The characteristics of a sociopath are numerous and each person with this personality disorder may have variations regarding the qualities and quantities of the associated traits. Because of this, no two people who are sociopath are alike. Generalities are certain to occur, however. The fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, is an example of a person with the tendencies of a sociopath. A broad description of a sociopath may be defined an intelligent, egotistical, paranoid and deviant personality. However, stereotypes are inaccurate by nature. What follows is a list of the various characteristics of a sociopath.
Characteristics of a Sociopath
Compulsive Lying – Sociopaths are often notorious liars. They may lie to get their way, to harm others, to embellish their achievements, to distance themselves or to lie for the sake of lying. Often times these lies are so frequent and exaggerated that others know that they are a liar. This creates a cycle of lies spoken to protect other lies. A common trait of a sociopath is to live upon a web of lies, and when called out, they act in brash and unpredictable behavior.
Exaggeration – Like lies, the sociopath often embellishes to an unreasonable degree. Embellishments turn to exaggerations, exaggerations turn to hyperbole. These exaggerations often turn into superiority complexes. Sociopaths will often make grand and unreasonable clams regarding personal achievements and ability. Again, when others notice and comment upon these changes, the sociopath likely will become defensive and continue the spiral.
Intelligence – Sociopaths are often intelligent, and they know it. In school, they have the potential to excel in academics. However, their lack of respect for others may cause them to have low grades. They will often view teachers as less intelligent and less capable. They may often be at odds with authority figures, especially those that they have reason to be intimidated by.
Charming – Because of their intelligence and ability to mimic emotions, the sociopath is excellent at persuading others. Sociopaths are skilled at determining the outcome of an action. They likely know the social and emotional consequences of an action better than the other people in their social structure.
Manipulative – Often times a sociopath will use every tool at their disposal to get their way. Rules, laws, emotions, logic, charm and people are simply tools for the person to gain respect, power or money. Because of this, they are often viewed as cold, calculating and distant.
Apathetic – The lack of care regarding the feelings of others is a common description of a sociopath. This leads to boredom and cynicism. However, the mind of a sociopath does not remain idle for long. New antisocial projects or tendencies will arise in due course. They may find that causing problems cause commotion and pain, and these reactions temporarily placates their boredom.
Lacking Empathy – Empathy is a sense. Due to either defective brain function, childhood abuse or personal preference, empathy is vastly underdeveloped. This lack of emotional understanding breeds contempt in the mind of a sociopath. When others sense pain or displease, the sociopath does not have an emotional attachment to those feelings.
Impulsive – Because social and emotional restriction rarely apply to the mind of the sociopath, they do not have reasons to hold back from their actions. When they want something, often they will reach for it regardless of the consequences to themselves or others. If they do not obtain their goal, then they are likely to use one of their many tools at their disposal to try again.
Narcissism – These traits converge together to create a superiority complex known as narcissism. Because of their intelligence, charm, ambition and exaggerations, they often believe that they are better than other people. Narcissism breeds new traits that only further aggravate and enhance their negative qualities.
Secretive – The true actions and feelings of the sociopath are rarely shared. Often this is because of various antisocial hobbies, interests and faults. The MacDonald Triad, animal abuse, pyromania and bed wetting is a common hallmark of a sociopath. This triad often develops during childhood due to extreme sexual, physical and mental abuse. Almost all sociopaths were abused by closer family members or caretakers.
Paranoid – Because of their need for personal security, the sociopath often is paranoid. They believe that other people seek to tear them down. This likely stems from abuse. It also may be a natural reaction to their antisocial traits. Because of the way that they treat people, they may believe that other people are doing the same to them.
Authoritarian – Also likely stemming from abuse, sociopaths are often extremely despotic in their actions. They may demand obedience and act in a way that requires absolute respect. They often view others as belonging to them or pawns for personal gain. When ignored, rebuked or called out, then sociopath often has outbursts or fits of rage.
Sensitive – While entirely ignorant or uncaring about other people’s emotions, the sociopath has a strong sense of ego that is connected to criticism. This also likely stems from rampant verbal abuse as a child. When their negative and antisocial actions are called to attention, they often become defensive and critical of others.
Deviant – Sexual abuse is an extremely common aspect of the sociopaths upbringing. Sexual deviance may stem from this. Grooming, molestation, rape, forced cross dressing and bestiality are all common inputs for the sociopath.
While abuse is a common factor in their upbringing, it is certainly not an excuse for their actions. Most serial killers are sociopaths, and a long history of abuse and violence is common among all of them. Help is difficult for the common sociopath, as they will likely not realize their actions until legal troubles come to them. At that time, they likely will still not become introspective. Rather, they will feel as though they have done nothing wrong. They may feel surprised that their plans have failed, as they generally view themselves as hyper-intelligent.
There are few options for someone who is interacting with a sociopath in their daily life. The best and safest option is for that person to distance themselves from the sociopath. It is difficult to solve this deeply rooted problem, and even psychological care has its limits. If you feel that you are in an unsafe situation, then may be beneficial to seek protection from friends, family or the law while separating yourself.