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How To Expose A Sociopath

Updated on May 20, 2014

How To Recognize And Expose A Sociopath

When we think about sociopaths, we think of horrifying crimes and we think about the perpetrators being in mental institutes or prisons. But that is not usually the case. Sociopaths can be very stealthy and are often never caught. Sociopaths will specifically use their intelligence to evade capture or avoid being noticed. They are intelligent enough to appear as just a regular person, holding down jobs and to some extent interacting with others. They can be highly intelligent, but all the intelligence is used specifically to avoid detection and continue their sociopathic behavior, which is very unique.

Sociopaths are rare but they can and do live among us. There is a fairly good chance you have encountered a sociopath at least once in your life. You could have crossed the path of a sociopath at your workplace or on the internet and not even realized it, because the nature and strategies of a sociopath is to remain undetected. The internet may even be conducive to a larger percentage of sociopaths than you might normally be exposed to, because the internet is inherently more covert. Sociopathic behavior, is a sociopath's nature. Just as a spider spins a web or a bat lives in a cave, it all comes natural to them. This nature can be magnified exponentially by their intelligence and ego.

One of the traits of a sociopath could include finding "much joy" in abusing their victims in some way, whether it's physical or emotional. Social settings of any kind are a sociopath's "playground". These can be places where they carry out their sociopathic behavior of avoiding detection, targeting victims and living out their disorder. What is especially unique about this behavior, is that the behaviors themselves all work in tandem or in concert for a specific goal, thereby exposing the specific traits of a sociopath and the sociopath herself/himself.

A key component, trait or activity, is that sociopaths will probe for sympathy or solicit sympathy in their social environment. They will use this tactic to analyze people around them, to gauge the depth of a person's conscience, amount of compassion or sympathy that various individuals are capable of. One way of looking at it is that they are basically creating chess pieces for their game. Playing this game is part of what brings so much joy or satisfaction to the sociopath as people are often hurt in the process in some form or another. In soliciting sympathy, they are not looking for actual sympathy, but instead they are looking for information they can then use or employ.

Avoiding detection is an important part, so anyone that has a strong conscience, who is capable of empathy, but also has good, sound judgement or anyone that is intuitive, that can sense or detect the sociopath, is a natural enemy or opponent to a sociopath. Those would be a high value opposing chess piece to a sociopath. Anyone in the sociopath's probe of sympathy or empathy in surrounding individuals that could be used as pawns against the targets, are also assessed and are incorporated as their own pieces in the game.

These "pawns" used by the sociopath might not want the discomfort of any negative attention or psychological abuse from the sociopath, so they go along with the game. It is far easier to comply, than face the other side of things with such a person. They might be chosen as pawns by the sociopath, based on the fact they may not particularly like the sociopath's victim or opponent. The sociopath may reward the pawn, with disingenuous praise, shallow compliments or superficial or codependent friendship that can pass for genuine friendship.

Pawns are specifically used to aid in targeting anyone that could expose the sociopath or the sociopath's games. Tactics could include drawing attention away from the sociopath's own involvement and to intimidate the target into silence or get them on the defense. They might be chosen as pawns by the sociopath, because in their analysis of them, the sociopath was capable of gaining sympathy from them, but the pawn lacked the ability to discern the sociopath or the sociopaths true intentions. For example, the sociopath sought sympathy from a potential pawn and noted it was a "blind sympathy", so they were recruited.

These unique traits and activities by the sociopath are all part of the game they like to play that has multiple purposes. The sociopath gets to manipulate people "for their amusement" but they also serve as a way to protect themselves from being detected. The sociopath will exhibit much joy or glee in playing their games. They can or will even brag about having no remorse or even entertaining the idea of remorse. Sociopaths have difficulty expressing normal emotions and will often mimic or copy other people's traits, words and emotions, to blend in, to avoid detection. Everyone involved is their victim, from pawns to targets, all just so they can continue playing their games.

