Characteristics of a Sociopath

Characteristics of a Sociopath

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The portrait of a sociopath keeps many similarities with those of a psychopath. In the media it usually seems more like a cartoon of a criminal than a real person. Everyone seems to enjoy breaking the law and killing people for pure pleasure.

But really a sociopath is not someone who commits crimes wherever he goes. They are people like us, who act like us and walk among us without being detected. It can be your co-worker, your neighbor or even your uncle ...


  • 1 Sociopathy: a personality disorder
  • 2 The 12 characteristics of a sociopath
  • 3 steps to protect yourself from a sociopath

Sociopathy: a personality disorder

There is a basic difference between a sociopath and someone who is not. That difference is consciousness. The sociopath has no conscience, does not feel remorse or guilt.

In 2005, psychologist Martha Stout wrote an innovative book, "The sociopath next door, ”Which states that 1 in 25 ordinary Americans, in secret, has no conscience.

Yes, it is a scary thought, especially since consciousness is not visible and can be falsified. To make it even more difficult, sociopaths are excellent actors. Research suggests that sociopaths do not possess basic emotions such as love, warmth, genuine closeness or responsibility.

But they do know exactly how to interpret guilt, care or love. The truth is that even mental health professionals can find it very difficult to identify a sociopath. They are often confused with Narcissistic Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (TLP) or Antisocial Personality Disorder (TPA).

In general, there is a certain overlap between these three personality types. Although in reality all of them are quite different from each other. Especially since people with Narcissistic and TLP personalities are capable of feeling guilty.

So how can you tell if we are dealing with a sociopath? Fortunately, there are some important markers that we can consider.

The 12 characteristics of a sociopath

It behaves hard and / or cruel ...

and later It shows no reaction, acts as if it never happened. A sociopath is willing to hurt anyone and at any time if they achieve their goals. Unfortunately, that is why many of them are people with great success, because they do not feel remorse after "trampling" the rights of others.

Manipulate others ...

either directly or indirectly. Sociopaths have a great understanding of human weakness and enjoy exploiting it.. They are able to manipulate others to do almost anything. They take advantage of weak people and often move away from those who are as strong as they are. They go after insecure people or who are looking for meaning in their lives, because they know they are easy targets. They can dominate and control a person without even noticing it. They like to be in control of the situation and are uncomfortable when they are close to people with strong personality.

It lies constantly ...

either about your past, what you do or stop doing, etc. He feels comfortable making his life a lie. In fact, true sociopaths feel uncomfortable when they tell the truth.

Lacks regrets

As we have said, the sociopath never accepts the guilt of his actions, mistakes or faults. His usual response is to blame another and put himself in the role of victim. If he casually accepts responsibility, he will do so in his own interest, facing the gallery, but he doesn't really feel it. He is so manipulative that even his behavior may indicate that he really feels guilty, and thus deceive other people well enough to restore lost confidence. But if we pay enough attention we will see that in reality this behavior is not honest and that in addition the idea of ​​taking the responsibilities is something inconceivable for him.

It shows a superficial charm

Sociopaths are individuals who They look really lovely, and they know how to make others feel special, how to look fun, reliable and interesting, to achieve what they want. They have the ability to captivate almost everyone, from the smallest to the oldest. But they secretly harbor strong antisocial inclinations, they can even live in isolation (without feeling depressed) for days or weeks. Many of them are so captivating that they have a personal glow and even often radiate sexuality. So if you see a person who is incredibly charming at first sight, but his behavior sometimes confuses you or even frightens you, then you may face a sociopath.

Lacks emotionality

A sociopath may face a highly painful event and not show the slightest emotion (silent contempt). They seem immune to anxiety and worries. They often react with cold and empty looks. Even in situations of danger or fear, they show an unusual poise and confidence. Studies indicate that sociopaths do not show anxiety against disturbing images or when they are given small electric shocks, while normal people register anxiety and fear in these situations.

