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What is a Sociopath?

Updated on March 15, 2013

Fact From Fiction...

Dahmer, Bundy, Gacy.

The very names of these selected sociopaths have the power to send chills down our spines.

They are the people of nightmares and horror films, but thankfully they are relatively rare in real life. These sociopaths are at the extreme end of the spectrum of sociopathic disorders; on one end, we find the sick and twisted, but on the other we find people who appear mostly normal, and are often quite successful.

A sociopath is not necessarily evil, though fiction tends to portray them as such.

We are familiar with Hannibal Lecter as the sociopathic stereotype, but if you have ever seen the television show "House," you may not realize it but the snarky main character is also a classic sociopath. Or consider Bruce Wayne's alter-ego, Batman, Yes, Batman.

In her book, "The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless vs. the Rest of Us", author Martha Stout Ph.D. claims that 1 in 25 people are sociopath, the National Institute for Mental Health believes that number to be more like 1 in 100. There could easily be a sociopath in your neighborhood and you would never know it. As long as you learn to recognize them and avoid them as much as possible.

Please keep in mind that even professionals can';t diagnose all sociopaths. Many therapists have been taken in by them as well. Just because you don't particularly like someone does not mean they are a sociopath. Some people want to diagnose anyone who has hurt them as a sociopath, but this really isn't the case. If they feel guilt or remorse, then they are not a sociopath. Some people can be just plain jerks!

However, the book "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout can help you recognize a possible sociopath, and tell you what to do if you suspect one has wormed their way into your life.

Rule One: Keep Your Distance

Entering into a relationship with a sociopath can be physically, emotionally and even financially exhausting. You never truly have a relationship with a sociopath, you give and they take, it is that simple. So what exactly is a sociopath?

Diagnostic Criteria

In order to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, (DSM-IV), the following diagnostic criteria MUST be met:

1. Since the age of fifteen there has been a disregard for and violation of the right's of others, those rights considered normal by the local culture, as indicated by at least three of the following:

A. Repeated acts that could lead to arrest.

B. Conning for pleasure or profit, repeated lying, or the use of aliases.

C. Failure to plan ahead or being impulsive.

D. Repeated assaults on others.

E. Reckless when it comes to their or others' safety.

F. Poor work behavior or failure to honor financial obligations.

G. Rationalizing the pain they inflict on others.

2. At least eighteen years in age.

3. Evidence of a conduct disorder, with its onset before the age of fifteen.

4. Symptoms not due to another mental disorder.

Sociopaths have what is known as "antisocial personality disorders," marked by a blatant disregard for and violation of the rights of others.

They are people without a conscience, and no real regard for right and wrong. Deceit and manipulation are often present. Inability to love or have meaningful interpersonal relationship is also common.

Other symptoms may or not be present, including:

Ability to appear normal on the surface

Truly see nothing wrong with themselves

Nothing is ever their fault

Justifies their actions

Deep need for the respect, love, and gratitude of others

Superficiality, false charm

Inflated sense of self and superiority

Narcissism, excessive self-love

Self-importance not based on achievements

Lack of emotional depth, surface only

Incapable of normal human attachment

Relationships are a tool to get what they want

Lack of empathy

Contempt for those who seek to understand them

Authoritarian and domineering

Secretive and paranoid, worst fear is to be found out

Lack of remorse, guilt, or shame

Need for stimulation

Impulsive behaviors, lack of personal control

Irresponsible and unreliable

Promiscuity, infidelity

Parasitic lifestyle, they live off of others

Goals for life are inflated and unrealistic

Possess a wide range of skills used at the expense of others (criminal and/or entrepreneurial)

Seek total control over the lives of chosen victims

Attempt to create a willing victim

Assign their own behaviors to their victim

Sociopaths and Psychopaths

Are they the same thing?

In the strictest sense, a psychopath and a sociopath are not the same thing, though many use the terms interchangeably.

Psychopathy is generally considered biological in origin, while sociopathy is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental influences. In other words, psychopaths are born and sociopaths are made.

Some also make the distinction based on the severity and extent of the sadism. Where a serial killer would be considered a psychopath, your neighbor probably wouldn't, at least one would hope not.

So in some circles it might just depend on the extent of danger they pose to their fellow man. A run-in with a sociopath might be painful but tangling with a true psychopath could very well be deadly.

In studying serial killers and sociopaths in general, you will find a need for power and control at the root of the disorders. The sociopath lives in a fantasy world of their own making, and they have a real problem with anything that causes them to break that fantasy hold even for a moment.

In their fantasy it always goes perfectly, and the victim is a passive part of that fantasy. Many serial killers don't necessarily begin with the intent of killing someone. They begin with a fantasy of total control, often seeing the victim as a doll or other object worthy of no more respect than a cockroach.

Unfortunately for most victims, they break that illusion, and it angers the sociopath so deeply that they unintentionally kill their first victim. Only then can we tell the true psychopath from the sociopath.

Each article you read on the subject has a different qualification for this difference, and some deny a difference at all, only qualifying different levels of sociopathy. Either way, the last thing you want to end up as is the victim of someone who only views you in terms of their own fantasy world. The minute you act contrary to that fantasy, things get ugly fast.

