(Investigator 160, 2015 January)

Some General Characteristics:

The term 'sociopath' is reserved for individuals who, as part of their normal behaviour, display a wide range of anti-social conduct. Of these, 75% are males.

They fall into three groups, from the lowest to the highest, these are,
(1) Impulsive,
(2) Exploitative, and
(3) Antisocial.

Impulsive sociopaths tend to be harmless, immature and impetuous individuals (their principal fault being an inability to tell the truth, especially about themselves). Exploitative Sociopaths are also liars, but they are more likely to deliberately manipulate people, and be swindlers, and confidence men. Most dangerous are the antisocial sociopaths; these are devious, calculating people, extremely manipulative, and often dangerous.

Overall sociopaths have a number of common behavioural characteristics. These are: -

1.    They possess superficial charm and good intelligence: They stand out in a crowd. They tend to be extroverts, with exceptional verbal skills, who need to be the star attraction at every event. They constantly drop names of important 'friends'. With a great deal of charisma they give a good impression. They know how to manipulate and to get close to people.

2.    There is no evidence that they are delusional or experience irrational forms of thinking: They always appear very logical, and can make the most far-fetched ideas seem totally credible. It always appears that they have deeply researched the issue, that they are experts, and can make it a reality (with other people's money).

3.    They rarely display nervousness or worry about their behaviour: Always cool and unruffled, even in the midst of major crises that would cause normal people to he stressed, they retain a placid demeanour.

4.    They are unreliable and cannot be trusted: They always have a good excuse for letting you down or failing to meet obligations or deadlines. They are masters at finding others to cover for them or excuse that behaviour.

5.    They rarely tell the truth, and are insincere: They live a life based upon lies and half truths yet even if caught out and confronted with their lies it makes no impression on them. So skilled are they at lying that when this is added to their ¬calm demeanour they can so effectively defend the 'truthfulness' of their• claims, that their opponents are thrown so completely off balance that they become confused and uncertain, giving the sociopath the benefit of the doubt.

6.    They never show any signs of remorse or shame at their offending: They are incapable of conceiving that their actions could have hurt others, so will never apologize for what they have done, no matter how bad. They tend to blame other people, so, even if it was their suggestion that turned out badly, it is always the other persons fault.

7.    They rarely give reasons for their constant antisocial behaviour: There are rarely any logical reasons for their• antisocial behaviour. They are not always motivated simply by financial gains, rather they seem to enjoy offending simply for the sake of offending, as if they find it a challenge to lie and to deceive other people.

8.    They lack insight, have extremely poor judgment and never seem to learn by experience: Because they are so egotistical, they ignore the needs of others and lack insight as to possible consequences of their behaviour, so they simply ignore all practicalities. They live in the present day; the past and future are irrelevant to them; everything is done for immediate gratification; they do not consider any long term consequences of their behavior. Their egotism is so extreme they believe themselves incapable of error, so do not learn from their mistakes. Failures are always blamed on others, and they then produce a new "sure-fire" scheme. They are frequently involved with questionable schemes and brushes with the law.

9.    They are egocentric and are unable to love anyone but themselves: They can he extremely charming to the point where sociopaths are hard to resist. They will make all sorts of 'sincere' promises, which, although they appear genuine are simply a means to an end. They simply want what the victim can provide, money, sex, care, or accommodation. They can rarely see problems in a relationship, because as long as the sociopath is getting what they want, they ignore every other reality. When the other partner dares to suggest there are problems they react fiercely, unable to understand how anyone could see them as anything hut a likeable individual who can do no wrong. A further aspect is that their self interest overrides any possibility of feeling affection or love for others. Friendships are generally superficial; although they know many people, they are merely 'contacts' and their relationships with others are generally shallow and phony.

10.    They dominate every relationship: Whatever relationship they are in, whether it is at work or marriage, they must he in control. They consider themselves so superior to everyone else that it is only natural that they should run the show. To reinforce their own perceived superiority, especially in a close personal relationship, they will constantly belittle people. With female partners they will destroy their individuality, constantly, questioning their personal abilities, until they become totally subservient to the sociopath.

11.    While they will often threaten suicide, their threats are rarely genuine: Such threats are designed to win sympathy, to manipulate others to giving in to their needs.

12.    Their sex life is impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated: Their sex life is based upon gaining immediate physical gratification and their personal commitment is limited to the availability of willing partners. Although sexual relations might be great, as sociopaths are usually performers, it rarely involves any emotional attachment. Although when they move on they have already made the decision some time beforehand, they will always blame the other partner for the "breakdown in the relationship". They will then move onto the next partner without the slightest feeling of regret. He will then blame his former partner who "did not understand him" — it is always her fault, and in this way he extracts a great deal of sympathy from his new partner, who wants to help him recover.

13. They fail to follow any proper life plan: This can be the most difficult aspect for the partners of sociopaths. Although they make big plans, which do not come to fruition, they start projects hut rarely finish them. Although they can make their plans sound logical, they are always totally unrealistic. As each scheme fails there is always another being hatched.

Life With The Sociopathic Personality

Within the previous outline of sociopathic behaviours one will see are many attributes that each person possesses, yet not all are sociopaths. To determine whether an individual is possibly a sociopath one must look at the overall number of abnormal patterns of behaviours displayed by a particular individual. It is generally accepted by health professionals that, if an individual displays at least four or more of the characteristics outlined above, then that person is a sociopath.

If you are involved with a sociopath you have probably already suspected something was not quite right. Life will be a regular cycle of highs and lows, from extreme optimism and big plans, to that of failed dreams and blighted hopes. There will be constant uncertainty, with finances constantly in disarray. Money will be squandered on unnecessary things, so that there is never enough to pay essential bills. There are always unexpected debts, and a constant stream of creditors chasing payments.

There may be suspicions of a lack of genuine concern or respect for you; the feeling that you do not really know this man you live with. On one hand he will constantly tell you how lucky you are to have such a marvelous/interesting charming partner. However, if you express doubts you will be accused of being ungrateful. Questions will be met with hostility, overreaction, as well as possible verbal and physical abuse. There will be a steady pattern of having your normality as a person being questioned. There will be the constant uncertainty, and his refusal to accept responsibility. You may try to adapt to your partner but the rules keep changing. There is no certainty about what tomorrow may bring.

Your choices:

Realize that this person cannot be changed or cured. He will never change his behaviour, or grow out of it. He will always he irresponsible. He will always remain the same now, and in the future. The only difference you can expect is that you will both grow older.

All is not lost:

•    You can change the way his behaviour impacts on you and your life.
•    You can focus on what positives he has and accept the negatives.
•    You can learn to manage the money and hold firmly onto the purse strings.
•    You can invest in friends who will help you keep in touch with reality.
•    You can understand his abnormal personality and not feel responsible for his life.
•    You can stay or leave the relationship.
•    Accept that you are his life partner not his mother, manager, keeper, or rescuer.

(Laurie Eddie)