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Profile of a Sociopath A sociopath is likely to have been a ‘problem child’ and exhibited difficult behavior when younger.
As they grow older they are likely to be highly successful which is a result of their willingness to get one over on their competition and colleagues, a desire and belief in success, and lack of risk aversion.
And, once recognized, wouldn’t it be great to know how to deal with one? In her book The Sociopath Next Door, clinical psychologist and former Harvard faculty member Martha Stout, Ph D, gives us a great roadmap for conceptualizing, understanding, and avoiding sociopaths. They use their victim’s goodness and capacity to trust against them. They are masterful at evoking pity and have incredible acting skills.
Wouldn’t it be nice to recognize a sociopath before they do their damage? Sociopaths can, because they are unhindered by guilt, manipulate their way to the top. They inspire a feeling of familiarity: “I just felt like I’d known her forever! Sociopaths are expert in identifying an easy mark – they can pick out the most trusting, decent person in the room.
A sociopath might see themselves as a fitting ruler of a country or even the world, but might also have delusional beliefs such as seeing themselves as a God or having super powers • Charming – While the sociopath is unable to fully understand the emotions of others, they are capable but rather highly adept at mimicking them and might appear to be charming and normal at first • High IQ – Often sociopaths will exhibit a high IQ which they can use to manipulate and plan • Manipulative – Sociopaths use their superficial charm and high IQ to manipulate others to get their ends, and their lack of empathy allows them to do this with no sense of guilt or remorse • Secretive – Has little need for others and is highly secretive in their actions meaning • Sexually deviant – The lack of remorse, guilt or emotional attachments means that the sociopath is happy to have affairs and to engage in questionable sexual activity without questioning their desires • Sensitive to criticism – That said, like all narcissists, the sociopath will desire the approval of others and will be highly sensitive to criticisms.
They often feel they deserve adulation and admiration of the world and might feel victimized • Paranoid – Often their lack of understanding of emotion along with their incongruous self view means that they feel a lack of trust and paranoia • Despotic/Authoritarian – Often the sociopath will see themselves as a necessary authority and will be in favor or totalitarian rule • Lawfulness – Despite popular belief, a sociopath is not likely to be a problem to the law in later life, but rather will seek to find loopholes, to rise to a position of power, or to move to another area so that their behavior is tolerated • Low tolerance for boredom – Sociopaths require constant stimulation and get quickly bored • Impulsive behavior – A lack of regret and empathy means makes sociopaths more likely to make sudden rash decisions based on the current facts • Compulsive lying – As part of their facade, and as a means to an end, sociopaths are compulsive liars and will rarely speak truthfully making them hard to pin down • The Mac Donald Triad – In childhood sociopaths will likely have demonstrated the ‘Mac Donald Triad’ also known as the ‘Triad of Sociopathy’, traits that often are demonstrated in sociopaths from a young age.
Sherlock’s proclaiming himself a sociopath makes the term seem almost romantic and interesting rather than immediately disturbing when usually we would think of the traits of a sociopath as belonging to a villain, not a protagonist.
However his camaraderie with Watson and his love affairs suggest he is capable of emotion, while he shows no despotism – suggesting he might be more akin to someone with Asperger’s syndrome.
Following is a paraphrase of what is written in her book. I’m curious to hear: what sociopaths have you encountered in your lives?
These include animal cruelty (pulling the wings off of flies etc, bed wetting, and pyromania (an obsession with fire setting)).
Sociopaths of course vary in their symptoms and might act differently in different cases.