Sociopaths: statistics suggest that they may make up 4% of the population, or 1 person in every 25. But is that really the case and if so, is there any reason to be that concerned about them? “If they’re as common as 1 in every 25 people…” you may be thinking “…what IS wrong with sociopaths after all?
The basics: a sociopath is actually a person who suffers from a specific mental disorder, called antisocial personality disorder.
Sociopaths, according to the Mayo Clinic, are people “who consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.” That last part tends to be the part that sets sociopaths apart from just angry or spiteful or otherwise emotionally-bound people: the lack of remorse or guilt. The ability to feel guilt and remorse, as it turns out, has a lot to do with being a functional human being.
So how can you tell if someone is a sociopath? Here are 7 common characteristics:
1. Lots of “friends”.
Due to the pile-up of other characteristics we’re about to get to, sociopaths can’t really keep one group of friends around them and have to have a fairly constantly-revolving door of groups of friends as they casually wear out one group after another after another. A true sociopath retains no good friends for no great length of friendship.
2. They’re manipulative
A sociopath wants to play “puppet master” and control all of the strings in all of the lives of their friends and the people around them. Not doing what the sociopath in your life wants you to do leads to getting cut off by them and excused from their good graces. And why on earth would they think you would do what they want you to do instead of what they want to do? Well, that’s easy…you’re under the influence of their…
Sociopaths have an inflated ego and sense of self-worth, and they sure seem like social people to begin with, talkative and engaged, until you realize that they only person they’re talking about is themselves. The only person they’re interested in is themselves. Yes, most of the time, sociopaths are narcissists, too.
4. Emotional detachment
Sociopaths are often described as “having no emotions” but it’s actually more like “not being in touch with their emotions”, in a BIG way. Sociopaths detach from their emotions as casually as though they are cufflinks and generally choose not to reattach again. What this really points to is a lack of empathy.
5. Compulsive lying is another hallmark of the sociopath in your life.
These people lie even when there is no reason to, or anything at all to gain from lying. They lie simply to see if they can get away with it. They lie to see how much they can get away with. They lie, but the reasoning behind the lies is to study you. (Creepy, anyone?)
6. They exhibit a reckless attitude.
When you’re self-absorbed and lack empathy, how can you not also be entirely reckless? You don’t attach meaning or value to anyone else’s things so as far as you’re concerned, they just have no meaning and no value. There’s no linking-up between their behavior and its consequences, which means bad news for your stuff. Or anyone else’s.
7. They’re quick to anger.
Sociopaths have to have everything going just “their way” or else…and they really mean “or else”. Sociopaths are quick to anger and have tempers that flare hugely. Ever see someone get really, really upset over something that just wasn’t that big a deal? It’s a true hallmark of a dangerous mental health disorder.