The Sociopath Next Door

The Sociopath Next Door
The Sociopath Next Door

This book came to me by way of multiple recommendations. As a writer it is important for me to create realistic characters good and evil, and studying psychology is just one way for me to understand the human mind. This book is amazing in that regard, read, learn, and beware...

 

The Sociopath Next Door

Have you ever dealt with a sociopath?

See results

Your Experiences

Have you ever dealt with a sociopath?

Yes, I have and it is horrible.

Yes, I have and it is horrible.

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes, my mother and my last two husbands. The thing they had in common was never feeling guilty, never wrong, wanting others to do for them, trying to make others feel pity for them, boredom, no empathy, self importance, liars. Being raised by my mother, I guess I felt comfortable with these men until the last one conned me out of everything I had. I now am starting over without men in my life. My mother is 84 now and still manipulating everyone. I call her the little white haired terrorist.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I have dealt with both Narcissists and Sociopaths from many types of relationships. Right now my neighbor who has all the signs of being a sociopath, has crossed the line about three weeks ago. This neighbor has not only turned the other neighbors against me, who do not even know me, but this neighbor has another neighbor try to run me and a friend over with their vehicle, while we were walking. I really, think, I am dealing with a Psychopath now that we are looking at attempted murder. It is very draining and time consuming dealing with these kinds of people. As of now just collecting evidence to turn into the Sheriff's. This neighbor has already pushed me, so anytime when I am ready charges can and will be pressed on this neighbor. If this neighbor who is an alcoholic dies first then that will be even better. Everyday this neighbor gets drunk.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I was married to one and until i found this term and this book, i thought everything was always my fault. I can finally begin to heal.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes, my brother is a sociopath, and it's just plain terrible! He matches all of the criteria, and it's just extremely hard to deal with him.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      My mother, stepfather and first husband.

      My children are almost grown up without those three people in their lives, and have blossomed since we cut the toxic ties... I from my parents, they (independent of me ) from their dad, who would berate them about me every time they saw him, and whose behavior was escalating as they grew, and it became quite frightening, as I would pray every time they went to his house that they would be kept safe and come home alive, but he was so convincing that saying so to the school and psychologists was falling on deaf ears, until our son acted out on a teacher, and we all had to have a meeting at the school...where the ex, my sons dad showed his true colors when he blew his stack in front of the principal, teachers, and emergency counselling coordinator... It's was scary but finally i wasn't alone in advocating for my children's mental and physical safety, suddenly support came for my kids and I from every direction.

      My boys are fine young, caring men now, who demonstrate empathy, compassion and ethics..they can't be bought, or so easily fooled, and won't be easily manipulated. Thanks to respurces like this, I can educate myself and them about many things including protective boundaries and so on Xxx

    • makarenko 3 years ago

      yes - it is pretty bad, mostly due to that in addition to pain they inflict they also throw you off and change your view of reality: suddenly you realize that there are some people who genuinely do not care if you suffer and that you can not trust anything or anyone completely... very sad :( I have some lenses/videos on dealing with Narcissists - not quite as awful as sociopaths, but still extremely harmful...

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Yes, my mother and her lover

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I believe I was married to one

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I dated a guy for 1 1\2 years. He had a lot of the symptoms I see listed on this site: narcissistic, no empathy, infidelity and lying... All were present. Then I found the courage to break away from him. Worst experience of my life! I'll never distrust my intuition again.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes, my classmate was one and still is one. She blames everyone for her problems. Her parents have called the cops on her. Her sister called me to warn me about her. She lies without showing any shame. It's odd really. Often times, she forgets her promises. I also notices she does not feel bad or ever apologize. She never cries and will get angry if I do so. She also breaks my stuff and lies about it. It's weird. Her accusations and gossip does not even make sense. She feigns innocence, ignorance, and kindness but just ends up using her "friends" to do her bidding.

    • caneilson 4 years ago

      My ex husband is one...I had no idea. He was charming to the hilt but covering up anger and resentment. He had an affair with another woman, lied about it for 2 years, then left me to pick up the pieces of a lost business and our home, basically starting over with nothing...

    • DorisDoom 4 years ago

      I got romantically involved with someone online who turned out to be a sociopath. She fits most of the descriptors. Her games and motivations baffled and obsessed me. She charmed me utterly and then began to torture me and humiliate me publicly (online). I am still embroiled in it now as a conflict, although I'm trying to withdraw. She is utterly without empathy and is an emotional sadist. Also very bright, entertaining and funny. She has projected all her behaviours onto me and made herself seem the victim. Has been quite an experience for me.

    • TwistedWiseman 4 years ago

      I do it daily, most of my time spent in my shop is dedicated of fighting off uneducated violent pricks who get drunk and seem to think the world is against them. Whiny little pricks...

    • ModestyWilde 4 years ago

      Yes, unfortunately I have.

      With many: my stepmother, 2 fiancées, one more boyfriend, 2 friends, some acquaintances, a few work colleagues, and unfortunately a lot more.

      This may seem unlikely or like an exaggeration - but being an empath and used to walk on eggshells (because of my narcissistic father and his psychopathic wife) I have attracted psychopaths everywhere.

