How to Spot a Sociopath

The complicated facets of sociopathy are difficult to identify for psychologists and layfolk alike, however many of us may have been exposed to a sociopath without even being aware.

In particular, those who display more empathy than most, tend to be magnets for sociopaths who prey on kindness, and sensitivity. Relationships such as these leave the victim in disarray, causing questions of sanity and self worth, but to identify is to understand, and the following list from Psychology Today is a helpful resource in identifying if you are dealing with a sociopath in your life.

“…the sociopath lacks not ‘moral‘ identity but self-identity altogether.” – Howard Kamler

According to Psychology Today:

In The Mask of Sanity, published in 1941, Cleckley distilled what he believed to be the 16 key behavioral characteristics that defined psychopathy. Most of these factors are still used today to diagnose sociopaths/psychopaths and others with antisocial disorders.

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence

  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking

  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations

  • Unreliability

  • Untruthfulness and insincerity

  • Lack of remorse and shame

  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior

  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience

  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love

  • General poverty in major affective reactions

  • Specific loss of insight

  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations

  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without

  • Suicide threats rarely carried out

  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated

  • Failure to follow any life plan


Psychology Today

Confessions of a Sociopath

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