These tactics, traits or games that sociopaths play are tried and true methods for the sociopath. They are effective at fooling anyone, even psychiatrists and law enforcement. Although fluid and dynamic, their tell-tale activity is very specific and if observed carefully, it can be recognized and exposed. If you think you might be in contact with or interacting with a sociopath, some questions you might ask yourself are: Have you noticed attempts to probe or enlist sympathy or empathy, by what seemed purposeful, insincere or disingenuous ways? Was there a solicitation for sympathy but it felt like it had an ulterior motive? Do you feel like you are being manipulated in any way to target specific people? Does the personality in question express inappropriate happiness when targeting, harassing or bullying specific people and then suddenly change course and make an appeal for sympathy or calmly rationalize their behavior? All these behaviors can indicate a sociopathic personality.

This article has been written to inform people about what I have personally learned through my own experiences, study and research on the topic of sociopaths that are part of society. This is not meant to be a full explanation of sociopaths by any means, nor share the full list of symptoms of a sociopath, though one can gather a lot through what is expressed here. Researching psychopathy, and other antisocial disorders can be helpful as well, as they can seem similar or overlap.

There is a book that goes into much more detail and gives examples of how they can cause pain in the lives of others while evading notice throughout the process. It is called The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities by Dr. Jane and Tim McGregor. It goes into more detail about how others are used in the process as well to get what the sociopath wants accomplished. It develops the ideas shared here in a much more thorough way. In general, for your own safety, it is recommended to distance oneself from such a person if possible, reduce your exposure and potential liability or there will just be an ongoing cycle due to the nature of a person with such a disorder.

© 2014 PhoenixV


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    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky 

      15 months ago from Uninhabited Regions

      I reread your article and it is very in-depth and well-penned.

      I also have had experiences with Narcissists and Sociopaths because I was groomed early on, in childhood, and found familiarity in them due to various family members.

      But, I have only, over the last few years, come to understand the term Sociopaths and Narcissists.

      Cluster B Personalities will spin one’s brain around into deep confusion and self-doubt. Bullies, Flying Monkeys, and Narcissists’ Enablers are also those of whom one should not be around. It is so important to learn the Red Flags.

      I will check out your recommended book!



    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      15 months ago from USA

      Thanks Tamara. Happy 4th of July.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky 

      15 months ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Excellent article and very interesting! I am going to reread it after I take care of a few things so that I can better concentrate.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      15 months ago from now on

      Phoenix, I think you have a person who is obsessed with Donald Trump commenting here - twice a year apart - solely to call Trump a sociopath both times. Could that be a red flag for sociopathic behavior?

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      15 months ago from U.S.A.

      Superb and right on target, PhoenixV. I was drawn to this article because of my background working with some of these individuals. Your message about sympathy in this piece: I don't believe the DSM V could have spelled it out as accurately.

      Great job. Impressive and talented in telling the public in an easy to understand manner.

      Thanks for the follow. I will reciprocate.




    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      19 months ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Excellent work, PhoenixV. I've had the displeasure of having worked with a sociopath so I can testify to the truth and accuracy of your description. Better yet ... all of us have had the opportunity to observe the behavior of Donald J. "Trumpery" in his race for president and his first year in office. He presents a perfect example of a sociopath.

    • Bonnie Parkerrr profile image

      Bonnie Parker 

      19 months ago from Canada

      Well written, and it didn't even tick me off!

      Jackie Lynnley, we are not all scary all of the time. We're not monsters. Well not all of us...all of the time. I can be beyond scary, but I need to have a reason. Someone has to ask for it - deserve it.

      I'm new here as of yesterday. I got here by complete accident, I thought I was signing up to be part of Exemplore to read articles, and turns out I was signing up for freelance writing. haha Go figure.

      I guess everything happens for a reason.