      If there would be one, he or she would immediately recognize me as the perfect next subject to try to victimize.

      I have now a pretty good "radar" for psychopaths and malign narcissists, and fight for the rights of victims who suffer because of those marauders.

      I also formed a Facebook-group for victims in my country, because little is done to help people in this situation.

      Anyway, the problem is accelerating, I think. Almost every week a new victim joins our group - and they are in very bad conditions.

      Some of them have hardly escaped getting killed before they realize they need help. All of them are severely injured in their hearts, and many of them also physically.

      According to me psychopaths ARE evil, because they don't care what happens to other people ... it's like comparing them to a gun in Russian roulette - you never know when they will explode ...

      Of course they don't seek psychiatric help and to avoid them is the only way to lead a happy life. Ignore them and never let them close!

    • youandiandi 4 years ago

      Yes, I have had the misfortune to deal with many so far, a fiancé, several work colleagues, friends, which I think is inevitable for us all in this day and age. The best (and sometimes the hardest) thing is to recognise them so we can take precautions to protect ourselves. Unfortunately this sometimes takes a while

    • MIchelle 4 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      I believe I dated one for a few years. The things we see in hindsight...

    • Psycho Free Zone 5 years ago from USA

      I lived with one for several years. I've gotten pretty good at detecting them right away now.

    • MorningShine 5 years ago

      A lot of what you describe fits my brother.

    • Nightcat 5 years ago

      I'm no doctor, but I'd say a family member qualifies. He can fake human emotions to get what he wants, but told me once he never feels a thing. Meets the majority of the symptoms, I noticed. He likes to poison animals too, so horrible. He seems obssesed with getting diagnosed with other disorders so most people think he is harmless. But he raises the hair on the back of my neck. What is sad, is since this is family, and as far as I know he hasn't harmed a human, what can I do with him? For readers, he refuses mental help, unless he is the star of the show. The moment he feels neglected, he quits.

    • stilldealing 5 years ago

      still dealing with one. My son's ex nd they have 2 children 5 & 8 so there are more years to come. looking for strategies.

    No, I haven't and I'm glad

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      • philipcott 4 years ago

        Nice

      • Onemargaret LM 4 years ago

        No, I have not. But, I have met some people that come close.

      • AlwaysCurious LM 4 years ago

        I'm a therapist and I've seen lots and lots of Antisocial Personality Disorder. I can't say that I've seen a sociopath....although, some people have come kind of close.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I'm a doctor with a psychiatric background and so far I haven't come across a sociopath.

      • Lilly-n-Lloyd 5 years ago

        Not that I know of.

      • gherishjhoven 5 years ago

        No... And not aiming to cross ones way... I guess it is the most worst thing to handle and having to deal with one.

      • miaponzo 5 years ago

        So far I don't think I ever have... and I really really hope that I never do!

      • photofk3 6 years ago

        Although I have some people around me that I don't like, I don't see the charachteristics of a sociopath in them.

      • TriviaChamp 6 years ago

        Fortunately, I can't say I have.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        No, thank goodness I haven't!

      Since sociopaths are takers, they tend to be attracted to givers.

      If you are assertive and can stand up for yourself, they wont want to tangle with you. Don't live your life as a doormat, or they will take the invitation to wipe their feet on you.

      Let's say you are pretty sure you have had a run-in with a sociopath. What do you do about it?

      Do your best to avoid them socially.

      If it is someone that you are in a more intimate relationship with, cut off ties. It sounds harsh, but you have to take care of you, and a sociopath will do everything in their power to see that that does not happen.

      If it is someone you cannot escape, such as a family member, limit your contact with them and seek help from a professional in dealing with them.

      There are various support groups both online and off. Find one and participate.

      Sociopaths thrive on being the center of attention. Don't give them that opportunity. It may be your life, but to them it is just a game, and they will find a way to win it at all costs. You will lose, so don't willingly lose any more than you have to.

      Sociopaths seek drama. Do not give it to them. Conversations will get twisted, actions will be misconstrued, and you can bet they will come out looking like the victim. No matter what you do, they will insist that you have violated them in some way, so don't even give them that chance.

      Don't wait around for a sociopath to experience guilt, shame, or remorse for their actions. It will not happen. They don't see anything wrong with themselves. They may fake emotions for a short time, but will continue the same behaviors.

      Do not ever give a suspected sociopath access to your money or belongings.

      That seems pretty obvious, but this is where most people get conned.

      Many sociopaths are pros at conning people. They have can't-miss business opportunities, financial troubles that only you can cure, they just need a little bit to see them through.

      Be on the lookout for those red flags and don't ignore them.

      Sociopaths often present themselves as experts and work very hard to earn your trust. Before you give anyone your money, check them out. This is especially important online where you can't always get a real feel for them.

      Don't just accept the references they give you. Do a search and find out for yourself if they have any skeletons.

      Criminal records are public record. Call the courthouse and get a copy of their record before you do any sort of business with them. Don't forget to check in other states where you know they have lived.

      A sociopath is very good at only allowing the world to see what they want to be seen. Beware if they present themselves as perfect and never making any mistakes, and are secretive about their past.

