How to Identify a Sociopath

Ted Bundy, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler have all been classified as sociopaths. This is not to say that sociopaths are all mass murderers, but typically, these are some of the most infamous. Many celebrities, politicians, and CEO’s are also said to be sociopaths, or at least have numerous sociopathic traits. Sociopaths suffer from antisocial personality disorder, and they can be difficult to identify. However, knowing about the traditionally accepted characteristics of a sociopath will aid you in the identification process.

Blatant disregard for right and wrong: Sociopaths not only disregard right and wrong in the moral sense, but also disregard right and wrong in the sense of adhering to the tenants of the legal system. A sociopath neither gives consideration to the rights of others, nor gives respect to the societal norms to which most people abide. Therefore, sociopaths will often be in constant conflict with individuals in their lives, and can often have run-ins with the law. Conflicts with authority and the law can often begin at an early age.

Manipulative: Having a charming demeanor that masks a cunning and manipulative self is considered by some to be one of the most common identifiers of a sociopath. After all, politicians, celebrities, and even Ted Bundy didn’t achieve their desired goals by being sullen and creepy. Sociopaths want to control the people in their lives, and view others as play things or pawns. They are often pathological liars who use their charm to manipulate people, situations, and in some instances the legal system.

Distorted reality: Sociopaths not only have a grandiose sense of self, but also have a distorted view of reality. They have a sense of entitlement and feel that it is their right to do or have certain things, yet they disregard the rights and feelings of others. Sociopaths do not accept blame for their actions, and instead blame others. Their distorted view of reality can often make them irresponsible and unreliable. This can lead to poor job performance, poor educational performance, and a poor standing with family.

Poor behavior and impulses: Someone who is a sociopath will often be angry and impulsive when it comes to their behavior. They may lash out at others, and have no sense of personal boundaries. Sociopaths have no empathy for the feelings of others, and will feel no remorse for their attacks and poor behavior decisions. Also, sociopaths may be sexually promiscuous, and can have problems with drug and/or alcohol abuse, gambling, or other addictions. Often, the poor behavior decisions of sociopaths can lead them to legal trouble, but they will often change their story or in some cases identity to avoid punishment.

These identifiers are only some of the traditionally acknowledged traits of sociopaths. Simply having one or more of these traits does not make someone a sociopath. Antisocial personality disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained professional. If you or someone you know needs mental health counseling or diagnosis, please see your doctor or other trained health care provider. For more information on antisocial personality disorder or sociopathy, please visit the following links:

Mayo Clinic
Deviant Crimes
Sociopath Test – Just for fun


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