It is not difficult to be charmed by an intelligent, glib talker. However, this could only be a few of the sociopathic tendencies of an individual. More correctly cited as a result of antisocial personality disorder, sociopaths are characterized by their utter disregard for the rights of others. They exude superficial charm that may easily attract others. However, within a short period of being associated with them, their lack of empathy for other's feelings and manipulative behavior becomes evident. The tendencies in adults find roots during childhood or adolescence that continue and find firm grounding later on in life.
Although no definite reason have yet been conclusively found, genetic and environmental factors are cited as the cause. Also, environmental factors seem to play a major role in children. A strong correlation has been found between children with sociopath behavior and those that lacked maternal affection during the first five years of their lives. However, this is only a correlation and not a cause. Child abuse or trauma is also believed to play role in the development of such tendencies in children. The role of genetics cannot be ruled out behind sociopathoic characteristics emerging in individuals later in their lives.
Tendencies in Adults
There are certain traits that make identifying such individuals easy. Initially one may be charmed by their wit and verbal tact. However, soon one realizes that beneath the facade lies a cold, self-centered individual.
- Disregard for rights of others.
- Considerable superficial charm.
- Above average intelligence.
- Incredible glibness.
- Inflated sense of self that convinces them that whatever they do is their right.
- Conning people and being manipulative
- Lack of empathy; rather views pain of his victims with contempt and takes advantage of their distress.
- Failure to relate emotionally and promiscuous behavior. Even if they do appear committed, it would be superficial. They would use such relation for ulterior motives.
- Lack of remorse or shame. They view everyone around them as objects and opportunity to achieve their goals. Hence sociopaths keep violating other's rights without any guilt.
- Streak of violence.
- Pathologically egocentric and self-centered.
- Impulsive behavior; their belief that they are always right and inability to submit to authority makes them impulsive. These people hardly stay on a job for long.
- Addiction to drugs and alcohol.
- Unreliable and irresponsible.
Tendencies in Children
Such behavior may also be present in children. Below is a checklist for children most of which would sound like early indicators of the problems that would surface in adulthood.
- Speech and learning disabilities
- Cruelty towards animals
- Irresponsible behavior
- Poor self-control
- Inability to develop relationship with peers
- Argumentative and manipulative
- Violent behavior (juvenile delinquency)
Efforts to deal with sociopaths have shown that these traits are very resistant to change and may not be curable at all. However, there are certain treatments that are successful in reducing the incidence of antisocial behavior in such individuals, even if not entirely wipe them out. The earlier the treatment, the better the results will be. Psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducation is most heavily relied on in treating sociopaths. These modes of treatment involve helping the individuals understand the repercussions of their unethical behavior. Although medicines are not effective, they may be effective in dealing with depression and mood swings often associated with this personality disorder. Besides all these treatments, co-operation of the family and parents (in case of children) is crucial. Although no cure is still visible for this mental illness, knowing how to deal with such individuals is very important to help the individual and to minimize the harmful effects of living in close proximity of such a person.
While researching about sociopathic tendencies, I had a feeling that with their quick wit and self-confidence these people could easily become the epitome of success. However, it is sad that what is behind the charm of such individuals is a mental disorder, the ugly face of which is manipulation and disregard for the rights and feelings of others.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health expert.