How a Sociopath Responds
Dealing with a Sociopath can be extremely frustrating. Because they lack basic emotional components and are typically quite narcissistic, the responses and reactions they have to everyday events can at times seem very odd and quite inappropriate to the rest of us. If you understand their thought process at its very basic level, you can better understand why they respond the way they do. You’ll never be able to rationalize how they act, but you might at least be able to gain a slight understanding of how a sociopath may respond in the future. As you will see in the following scenarios, a sociopathic response will typically be about them—never the actual situation. Baffling to the rest of us as it is, it is simply the way they are wired. Unfortunately, the following situations are real. They are written exactly as they occurred. *PLEASE NOTE* This article is not intended as a method to diagnose an individual as being sociopathic. It is intended to show some very typical response patterns from real individuals who have been diagnosed as sociopaths. Only a professional can and should actually diagnose a sociopath. Many normal, healthy, mentally sound individuals will have some of these reactions some of the time. This article is part of a larger series on articles detailing common behaviors and reactions of individuals who fit the diagnostic criteria for an individual considered Sociopathic. An individual can also have "sociopathic tendencies", which would inidicate that they exhibit sociopathic traits on a consistent basis, but not enough to be diagnosed as a Sociopath. Those with sociopathic tendencies are not sociopaths in the diagnostic sense, but may have other disorders that should be taken into consideration.
Sociopathy and Psychopathy
- Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy | Forensic Focus
Clarifies the common misconceptions about these terms and outlines the similarities and differences between psychopathy and sociopathy.
- Sociopath Vs. Psychopath: There is a Difference - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com
Learn the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths.
- 9-Year-Old Psychopath: Dr. Alan Ravitz On How To Diagnose Children As Psychopaths
This weekend, The New York Times Magazine's powerful cover story, "Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?," explored the experience of a Florida family whose son, Michael, was found to be "two standard deviations outside the normal range for callous
- Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hercz
- How to Spot a Psychopath: Look For Speech Patterns, Scientists Say | Fox News
Psychopaths are known to be wily and manipulative, but even so, they unconsciously betray themselves, according to scientists who have looked for patterns in convicted murderers' speech as they described their crimes.
Sociopath Response #1
Your father is rushed to the hospital after suffering severe chest pains. You found him collapsed on the bathroom floor, and immediately dialed 911. It took minutes for the ambulance and paramedics to arrive, but it truly felt like a lifetime. The scene is utter chaos, and you ride with your father in the ambulance to the hospital and nothing but his survival can penetrate your thought process. The paramedics are working feverishly to stabilize him, and the situation seems very dire. Once you arrive at the hospital and he is safely in the hands of the very capable emergency room doctors, you begin to call and inform family members of what has transpired. Your sociopathic sister is the first to arrive at the hospital. She dramatically barges into the hospital, sobbing and carrying on. The first question she barks at you is “Why didn’t you call me first!?”
This scenario is a very typical sociopathic/narcissistic response. In fact, in this true scenario, she never did ask how her father was doing, or even if they knew what was wrong yet. It was more important for her to try inappropriately stealing this moment that belonged only to her father and make it about her. The best response is to not respond at all.
Sociopath Response #2
You are in the middle of a divorce with your sociopathic wife. You are trying to spare your two young children from as much of the drama as possible. Your wife is already totally enmeshed in her “other” life, which includes a lot of hard partying and a new man who is a drug dealer. She is constantly baiting the children, offering them gifts to agree to live with her. Not just any gifts—expensive laptops, televisions, gaming systems—as long as they tell the judge they want to live with her. You are aware of the situation, but have vowed to protect your children from the sordid details as much as possible. While you’re trying to figure out a way to deal with the situation, the kids come to you and tell you that their mother explained to them that she has a friend named Tom (the drug dealer) and that he has a lot of money and will buy them whatever they want. Her exact words to them are “Wouldn’t you rather live with me and have all Tom’s things than live with your dad?” How in the world do you react?
