Last week’s post highlighted the animalistic, cold, callous nature of the sociopath. There is always an attitude of self-righteousness, narcissism, selfishness, and a lack of empathy running through their blood. Their veins, if we could see the color, are probably blue. There is always a consistent lack of care for the rights of others and a pervasive interest in getting over on people. You probably know multiple people in your life this way. For most of us, we cross them daily (co-workers, family members, spouses, doctors, lawyers, landlords, managers, etc). Sociopaths are more common than we realize. Our lives are in constant danger at the hands of the sociopathic mechanic, manager, doctor, psychotherapist, lawyer, coordinator, agent, etc.
There are 5 important characteristic of the socio-path that we often struggle to understand and even believe:
- Consequences are the only deterrent: Most sociopaths only respond to consequences that directly influence or affect them such as jail time, a prison sentence, probation, legal trouble, or the possibility of being murdered. Other than that, most sociopaths feel invincible and often exhibits a narcissistic attitude. Most humans consider the consequences of most of what they do such as: “if I eat that cake, I will gain weight,” “if I date that man, I could get really disappointed,” or “if I have children now, I might age faster.” Sociopaths, however, rarely consider the consequences of their behavior. This is why it is difficult to do therapy with sociopaths because they rarely if ever take responsibility for their behaviors.
- Charm and flirtiness is a weapon: Not everyone who has a flirty personality is a socio-path. Some people have great personalities and bits and pieces of that personality can come across as flirty. Some of the greatest symbols of beauty and femininity were flirtatious and charming. But it is important to become aware of the fact that many socio-pathic personalities use charm and flirtiness to control others, get what they want, and supercede where they feel success is needed. Consider the worker who sleeps with her boss or agrees to do small “favors” for a colleague in order to get the job promotion.
- Moody & sullen: Moodiness and a drastic change in emotional stability does not always mean the presence of borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. Socio-paths are very likely to demonstrate a cascade of emotional symptoms similar to depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and the like. Because of this, it can be difficult to pinpoint the personality of a socio-path. For example, you may have a good friend who constantly has drama in her life and often comes to you with tears, disappointments, and rages of anger. At first, you may feel honored that she “trusts” you enough to share what bothers her. For you, you feel a close connection and empathize with her emotions. You soon find out, however, that she is often open with many people in her life and tends to use people to make her feel better, validated in her emotions, or pitied. Her emotional lability is a personality defect, not necessarily the response to a problematic situation. These individuals use their moodiness to control others. These socio-paths are vindictive.
- Pathological lying comes easy: Sociopaths are able to tell a lie about anything and get away with it. They are typically calm liars who are experienced at adjusting the details of information to benefit themselves and harm other people. In fact, most socio-paths lie to escape negative consequences such as jail time. Lying is something that almost automatically happens the moment they open their mouths.
- They lack emotion: Most socio-paths lack emotion and are often shallow individuals with nothing to offer others. The ability to empathize stems from a part of the human brain called “Theory of Mind (ToM).” ToM is the ability to empathize with others by taking their perspective. Without the ability to do this, it can be difficult to communicate and have relationships. For sociopaths, emotion is something that lays dormant the majority of the time. It is only when the sociopath’s livelihood is threatened that you may see a reaction that appears to be tied to the emotions. But for the most part, you can assume the person has flat affect (no emotionality on the face) and a disinterested heart.
The most important part of this article is not so much the characteristics, but the correct identifying of those characteristics in your own life. You want to be sure that you do not carelessly associate a person who demonstrates these characteristics as a socio-path because many characteristics can appear in each of us at one point. But it’s important to keep in mind that these characteristics are usually assigned to socio-paths who demonstrates a long-term or pervasive attitude consisting of the above.
As always, stay informed.