While the word sociopath may be one that we throw around lightly when we meet people we do not like or who do not act in a way that we deem appropriate the word does have a set definition. One may wonder what is the definition of a sociopath. Knowing the sociopath definition is critical if we are a going to identify children and adults who actually have a problem and either avoid them or refer them to help.
The term sociopath is used in reference to anyone who has Antisocial Personality Disorder. People with this disorder will show a pattern of not caring about the feelings of those around them. In essence they will show a lack of empathy and sympathy for people.
Sociopaths are normally thought of as criminals or possibly even killers. They are commonly portrayed as such on national television. While this is a popularly held belief it is not essential for one to be a criminal in order to be diagnosed as a sociopath. As usual what is portrayed by the media is not always an accurate portrayal of reality.
The first criteria for one to be diagnosed as a sociopath is that they be over the age of 18. While one may be showing signs of being a sociopath as a child and it may be wise to keep a close eye on the child, children cannot themselves be diagnosed as sociopaths. After this critical criteria it is important to notice other important traits of a sociopath.
One of the most important signs of a sociopath is that they are very driven. Sociopaths typically will set goals that lead to their gratification. These goals will be set without regard as to whether the goals and the means to reach them are ethical or legal. Sociopaths are also egocentric and will gain self-esteem from the acquisition of power. The first thing you should notice in the profile of a sociopath is that they are extremely driven.
When you are learning how to spot a sociopath one of the key traits to look at is how they interact with other people. Sociopaths will not show empathy to other people. That means they will not care if they are hurting other people or stop to take care of someone who appears to be hurt in some way. They will attempt to control others around them. They will do this through manipulation, coercion and deceit.
Another one of the key characteristics of a sociopath is their tendency to show hostility. This may be displayed through a tendency to fight or assault others. It may also be shown verbally through shouting and insults.
You might even find that sociopaths show little to no regard for their own personal safety. They may put their body at risk for no particular reason. They may claim to be doing this out of boredom. This tendency to harm oneself or put oneself in danger is a key trait of a sociopath.
It is believed that sociopathy has both genetic and environmental factors. People can be born with a tendency toward this disorder. However it takes environmental factors for the disorder to come out. These environmental factors can take on a variety of forms, but they usually occur during childhood or adolescence. Currently it is not known to what extent genetics or environment lead to sociopathic disorder.
While children are not diagnosed as sociopaths there are children who display sociopathic traits. When sociopathic traits occur in children it is typically treated as a conduct disorder. This diagnosis sticks with the children and if they are not dropped by the time they turn 18, then the diagnosis is changed to having an anti-social personality disorder.
The symptoms that are used to diagnosed children with conduct disorders and then as sociopaths when they become adults are referred to as the Mac Donald Triad. These traits include obsession with fire setting, bed wetting and cruelty toward animals. These three traits are typically seen in children that eventually become sociopaths. When looking into the possibility that a child you know you should definitely look for this “triad of sociopathy” as a guide. Any of these traits that do not seem to be going away are a critical warning sign for parents and other adults.
There are many different types of sociopaths, but one you probably see most often in the media is the high functioning sociopath. A high functioning sociopath is a person who displays all of the traits of a sociopath, but is also extremely intelligent. These sociopaths are probably very successful in their field of choice and thus you probably have encountered a high functioning sociopath. Those who are high functioning sociopaths are able to be very successful because they are extremely intelligent and they also do not follow the rules set by society. This makes it hard for others to compete with sociopaths. The high functioning sociopath definition makes it very clear that they are both highly intelligent and sociopathic.
There are several differences of a sociopath vs psychopath. While society uses the terms interchangeable they are not actually synonyms. The difference between the two disorders is critical as it changes the way in which you must deal with the problem. The key difference between the two is that psychopaths are born with a particular set of impulse control issues. While sociopaths become less empathetic based on the conditions they were exposed to psychopaths are in a sense “born that way.” While both disorders can be treated it is important to realize that psychopaths will display a significant amount of impulse control. When trying to ascertain whether someone is a sociopath it is important to stick to the key traits from the sociopath definition and not rely on their feelings about what a sociopath or a psychopath is.