      One of my 2 articles was accepted and featured overnight. The other I had to edit and resubmit today. Feel free to go see what I'm about. Ask anything and I'll answer unless it means I'll end up in jail.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      21 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Sounds like a book worth reading. I know at least two sociopaths and they are very scary and to be avoided. I have managed to do that for a number of years now and plan to make it for life if possible.

      Great article.

    • profile image

      Tamara Moore 

      2 years ago

      I hope you write more articles of this nature so as to help others better protect themselves. Great job!

    • profile image

      Tamara Moore 

      2 years ago

      Excellent advice! Thank you for this information:-)


    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comment Ivan.

    • Ivan Tod profile image

      Ivan Tod 

      2 years ago from Chester, ny

      I wrote a "manual", if you will, on how to win arguments through Passive/Agressive and Brainwave manipulation techniques. After reading your hub it has dawned on me that my manual, taken in it's "polar" form, could actually aid one in recognizing a potential sociopath. Addendum, anyone!

      Thanks for the eye opening hub.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comments everyone.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Very interesting !

      This could very much be the case, although i don't have any "hard evidence"..witch i would very much like as it would give me the final closure.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      2 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      This is an excellent article on understanding sociopathy and sociopaths. I often want to understand people's behavior so much, in order to explain what is making them tick, or if they are seeming to cause a lot of disharmony in certain social situations.

      There are times when you just know something is not quite right with a person. There are times when this same person tends to have some drama surrounding them, and seems disingenuous about certain behaviors. It can be heartbreaking because if one is a sociopath, it will be hard to correct the behavior, as I think that they think all the problems with people are not their fault.

      A great article, full of helpful insights in how to protect oneself and also how to understand people. Once understood, a lot of things begin to make sense and appropriate action can be taken to limit exposure or protect yourself. Also, this is helpful to know if you are becoming a pawn in a sociopath's game. I really appreciate it. Well done.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Beware of sociopath around us. Sometimes we can not recognise it. Because sociopath often hide the behaviour in public. It s kind of horror for us.,

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Excellent description of a sociopath, PhoenixV. I worked with a sociopath some years ago (It wasn't easy -- for me or for others. Not to be political, but it's hard to read this Hub without thinking of Donald J. Trump. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a sociopath. I must share this with my Facebook friends. Thanks.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      2 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is an interesting topic and you covered it well. Thank you for outline specific sociopathic behaviors so others can recognize it and protect themselves.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      2 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thank you for warning me about people that I should interact carefully with and keep my distance from if the relationship threatens my self-esteem.

    • profile image

      Joanna Pilatowicz 

      2 years ago

      Well done! It is really more of them in society than we think ;)

    • David Branagan profile image

      David Branagan 

      2 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting article PhoenixV. Long long ago I had an encounter with a sociopath. A 2 year encounter unfortunately. They really do try to remain undetected, but their constant lies and manipulation can sometimes become a little too much and the cracks do unfold. The sociopath I once knew, manipulated everyone around him, people, situations, stories and always tried to gain leverage over people. This person came across as so incredibly proper, well spoken, intelligent and sincere, but eventually people began to notice the discrepancies and untruth. He didn't take this very well and if he didn't threaten the person or people involved, he would block all contact with them and move on to his new targets. Fortunately with this guy, his new targets realised his tenancies, so he was forced to relocate to another country. Thank you Jesus!

    • savvydating profile image


      2 years ago

      I go to Kellers. They have fresh "wholesome" turkeys and good desserts that are like homemade. If you don't have a Kellers where you live, Whole Foods actually has some good desserts. Don't worry, their desserts do not taste like organic sawdust. They use fresh, natural ingredients. Hope you find the perfect pumpkin pie.:)

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from USA

      Yea Ann810, a guy that would physically abuse a woman and then cry about it, probably has some serious issues. Thank you for the comment.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comment Savvy. Yes it does seem odd that someone at the office was so nonchalant about their dogs. I would trust your instincts. If by holidays you mean Thanksgiving, I'm all for that. I would love to have some stuffing with cornbread and sausage and some pumpkin pie. I dont know where to find a descent pumpkin pie and I cant cook!

