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Antisocial Personality Disorder
Do you know someone who you suspect to be a sociopath? Or do you wonder if you yourself may be a sociopath?
For the record, sociopaths are individuals who have what is referred to as antisocial personality disorder (a disorder that also encompasses those who were previously referred to as psychopaths, as well as those with amoral, asocial, and antisocial personalities). If, therefore, you want to know what symptoms a sociopath may display, you shall have to review the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.
There are several common symptoms of this disorder to refer to should you wish to indulge your curiosity.
A sociopath, or someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder, typically disregards others' rights and well-being and engages in antisocial behavior without feelings of guilt.
Sociopaths are commonly known to have issues with lawbreaking, substance abuse, and relationships.
Curious to See Whether You’re a Sociopath? Consult a Professional
If you are seriously concerned that you or a friend or family member may have antisocial personality disorder, consult a professional. While I have done some research on common symptoms and shared them here, I am by no means an expert on this subject.
Symptoms of a Sociopath
Someone is generally said to suffer from antisocial personality disorder if one regularly disregards the rights of others and exhibits three or more of the following characteristics:
- Lack of remorse after having wronged others (either through rationalization or indifference)
- Complete readiness to lie or manipulate others to get what one wants
- Recklessness and disregard for the safety of others and/or oneself
- Trouble planning ahead in life or an impulsive nature
- General anxiety
- Aggressiveness, perhaps exhibited in the form of violence
- Run-ins with the law due to an inability to conform to social norms or common rules
In short, if you have issues assimilating with society and also have trouble developing relationships, following the law, behaving in a safe manner, tolerating boredom, managing anger, and/or controlling your impulses, you just might be a sociopath.
For the record, these symptoms do not count if they take place only during a manic episode or the course of schizophrenia.
Under Age 18? Then It's Too Early to Tell.
If these symptoms of a sociopath sound childish, well, they are. In fact, these characteristics are not considered to be symptoms of antisocial personality disorder unless they are exhibited from age 15 onward, and one is generally not considered to have this disorder if they are younger than 18 years of age.
Early signs of someone who may eventually be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder may be identified in childhood or adolescence. If a child or teen has trouble conforming to societal norms (or, in other words, has a "conduct disorder"), he or she may be well on the way to becoming a full-grown sociopath.
What Makes a Sociopath Different from a Psychopath?
People often use the terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" interchangeably. To be fair, both terms have been funneled into the antisocial personality disorder category, and many professional psychologists have even used the terms interchangeably.
David T. Lykken, however, proposed that psychopaths are actually born with their temperamental differences, while sociopaths develop them over time. It's basically a nature versus nurture issue—psychopaths may have actual temperamental differences that drive them to behave as they do, whereas sociopaths adapt to antisocial behaviors as a result of poverty, neglect, delinquent friends, or extremely low or high intelligence.
This is why someone cannot really be classified as a sociopath until he or she is around 18 years of age. One must have time to develop one's sociopathy.
Is There a Treatment?
Is there a sociopath cure? Ha! As if.
You heard me right—there are currently no controlled studies out there that have found any effective treatment for antisocial personality disorder. If, therefore, you wanted to "cure" your sociopathic friend, despair. And if you yourself are a sociopath, rejoice! You are unstoppable.
What I recommend is adapting your sociopathy in such a way that it serves to better your situation rather than give you trouble. Generally, what is good for others can be good for you, so by working within the law and not hurting others, you will find that you can do much more with your time and effort. Heck, you might even make the world a better place, which you probably don't directly care about, but could still stand to benefit from.
To be honest, the one 'treatment' method that has helped those with antisocial personality disorder to date involves using contingency management programs or special reward systems to bring about behavioral change. Put your own contingency management program in place—and flourish!
Good luck to you, and have fun failing to conform to society! Being a lemming is overrated anyway.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Alex Gadd from Great Missenden on April 26, 2015:
A very nice and well informed hub. Didn't know about the distinctions between sociopaths and psychopaths. Thanks for sharing.
