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Hiding in Plain Sight: Identifying Psychopaths and Sociopaths

By HERWriter
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Hiding in Plain Sight: How to Identify Psychopaths and Sociopaths ViewApart/Fotolia

They often pride themselves — even in the comments on articles such as these — about how they fly below the radar, how they “pass” as normal, even as charming. They are master manipulators.

A new boyfriend love-bombs you, reads your weaknesses and deepest desires, then constructs a persona which perfectly complements you. A dream come true.

But he’s divorced from true emotion, only able to mimic the expected emotions in any situation. Your boyfriend is a psychopath.

Eventually, the psychopath’s carefully constructed facade starts to crumble, and you notice inconsistencies in his back story, a plague of broken promises, and a stone-cold lack of empathy.

Antisocial Personality Disorders

The terms "psychopath" and "sociopath" are not perfectly interchangeable, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. DSM-5 lists both sociopathy and psychopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD).

Psychopaths and sociopaths share these traits: (3)

- A complete disregard for laws and social mores

- A disregard for the rights of others

- A lack of remorse or guilt

- A tendency towards violent behavior

Think of psychopaths as cold, calculating and manipulative. (1) They are socially dominant, greasing the social wheels to achieve their goals, whether it’s a promotion, your love and admiration, or custody of the children in a divorce. (2)

Sociopaths, on the other hand, don’t try so hard to ingratiate themselves. They don’t care if you like them. (1) They’re more introverted, have difficulty forming attachments and tend to be indifferent to societal norms and expectations.(2)

While sociopaths have a hard time holding down a job, CEOs and lawyers are the professions that attract the most psychopaths.(5)

Psychopaths seem to be born, and sociopaths created. Psychopaths have a physiological defect — the part of their brain responsible for impulse control and emotions is underdeveloped.(3)

This defect, combined with environment, results in this most dangerous of antisocial personality disorders.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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