He is very intelligent

Most sociopaths have great mental agility and can easily study without opening a book. If they try hard enough, they can get very high marks. However, these people use your intelligence to manipulate and hurt people instead of helping them. Their extreme intelligence is, in part, what makes them so dangerous, since they often go several steps ahead of those who try to discover them and thus are able to cover their tracks. Unfortunately, many of the most horrible serial killers had very high IQs; which is why they were able to evade the police for so long.

It has a great Ego

Usually sociopaths they are tremendously narcissistic and believe they are the most extraordinary people in the world. They are not affected by criticism and have delusions of greatness. They are convinced that they deserve to have extraordinary things happen to them, also without having to strive for it. They might have an overinflated view of their own abilities, for example, they may think they are very talented singers, when in reality they lack real skills. In short, they are sure they are better than others.

Stare into the eyes

Sociopaths often maintain long-term eye contact with their interlocutor, as they feel comfortable staring at people to make them feel uncomfortable and manage to manipulate them. In his memoirs, "Confessions of a Sociopath", M. E. Thomas talks about his usual tactic of looking for a long time and uninterruptedly to people to get what they want.

He has few real friends

Sociopaths have virtually no true friends. They may have lackeys or people around them to try to live at their expense, they have no significant connections with people. This also happens with their relatives. They usually deny contact with their family members. This may be due to various causes, many have had a difficult childhood. In general there is a lack of connection with the past.

Does not learn from experiences

In spite of how intelligent they are, it is common for a sociopath to fail to channel his life properly. Despite the punishments for his bad deeds, the sociopath frequently he will continue with the same behavior, knowing that if they are caught they will be punished again. The classic example is the rapist who comes out of jail and violates again. Probably no punishment can change the customs of a sociopath.

Likes to control

Sociopaths when they meet someone tend to act quickly to strengthen ties. This is done so as not to give the other person the opportunity to reverse or change his mind. When they have a romantic relationship, the sociopath acts very intensely, making the other feel that his soulmate is truly. This is achieved thanks to his great skills to "read" people and manipulate them, being able to say exactly what they want to hear. He will want to have the other for him alone instead of "sharing" him with the world. He is a person who will quickly try to prevent his partner from seeing his friends, since he will feel threatened by them. He will invent excuses and can say things like: "They don't really understand you like me" or "They didn't give me a chance", trying to make the couple think that others don't appreciate it enough and that should spend more time with him or her

It may interest you: Differences between a psychopath and a sociopath

Steps to protect yourself from a sociopath

To be on guard

Now you know what you can and can't expect from the sociopath, if you see worrying signs in someone you know, don't be his friend.

Get away

It is best to avoid these people as much as you can. If it works with you or is within your circle of friends, you may not be able to avoid it completely, but try to keep as much distance as possible. Remember that a sociopath may be able to detect your estrangement and, as a result, may want to attract your attention even more, so that you remain firm and determined to spend as little time as possible with that person.

Don't explain anything about yourself

When dealing with a sociopath, be as boring as possible, do not make their day. Sociopaths get bored easily. This includes not giving them emotional entertainment. Keep calm when you talk to one of them and don't get emotional or argue. If necessary, pretend you have nothing the sociopath may want: money, possessions, etc. Do not give him reasons to want to manipulate you.

Imagine a boundary between yourself and the sociopath

Form an image of this in your mind. Build a wall that you can see in your imagination and that protects you. Whatever the sociopath says or does in a hurtful way, make him bounce off this imaginary wall.

Don't excuse him

There is no excuse for his behavior, so don't defend him, instead, hold him accountable for his actions. Remember that he is very intelligent and that at any moment he will try to take advantage of you.

Robert Hare's Psychopathy Test


Hare, Robert D. Without conscience: the disturbing world of psychopaths among us. Paidos Iberian. 2003

Stout, M. (2005).Thesociopath next door: the ruthless against the rest of us. Obelisk Ed.

Walsh, A., and Wu, HH (2008).Differentiate antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy and sociopathy: evolutionary, genetic, neurological and sociological considerations. Criminal Justice Studies, 2, 135-152.


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