What is Sociopath?
Personality disorder characterized by disregard for social norms, difficulty in feeling emotions, lack of empathy, impulsive and empty of guilt.
How to recognize if someone is a sociopath and how to react? How is it different from a psychopath? Updates on symptoms, risk factors and treatments.
Examples of social norms
Politeness, incest taboo, mourning. Social norms differ from one society to another (example: monogamy / polygamy) and evolve over time (example: marriage / free union). Respect for the social norm contributes to social cohesion.
Definition: what is a sociopath?
Sociopathy is a personality disorder, ie it is a set of disorders whose symptoms are stable and permanent personality traits. This rigid and “ill-adapted” character induces dysfunctional behavior in life in society as well as suffering for the person. The personality is not fixed until after adolescence: thus, sociopathy cannot be diagnosed until adulthood, although conduct disorders can appear long before.
What is the difference with a psychopath?
Today, we mainly talk about antisocial personality, depending on the period and the country, we rather said sociopath, psychopath or antisocial. In psychiatry, today, no distinction is made and we speak of an “antisocial” personality. This corresponds to the same clinical description.
Symptoms: how to recognize a sociopath?
Impulsivity with acting out even if the consequences are obviously negative, which is frequent in people with antisocial personality disorder. There is an impulse control disorder, which leads to acting out without assessment of the consequences. For example prisoners who will commit an act of violence against a guard 15 days before their release, which will obviously compromise the latter.
Very often, there are transgressions at the social level, and the person’s life course is marked by contacts with the police and the justice system for theft, assault, destruction of public property, instability in relationships or in the course professional…
Even if the antisocial personality disorder can only be diagnosed in adulthood, we find from childhood or adolescence signs that we will call “conduct disorders.
This personality disorder affects nearly 5.8% of men and 1.2% of women. It is marked by:
- Impulsiveness (act quickly without thinking about the consequences)
- A tendency to take action.
- An absence of guilt.
- Difficulty conforming to social norms.
- Inability to conform to social norms that determine legal behavior (repetition of arrestable behavior, for example).
- Tendency to deceive for profit or pleasure (repeated lies, use of pseudonyms, scams);
- Irritability and aggressiveness (repetition of fights or attacks).
- Reckless disregard for one’s safety and that of others.
- Persistent irresponsibility (repeated inability to hold steady employment or meet financial obligations).
- Lack of remorse or empathy (indifference, need to justify oneself after hurting, mistreating or stealing from others).
Risk factors: genetics, environment, trauma, alcohol…
There are genetic vulnerability factors and more or less stressful life events. We find social factors, traumas, consumption of toxic substances… Socio-economic difficulties, violence or consumption of toxic substances are very often part of the patient’s history. The consumption of alcohol or drugs increases the passages to the act.
4 Categories of Sociopath
Generally those with antisocial disorder are divided into four categories:
1. Common Sociopaths
They are unable to feel shame and have distorted morals . Very often kleptomania is also associated with this type of sociopathy . They are people who move often and who have very frequent sexual intercourse;
2. Alienated Sociopaths
They are characterized by a low capacity to love and empathize . They usually harbor misanthropy and hatred of society. They are individuals who do not like to socialize and prefer to become attached to objects (or more rarely to animals) than to people.
They are in turn divided into three other “subtypes”: sociopaths “hostile”, irritable, despotic and always in conflict with the law; “cheated” sociopaths, who tend to commit crimes because they believe their attitude is justified by what they have suffered from society; the “dysempathic” sociopaths, those who know how to feel empathy and affection only for a small group of people (relationships are however tense and manipulative).
3. Aggressive Sociopaths
They are characterized by a sadistic streak that they show at work and during sexual intercourse. They usually seek positions of power (such as policemen but also teachers or parents) and may find it fun to torture animals.
4. Dissocial Sociopaths
They are characterized by adapting to the rules of a group as long as they involve the violation of the law.
People at risk
Children with conduct disorders are obviously more at risk than others, hence the importance of teaching them empathy and non-violence.
If there are conduct disorders, it is because you have to look for difficult things in the child’s environment. It will therefore be necessary to carry out prevention:
take more care of the child if he tends to be left alone, fight against family violence, promote empathy, cooperation, mutual aid…
And very often prevention involves helping the parents!” Contrary to some popular belief, there is no antisocial personality gene.
It is advisable not to tolerate the crossing of certain limits and also to be wary of a tendency manipulation.
What to do with a sociopath?
The problem in this type of disorder is that there is no mentalization between the impulse and the acting out. During moments of anger and internal tension, it would be appropriate for relatives to let things calm down, to take a little distance, to leave the person alone until it calms down and to discuss afterwards.
While being aware of its difficulties, it is advisable not to tolerate the crossing of certain limits and also to be wary of a tendency to manipulation. It is also necessary, of course, to bring the person to consult so that he can be taken care of in an adequate manner.
Are there treatments?
The mainstay of treatment is psychotherapy, in particular cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT). Drug treatments can help if sociopathy is strong: the psychiatrist may prescribe mood stabilizers or antipsychotics.
There will also be treatments to treat the consequences of the disorder: addictions that require appropriate care, depression or associated bipolar disorder.
At the drug level, we treat more comorbidities and impulsivity if it is really disabling than the disorder itself, for which there is no drug.
If subjected to psychotherapy and psychiatric therapy with the use of antipsychotics (however less effective than for other personality disorders), the sociopath, provided that he follows the therapist and is willing to change and to control his instincts, can in many cases be reintegrated into life. normal, although its basic antisocial character remains.
Due to the strong ego syntonicity (the patient feels his behaviors as a normal part of himself and does not think they need to be changed), it is one of the most difficult disorders to cure and often the patient is forced by the family or society to undergo treatment, after having at times committed crimes or unbecoming actions.
Information: Cleverly Smart is not a substitute for a doctor. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.