Again, you can see that the scenario is not at all about the children’s best interests. In all actuality, it was about her getting child support out of the deal. She never wanted the kids to live with her, nor did she have any intentions of that happening. She didn’t see them again for four years shortly after that situation occurred, even though she fought for another year in a half for custody and child support. The legal system sometimes seems very structured to support sociopaths, especially when they are women. It is unfathomable to most that a mother would not naturally have the ability to nurture and care for her children. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to stand by your morals. Keep your children out of it and protect them by responding with something very inconsequential. Do not try to confront the sociopath. They will feed off your emotion like a vampire on a jugular vein.
Sociopath Response #3
When asked in a deposition during your divorce, your husband reveals that he has been unfaithful with several individuals. He has no problem naming names and telling the stories. You are very surprised to find that one of the individuals used to be your children's babysitter. You are absolutely crushed and go to her to try to find out how she could have done this to you. She was like your own daughter. When she tells you the story, you are shocked and horrified to learn that your husband had raped her when she was a mere 11 years old, and the abuse continued until she was a young teen. This tears your family apart. Why would he even admit to this?
Sociopath Response #4
You write your ex-spouse an email indicating that you are having severe issues with your 17 year old daughter and that you have her in counseling because among other very problematic behaviors she is exhibiting, she has begun to tell extravagant lies that are very damaging to the entire family. The therapist has explained that he would like to have the other parent attend some therapy sessions with the child. In addition, you explain to the other parent that the therapist has explained to you that the behaviors your child is exhibiting are abnormal and that he would like to test her for several disorders, but initially feels that she has a textbook case of Borderline Personality Disorder with Antisocial behaviors. You are very concerned about your daughter’s well-being, so if means dealing with the ex, you’re up for it. The only response the other parent has to your email is “What lies has she told about me?” Unbelievable but true. At no point did this woman even consider that her daughter’s mental well-being should be the main concern. The father explained the situation to the therapist and it was determined he shouldn’t try to include the mother in the therapy sessions.
It's All About Me!
As you can see in all of the above situations, the sociopath’s concern was first and foremost about them. There are as many situations as there are responses, but they all come back to being very simplistic and extremely selfish. They simply cannot put themselves in a place of showing empathy for the plight of another person, even if it is their child. This isn’t to say they cannot act empathetic and caring, but sometimes it is very difficult for them to exclude themselves from being the center of attention, no matter the situation.
Hubs About Sociopaths
- Narcissistic & Sociopathic Ideology Within Bloodline...
Have you ever been close to someone you thought was as good as gold for years and years only to eventually have had the mask of sanity unveiled itself to find out that they were actually the most crafty, manipulative, devious, deceitful and...
- In Love With a Sociopath?
Sociopaths can ruin your life. Review this list of traits and analyze your new friend's personality and history before you become too involved.
- 10 Reasons to Dump a Boyfriend - He's Probably a Soc...
He’s charming, good looking and intelligent. You’re the center of his life. And even if he’s sometimes rude or dishonest with friends and family, he lies to you and manipulates you, you still love him.
- Con artists – sociopaths troubled with Narcissisti...
A swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim; A person who defrauds or swindles others after first gaining their trust; A person adept at lying, cajolery, or glib self-serving talk. According to the Free Dictionary the synonyms for...
- Symptoms of a Sociopath
Do you know someone who you suspect to be a sociopath? Or do you wonder if you yourself may be a sociopath? Review the common symptoms below and put your speculation to rest!
- Am I A Sociopath? Are You? Take The Quiz!
Sociopaths are quite common and we deal with them everyday. They are not easy to spot because they look just like me or you. What is a sociopath?
- Falling In Love with A Sociopath – and Getting Out...
The following two questions were asked to online community here: 1) Are sociopaths born with sociopathic behavior or are created? 2) How should a man recognize that he has fallen in love with a lady who is a sociopath? How does he...