    • savvydating profile image


      2 years ago

      I read this article again, Phoenix. I think I was to hasty to congratulate myself on my "radar." I am a "nice" person overall, so I can probably be as easily fooled as the next person.

      Anyway, I know someone in my office building who creeps me out, but whether this person is a sociopath, I do not know. But I do get the impression that this person loves to control situations. Also, she once told me she had two dogs that she forgot to feed and that one day, someone came over and pointed out that the dogs were skin and bones. That someone, she said, took the dogs away.

      I wonder why anyone would admit such a horrible thing and not seem all that sorry about it. What do you think? I just try to keep my reactions neutral around her so that she does not think I suspect how creepy I find her.

      Anyway, hope all is well. The holidays are upon us. Yipee!

    • Ann810 profile image


      2 years ago from Sunny Cali

      Wow this article describes the Hip Hop Artist Dr.Dre. That guy physically abused the R&B Singer Michelle', and after he abused her, he had the nerve to start crying. That's one Sociopath that's been exposed in her movie.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Does it mean that sociopath is sociable, but yet dangerous at the same time? I've never seen that kind of person and I hope that I'm not a sociopathic. Anyway, thanks PhoenixV for the useful informations

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from USA

      Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments.

    • SundayMacarons profile image

      Kate Alexandre 

      4 years ago

      I'm going to have to re-read because I got in a rush to comment. For those who have come into contact with a sociopath, it's sometimes incredibly hard to permanently remove them from your life. Sometimes as humans, especially women, we may tend to be overly nice. Sociopaths have a great radar for those.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you Savvydating. I tried really hard to understand and convey what I learned. It was mostly a hub to help myself better understand the dynamics. Deception, by its very nature can be difficult to perceive, so kudos to your radar. Sometimes that is all we have to get a hint of what is going on and then we can raise our awareness from there on.

    • savvydating profile image


      4 years ago

      What a well written article. I am thinking about buying the book you recommended. It is interesting to observe personalities who garner quite a lot of positive attention, and yet who are actually quite deceitful. I can only thank God that my radar is pretty sensitive, but that is not to say that I haven't been fooled initially a time or two. Thank you for this very informative piece. Up & useful.

    • seraphic profile image


      4 years ago from Canada

      Very informative Hub! Voted up!

    • VJGSA profile image


      4 years ago from Texas

      I have encountered people like this. One dead giveaway that I've noticed is that they make themselves look good or smarter by making other people look bad. They find and spotlight other people's mistakes which makes them look smart and superior by pointing them out.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the comment lollyj lm.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      4 years ago from Washington KS

      Thanks for this helpful and informative hub. Fascinating topic.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from USA

      Thanks miriamyentraccm, javr and ladyguitarpicker for your comments.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      4 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, I have a met a few people that you have described here. Interesting Hub and good to know.

    • javr profile image


      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I had a boss who was a classic.

    • miriamyentraccm profile image

      Miriam Parker 

      5 years ago from Ontario, CA. 91761

      Very well written and informative! Thank you for the insight!

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from USA

      You are right linhah lm and thanks for pointing that out: it is important to recognize that this behavior is not fixable.

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 

      5 years ago from California

      This is very interesting information as it confirms many of my own observations. It is also important to recognize that this behavior is not fixable.

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 

      5 years ago from Ozun

      I've met 2 person of this sort, but obviously at that time i did not know that something is wrong with them...everybody should read this Hub, which makes easier to identify such people.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Very well written article about sociopathic behavior. The inability to to truly love is the saddest part of this truly awful, untreatable disease.

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 

      5 years ago from U.S.A.

