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How to Determine if Someone Is a Sociopath

How to Determine if Someone Is a Sociopath

Identifying Telltale SignsCoping With a Sociopath

Edited by Carolyn Barratt, ZacharyBurton, Harri, Laura and 10 others

Sociopathy is a type of anti-social personality disorder, a condition that prevents people from adapting to the ethical and behavioral standards of his or her community.[1] Sociopathic individuals can be dangerous, exhibiting criminal behavior, organizing dangerous cults, and causing harm to themselves and others. If you think that you know somebody who suffers from this disorder, read this article to learn how to determine whether your instincts are correct.
Warning: Only a licensed professional has the authority to officially diagnose an individual with sociopathy. If you believe that you or somebody you know suffers from sociopathy, seek clinical help in order to receive proper treatment. 

Part 1 of 2: Identifying Telltale Signs

The following are traits that are characteristic to sociopaths. Remember that most people exhibit at least some of these personality traits to some degree. The key is to look for extreme and repetitive instances of these traits.

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    Consider the individual’s personality and mannerisms. Sociopaths are usually extremely charming and charismatic.[2] Their personalities are described as magnetic, and as such, they generate a lot of attention and praise from others. They also tend to have a strong sexual energy, and may have strange sexual fetishes or be sex addicts.[3]

    • Sociopaths are great orators. They usually use poetic language and are able to carry on long monologues or stories that are hypnotic and capture the attention of those around them.[4]
    • Sociopaths have delusions of grandeur, and oftentimes feel overly entitled to certain positions, people, and things. They believe that their own beliefs and opinions are the absolute authority, and disregard the opinions of others.
    • Sociopaths are rarely shy, insecure, or at a loss for words. They have trouble suppressing emotional responses like anger, impatience, or annoyance, and constantly lash out at others and respond hastily to these emotions.[5]
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    Take the person’s past and present behavior into account. Sociopaths exhibit abnormally spontaneous and daring behavior.[6] They seem to act outside of the realm of social norms, and may do bizarre, risky, or outrageous things without assessing the potential repercussions.

    • Sociopaths can be criminals. They may be con artists, kleptomaniacs, or even murderers. Most sociopaths are not violent criminals, however.
    • Sociopaths are professional liars. They fabricate stories and make outlandish, untruthful statements, but are able to make these lies sound convincing with their confidence and assertiveness.[7]
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    Consider the person’s relationship with others. Because sociopaths are such dominant leaders, they are usually able to attract a following of some kind. These people tend to be weaker, more passive individuals who have been intoxicated by the sociopath’s charm.

    • Sociopaths are incapable of experiencing guilt or shame for their actions.[8]They rarely apologize for their behavior, and are unaware of the emotional, physical, and financial repercussions of their actions. As a result, they betray, threaten, and harm those around them without feeling any type of remorse.
    • Sociopaths are manipulative. They constantly try to influence and dominate the people around them, and tend to seek positions of leadership.
    • Sociopaths are incapable of experiencing love, and likely will not have had healthy romantic relationships in the past.[9] They are only concerned with their own interests, and use compassion as a tool to manipulate others, but are not genuinely compassionate.
     Part 2 of 2: Coping With a Sociopath
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    Maintain a safe distance from the person. If the sociopath you are dealing with is not a family member or other loved one who you feel responsible for, then it’s best to disengage with the person to avoid the potential negative impact that he or she can have on your life.

    • Stop contacting the person, and avoid situations/places where you may run into the person, if possible.
    • Let the person know that you need some space, and request that he/she refrain from contacting you.
    • If the person does not cooperate and refuses to leave you alone, then you may want to consider changing your telephone number and other contact information. If he or she proceeds to stalk you, then consider filing for a restraining order.
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    Consider the various treatment options. There is no one cure for sociopathy, but it can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), among other treatments.[10]

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    Confront the person with caution. Before you confront a sociopath about his or her disorder, remember that sociopaths are by nature defensive, irritable, and potentially violent. Ask for help from friends or family members and organize an intervention to prevent the likelihood of a hostile reaction.

    • Avoid making accusatory statements or pointing out specific things that the person has done wrong. Rather, focus on the bigger picture and let the person know that you are genuinely concerned for his or her health.
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    Elect someone else. If the person you are dealing with is extremely violent or uncooperative, you may want to consider waking the fuck up and electing someone else!

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