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on November 20, 2013:
It is indeed not an easy task to judge a sociopath. Various symptoms can also include - Manipulative, Pathological Lying, Shallow Emotions, Callousness and Infidelity.
A nice & informative hub.
griffin87901 on November 04, 2013:
A sociopath has set her hooks into my family. Two of my close relatives have died. She promises to care for them, she abandons them when they get sick, they die, then she takes their stuff. That's all she is after, is their stuff, but her pathology is that they have to worship her. After research, I have found at least 3 other people that died from her "care". I have caught her in lie after lie, and so I am experiencing the Ad Hominem attacks. How do I convince a judge of her sociopathology in civil court? Forget criminal court, the police are wrapped around her little finger.
quicksand on February 16, 2013:
I read this article carefully comparing my behavior patterns with your descriptions. And boy, am I glad to have discovered that I am neither a psychopath nor am I a sociopath!
I must be on the right path! ... Thanks for this informative article. :)
Sha on February 05, 2013:
Good post but i see what's going on here
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 09, 2013:
What a horrible experience you had, Marie! I am glad he is your *ex* boyfriend now.
marie on January 08, 2013:
My ex-boyfriend is social/ psycho path long story short all I did was give him love and gave him support in everything that was important to him not once did he give it back to me. He lied about everything and anything .I would see him doing something and he would still lie. I now know for sure that are whole relationship was just made up of lies. All he did at first was emotional abuse . Then after.then things got even worse when I was told I cancer you would think that piece of shit would've had a heart but no he got more mental he did the most fucked up things to me, He told people he was going to take care of me like cleaning the house and making special food for me. Well knowing I wasn't in my right at times from all the medications and from the radiation treatments well he get into one of mood swings and cuss me out tell me had back to his mama's house cause he couldn't take my shit anymore so i be there crying and waiting for him tocome back . Not once did he call to see if I was ok didn't bring me any food. So when he did come back All he asked was did I learn my lesson? He treated me like shit until my nurses came and pretended that he was taking good care of me . He wad mixing up my medicines on purpose . Couldn"t say anything because people thought it the medications talking. So finally I just kicked him out ! Then he uses my having to get rushed to the hospital to come back and the ass that I was believed he was being true . The biggest mistake that I made, I had so much medicines and all chemo that I got I started to forget things instead of helping me he used it against me. He went out of his way to try to make me feel helpless and tried to make me commit sucide. He seemed different after I started getting little better as if disappointed him cause he couldn't control me while I was sick. Just recently he went ballistic on me cause I was acting like he does and let me tell everyone he hit me couple of times before but I asked the wrong question matter of fact I didn't even get to ask the whole question cause his eyes got so glossy then literally turned black he wanted to kill me he went nuts . But soon as the cops came he was turned into a totally different person and blamed me for every thing and told I attacked him . Then when they left he started laughing . Which I wanted to rip his face apart. But I also found his .now I'm using that against him, oh , were not together . But he believes that I need him and doesn't like being the one dumped and he's been waiting for the call from me which isn't ever going to happen .I wasn't sure he social path but now I definitely sure after reading some the comments.
RodneyGannsWife on November 29, 2012:
I was married to a narcissistic sociopath just long enough for him to wipe out my bank account and rob me of my R.V. He left me as a homeless woman. I'm not the first person he has ripped off. He travels from church to church looking for handouts. He sports a beard and mustache and wears a folded up bandana around his forehead. He uses his good looks and charm to get what he wants from people--a free meal, cash, a shower, a place to stay, etc. He's a total con artist.
liz on October 10, 2012:
i was married to a sociopath for 58 yrs. believe me how i regret what it did to me and my children..cruel mental treatment and he enjoyed it. i was young didn't know people like this exisisted. what a wake up call when i finally had someone inform me what a waste of a life of a good and caring person i was how sad for my kids who loved their dad and didn't realize what he was. my guilt is hugh but i really didn't know what a person he was i live each day with guilt and regret my advice run run run we are more informed now.
just why not on July 26, 2012:
Here I am, johnny-come-lately yet again. For shame that your general research did not turn up the most wonderful and ubiquitous game of Gaslighting! And if you did turn it up and simply chose not to mention it EVEN MORE SHAME. that is, of course, if you have the capacity to feel silly things like shame.