      If you can avoid it, never get into a legal battle with a sociopath. They are accomplished liars, and will have the court eating out of their hand in no time. It will cost you a great deal of time and money, and in the end all it does is further your stress.

      If you begin to suspect you are dealing with a sociopath and things are getting ugly, document, document, document. Save every bit of correspondence from them, carry a tape recorder, and videotape their tantrums. Keep a journal record of all interactions no matter how small; they are admissible in court.

      Finally, whatever you do, do not try to get even with them.

      You are playing by a set of rules, they are making up the rules as they go. While you may be a law abiding citizen, they will have no problem breaking the law. While you are bound by conscience, they have none.

      As soon as you begin to suspect you might be dealing with a sociopath, RUN.

      Sociopath Support Groups

      If you are struggling to survive with a sociopath in your life, or trying to recover from a relationship with one in the past, there are many support groups online to aid you. You don't have to deal with it alone, nor should you.

      Get Out and Stay Safe

      "Never wrestle with a pig. You will both get dirty, but the pig will like it."

      A sociopath can and will destroy your life if you let them, and they will enjoy doing it. The most important thing of all is take care of yourself. Do not allow stubbornness or pride to take you in even further. Knowing when to walk away can be your most important tool when dealing with a sociopath. Use it, and live to fight another day.

      Nobody should be involved in a relationship that continually drains them of time, energy, or money, and gives nothing back. No amount of vindication is worth it.

      Just trust me on this one.

      10 Tips for Dealing With a Sociopath

      EDon't Feed the Drama Queen

      As I have already said, not even professionals can diagnose a sociopath, so I wont even begin to say, "Yes, I certainly have dealt with a sociopath personally."

      I do however have some experience with sociopathic behaviors.

      I know what it is like to be sucked into a paranoid delusional nightmare where someone else is King, and I am merely a pawn. Just when I think I know the rules, the whole game turns upside-down.

      I tried everything to cope with it, and nothing seemed to work. I felt like I was living in the world's longest episode of The Twilight Zone. I could not trust anything I saw, hear, spoke, or experienced. Anything could and would be turned around and used against me.

      My life was totally out of my control for a time. I was afraid to leave my home, afraid to drive my car. I gave into fear and it ruled me.

      So I finally figured out what did work.

      1. Grow a thick skin - The things they are saying are intended to hurt, so why should I give them exactly what they want? They can and will attack, but it is up to me whether I am going to take it to heart or not. Yes, it hurts. Some things hurt worse than others, but just because someone hates me does not mean I am not loved, or unworthy of love.

      2. Keep yourself accountable - If I slip up, break the law, or even say something I shouldn't, they will be there pointing their finger at me. So I've learned to watch my step in everything I do. They keep me accountable, and that isn't such a bad thing.

      3. Be responsible for your actions - If I do slip up, I can make excuses and place the blame elsewhere, or I can take the adult route: I can take responsibility for my own actions. It really isn't that hard to say, "Yes, I did this and I shouldn't have. I really screwed up!" I've had to do it a lot, but so far it hasn't killed me!

      4. Let each person decide for themselves - Some people are going to believe the things other people tell them about me. I have no control over that. Yet it turns out most people are far smarter than other people give them credit for. Most people see right through it on their own!

      5. Be proactive instead of reactive - At first, I just waited for things to happen, then reacted. Now, if something seems fishy to me, I respond to it. I head it off at the pass. I protect myself first, and try to avoid it if I can. If I can't, I try to be proactive, to contact people myself and clear up misunderstandings before they have a chance to get blown out of proportion.

      6. Know the truth - I used to ache to prove that someone was lying, and so often I could prove it if someone, anyone would just listen. I discovered that most people really and truly don't want to be a part of it. So, I have learned that as long as I know the truth, that is enough.

      7. The power of choice - Just because I have been invited to play the game doesn't mean I am required to respond. I have the choice as to how I will react no matter what the situation. I can respond, but I can also walk away, ignore it, or channel that energy into something more constructive.

      8. Detach yourself emotionally from the situation - Learning how to observe the situation from a position of emotional detachment relieves a great deal of the stress. Seeing a grown adult scream and call you names is really rather silly when you can avoid taking it personally.

      9. Live your life - Even if they refuse to go on with their life, you can always go on with yours. Some people just seem to get stuck in a certain phase of their life, the revenge phase, the seek and destroy phase, the victim phase... whichever phase it is, they need you to keep it going. You don't have to play. You can pick up your toys and go home anytime you wish. Yes, they will keep trying to pull you back in, but they need your permission to do it. Keep your focus on your life where it belongs, and the rest fades into the background.

      10 Succeed - It took me far too long to realize this, but the best revenge really is not just going on with your own life, but actually succeeding. The last thing they want is for you to be happy, so the best revenge is just making the most out of your life. Be happy!

      I really do wish that some things could be different in my life, but all I can do is play the cards I have been dealt to the best of my ability. Like it or not, it seems some people are in my life to stay.

      Yet they can only take from me what I am willing to give them, and the best revenge really is just refusing to play their game at all. Find your own happiness and focus on it with all of your might, and your life will begin to turn around too!

