What is a Sociopath, Part 3

In our study of this personality, we’ve learned that sociopaths differ from psychopaths mostly in the degree of violence they’re willing to use to gain their ends. Sociopaths can actually function well in society, where psychopaths tend to find social interaction very unpleasand and difficult.

The other traits we’ve looked at include surface charm and a glib tongue; an over-inflated sense of self-worth; a need for constant stimulation, and pathological lying.  Next is the sociopath’s unique ability to con  and manipulate people and situations to gain his ends. He is a master at manuevering around people and situations to accomplish his goal, which is always  involved with some kind of gain to himself. He may even seem to be trying to make things better for others.  It’s a ruse. He’s really interested only in furthering his own gain.

He is never bothered by remorse or guilt for the pain he causes others. His attitude is completely without empathy for his victims. He he tends to see them as stupid, unworthy, and getting exactly what they deserve.  He is disdainful of almost everyone else. There is no such thing as conscience.

He has what we in the mental health profession recognize as a shallow affect. His feelings don’t go very deep, in spite of his apparent charming exterior.  The only emotions he may feel deeply include anger growing into rage if he is thwarted, and a deep disdain for other people. His superiority to others is unquestioned in his own mind.  He doesn’t really feel any loyalty or commitment to anyone else, and he will leave relationships without any sense of loss when it suits his own interests to do so.

The sociopath lives a parasitic lifestyle. He expects other people to support his goals, financially and any other way they can. He expects to be boosted, given special privileges.  Anyone in his life who has money is a mark for his attention.  A refusal to give him what he wants results in his rage and desire to get revenge.

He has poor to none when it comes to behavioral controls. The unwritten rules for appropriate behavior in society don’t touch him. He expresses his negative emotions easily and sometimes physically, if he thinks he can get away with it.  Irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse are characteristic. He demonstrates inadequate control of anger and temper, and he acts hastily, giving no thought to results of his behavior. When confronted, his lies are quick, easy, and believable. He can even work up tears if he needs to, in order to convince everyone that nothing was ever his own fault.

Don’t expect these folks to “get better” with counseling or confrontation. The only thing that can come close to working positive change in their lives is the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

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7 thoughts on “What is a Sociopath, Part 3

  1. Anne

    Your last paragraph was the realistic “punch line”. I read your post word for word, thinking continually, “So what do we do? What do we do? She’ll have the answer, by and by!” until finally reaching: “Don’t expect these folks to “get better” with counseling or confrontation. The only thing that can come close to working positive change in their lives is the power of the Holy Spirit of God.” I knew this. I had just hoped you would prove me wrong 🙂

    For those people necessarily acquainted with ones like this, the difficulty is indeed that “there is no such thing as conscience.” Trying to walk on eggshells around them or to hold one’s tongue can make the “innocent party” begin to feel like a sociopath apart from being anchored to the Lord. Your article is just what we need to know that we AREN’T imagining all of this, and for that I thank you for taking the time to write it.

    1. Thanks, Anne. You are right on the mark. Those who live with or deal with this personality can often feel THEY are the ones who are twisted. There is more coming on this topic. I write “Friday Counseling Issues” every week, and this is my third post in this series.

    1. Well, intellectually they’ve surpassed the Terrible Two’s, but yes, I’d say you’ve got it there. I don’t know about the difference between men and women. I’ll have to look that up.

  2. Linda, this reminds me so much of what I’ve been reading about narcissists. I imagine many characteristics overlap between personality disorders. I will keep praying for the person I suspect as having a P.D. Nothing is too difficult for God–in the meantime I’m staying a safe distance away

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀.

    1. You are correct–many personality disorders have overlapping traits, and many sociopaths are also narcissists. And you are wise to stay a safe distance away 🙂 Part 4 coming tomorrow!

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