"Sociopath" is a term many of us have heard on numerous occasions, but not everyone knows what it means. Some people use it interchangeably with "psychopath," but they are different. They both fall under the umbrella of anti-social personality disorders, and are characterized by lacking an ability to feel empathy and an inability to take responsibility for their own actions, with a tendency towards violence. However, psychopaths are known for meticulous planning, while sociopaths are more impulsive and emotional.
In addition, sociopathy exists on a spectrum. A sociopath can exist on one extreme as an extremely violent murderer, or on a lesser extreme a non-violent yet manipulative liar. One study suggests that 3.8% of Americans may meet the definition of a sociopath.
Snapjackal wrote that their older brother qualifies as a sociopath. "He could be the most charming, friendly, affable and intelligent in the person you could meet....until you stopped being of any use to him. The moment he wasn't able to manipulate you, take advantage of, or use you, he'd cut you out of his life and move on. If you were lucky. If you weren't lucky, he'd become incredibly abusive verbally, physically, and he play with your emotions to see what you would do."
Snapjackal continued, saying "He also killed strays, cats and dogs, because he could. He cackled with laughter when he told me how he once brained a small dog that'd obviously (ran from) someone's house or yard (had a color, number on the tag, etc.)."
Snapjackal then said that he "draws a military pension, has full custody of 3 of my nieces, and I know for a fact he beats them when they don't do as he demands." Snapjackal added that, "Child services were called; they've done absolutely nothing other than visit his residence once a month for 'check ups.'"
It must be hard when everyone can spot a sociopath except for the people with the authority to do something about it.
"She was very charming and people loved her, but she also abused me heavily," the user said. "She would lie to people about me so no one would ever believe me if I told them about the abuse. When I started hearing voices as a child I begged her for help and she would just make fun of me till I cried, it gave her great joy."
Like the previous person's example, this anonymous user's mother also committed acts of animal abuse. "She also slowly poisoned my cat over two weeks for a car accident the cops said was not my fault," the user said. "Woke me up every morning for those two weeks saying, 'I think today is the day Theodora is going to die.'"
"I went away to meet my dad when I was 16 and get away from her. It was just more of the same. 90 percent sure both of my parents are sociopaths and I will never know what it is like to have family, so as an adult I am creating fundraising companies that will help children who grew up like I did, so my big dumb life means something."
While this person is trying to make the best of things, it's not a life path that you would wish on anybody.
WeGetSignal said their therapist is fairly certain their father is a sociopath. "He's a pathological, compulsive liar," they said. "He simply cannot stop himself from lying, and he believes almost all of his own lies. He thinks he will get away with it because he strongly believes himself to be smarter than everyone else."
WeGetSignal also mentioned their father's womanizing ways.
"He has children with multiple women, almost all of whom he has simply walked away from or abandoned. I found out a few years ago that I have a half-brother I've never met, and was contacted by someone on Facebook in the Dominican Republic who is also his daughter."
And then there's the matter of a certain fake degree...
WeGetSignal said their father has a medical degree...but it was not earned. "He cheated his way through medical school in the Dominican Republic. I'm not sure if he paid someone to do much of the work for him, faked his degree entirely, paid money, or exactly how it went down, but the man calls himself a doctor. I assure you, he is not a skilled medical professional, and I would not allow him to practice medicine on me."
Kind of makes you afraid to see your own doctor, because you never know.
Another Reddit user pointed the sociopath finger at himself. FalconOne said, "I have only 'emotions' that concern myself, and anything toward my benefit. But I am very skilled at acting emotions. I care not for other's, other's problems, other's struggles, but I can pretend I do."
FalconOne continued, saying they basically learned how to fake things for the sake of self-preservation:
"I grew up and matured, being an a**hole is costly of energy, and can have very negative effects toward my well being, which is all I care for. So, I pretend to be a nice guy, I pretend to be a kind person, because it has a better effect on my life, but I really don't give a shit, I tried evaluate things to determine how emotion happens for someone elses life, but I draw blanks and cannot bring forth an emotion. emulating emotion is easy, but inside, I have little."
FalconOne also said he's gotten to the point where he can have significant people in his life.
"I can pretend far enough to have personal relationships with people, and once I get to know people they become part of my inner circle and part of my life, then as they become part of my life my emotions include them. My GF for example...I want her to be happy, It makes me feel good to see her smile. But these things a BF will do for their GF is still just me doing things in my benefit. I feel good because I've created a situation where she likes me, she feels good, and enjoys my company, therefore she makes my life better."
So in this case, while the motives are still selfish, the result is still much more reasonable than people who are on the other extreme of the sociopathy spectrum.