      The Sociopath Next Door

      If you would like to find out more about sociopaths and dealing with them, the best book I can recommend is "The Sociopath Next Door." It will teach you everything you need to know.

      There are many great books on the market but "The Sociopath Next Door" is considered the authority.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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          anonymous 7 years ago

          This lens gives me a spooky feeling inside.

          There are lots of crazy people that are mean.

          I do not care to get to know any of them.

          Great job on this lens!

        • Heather426 profile image

          Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

          Great lens full of great info! I am sending it to my sister. 5*

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          kimmanleyort 7 years ago

          Some very good advice that I will certainly follow. This is a very important subject.

        • best-intentions profile image

          best-intentions 7 years ago

          Thank you for creating this lens, and for the work that you are doing. 5* and faved. I have been dealing with a sociopath for almost 20 years. I absolutely agree that a courtroom is a terrible place to try to fight them. I could go on and on.... best wishes to you in everything you do. :)

          Kate

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          Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

          I have worked with several sociopaths. You have done a great job of explaining not just their behaviors but what behaviors will help someone not be their victim. Blessed by an Angel.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I dated a man for nine years. In those years, I was mugged on a trip to Paris with him, then my home was broken into seven times, then it was burned to the ground in a suspicious brush fire, then when I sold the land it had sat on and put the money into the stock market, all my money was sucked away. He had my dial up number for my computer and he had a building filled with network servers. His son is in federal prison for money laundering. I strongly believe this man did all those wrongs to me. But I have no proof. After I lost my money, he dumped me. Now I am stone broke, My credit rating went from almost 800 to in the 400s, I have no bank account anymore, lost my home to foreclosure, and filed bankruptcy. I never hear from him anymore. coincidentally, just after I lost almost a million, he bought two new sports cars, a business, and leased a beach front home. What do you think happened? I wish someone would investigate it all. I am living with a friend, having lost everything I had.

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          Ayngel Overson 6 years ago from Crestone, Co

          @anonymous: It is a difficult choice, they can be very vindictive and telling others can place them on the attack and they will try to destroy your life and reputation. For now, share with those you think might need to know... as in people he may victimize next. If he starts to retaliate, do whatever you have to to protect yourself... and watch your back. They can get pretty creative when it comes to revenge.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          @anonymous: maybe it is my ex. I am wife 10 at least. He is not in my home now but I am sure he is looking for another target Sounds like you were smart and figured him out. My guy took me for about all, not just money but my mind and my spirit. I am trying to get it back. I ask myself the same question you do. I feel so sorry for the next woman he takes. I am thinking of contacting dateline.It is awful what they take away.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          @anonymous: in my experience nobdy listens and you end up looking a nut

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          @anonymous: i was given the advise to leave warning others but its hard when your a caring person and you want to put a stop to these evil people

        • TriviaChamp profile image

          TriviaChamp 6 years ago

          This lens was extremely interesting. Kudos.

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          Kate Loving Shenk 6 years ago from Lancaster PA

          I love both of your lenses--the Empath and the Sociopath! Thank you!!

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Interesting info!

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          photofk3 6 years ago

          Thanks you for casting a light on what exactly a sociopath is. Great content, keep it up.

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          burple 6 years ago

          @anonymous: NO,JUST RUN LIKE HELL! A real sociopath will thrive on coming up against you and chances are you will be the one to end up looking wrong and they will come out of it looking like your victim. My mother was a sociopath (a violent, sadistic one at that). She destroyed everyone around her and came out of it playing the victim and looking like little Miss Mary sunshine. The main reasons sociopaths are so dangerous is that they have no limits and are VERY SUCCESSFUL in manipulating people. There were times I would be so frustrated with other people for not seeing what she really was and for letting her manipulate them, then the next thing I knew, I would be dragged in myself and wondering how the hell it had happened. Sociopaths know how to use the natural inclination most people have to respond with humanity and compassion. They know what buttons to push and they will play you and everyone around you like a pro. Don't try to outplay a sociopath, you will lose. The only way to defeat a sociopath is with concrete proof of their lies. If this person is still imposing themselves on your life, use taped (auditory and visual) to prove their behavior. Don't throw away any correspondence, document all behavior ( don't tune out, disregard or ignore anything) and don't respond or engage with them as that is what they want. You may not want want to play their twisted game, but they do and make no mistake, it is their game and they make the rules and rule the kingdom. If you are lucky enough to have made a clean break, run like hell and don't look back. If you think you are going to find justice or fairness in any interaction with a sociopath, chances are you are deluding yourself, just turn and run like hell. If you aren't an easy target, chances are they'll turn toward an easier victim to get what they want and to fulfill their need for drama trauma. RUN LIKE HELL!