Ridiculous on July 09, 2012:
The comments on this thread (as many comments throughout the web) are laughable. The idea that anyone calmly accept the statement "most people of the black culture are sociopaths". Chaunte
joe on June 26, 2012:
I was married to a sociopath for 25the years. And did not understand her behavior. But there are very specifict chareteristics that only a sociopath exibits, for example, they have the ability to "distort reality" etc...
My advice is to (stay as far away as possible) from sociopaths.
Anonymous on May 27, 2012:
I knew a high functioning sociopath. We dated only briefly, and he was never violent or angry, but there was always something... off. Plus, he lied easy. He claimed it was to please me, but I believe it was only to gain for himself. (Maybe those two go hand in hand.) He stated constantly that he couldn't feel things like normal people could. I want to believe he's not dangerous as being so would probably hinder his goals more than help them, and he has a good job and is brilliant at what he does. I also believe that he's very, very lonely. That said, though, I can't help but fear him and stay away.
emo shanelisten on May 20, 2012:
Listen, I am a fully funtioning sociopath, and I believe that you're ONLY focusing on the negitive aspects. Please write it from both sides if you're going to write about it at all.
Anonymous on May 15, 2012:
I think it would be a little ridiculous for me to say that I'm a sociopath, but lately I'm seriously considering it. I'm thinking maybe I should get checked out, but then a huge part of me is also saying that I really don't care enough to, because its the way I feel and I don't need a therapist to try to tell me that what I'm feeling is wrong. Sometimes I have strange urges to do really outlandish things, but I'd rather not do them as it could risk blemishing my outside image.
Nicky B on May 14, 2012:
I think I am a sociopath. I'm not sure, but I've been told that I am "unresonably cold & vicious" am I a sociopath, or am I just looking for a way to jusitfy my behavior?
FreakyFreakMcFreakerton on May 14, 2012:
Who needs a cure when nothing is broken? I am a high-functioning sociopath and I see nothing wrong with the way I am living.
Although, that may be due to the fact that I *am* one.
Oh well, I'm not overly concerned about it.
It is not something you are born with but raised to be. If the world didn't want sociopaths then maybe the world should stop producing them, *us*.
Terrible fact; but more than quite a few children are abused (in any form, it doesn't matter) and have to learn not to care to survive.
Here's an example: Your mother tells you that you are to get the toy you have always wanted. You have wanted this for years and years. She told you months before you are about to get it and then they day you are to go get it, she uses that money to buy drugs or alcohol. And if you whine, or cry, or piss and moan, she'll hit you.
So, after that, you learn not to be excited about things like that anymore.
Pretty soon, that lack of excitement filters into your everyday life and morphs into not caring. That turns into a lack of empathy and impulsiveness and effects everything and everyone around you.
So, no, Robert, you are not born with it. You earn it by simply living.
Rebecca on April 12, 2012:
I am married to a narcistic sociopath, it's now going on 23 years. I have left him and in the process of a divorce. I really didn't know what he was until I started to see a psychology, I was about to end my life. Now I know who I was really married too and had I not gone to get help for myself I still wouldn't have understood him and all him cruel ways. I don't think he can be helped so sad because people like that will never know how much pain they have caused. They just DON'T CARE. I hope I can one day get passed all the pain he's put me through...
Mike on April 11, 2012:
Do you consider a person without empathy to be a sociopathic individual?
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 23, 2012:
And Roberto, I recommend seeing a professional to help you figure that out.
Roberto on February 13, 2012:
I'm unstoppable but wanna know if I was born with it or not!
Paula on February 11, 2012:
I am in the process of writing a story about the birth and evolution of a narcissistic sociopath. I am basing the story on the sociopath I was in a relationship with and who nearly destroyed me with his projections and evil nature. (I am trying to take a humorous approach to the tale, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to ween myself from the anti depressants I was prescribed to heal from my life with him.) Just click on "Story of a Sociopath" in the left navigation of my blog: http://paularenee.wordpress.com
Thanks for this great page!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 10, 2012:
Understood, Stockton. And when it comes to sociopathy... well consideration of the entire "condition" is a bit off, since it's not even referred to as such anymore!
