied fearlessly & pathologically to The Police & being Female played the Ted Bundy pity-card with the Gullible Male officers … (She REALLY Did a number on Them …)

Whereas, A Month Earlier when I’d had-enough & Called the Police & was HONEST :- Being Male, I was Told, by a Female police officer & I Quote, We’ll wait until She kills Someone ‘Then’ We’ll arrest Her … :-

Here’s the off-shore expose’ which I BRAVELY Predicted could get Me arrested, 2 Days before I found Myself locked in a prison cell in Glasgow, in the Middle of the Night, whilst the Malignant Sociopath (& co) cackled in the distance, delighting in having perverted the justice system to continue trying to cause Me PTSD in the vain hope I’ll be the 7th Man to commit suicide because of Them …

I've exposed Them in the vault of guilt on My website www.christlike.be

You're A Life Saver

Kind Regards,

Erol


sparkster profile image

sparkster 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Thanks for the comments Erol. I'm sorry you have been through such a rough time.

Maybe you should check out my article 'Psychological Murder'.


littleclay 4 years ago

This is going to short. I believe, really there was a sociopath in my life. He was an employer. With in a short period of time we became friends. I was young and did not know anything about such disorders. Not knowing, he involved me in a life game from a book games people play. In this game there is a set up for role reversal. This went on for ten years. Which goes along with what I went through and the book. For ten years my life just went by not knowing at the end, I would have nothing to show for all the hard work that I did. This left me broke and with out employment. I was black balled by him, He even stole my wallet, broke in to my bank and e-mails. He lied to people all around me setting up for my down fall. It has been three years after I left the company and the area. This was the most horrible thing to experience. He had me fooled that we were friends and I became close with is whole family. I am middle aged and have nothing to show for my life. I still can't find good employment. I read the book sociopaths next door good book. This is very short but I believe the experience will be on my mind for every moment for the rest of my life.


Barnsey profile image

Barnsey 4 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

I am glad you brought this to light. Many men who have been abused in some manner would never admit it. Seeing this is confirmation that those men who have been abused in some manner are not just imagining things or showing their weakness. As a one time medical transport driver I met many kinds of people during 15 years and I can attest to women being just as sociopathic as men, if not much more. One little guy came out of his house one day with a black eye, broken nose and broken arm. His big bruiser of a wife would never let him get a word in during their trip to the doctor. One day, she got out and remained with me while she went in to get a prescription. I looked at him and he looked at me, all I said was, "Dude, are you alright?" And he teared up and said, "Please, help me..."

I knew his wife was a brute but this was way over the top. She beat him up and then threw him down a flight of stairs. He was not a big fella and she was very heavy and big for a woman. I was transporting the guy's mother at the time as well so after dropping him them off as I promised him I would go tell her what was really going on. She was a sick woman but when she found out her son was being treated like that she handled it and got him the help he needed. I can't tell you how awful his plea for help made me feel. If a woman asked me for that sort of help, well, I would have handled her husband or boyfriend by giving him the beating of his life. I was raised being told to protect the weak and mistreated, to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves. How do you stand up for a guy against his woman? What can a man do in that situation?

For ages we have heard the stories about the quiet guy next door who just went off and beat his wife or even killed her. I wonder how many of those cases were a result of the woman abusing her husband for a long time before he finally lost it? I have even heard women in the back of my van talk about how they were going to get rid of their man. They literally would get him in trouble, get him arrested and then move on with their lives like nothing was wrong! This sort of nonsense speaks of the lack of accountability of women as a whole. Great work here, Sparkster, glad to be following you!


Laney 4 years ago

I am in a marriage wherein I'm the victim of sociopathic abuse. The signs listed above are dead-on accurate.

U


Candace 3 years ago

You are so completely wrong and obviously you have personal motives behind your lies. You have insulted victims all over the world with your lies and fallacies. Get your facts straight and stop misleading people.

Oh and you delete my comment when I point it out. Really? I am going to report you to hub pages.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 3 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Candace, who exactly are you talking to and what lies are you on about?? There are no lies here, just cold hard truth and there is no violation of Hubpage's rules either. I didn't delete you comment either, it was awaiting moderation (just as the notice said when you posted it).


sparkster profile image

sparkster 3 years ago from United Kingdom Author

By the way Candace, all the information here is true and accurate and can be verified through many credible third-party sources and professional mental health websites - are they all liars too??

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