- How to Deal with Sociopathic Women
Sociopathic women are nothing to be afraid of. So long as you understand some basic principles about how they operate, you should be able to get along with them without harm or trouble- you might even be glad to know them!
Websites About Sociopathology
- Lovefraud.com > Psychopath or sociopath?
What's the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? There isn't any. Both terms describe the same character disorder.
- Sociopath World
- Antisocial personality disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- How to Detect a Sociopath: Step-by-Step Instructions - wikiHow
How to Detect a Sociopath. Strong willed individualistic people can often display sociopathic behavior. In the United States, there is a high number of sociopaths as opposed to cultures where individualism in not as important. A...
- Profile of the Sociopath
Fiona from South Africa on July 31, 2016:
My one sister-in-law is definitely a sociopath - everything is always about her and she never acts like a normal person would. It was interesting to read through the examples - she certainly has no inkling of concern for her children.
Tonja Petrella (author) from Michigan on June 19, 2012:
Thank you Jennifer and Dancing Water. Your comment about celebrity culture is so right. I never thought about it that way.
Dancing Water on June 19, 2012:
Very thoughtful, interesting examination of human behavior.
Jennifer Massey from Spain and England on June 17, 2012:
Have you ever read the book 'How to Win Friends and Influence People'? There is a passage in the book that has always stuck with me. The author tells of visiting a child/rapist murderer in prison. The murderer tells the author, "It wasn't my fault, it was the way she looked at me!". Extreme I know, but that is how some people are, they find it just too painful to face up to their deeds.
With the 'Celebrity Culture' filling our newspapers and TV shows, it's no wonder some are drawn into thinking they too are 'exceptionally special'.
Thank you for prompting thoughts.
Tonja Petrella (author) from Michigan on June 17, 2012:
Cityalice--you are spot on. This type of behavior shouldn't be tolerated and they are like children in many ways. Very egocentric behavior. ashish04joshi--I would agree that 99% of people should be taken care of and helped, but unfortunately, sociopaths are so destructive with their behaviors, there isn't much help. They have only learned to manipulate for their gain and do not have the capability to love in the sense that there is an emotional involvement.
Ashish Joshi from India on June 17, 2012:
But shouldn't such people be taken care of and made to realise their behaviour in stead of ignoring them?
cityalice on June 16, 2012:
Too many times, people enablee this type of behavior, which should not be tolerated. Its as if these people never grew up, and close friends or family were afraid to offend them.
Tonja Petrella (author) from Michigan on June 16, 2012:
Thank you all. I really wish I could say that I didn't know anyone like this either, but unfortunately, Sociopaths represent a great part of our society. Knowing what you are up against is half the battle. I would hate to go up against someone like this in court. I'm so honest, I would lose before I even got there!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 16, 2012:
Great article and the scenarios really help bring home the whole concept. I wish I could say I don't know anyone like this! Voted up and shared.
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on June 15, 2012:
Your series on Sociopath's is captivating, informative and intriguing. Unfortunately, I have known a few of them. My simple explanation after being around them: "They are a pain in the a--. They are always right which means there is never room for anything else. Your damned if you do, damned if you don't. My sis and I use to explain to people how to deal with them: If you want something, say the opposite because that's what they'll give you. One day they say black is the best color but another day will say white is the best color. They are chameleon's and don't have a true stand. Whatever is best at the time is what they will say is the best. If my sis wanted something, she would act like she didn't because then she would get it. I know, it gets complicated. Again-living with one is extremely frustrating and drains all life energy. GREAT article with great examples that bring this profile to life.
Mikal Smith from Vancouver, B.C. on March 03, 2012:
I had a friend in highschool who was a sociopath. Though she wasn't diagnosed until after our friendship had already ended. She came from an abusive home and I always just assumed she was hurt. I had a few experiences similar to these, though on a much smaller scale. This is a great hub. Can't wait to read the rest in the series.
lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on February 15, 2012:
As in the rest of this series, well written and good food for thought. It seems there are so many self-centered people in our world I wonder if we haven't become a culture of narcissistic sociopaths -- or at least that's how it appears.
