I took the blog I wrote yesterday and intended to post first thing this morning (Sunday) and set it aside in favor of something I just read, an article I saw that grabbed my attention. So here I am, writing a new blog post several hours after I should have posted the original one.
Through the indoctrination of television and movies, we've come to generally associate the word sociopath with criminal. In some instances, we've even come to equate it with psychopath as if one meant the other…and to some degree that's true.
The dictionary defines sociopath as one who is affected with a personality disorder marked by aggressive, antisocial behavior. That same dictionary defines psychopath as a person with an antisocial personality, especially one manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior.
Some similarities, but not the same thing. Even though not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals, they can certainly make your life difficult since the defining characteristic is antisocial behavior.
Approximately 1 in 25 Americans could be classified as a sociopath. That means there is a good chance of you being directly associated with a sociopath—working for or with a sociopath, having 1 or more as part of your social circle and by that I mean in-person people you interact with rather than social media (you could have hundreds and even thousands of friends as part of your social media you do not know face-to-face personally, making that number quite significant), or a relative.
Or…perhaps someone you are currently dating?
The article talked about 11 red flags to look for that could indicate that the person in question is a sociopath. That certainly does NOT mean that someone demonstrating 1 or 2 of these traits is a sociopath. However, interesting traits for a writer to use when creating a villainous character.
1) Oversized Ego
Sociopaths have an inflated sense of self. They are narcissists to the extreme who have a huge sense of entitlement and tend to blame other people for their failures.
2) Lying And Exhibiting Manipulative Behavior
Sociopaths regularly use deceit and manipulation. They often lie merely for the sake of lying—telling lies to see if they can trick someone, then telling larger lies for larger effects.
3) Exhibiting A Lack Of Empathy
I think this is what I most associate with a sociopath. They don't have the capability to feel or even imagine the emotional realities of other people. You are devastated when you see your beloved pet run over by a car, but they can't relate to the concept of your emotional response.
4) Showing A Lack Of Remorse Or Shame
I closely associate this with number 3. Sociopaths lack remorse, guilt, or shame.
5) Staying Eerily Calm In Scary Or Dangerous Situations
For example, following involvement in a car accident or being shown disturbing images, sociopaths have no anxiety or fear. The lack of emotional connection in number 3.
6) Behaving Irresponsibly Or With Extreme Impulsivity
Sociopaths jump from goal to goal and act on the spur of the moment. They can be very irresponsible when it comes finances and obligations to others.
7) Having Few Friends
Sociopaths tend not to have real friends. All their friends are superficial (friends by association) or are friends because the sociopath needs them for the time being.
8) Being Charming, But Only Superficially
Sociopaths have the ability to be very charismatic and friendly because they know it will get them what they want. They are expert con artists and usually have a secret agenda. They are masters at blending in by the use of an outer personality.
9) Living By The Pleasure Principle
This can be described as: If it feels good and they are able to avoid consequences, they will do it! They live their lives in the extreme fast lane, constantly seeking stimulation, excitement and pleasure.
10) Showing Disregard For Societal Norms
They break laws and rules without concern because they believe these laws and rules don't apply to them.
11) Having Intense Eyes
When I read this, I immediately visualized the pictures I've seen of Rasputin (pictured above) looking as if he was staring into someone's soul. Sociopaths have no problem maintaining uninterrupted eye contact. A failure to politely look away is sometimes perceived as being aggressive.