While the sociopath definition makes sociopaths sound extremely scary it is important to realize that there have been a wide range of sociopaths throughout history. Dictators are a rich source of some of history’s most famous sociopaths. Hitler for example is very much believed to have been a sociopath and given his actions it is not hard to believe that he was a sociopath. Josef Stalin also was probably a sociopath. However, the sociopath definition also allows for people that are very much driven and willing to take risks that other people will not. Just because they are less concerned about the feelings of others does not necessarily mean that they will harm others. It is believed that Steve Jobs was a sociopath. His ability to work harder than anyone else allowed for him to change the world. There is also some evidence that Ben Franklin and other founding fathers may have been sociopaths as they showed a clear disregard for their safety when entering the revolutionary war. While sociopaths seem to be extremely scary there have been many sociopaths that have contributed to the benefit of society.
Sociopaths are typically male. It is believed that men are seven times more likely to be sociopaths as women. While women are less likely to be sociopaths they are not exempt from featuring these symptoms. There are no special symptoms for women so when trying to spot a female sociopath it is important to look for extremely high drive for success and a lack of empathy. Overall it is important to simply not exempt a person from the possibility of being a sociopath just because they are female.
Can Sociopaths Love?
It is also entirely possible for you to be dating a sociopath. If you are seeing some of the symptoms of sociopathy in your significant other, then there are several things that you should know. The most important thing to know is that sociopaths are known for manipulating others and spend a great deal of time trying to find out the emotional, physical, and psychological strengths and weaknesses of those around them. The sociopath that you are dating most likely knows how you will react to a wide variety of situations. It is also important to note that sociopaths typically do not display a great deal of empathy for others, so it may be hard for your partner to love you in a constructive way. If you truly love the sociopath that you are dating, then the best thing you probably can do for them is to refer them to a psychiatrist or other trained mental health professional. They will be able to properly diagnose the person and hopefully provide them with treatment. Given the sociopath definition it is probably best that you avoid dating a sociopath.
If you cannot imagine leaving your partner, but you know that they are a sociopath, then you most likely will both need counseling. The counseling your sociopathic partner receives will help them see how you feel and hopefully treat you in a way that resembles a normal relationship. Your counseling will help to reduce the stress that comes from dating a sociopath and help you deal with situations that are uncomfortable. While it is not impossible for one to have a successful relationship with a sociopath it is important to realize that sociopaths are capable of love and with counseling you may be able to have a successful relationship.
Another common form of sociopathy is narcissistic sociopathy. There are differences between the term sociopath vs narcissist, but sometimes the two disorders become combined. This combines sociopathy with narcissistic personality disorder. People that have narcissism typically have an excessive need for the admiration of others. They have extremely grand opinions of themselves and think that they are better than other people. When combined with sociopathy, narcissism can be extremely dangerous. Those with narcissistic sociopathy may react violently to any negative feedback. Normally sociopaths do not care if they are criticized, but those with narcissism as well will be extremely upset if they are critiqued.
Like sociopathy, narcissism is typically caused by environmental factors and thus given the right environment one may develop into a narcissistic sociopath. If you think someone around you is a narcissistic sociopath it is critical to get them to seek treatment.
Are you a sociopath? If so, then you should seek treatment. Sociopathy is treated in a wide variety of ways. While there is not a cure the treatments can help those with sociopathy lead more normal lives. The first challenge in treating those who are sociopaths is to get the sociopath to realize that they have a problem. Typically sociopaths do not believe that they have a problem so it is critical to make sure that they know that they have a problem.
The next critical step to treating a sociopath is to build a relationship of trust between the patient and the health care professional. Sociopathy makes it extremely hard to build these relationships, but it is critical to make sure that these relationships are strong. If these relationships do not exist, then it may be difficult to ascertain how effective the treatments are.
The actual treatments for sociopathy come in a wide variety of forms. Drugs are a common form of treatment. These drugs are designed to manage the effects of sociopathy, but they will not actually cure the disorder itself. While these drugs do not offer a cure they do offer a way to mitigate some of the more disturbing symptoms of sociopathy.
It is also possible to treat sociopathy though counseling. This counseling can help to slowly deprogram the sociopath and allow them to lead a more normal life. While it is hard for some to believe that a sociopath can lead a normal life, through the proper use of several treatments a sociopath can lead a normal and successful life.
The definition of a sociopath paints a very scary image of a person without empathy that will take careless risks. Society and the media paint additional images of sociopaths as criminals. However if the symptoms are spotted and treated properly it is likely that a sociopath can lead a normal life and even have normal human relationships. If you know someone that is displaying sociopathic behavior, then the best thing you can do is to try and get them to seek mental help. Hopefully through the right combination of treatments and trust and they will be able to live a normal life and will not harm themselves or others. If before reading this you were wondering “Am I a sociopath,” then hopefully you now have an idea and can seek help if necessary.