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          burple 6 years ago

          @anonymous: NO,JUST RUN LIKE HELL! A real sociopath will thrive on coming up against you and chances are you will be the one to end up looking wrong and they will come out of it looking like your victim. My mother was a sociopath (a violent, sadistic one at that). She destroyed everyone around her and came out of it playing the victim and looking like little Miss Mary sunshine. The main reasons sociopaths are so dangerous is that they have no limits and are VERY SUCCESSFUL in manipulating people. There were times I would be so frustrated with other people for not seeing what she really was and for letting her manipulate them, then the next thing I knew, I would be dragged in myself and wondering how the hell it had happened. Sociopaths know how to use the natural inclination most people have to respond with humanity and compassion. They know what buttons to push and they will play you and everyone around you like a pro. Don't try to outplay a sociopath, you will lose. The only way to defeat a sociopath is with concrete proof of their lies. If this person is still imposing themselves on your life, use taped (auditory and visual) to prove their behavior. Don't throw away any correspondence, document all behavior ( don't tune out, disregard or ignore anything) and don't respond or engage with them as that is what they want. You may not want want to play their twisted game, but they do and make no mistake, it is their game and they make the rules and rule the kingdom. If you are lucky enough to have made a clean break, run like hell and don't look back. If you think you are going to find justice or fairness in any interaction with a sociopath, chances are you are deluding yourself, just turn and run like hell. If you aren't an easy target, chances are they'll turn toward an easier victim to get what they want and to fulfill their need for drama trauma. RUN LIKE HELL!

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          reasonablerobby 6 years ago

          Superb lens on a difficult subject. Working in higher education in a business school it is a driving ambition of mine to expose this type of behavior in management and equip people to avoid, manage and defend themselves against these life thwarters.

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          careermom 5 years ago

          It is great resource. Thanks

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          miaponzo 5 years ago

          I have a degree in psychology and I love the idea that you're doing lenese like these! Thanks for me and others who will definitely benefit from your lenses!

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          Ayngel Overson 5 years ago from Crestone, Co

          @miaponzo: Thank you for visiting so many of my lenses. I do hope to get my PhD in Psychology someday. Until then I just read text books for fun and try to translate what I learn into lenses and articles. Thank you for reading :)

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          JoshK47 5 years ago

          Very well written! Great, although mildly disturbing thinking about how many people like this are out there, work!

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          Natural_Skin_Care 5 years ago

          I think I've had a few of these types work on my hair.

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          JackNimble 5 years ago

          Very interesting lens. Scary too. Might be the explanation for a few people I know. Thanks for sharing. I also think I might be an empath. My wife makes fun of me because I cry over tragic news stories and movies. I really did not like the movie My Girl because it was so sad and I avoid really sad movies because they are emotionally draining. Being a guy it was tough growing up when guys are often told not to feel or we will be weak.

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          paintingsgalore22 5 years ago

          Nice read. I just found out that not all sociopaths are evil.. :-) Thanks for the info.

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          gherishjhoven 5 years ago

          well explain and detailed information. I am glad to became part of this lens. Great day!

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          Cathy Slaght 5 years ago from St. Petersburg, Fl

          Great lens. What is frightening to me is the fact that we have so many elected officials who fit the guidelines of psychopath/sociopath!

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I was in relation ship with a woman who was a borderline sociopath for over 2 years. It's very long story woth loads of detail. But cut things short it became a nightmare. Took me long time to put myself together after that and im not even fully together after over 2 years.

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          Lilly-n-Lloyd 5 years ago

          I was immediately attracted to your lens because Anthony Hopkins in Silence of The Lambs is one of my favorites! This lens is great. Makes me want to get some kianti and fava beans.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I am recovering from being victimized by a sociopath who was my personal trainer at the gym. Good-looking, charming guy but also very secretive, paranoid and manipulative. He flirted with me then turned it around on me and acted like I was flirting with him, then annonymously posted an ad on craigslist using a fake profile which he then used as an excuse to be aggressive towards me even after I had stopped training with him and wanted nothing to do with him. Being an empath, I could see right through him the minute I met him.... and I am also a highly successful female so I think it gave him great pleasure to manipulate and cause me pain. I reported it to my gym, but he is so charming they predictably think I am the crazy one and he is playing the victim role quite well. It's hard to accept that other people think poorly of me, but I feel like I had no choice in case he were to continue harassing me 24 hour Fitness would say they didn't know there was a problem.

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          KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

          My good friend took a personality quiz and came up with the result "Sociopath" it's a little scary, but I tease her about it. (I don't really think she is one - it wasn't an official test)

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          Psycho Free Zone 5 years ago from USA

          Very comprehensive lens - great job.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I'm totally an empath. I entered into a business deal with a CLASSIC sociopath. Friend for 10 years. An always positive entrepreneur, Always positive, lie Oprah Winfrey. He stole millions. From banks, from condo depositors (one of which was me). During his deposition, he did the pity play (what was left of it) and had the linguistic, cognitive contradictions Robert D. Hare PhD. described in his book "Without a Conscience"

          While this was all taking off I called an old flame, and bonded over the situation... I still don't know if this guy was a sociopath as well, definitely a sex addict but he may just have an "avoidant attachment disorder" The chilling thing was that I was led on, placed in a manipulative bubble and when I confessed feelings for the guy, six months into it, I got the junkie conversation... "maybe you should get a pet"... weird. The total lack of empathy was chilling... After six years knowing each other and a seven month relationship it was like "oh well, good luck with that"

          However, missing from the entire situation was the parasitic lifestyle. The pity play. There was simply a lack of remorse or emotional accountability. Can "avoidant personality disorder" mimic sociopathy?

