In an attempt to end our fruitful discussion and review of sociopaths, I will mention one last personality trait and characteristic that many of us tend to ignore.
This past Saturday we reviewed the “Stunning characteristics of the sociopath,” looking at the characteristics that often elude many of us in our daily lives. We looked at the fact that many sociopaths live among us – work beside us, live in our homes, walk down the isle with us, babysit our children, teach our children, prescribe medications, and offer therapy. Many socio-paths are charming, glib, and even a bit daring. That daring side can be attractive for many of us because we perceive their “daringness” to be courage, strength, or fearlessness. Who wouldn’t admire a fearless person? Because of this, we are often unaware of the sociopathic tendencies of many people around us. In his book, Without Conscience: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us,” Dr. Robert Hare shares a variety of characteristics that are important to pay attention to. He builds his case by pulling characteristics from an assessment scale known as the Psychopathy Checklist, which allows mental health professionals and law enforcement to evaluate an individual for sociopathic tendencies. The checklist highlights characteristics of sociopaths that often include:
- Glibness and superficial charm
- Egocentric and grandiose behaviors
- lack of remorse of guilt
- lack of empathy
- deceitfulness and manipulative behaviors
- shallow emotions
- poor behavior controls (i.e., “flying off the handle”)
- need for excitement (e.g., frequent drug use, promiscuity, alcoholism, prostitution, gangs, etc.)
- Lack of responsibility
- early behavior problems (e.g., adolescent crime, theft, vandalism, prostitution, rape, etc)
- adult antisocial behaviors that often stem from childhood or adolescent anti-social behaviors
Despite the above characteristics, there is one particular trait that we often ignore, a trait that may save many of us. That trait is eye contact. The eye contact of the socio-path has an unearthly intensity that aims to dominate, control, or intimidate. It is a emotionless stare that holds the key to that person’s soul. The soul is callous and comes through the eyes of the sociopath upon contact. Most people believe that the eyes are the keys to the soul, and perhaps they are right. The sociopath maintains eye contact in an attempt to dominate or control the emotions and thoughts of another human being.
As a therapist working with at-risk youth, I have come across a few developing sociopaths at the Conduct Disorder stage of their development. The stares often endured from these individuals have created upon my arm goosebumps and inside my being, sheer surprise. I found myself questioning the intent of this stare and found that there are many reasons for it. It is up to you whether you will take heed. But once you encounter that sociopathic stare, you will recognize you are in the presence of an individual whose very nature is different from your own.
As always, stay informed