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Sociopath Definition And The Signs Of Sociopaths

Sociopath Definition And The Signs Of Sociopaths

There are about 8 million sociopaths in the US, according to the American Psychiatric Association.[1] That means about 1 in 25 people you know is a sociopath.[3] You probably know at least one – or at some point in life, you’ll probably get to know one pretty well.

M. E. Thomas, a law professor, has a chilling confession. As a professor with many close friendships, Thomas is also a churchgoer and helps her family out. She is not what you might imagine a sociopath to be like. Instead of being outwardly volatile, she has a stable career and social life.

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But she admits that she is not normal. She does not feel ashamed when she breaks rules or hurts others. She doesn’t trust even her “close” friends. She lies and manipulates others – frequently. And her remarkable ability to stay calm helps her appear totally in control.[2]

What Is a Sociopath

By definition, a sociopath is someone with an antisocial personality disorder. This disorder includes impairments in personality (affecting both self and interpersonal relationships) as well as pathological personality traits (compulsiveness or obsessiveness).

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Sociopaths feel, think, perceive, and relate differently than people without personality disorders. They aren’t able to turn off their negative thoughts or traits, and they can’t always see how their pathological traits are problems.

So what causes sociopathy? As far as experts can tell, it’s probably a result of both “nature” (genetics) and “nurture” (environment).[4] Biologically, the brain of a sociopath matures at a slower rate than that of a non-sociopath. Early life experiences, such as trauma, abuse, or physical damage, can cause sociopathy as well.

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Some people only have some sociopathic tendencies but they’re not full-blown sociopaths.[5] Those who have the sociopathic tendencies only exhibit sociopathic behaviors and attitudes sometimes. By contrast, a full-blown sociopath never possesses genuine respect for others.

How to Tell If a Person Is a Sociopath

  • Lack a sense of shame: Sociopaths can’t really feel remorse and guilt, and they don’t get easily embarrassed.
  • Constantly lie: They’re very comfortable in telling lies, as they won’t have any guilty feelings.
  • Calm in any circumstances: Unable to feel fear and anxiety, sociopaths are good at staying calm in any circumstances.
  • Charming and generous just at first: They greet you with a charming smile and ask the appropriate questions. But the fact is, they have no interest in you at all.
  • Manipulative: They love to be in control of every situation, so they target weak people and try to dominate every aspect of their lives.
  • Have a huge ego: Sociopaths tend to be narcissistic and much more interested in talking about themselves instead of listening to others.
  • Unable to take criticism: Owing to their huge ego, sociopaths can’t take criticism. While they may not outwardly express anger, they won’t believe the criticism and instead blame others for failures.
  • Have very few real friends: Sociopaths often have difficulties in making friends, or in any relationships. They seldom truly connect with people.
  • Isolate you from others: To be the centre of your world, they would try to isolate you and ask you to stop hanging out with your friends.
  • Secretive: They don’t connect with people, and so they seldom explain what they do or why.
  • Have low tolerance for boredom: Sociopaths have a strong need for stimulation. This might even include physical punishment or gambling.
  • Poor in behavioral controls: They have a hard time predicting people’s reactions and understanding their feelings. As a result they hurt or annoy people around them without even noticing it.
  • Express shallow emotions: Sociopaths have no emotion but this doesn’t mean they don’t express emotions. They can fake it. So the emotions they express are usually shallow.
  • Authoritarian: Sociopaths see themselves as superior, and so they tend toward authoritarianism.
  • Paranoid: Sociopaths often lack trust in people, doubting what they say and do.
  • Cruel to animals: They might show this in their early childhood – for example, pulling wings off of flies.

How to Deal with a Sociopath

Sometimes we have no choice but to cope with a sociopath. Maybe you recognize sociopathic traits in your coworker or even a family member. Under these circumstances, the best thing to do is to understand their personality and protect yourself. Here are some actions you might take to guard yourself against a sociopath:

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Don’t reveal too much information about yourself.

Sociopaths are often charming at first and look like they want to know more about you. But that’s not the case. All they want to do is to find someone who is weak and then they can manipulate you to achieve their goals.

Never reveal personal information about you or your friends and family or difficulties you’re having. These are the best materials for them to gain dominance over you. Instead, keep conversations with sociopaths to neutral subjects like television and news. They will gradually lose interest and walk away from you.

Don’t give them more than 3 chances.

Sociopaths are good at lying. They can absolutely tell a lie to cover whatever bad move they have done. But don’t give them more than 3 chances. If they lie to you once or twice, they can be forgiven as it might be a misunderstanding or a mistake. But when it comes to the third time, you should better cut your loss and run. Don’t let them have any chance to do more harm to you.

Don’t try to take them down.

It is dangerous to be an enemy of a sociopath. Their calculating nature always grant them whatever they want. Instead of trying to take them down, try to come up with a win-win agreement. Propose as many win-win scenarios as you can. Get them on your side.

Reference

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on March 22, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity.  We try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as our goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from us.

But what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?  It’s like your favorite food.  The more you have of it doesn’t always mean the better.  On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite of it.  So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

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We should always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

Video Summary

Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time.  Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales.  On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives (including ourselves).  So it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

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In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life.  Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires, everyone has their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve.  As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time.  During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals.  But I got through them, and weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.   Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.  So what can we do?  First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness.  Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect.  It’s from experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing the same trials.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.  It sounds like a paradox.  What I mean is, accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life.  Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude.  Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something.  I like to think about my career, for example.  When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated.  I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me.  But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful!  This memory keeps me going when there are tough spots.  It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and sadness exist together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments.  Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories.  But your life will also be filled with rain and storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.  Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones.  Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”.  In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements.  Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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