Isabella Mukanda from Fort Myers on February 11, 2012:
I have not read your other series but I enjoyed reading this one even if at first I kept wondering if it was only women who had sociopathic tendencies because the examples were mostly drawn from them. But, I know they are not the only ones. While I appreciate the lessons, my views are similar to those of Lisa, we have to be careful how we view people with the little knowledge we are receiving. Even if you said this is not to be taken as a diagnostic tool, the temptation to run with this knowledge and use it could easily destroy relations if we are not careful to pay more attention and be a little patient with others. Thanks for writing.
pmccray on February 11, 2012:
I totally agree with Angela Blair there seems to be an unusual amount of this behavior demonstrated as of late, such as the Josh Powell incident. He'd rather take his children to the grave with him than to have the world know of his dastardly deeds. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It can be the key to prevent sharing your life with someone with this type of mental problem.
Anyone who thinks these are isolated incidents, needs to think again. Inappropriate behavior is the nucleus of many a problem relationship.
Voted up, marked useful, and interesting
Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 11, 2012:
V.T. -- these folks are out there in abundance. In today's society of "me, me, me" it's often hard to distinguish between plain spoiled, self-centeredness and a true sociopath. Bottom line -- both are difficult to be around on a long-term basis and I've accordingly ended some associations rather than deal with it. Good, head's up Hub. Best/Sis
Tonja Petrella (author) from Michigan on February 10, 2012:
Lisa--you are absolutely correct. The article is based on true, diagnosed sociopathic responses in certain situations. It is not meant to be an article to diagnose a sociopath. You are also correct that sociopathic tendencies do run on a spectrum. I will update the article to reflect your concerns. The article actually wasn't complete yet anyway, but I'll unpublish it for a bit until it is.
Lisa HW from Massachusetts on February 10, 2012:
I think people need to be careful not to draw the conclusion that someone is a sociopath based only on something like isolated examples of an unusual reaction to something. The examples of reactions given could, no doubt, be examples of how a sociopath would react; however, the person who views each of those examples objectively might also see any number of other causes of such a reaction that don't necessarily mean a person is a sociopath.
On the most common "odd" reactions that can happen is often children's father's response to their wive's telling them the child has a cold or the flu: A lot of wives will tell you that they can't believe that their husband's response is always, "I suppose now I'm going to get it."
There are self-centered people, and people who are emotionally immature or else not very skilled at managing their emotions very well; and under the circumstances that make them feel threatened emotionally they may have a reaction that will seem very peculiar to someone else who doesn't understand all the emotions, thoughts, and insecurities that may have gone into a peculiar reaction.
For example, with Response 3: Maybe the guy is afraid that babysitter has already told on him, and that if he lies it would amount to perjury (for which he would then suffer the consequences).
My main point is that people who read here should be very careful not to "diagnose" others based only on someone else's response to one, or even a few, things/situations. A lot of people who do and say baffling things aren't sociopaths - they're just either immature, self-center, selfish (but not to the point where they're sociopaths), or unskilled in dealing with threatening/stressful situations very well.
In his book, "High Risk - Children Without Conscience" Kenneth McGid (and his co-author - sorry, her name slips my mind right now) point out that having sociopathic tendencies can run on a spectrum, from the worst sociopath criminals all the way to the other end, where someone like Mother Theresa would be (as an indicator of a high level of altruism). Around the center would be the average-level-of-altruism people, but you can see how some lower-than-average, but not severe sociopaths, could be close to the middle but not too far down toward the "genuine sociopath" end.
JamesPoppell on February 10, 2012:
Wow - the same exact scenario happened to me in Sociopath Response #1. I was kind of unnerved when I read it. This is another awesome installment in your Sociopath series. Vote up. Interesting and useful. Thanks for sharing.