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          kevingomes13 lm 5 years ago

          Is Dexter considered a sociopath then?

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          Timothy Arends 5 years ago from Chicago area

          "Psychopaths are born and sociopaths are made" I have to disagree with this. I think most personality traits have at least some genetic component. I definitely agree that the main character in "House" is a sociopath, however! LOL

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          Had a relationship with a psychopath/sociapaths, couldn't see the signs until it was too late, he drained me financially, made false promises, damaged my belongings, he was a total differenct person around others. Blamed me for all sort of things that was happening to him. I walked away, and i never looked back. He has threatened me on many occasions if i ever left him. Now im trying to come to terms with it all. Im scared for my life and my family. I know the person he has a criminal mind. Has done some bad things in the past. Not sure when he will decide to hunt me down.

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          wheresthekarma 5 years ago

          This lens was incredible. I can sooo relate!! Sharing this one also! Great lenses.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I just recently realised that I had been living with a sociopath. After a particularly horrible break up when I discovered this individual had been having several relationships behind my back after I had been financing all his business activities and lifestyle for several years. I was devastated and broke. He moved on very quickly and couldn't understand how I was still 'sore' after a couple of weeks. I am thousands in debt thanks to him and he has just away. He is highly intelligent but I started watching him on manoeuvers one night in the pub and his tactics were all too obvious to me. He is very plausible, good looking and charismatic and those are his tools. He had to ditch me because I worked out his modus operendi and I had run out of money. I started to write down my feelings etc and after a year or so or reading my scribbles everything fell into place - he was a textbook case - no conscience, never his fault, no money, charismatic and he had been to prison for fraud - conned people out of huge amounts of money - one guy committed suicide as a result - he just shrugged it off! He tells the most fantastic stories about himself - some of which are quite funny but others are awful i.e saying his brother is dead to get out of some commitment he cannot fulfil. He could still con money out of me if I was not careful and I did some awful things under his influence and I am an intelligent independent female - or thought I was - I told him he should come with a health warning. My scribblings over two years were very revealing indeed and all pieced together a portrait of this sociopath - for all his intelligence he is unemployable and as a consequence leeches his way into respectable people's business and leaches money from them, with dire consequences and then moves on to the next victim. I have defended him and supported him for years but no more. He could lie for his country (Ireland). I do not feel sorry for him but I do feel sad. He is so talented in many areas and he pretty crap as a liar and conman - he is not exactly rolling in money. i would love to know how he ends up.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I just recently realised that I had been living with a sociopath. After a particularly horrible break up when I discovered this individual had been having several relationships behind my back after I had been financing all his business activities and lifestyle for several years. I was devastated and broke. He moved on very quickly and couldn't understand how I was still 'sore' after a couple of weeks. I am thousands in debt thanks to him and he has just away. He is highly intelligent but I started watching him on manoeuvers one night in the pub and his tactics were all too obvious to me. He is very plausible, good looking and charismatic and those are his tools. He had to ditch me because I worked out his modus operendi and I had run out of money. I started to write down my feelings etc and after a year or so or reading my scribbles everything fell into place - he was a textbook case - no conscience, never his fault, no money, charismatic and he had been to prison for fraud - conned people out of huge amounts of money - one guy committed suicide as a result - he just shrugged it off! He tells the most fantastic stories about himself - some of which are quite funny but others are awful i.e saying his brother is dead to get out of some commitment he cannot fulfil. He could still con money out of me if I was not careful and I did some awful things under his influence and I am an intelligent independent female - or thought I was - I told him he should come with a health warning. My scribblings over two years were very revealing indeed and all pieced together a portrait of this sociopath - for all his intelligence he is unemployable and as a consequence leeches his way into respectable people's business and leaches money from them, with dire consequences and then moves on to the next victim. I have defended him and supported him for years but no more. He could lie for his country (Ireland). I do not feel sorry for him but I do feel sad. He is so talented in many areas and he pretty crap as a liar and conman - he is not exactly rolling in money. i would love to know how he ends up.

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          Pam Irie 4 years ago from Land of Aloha

          This page is written so well. There is information here that everyone should be aware of. Sociopaths scare the crap out of me because of the fact they have no "real" feelings......it's like they are always acting because they don't know how to feel. Dealing with them can be very dangerous; I avoid them at all costs.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          Just read this page and I can relate all the way through. I used to think that my sister was a narcissist and she was manipulating my mother into believing lies about me. This goes back 10 years, I am 36 now. Then after many many very heated arguments with my mom trying to make her believe that what my sister told her was a blatant lie and even sometimes was totally made up, out of the clear blue sky. Sometimes my mother would be sitting there when my sister would just blow up at me for no reason, maybe I said she looked pretty or something, ya Im serious, and my mother would tell me after my sister would storm out that I provoked her. I would look at her like WTF! AM I LIVING IN THE THE FREAKIN TWILIGHT ZONE, THIS WOMAN IS JUST AS CRAZY AS MY SISTER!

          Then my dad became ill, and slowly my sister has stripped him of all his independence down to having him deemed incompetant only about 3 months ago. We even suspect that she may be drugging him because he has ended up overdosed on his meds twice at two different assisted living facilities. Theres more to it than that but this is not the place for all the details.