And Hendrika- though psychopaths and sociopaths have been grouped under the Antisocial Personality Disorder umbrella, they're still different.. though not VERY different, I suppose. I mean... heheheh... don't look at me! I'm not an expert! I just looked this stuff up.
Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on February 09, 2012:
I have to be honest, I did not know that psychopaths can also be classified as sociopaths. I just know, as you have said, is that psychopaths are born. I have know one for years and it was no fun!
Stockton on February 08, 2012:
Regarding honor and my previous post, I want to clarify that "honor" in and of itself isn't something I think of as sociopathic. Rather, murdering somebody in defense of one's honor is sociopathic - an individual who values their "honor" over somebody's life.
As for sociopathy, I am still confused about it and wish I could recognize a person that is such. With the estimates of the proportion of sociopaths who exist among us, I surely come across them.
Honestly, though, I think "sociopath" and similar words are overused by everyday people. Actually, it might sociopathic for one to be so inconsiderate as to suggest somebody might be or call them a sociopath when they don't know what they're talking about. That is incredibly hurtful to the victim. And unfortunately on college campuses and similar environments, in light of modern mass shootings, many look at those who are shy, quite, or ackward with suspicion, which doesn't make those people feel anymore comfortable.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 08, 2012:
Well said, Stockton! Anyone who does not seriously question this article (written by Yours, Truly, who is by no means an expert) has serious issues.
Hmm... I had never thought about the concept of honor as a particularly sociopathic thing, but I can definitely see how it might be!
Stockton on February 08, 2012:
Something about this article screams unprofessional and questionable. We should all remember just because something is well written doesn't mean the messages it conveys are true or that it is factual.
As for black culture, I'm not sure rap/hip hop culture and black culture are the same thing. Although what stands out in black culture that seems sociopathic to me is the rate of homocide, which is often committed to defend one's honor. And isn't not valuing somebody's life enough to end it to protect one's "honor" blatantly sociopathic?
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 07, 2012:
Well, Samantha, I totally see why you would be hesitant to talk about this with anyone though- just from the comments I've gotten on this article, I can see that many people hold people with antisocial personality disorders in exceedingly low regard.
Here's hoping you find your way!
Samantha on February 06, 2012:
Although the term "sociopath" is a bit outdated and politically incorrect, I definitely identify as one. I don't know exactly what the problem is, but part of my antisocial temperament is the unwillingness to seek professional help for something so personal. I want to believe that I'm "normal" in some sense, but as I grow older it is becoming more obvious to me that something isn't right. I am manipulative, an excellent liar, and constantly feel an undeserving sense of entitlement... I'll admit, I think I'm pretty special. If I could change the way I am, I probably wouldn't. I am highly intelligent which I sincerely believe is a significant factor in how my personality has developed. They say that no man is an island, but I feel like my own separate universe. I don't get along with other people well, but I find them intriguing and like to observe their behaviors. If need be, I can turn on the charm and superficial friendliness and people generally like me once they know me. But this is very draining and I usually avoid people for a time to recuperate after interacting socially.
I use and abuse people (oftentimes without them even realizing it) and most of my relationships are short lived and unsuccessful (in the sense that they didn't work out, not that I hadn't gained from them.... ) Although, people seem instinctively drawn to me - I am an attractive woman both physically and personality wise because I can adapt to others characters easily.
I've fantasized about harming other people but I don't believe I'd ever go through with it, because I still have a rational mind.. I am aggressive and have lashed out many times. I've often thought about nature vs nurture in my case but to me, both are contributing factors. I can see certain events in my life which helped mold me in this way, but I can also remember having some traits from a very young age.
I don't want to tell anyone these things for many reasons. I am not a monster or a crazy person.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 06, 2012:
Yikes, he sounds like bad news, Teri W! Good point about people with some serious antisocial personality disorders being able to hide.
