8 Signs Someone Might Be A Sociopath

The terms sociopath and psychopath are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences.  

Sociopathy, commonly classified as antisocial personality disorder, is characterized by behavior patterns that include manipulation, deceit, aggression, and lack of empathy. Sociopaths tend to engage in risky behavior and violate laws at the expense of themselves or others. These individuals may have a compromised moral compass and are usually perceived as unethical, immoral, and irresponsible (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). 

Despite the media’s glamourization and widely inaccurate portrayal of sociopaths, most of them are not serial killers. They are CEOS, lawyers, business owners, politicians, Wall Street traders, housewives, doctors, or anyone. 

The causes of antisocial personality disorder are not explicitly known. Though hereditability places an individual at risk for developing sociopathy, there are many more factors to its development. 

Here are eight signs that someone you know maybe a sociopath.

  • Lack of Empathy

ASPD is categorized along with other Cluster B personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Thus, a defining trait is a lack of empathy. Typically, they do not feel any remorse or guilt as they have trouble understanding other people’s emotions. As a result, they may emotionally hurt those around them and have difficulty maintaining relationships. 

They can come across as:

  • cold
  • harsh
  • callous
  • unfeeling

With training and therapy, it is possible for some people with ASPD to feel love and empathy (Meffer, Gazzola, den Boer, Bartells, 2013). They usually develop empathy towards a select few, namely their children, parents, or partners.   

  • Manipulative

Despite popular perception, sociopaths are more likely to manipulate others than bashing them in the head. They try to avoid confrontation. They are opportunistic and highly ambitious individuals. As such, they rely on emotional or physical manipulation to get what they want. Some techniques that they might use to manipulation others are gaslighting, lying, flattery, blame, and threats. 

  • Dangerously Charming

Charm is part of the game. Sociopaths use personality to attract others, specifically those who are more vulnerable. They will feign concern or kindness to get people to believe them and establish a sense of trust. That way, it becomes easier to manipulate others. 

  • Ill-Tempered and Impulsive

Though those with ASPD usually resort to manipulation, they are more impulsive and ill-tempered than psychopaths. They are prone to engaging in risky and illegal behavior at the expense of themselves or others. Different factors affect the development of this trait, but being around people who encourage and condone violence makes it more likely for someone with ASPD to be violent. Exposure to domestic abuse and animal cruelty are some early manifestations of violent behavior is a person who has ASPD. 

  • Strange relationships

If a sociopath manages to establish a relationship, it most likely that they will not like to share. Though do not expect them to withhold themselves, specifically in a romantic relationship. Sociopaths see people as a means to an end– be it information, emotional fulfillment, or money. They use people to obtain something and feel threatened when someone tries to “insert” themselves

  • Narcissistic

ASPD can co-occur with other personality disorders, namely narcissism. It is important to note that not all narcissists are sociopaths, but most sociopaths can be narcissists. Sociopaths develop a superiority complex and use to justify the way they treat others. 

Because sociopaths do not feel remorse, do not expect them to apologize. If they do, it is not genuine.  

  • Enjoys other’s suffering

Though individuals with antisocial personality disorder do not show empathy, there are some rare exceptions. Sadistic antisocials use empathy to experience their target’s suffering and to derive pleasure from it. (Turvey, 1995). 



Because of the harsh perception of people with antisocial disorders, people usually are reluctant to enter treatment. When they do, it because of a co-occurring problem such as substance abuse or legal mandate. 

Some of the psychotherapies available are CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or DTC ( democratic therapeutic community). Psychologists Samenow and Yochelson documented their work with offenders in their book “The Criminal Personality”. They noticed that sociopaths engage in cognitive disorders which are reflected in their choices. Through CBT and other therapies, a sociopath can learn how to control these impulses and make less distorted choices. 

Medications that are usually prescribed are atypical antipsychotics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). 

Incarcerations do not serve as a deterrent for someone with an antisocial personality disorder. DTC or democratic therapeutic community seems to yield more positive results when treating inmates with sociopathy as it encourages them to engage positively with others. to Forced hospitalizations are also not recommended as there is a chance that they will not engage in therapy. 

The negative stigma around sociopathy makes if difficult for those struggling with this disorder to get the help they need.

If you suspect that you or someone close to you has an antisocial personality disorder, consider seeing a mental health specialist who may help. 

Let us know in the comment below what you learned or found interesting!


Additionals Sources

“Antisocial Personality Disorder.” Edited by Mentalhealth, Antisocial Personality Disorder | MentalHealth.gov, 22 Aug. 2017, www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/personality-disorders/antisocial-personality-disorder.

Fagan, T. J., & Lira, F. T. (1980). The primary and secondary sociopathic personality: Differences in frequency and severity of antisocial behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89(3), 493–496. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.89.3.493

Fisher, Kristy A. “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 June 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546673/.

Jewell, Tim. “Sociopath Signs and Characteristics in Men, Women, and Children.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 Mar. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/sociopath-signs.

Kaufman, Scott Barry. “The Dark Triad and Impulsivity.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 4 July 2011, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beautiful-minds/201107/the-dark-triad-and-impulsivity.

NHS. Antisocial Personality Disorder. 25 May 2018, www.nhs.uk/conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/.

Porter, David, and Christie Hunter. “Antisocial Personality Disorder DSM-5 301.7 (F60.2).” Theravive Counseling, www.theravive.com/therapedia/antisocial-personality-disorder-dsm–5-301.7-(f60.2).

Robinson, Kara Mayer. “What’s the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?” WebMD, WebMD, 24 Aug. 2014, www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/sociopath-psychopath-difference.

Schoenleber, Michelle, et al. “Parallel Syndromes: Two Dimensions of Narcissism and the Facets of Psychopathic Personality in Criminally Involved Individuals.” Personality Disorders, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3368369/.

Steber, Carolyn. “The 9 Creepiest Manipulation Tactics Sociopaths Often Use.” Bustle, Bustle, 17 July 2018, www.bustle.com/p/the-9-creepiest-manipulation-tactics-sociopaths-often-use-9696031.

Tuvblad, Catherine, and Kevin M Beaver. “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Antisocial Behavior.” Journal of Criminal Justice, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3920596/.

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