          She had a plan a long time ago and has taken little steps to execute this plan over the past 6 years. I worked for my dad at the family business for 13 years when my mother and father became it about the same time, I asked my sister to come help me with the business since she is now done with college. I was excited to bring her into the company, I thought we could make a great team and grow the business, I had all these plans etc. Then things started getting strange, the blowups, the rage, trying to make decissions behind my back and telling me that its none of my business, then she started locking up the company checks that I used to process and sign until I gave her that job, and the last straw was the safe, she went out and bought a safe to lock up checks and petty cash. I had it, she had my dad convinced I was stealing money. I quit the business I couldn't take the stress anymore, plus I had just found out I was pregnant. After I had my daughter the crap continues and to make a long story shorter, she tried to file a civil restraining order against me the judge told her she was crazy and threw it out of court, then when my dad had his first overdose the ER doctor had filed an abuse report against her, 2 weeks later she claimed I threatened her and she was deathly afraid of me and my mom sided with her so the police believed them both and arrested me for criminal threats, 10 months of pretrials and 15,000 later I took a deal for disturbing the peace but she still got her restraining order.....oh god and there is way more but Im way to tired to keep typing, I will continue later, it gets even better. She is an eveil person with no regard, no concience, and no backbone, she is chickenshit, and so is my mother, they are really sad people and I wouldn't take a million dollars to live in there shoes not even for a second.

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          MIchelle 4 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

          Thank you for an interesting and enlightening page. It was an eye opener for me and has made me rethink the behavior of someone in my past.

        • AlexTedford profile image

          AlexTedford 4 years ago

          Thank you for sharing this informative lens.

        • AlexTedford profile image

          AlexTedford 4 years ago

          Thank you for sharing this informative lens.

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          avigarret 4 years ago

          Like yourself, I always found sociopathy to be fascinating, and I really found your lens extensive and enjoyable, will definitely check out more of your lenses.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          I just got through a year of dealing with a very entertaining sociopath. Fortunately I had been a British murder mystery fan for decades and have read true crime books extensively. By the time this character came on the scene I was able to know just what he was up to. Classic younger man preying on the lonely old woman. Very entertaining until it came to the point where he might just as soon see me dead in the freezer with my checkbook in his hand, smiling and greeting the inquisitive neighbors with a smile saying "Oh she's too sick to come to the door but I'm sure she'll be better soon."

          Ha! He turns from Barney the Purple Dragon to some boring badly played con artist and back again at the drop of the hat (or the idea that he's not getting anymore of my money). I've never yet seen his bad temper though I've heard about it often enough from men and see it listed on his rap sheet online.

          If I were a billionaire I'd keep him around for entertainment. Now I just need to figure out a way to get all the money he leached out of my estate back.

          Probably can't be done. A glib charming rageaholic who wants pity and money non stop. I told him that it was time for him to move on to a wealthier woman before my sons killed him. Just like on the BBC. He did.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: I was in a similar relationship. Sounds like the same guy. It took me 8 months but I figured him out. The rage was a giveaway. It came out of nowhere for no reason.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: I went thru the same thing. I thought I had met my soulmate, but then realized that he was a very evil man. I would like to expose him but I am afraid. Check this link out and you may decide not to squeal.

          www.country-of-liars/5560/history

          I am so angry and I really want to get revenge but it may cost me. Remember sociopaths have no conscience. He already tried to damage my career.

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          Millionairemomma 4 years ago

          Thank you for sharing this in-depth information about a sociopath. Very insightful.

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          TwistedWiseman 4 years ago

          I always hate it when I pass by and they start shouting at me, because they know I am to far away to consider coming back and kicking their asses.

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          Onemargaret LM 4 years ago

          Great information!

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          After I had read "sociopaths are not necessarily evil" I stopped. What a load of bullshit. You obviously don't know ANYTHING about sociopaths. Sociopaths are a sort of a scientific term for "evil". Batman? The symbol of justice and goodness who would rather sacrifice himself than anyone else? You have some serious issues with your system there. And btw, my master's thesis was on SOCIOPATHS.

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          Ayngel Overson 4 years ago from Crestone, Co

          @anonymous: I'm sorry, I cited my sources as best as I could.

          Granted they are internet articles and anybody can say anything and be anybody on the internet unfortunately. I'm sorry you do not agree with them, perhaps you should take it up with them? Or did I just misunderstand their research?

          The links are in the article if you are interested. You have to actually click on them though...

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          After a year n a half, I've realized that I've been involved with a sociopath. It's a very scary thing!

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          Great information on this site! Thanks-

        • suepogson profile image

          suepogson 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Wow - is there any need to be this rude and aggressive? Do people with master's degrees nuse CAPITAL letters for emphasis?

        • suepogson profile image

          suepogson 3 years ago

          @ayngel boshemia: I thought the article was well researched and very interesting. ... And polite...And not remotely aggressive. The comment above is out of order.

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          Ayngel Overson 3 years ago from Crestone, Co

          @suepogson: A bit personal, wasn't it? Oh well... so she's not a fan. I'll live I suppose. ;-)

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