How to spot a sociopath in your life? You may be surprised, but anyone could be one. They are more common than you might think.
Have you ever encountered someone that has blown you away because they are incredibly intense, spontaneous, and appear to have the most amazing life? Only to find a few months down the line that something doesn’t quite feel right about them? Chances are you’ve just met your first sociopath.
Sociopathy is an anti-social disorder that is characterised by an absolute absence of moral regard for society’s rules and boundaries.
The Mayo Clinic define sociopathy as “a mental condition in which a person 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 behaviour.”
According to the Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, around one in every 25 Americans is a sociopath, so they are far more common than you might imagine. But how to spot a sociopath? As with any mental disorder, there are particular signs that reveal a tendency to sociopathy.
Here is how to spot a sociopath, based on the ten most common characteristics of individuals with this disorder:
1. Extremely charming
The first time you met a sociopath, if they think you could be of use to them, they will be utterly charming. Sociopaths appear to have some sort of aura around them that people naturally gravitate to. They are the soul of the party, full of charisma and command your attention. In fact, their overtly charming nature is probably why you noticed them in the first place.
2. Highly intelligent
Sociopaths typically score very highly on intelligence tests and appear to be versed in a multitude of subjects. It is rare to find a sociopath that is not intelligent, as they have to be extremely clever in order to manipulate people. They use their high IQ’s to outwit others and retain their power over them.
3. Intense and spontaneous
One of the things that draw people to sociopaths is their seemingly amazing life. They are always trying new and exciting things and have no regard for the rules and boundaries of society. Many of their exploits are risky and dangerous and they appear fearless to others.
4. Compulsive liars
How to spot a sociopath? Look for a liar. A sociopath will tell you the most outrageous stories about themselves and their lives, and at first, thanks to their charming nature, you’ll probably believe them. They will exaggerate their achievements and lie for the sake of lying.
They become delusional if presented with the truth and can actually start to believe their own lies. One famous example is Charles Manson, the sociopathic murderer, who said when questioned about the murders he committed: “I’ve never killed anyone! I don’t need to kill anyone!”
Why do sociopaths lie? So that they can manipulate you. For a sociopath, the only reason you are in their life is because they want something from you. They manipulate in order to hold power over you. It can be that you amuse them and they find that messing with your head is interesting, or that they can take something of value away from you.
6. Lack of remorse or empathy
Remember that famous line in The Terminator where Reese is explaining to Sarah Connor that the terminator “simply doesn’t feel pity or remorse”? You can say the same about sociopaths. They simply do not understand how their actions affect those around them. They see the consequences, but they just don’t care. As they are incapable of feeling these emotions, it allows them to pursue any goal, in any manner, without giving others a second thought.
7. Incapable of love
A sociopath cannot fall in love, they don’t know how to and besides, what would it achieve for them? They are incapable of giving themselves to another person, although they are good at faking the emotions of love in order to get what they want.
8. Narcissistic behaviour
Sociopaths cannot love others but they certainly love themselves. In fact, everything they do is self-serving and for their own good. They have over-inflated egos and a tendency to talk about themselves and their achievements in a grandiose fashion.
9. Obsessive need to win
Another trait that can help you spot a sociopath is that individuals with this disorder need to win at all costs, and this is probably the one factor that dominates their life.
If they do not, this is when you’ll see their true identity revealed, as they will be unable to control their anger in an attempt to claw back victory. Oh and don’t expect a sociopath to ever apologise if it looks as if they did lose the argument.
10. No long-term friends
Finally, have you ever noticed that your new charming friend surprisingly has no long-term friends of their own? People that are pretty well-balanced tend to have a range of friends, from school, work and their social lives. Sociopaths have a ‘revolving door’ of friends, in that they drive people away with all of the above behaviours.