What is Sociopathy?

Disclaimer: My expertise lies in my ability to make sense of what happened to me-  and me only. I was given (or took…) the opportunity to study, from up close, an individual who displayed extreme character disturbances.  This led me to dive head first into the subject of sociopathy, psychopathy and malignant narcissism. What follows is my own personal interpretation of what these personality disorders are.

One will find that sociopathy is officially referred to, in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM, as Anti Social Personality Disorder, a category that seems to have confused matters more than anything as the term refers only to behaviors. Therefore, many individuals who are criminals are labeled ASPD without being sociopaths. The term sociopathy is sometimes also referred to as psychopathy.

Some experts have stated that sociopaths are the product of their environment while psychopaths are simply born already impaired. Others have also said that sociopaths, while sharing many traits with psychopaths, are capable of minimal empathy and lack mental organization. Whatever the case, both will display an array of unsettling characteristics.

In Inhaled, I have labeled my antagonist a sociopath. The sequel to Inhaled will provide the answers to my choice.

The general consensus is that most of the following traits will be present in both profiles, to varying degrees.

-Glibness/superficial charm

-Grandiose sense of self

-Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

-Pathological lying

-Conning/manipulative/deceitful

-Lack of remorse or guilt

-Shallow effect

-Callous/lack of empathy

-Parasitic lifestyle

-Poor behavioral controls/impulsivity

-Early behavior problems

-Lack of realistic, long-term goals

-Irresponsibility

-No accountability

-Adult antisocial behavior

-Narcissism

It is said that their fearlessness is at the heart of their absent conscience. They have no inner dialogue capable of steering them away from the amorality of their choices. They know right from wrong, but do not care and have little to no understanding of the consequences their actions may trigger.

The facts:

  • 4% of the population is considered to be composed of sociopaths/psychopaths: 1/25
  • Brain scans, MRIs and functional MRIs have shown brain abnormalities in most sociopaths/psychopaths studied. The prefrontal cortex, which helps us monitor our behavior, our emotional learning and our decision-making appears to be impaired.
  • The amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for the acquisition of information that reinforces learning and recognizes emotionally important information, appears to be abnormally developed, hence the fearlessness.
  • Extended para-limbic structures appear to be dysfunctional as well, highlighting impaired episodic memory, challenges in the area of self-referential experiences and emotional poverty.
  • Sociopathy/psychopathy is incurable, untreatable although some approaches are being examined. The hope seems to focus on the younger segment of that population.
  • Sociopaths/psychopaths account for 16 % of the prison population. They have 20-25 more chances of ending in prison than the non-psychopath and are four to eight times more likely to relapse.
  • Psychopathy/sociopathy is twice as common as schizophrenia, anorexia, bipolar disorder and paranoia and almost as common as bulimia, panic disorder, obsessive- compulsive disorder and narcissism.

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