Teri W on February 04, 2012:
I think some are more subtle. Some have learned to pretend to care, then they dump you just after you give birth to their baby or while you are pregnant and disappear for five years. My ex-husband is very charming, knows exactly the right thing to say, and everyone likes him. But he actually an underground control freak, always blaming everyone else for things that go wrong and to justify the nasty things he does. I have thought until recently that he actually experiences guilt, until I saw it isn't guilt at all. He's just uncomfortable that anyone would think he isn't right all the time or that they see through the crap he goes on with. He's also a narcissist. Evil, in a very very charming and incredibly shallow personality. Runnnnnnnnn.....
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 27, 2012:
Yikes, I'm glad your ex-boyfriend is an EX-boyfriend! I hope you put an exceedingly large amount of distance between the two of you, perhaps get a restraining order, and don't communicate with him any more.
Betsy on January 22, 2012:
My exboyfriend is definitely a sociopath. He lies and always cheats.has multiple women he strings along. Found his phone he was texting 3 women, had me and his son's mother. he brags about ripping people,off and fooling people he literally cant keep still. when we lived together, he would wander from room to room. He was verbally cruel for no reason. Recently out of the blue he told me he thought of killing me and burying under his horses, but of course there are the texts. We were texting each other. only reason he did not do it i guess being a human being is not reason enough not kill me. He breed sharpeis and owns clasdale horses in alto loma. he is pure evil.
Starry on January 16, 2012:
High functioning sociopath. :)
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 09, 2011:
Yikes, that's a very scary and depressing sentiment, Chaunte. Perhaps that is the case for some, but certainly not all, people in black culture (I say this because I have yet to meet any sociopaths who also identify strongly with black culture). That said, I do hope that those who DO feel that way have the same goal as yourself- to CHANGE it!
mohau makhene, I imagine that they figure out the root of the disorder through a series of questions.
mohau makhene on December 08, 2011:
Hi I really dnt understand hw u can identify wether someone was born with it or developed it @ a later stage,cause chances r u meet these people @ a later stage in life,n judging frm ur expert advice a pshycopath is born a pshycopath yet a sociopath develops da dissoder later in life @ least after 18 but hw do they knw dat, cause they r indeniel!!! N can therapy discover exacly when u had da dissoders
Chaunte on November 17, 2011:
Lemme tell u a horror story: most people of the black culture are sociopaths. This isn't a racist comment but a true statement. I'm a black female and willing to be truthful! Ive been forced to be a sociopath due to society. And u gotta admit, that is the real reason why society (as a whole) fears black people. The question is: What to do about it? I can admit I have sociopathic tendencies majority of the time but that's only because "we were taught to hate ourselves and love their wealth"-Kanye West I wanna fix the problem not keep it going! I promise u! The first step to fixing is admitting so if u know any black people (or if ur black) show this to them. And then be there for by giving them the number to some free therapy or expensive. But please make sure u have some encouraging words for them Cus black people don't like to go to therapy and our families are responsible for that. Spread the love and stop clutching ur purses or wallets when ur around blacks. If u truly understand a sociopath that's gonna make u stand out like a soar thumb. PleAse forgive me for this truthful message:) and please oh please don't be offended...society is getting worse and it's time to make it better. As Americans our focus has always been to give help abroad when we truly need the help in America! Pass it on!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 07, 2011:
So glad you enjoyed the article, SociopathicTrickster! Enjoy the self-discovery process!
I'm sorry to hear about that, Sammy. Perhaps you should break up with that boyfriend? I mean, I'm no expert, but I'd cut that thing off.
Sammy on November 07, 2011:
I think my boyfriend is a Sociopath/Psychopath. He doesn't treat me very well at times and shows no remorse or guilt after, and refuses to accept blame for anything in life. I am starting to be afraid of him. He can be very cold and manipulative. He has never said the word sorry in the two and a half years we have been together. He refuses to accept critism but is ready to critise me. Lately I have been withdrawing from him and he is really angry, I told him its because of the way he treats me but instead of listening he refuses to take any repsonsibility and says there must be someone else! There isn't I just can't bear his rages over such petty things.He scares me now. :(
SociopathicTrickster on November 04, 2011:
I have to say I enjoyed the article, it was an interesting read and very informative.