      Enjoyed this hub! Very interesting!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Interesting topic and discussion following in the comments. Yes, I've met this sort of person and they can be really cagey. They can turn the charm on and off like a light switch. When you begin to see their true nature they revert to the loving person you originally thought they were and bit by bit, they slip back into their hurtful ways. You've given a lot of clues here about how to recognize these people.

    • CrisSp profile image


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I have read quite a lot of articles on this topic simply because they are very fascinating. I have dealt with a couple of them in my past life as well and it's hard to repair the damage that they leave behind. I am more cautious now than ever, but not that paranoid.

      Good informative hub. Voted up and passing it along.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Interesting hub. After reading your post I asked my partner if he knew of any sociopaths among the people we have known or know today. He did not think so. I must confess, we might have been very lucky, or we have not recognized them. I will now be more aware!

    • ologsinquito profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      There is a lot of good information here. The old sympathy card is one of the first things often used to assess a target, and draw them into the craziness.

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 

      5 years ago

      Everything you describe is true with the addition that sociopaths seek power whether it's over their victims, in a social group or in government. I have had the misfortune of having several sociopaths close to me in my life. Their lack of empathy and a conscience is scary. They say that the eyes are the window to one's soul. When you look into the eyes of a sociopath, there is nothing there. They have no souls. Voted up.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      A lot of good information. I'll be on the lookout.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      5 years ago from Minnesota

      Excellent article on the dangerous sociopath. I unfortunately know all about this type of person. I have lived it and learned many lessons because of it. I am an intuitive person and saw the red flags when a family member married a sociopath. Her life was a living hell with this man and it took her several years before she had the courage to leave this dangerous monster. He has sadly now hurt many other women after my sister divorced him. It is so hard to watch the same cycle over and over to great women that take him at his word. Because my sister had children with this man, we still have to deal with his dark, sinister ways but have learned strategies to keep a safe distance from his behavior. God help any woman or man that gets into this type of relationship. It is important when you realize your with a sociopath to make a clean get away by breaking the ties completely if you can. Unfortunately, this is not something my sister can do because he is the father of her kids, but if you don't have kids with the abusive and destructive sociopath, get out and get out completely. I am sharing this very important hub; including putting it on my 'sociopath' board. Voted up and hit all buttons except for funny.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I actually work with two sociopaths--one admitted himself to me, and why he behaves as he does. The other one, is a female that loves to cause hurt, and it can be see how gleeful she becomes when she does. She also uses people for her own gains…A well done piece!

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from USA

      Yes Rhymeandreason, there are some similarities between a sociopath and a narcissistic personality. As Grand Old Lady pointed out, sociopaths have no conscience and no remorse and that is similar to a narcissistic personality. A narcissistic personality needs to be personally validated and ego-stroked by others. A narcissist's goal is to use people, to feed their ego, whereas a sociopath just uses people for the enjoyment of it.

    • Rhymeandreason profile image


      5 years ago

      Is there a correlation between narcissistic personality disorder and sociopath? Your article is very interesting, which cause me to explore the topic much further. I appreciate your insight.

    • lostohanababy profile image


      5 years ago

      I imagine the possibility of meeting a Sociopath, and without realizing! Maybe from time to time I have met one and maybe even worked with one. What I thought at the time as someone having a really 'bad hat harry' day. Just over looked it and stayed away from this type of behavior/ personality. That was maybe difficult to understand!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Philippines

      Sociopaths have no conscience. An article like this is very helpful in informing people of a topic that others should know more about than they realize. Great hub.

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 

      5 years ago from USA

      Phoenix, sometimes, the problem is that a lot of people we meet online on a variety of sites appear to have those traits! I think I have met at least a few that would fit the description!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very interesting and useful hub. I don't think i've ever come in contact with a sociopath. The person who comes to mind is Ted Bundy. Thank you...

    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 years ago

      I found this piece to be very interesting and important. Sociopaths come from every walk of life and quite often they are very successful. All I can say is "buyer beware." Voted up, useful and interesting.


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