Television shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad are popular in our culture because these shows illuminate the fact that there are indeed sociopaths walking amongst us day to day, living normal lives. If you look closely enough, sociopaths can be uncovered in our neighborhoods, within every family system, at work or behind us in the checkout line in the grocery store. Sociopaths are not the serial killers torturing people in their basement or shooting people in a public square from a rooftop; they are not hidden within the confines of the underbelly of our society or locked away in jail. More often than not we have dated, married, befriended or sat at Thanksgiving dinner with a sociopath.
Profile of the Sociopath based on the checklist developed by Cleckley and R. Hare (2003).
• Glibness and Superficial Charm
• Manipulative and /or Conning
• Grandiose Sense of Self
• Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”
• Pathological Lying
• Shallow Emotions
• Constant Need for Stimulation
• Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
• Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
• Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
• Lack of insight
• Able to create intensely connected relationships with inability to sustain relationships without manipulation or usury
Contrary to popular belief, sociopaths do NOT lack empathy. In fact, sociopaths have an incredible ability to connect to others along with powerful empathy. They can easily create intensely close bonds and relationships with others. The sociopath will use his/her ability with empathy to make the other feel known in a deep and meaningful way. Women and men alike will often stay in unhealthy and abusive relationships with sociopaths, because there are moments when it seems no one will ever truly know them as well as their sociopathic lover. Moreover, sociopaths tend use their precision ability to make empathic connections for opportunistic personal gain, to influence decision making in others or for power and control. Although sociopaths are able to make strong connections, they are often unable to sustain the connection or relationships for extended periods of time, and as a result, they tend to utilize control and manipulation to keep people involved and invested in them.
Sociopaths tend to be immovable in their motivations, decisions and behaviors. You will likely be charmed and highly attracted to a sociopath upon initial interactions; however, over time you will become increasingly frustrated, concerned and possibly fearful of the thoughtlessness in decision making, irritability during interpersonal interactions and lack of insight into how their behaviors hurt others. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used.
For a list of top ten professions of sociopaths click link here
Written By: Dr. Jason LaHood