A sociopath is a person suffering with an anti social personality disorder that would lead him to totally disregard what is right and wrong.

A sociopath suffers from an antisocial personality disorder, a mental health condition where a person doesn’t care much for what is the right and wrong. Even if they do something wrong, they are not remorseful and have no regrets. Deceitful, impulsive, aggressive and an inability to conform to societal norms are traits that can define a sociopath.

It is seen that severe sociopaths disregard the law as well. Their behaviour can be described as volatile, and in some cases, they may even suffer from substance and alcohol abuse. Sociopaths often have problems coping up at their workplaces. Health Shots got in touch with clinical Psychologist Roshni Sodhi Abbi to understand who is a sociopath, and what is the treatment.

Who is a sociopath?

An individual with an antisocial personality disorder has often been referred to as a sociopath. “The essential feature of antisocial personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood,” explains Abbi.

Aggression is a sign of being a sociopath. Image courtesy: Freepik

What is the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?

There isn’t much difference between a sociopath and a psychopath. Clinically, this pattern of behaviour associated with an antisocial personality disorder, has also been referred to as psychopathy, sociopathy, or dissocial personality disorder. “However, the only minor difference between the usage of these terms can be in relation to the level of adjustment within society. Further, the term psychopathy has often been associated with the context of criminality as well,” says Abbi.

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The brain might be designed differently in both the conditions. Sociopaths experience an increased neuron function in some parts of the brain, and this effects their morality, suggests research, published in Science Direct.

Signs of being a sociopath

Such a pattern of behaviour can be characterized by the following signs:

1. No conformity to rules

Sociopaths showcase a failure to conform the societal norms, especially with respect to lawful behaviours. There could be repeated instances of defying or breaking laws and regulations.

2. No honesty

A sense of deceitfulness is noticed in sociopaths. This is manifested in the form of repeated instances of lying, using aliases, or conning others for their own personal gain or pleasure.

3. Impulsive

Sociopaths have a low threshold of impulsivity, with a difficulty in planning consequences of one’s own actions.

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4. Behavioural issues

Irritability and displays of aggressiveness are common traits of a sociopath. This is often reflected in repeated instances of physical fights or assaults.

5. No compassion

A reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of self or others is a common trait of sociopaths.

6. Won’t take responsibility

Evidence of consistent lack of responsibility, with difficulty in sustaining consistent work behaviour, or honouring financial obligations is seen in all sociopaths.

7. No guilt or remorse

There is a lack of remorse or guilt, with a sense of indifference towards having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another person, often attempting to give rational explanations to justify the same.

A woman eating pills
Certain medications can help with sociopathy. Image courtesy: Freepik

What causes sociopathy?

Factors that increase the risk or susceptibility of an individual to develop an antisocial personality disorder could include psychosocial or environmental factors stemming from their childhood. Brain chemistry as well as genes can matter, however parenting styles play a significant role in causing sociopathy. If a child does not receive proper nurturing as a child, he may grow up feeling the need to protect himself, and end up having no compassion for others as well. “However, there is no specific causal factor which can be singled out to be associated with such a personality disorder,” says Abbi.

According to a study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, head trauma can also cause progressive conditions that may lead to such anti-social behaviour as this may disturb the frontal lobes of the brain.

How is sociopathy diagnosed?

The diagnosis of an antisocial personality disorder is similar to the diagnosis of any other mental illness. It requires meeting a mental health professional, who can use standardized psychological tests along with their clinical judgement.

How to treat sociopathy?

Like for most personality disorder, treatment for an antisocial personality disorder predominantly includes the role of psychotherapy. “These should be aimed at helping the individual identify and modify dysfunctional patterns of cognition and behaviour. In addition, medications can also help manage symptoms and behavioural patterns,” says Abbi.



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