Currently I'm on something of a journey of self-discovery as I have only realised what all the signs in my life have been pointing to.
Thank you for the clarity
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 16, 2011:
Revel in it, melodysnotes!!
melodysnotes from Summerville, South Carolina on September 15, 2011:
I'm unstoppable. Tee hee.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 01, 2011:
Yeah, I'm not sure that I agree with professional experts about the no remedy, especially when it comes to sociopaths, who did not always exhibit these negative behaviors. I think that many sociopaths act and feel the way they do as a reaction to something, and if given proper conditions and time, they could regain empathy and the ability to place nice with others. Also, keep in mind that having trouble conforming with society is just one of the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder- not ALL sociopaths/psychopaths have trouble conforming with society.
Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 31, 2011:
I think I'll stick to renos, Ha Ha, really good info here, I never knew sociopaths were against society, learned something new... Just like the common cold, no remmedy. Thanks for for sharing your expertise!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 22, 2011:
Indeed, Words from Jan! Though I feel that family plays the most important role in a soiopath's life - they're amongst the few people who can put positive reward systems in place that could help their sociopathic relative navigate through life without hurting others or themselves.
Words from Jan from Near Albany, NY on March 22, 2011:
Interesting article ... well written. How difficult it would be to have a family member w/either of these conditions. If these symptoms showed up in a potential friend, I agree w/fuscia ... run!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 22, 2011:
LiamBean -hahaa, thanks for the well-wishes, though I imagine I'd get along very well with a sociopath. I know that sounds crazy, LOL, but I think they can be rather adorable!
Gigi - yes, I was quite surprised to find that there is no common treatment. Want to hear something interesting? Some people have thought that marijuana might be a good cure! So... if you know a sociopath, bake him/her some pot brownies :D
fucsia - I'm glad you've not come across anyone of the sort, and I do imagine that running away is a good bet.
And Cagsil - oh, absolutely! HAHAA!!! And thanks for reading the article. Because the terms sociopath and psychopath are not used in a clinical sense anymore, it comes as no surprise that people of any education level would not be told about the difference between the two - they simply aren't current terms... though oddly people still brandish them about :D
Raymond D Choiniere from USA on March 22, 2011:
Hey Simone, that was a great read and some of the symptoms of a sociopath can be seen in some of the people who have frequented the forums... LOL! However, I appreciate your well written article and it was a learning experience, because I really didn't know the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath. Then again, I'm only a high school graduate and was never taught the difference. So, thank you for that. :) Thumbs up! :)
fucsia on March 22, 2011:
I do not know a sociopath (at least not yet) but I think it is very hard tell him that he is a sociopath. Perhaps it is better to run away... far away...!
Gigi Thibodeau on March 22, 2011:
Wow, how awful that there's no known cure. I have definitely met a few people whom I suspected of being sociopaths, including one ex-boyfriend (he wasn't my boyfriend for long!!!). Very scary people. Thanks for this informative hub!
LiamBean from Los Angeles, Calilfornia on March 21, 2011:
Yikes! I hope you don't know one (though its likely we all do).
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 21, 2011:
Thanks for reading HattieMattieMae and Minnetonka Twin! And Minnetonka Twin, I envy your Mater's in Psychology - it is such a fascinating subject and I would love to study it someday. I'm also glad to hear that the sociopath you knew is no longer a threat in your life!
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on March 21, 2011:
You have a nice way of making a scary topic fun to read. I definitely know a sociopath but thankfully he is no longer a danger to me and the family. You did a great job explaining the difference between sociopath and psychopath. I have my Master's degree in Psychology and have seen this firsthand. YIKES, it's a scary thing to not care how you treat people.
Hattie from Europe on March 21, 2011:
hmm, yes, and also the narcisstic personality! That one kind goes along with this one.