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What is a Sociopath? Signs & How to deal with ASPD

Sociopath

What Is a Sociopath?

The word “sociopath” is used more casually now to describe someone with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), however it is out of date. If you suffer from this illness, you may find it difficult to empathise with others and their experiences. You may be prone to taking advantage of others and may not feel any shame for your wrongdoings.

Although the specific origins of ASPD remain unknown, researchers have shown that both genetics and environmental factors have a role. If you were born into a family with ASPD or went through a traumatic event as a child, your risk of developing the illness increases. Additional risk factors include being male, having a history of behavioural issues in childhood, or having grown up in a chaotic household. The illness goes undiagnosed for a long time since many individuals are ignorant about it.

Many people have negative preconceptions and assumptions about sociopaths and their cousins, psychopaths. The stereotypical portrayal of sociopaths in popular media is one of cold-heartedness and cruelty. Consequently, the general public has a false impression that all persons with ASPD are criminals. As a result of these misconceptions, ASPD sufferers and their families face additional barriers while trying to get treatment.

Avoid referring to someone as a sociopath or psychopath if you want to keep the disorder’s stigma at bay. If you want to avoid seeming like a sociopath in informal conversation, try pointing out when someone is being truthful or breaking the law. To refer to the medical condition, use the phrase “person with ASPD”, and by making these little adjustments, the stigma may be reduced that is associated with the disease, making it easier for individuals to seek a diagnosis and treatment.

High-functioning sociopath

People who exhibit moderate ASPD symptoms or are adept at concealing them are referred to by this antiquated, non-clinical term. This allows them to thrive in regular life, whether that’s at work or in the classroom. Some may have illustrious occupations, like those of successful businesspeople. Even if they’re deceptive, they give off an air of charisma and charm. If they are good at utilising and manipulating others, they could be very successful in their field. Even in their private lives, this may be the case.

Even though high-functioning ASPD is more difficult to diagnose, it is nonetheless dangerous. The individuals in their lives might still be harmed by their dishonesty and falsehoods.

Low-functioning sociopath 

This is another informal word for those who have trouble hiding their ASPD features; it is non-clinical, out of date, and used colloquially. They could be socially awkward and unable to subtly manage or mislead others. To acquire what they want, they may resort to violence or threats instead. On top of dealing with detrimental situations like addiction, individuals could engage in unlawful activities. Another severe mental illness, like bipolar disorder, might have ASPD as one of its symptoms.

Borderline sociopath

There is no such thing as a borderline sociopath. ASPD is often confused with a similar condition called borderline personality disorder (BPD). Both are part of a family of disorders called cluster B personality disorders. These tend to cause emotional, unpredictable, and dramatic behavior. People with BPD have mood swings driven by stress, low self-esteem, and fear of abandonment. It’s common for people with ASPD to also be diagnosed with BPD.

Sociopath vs Psychopath

The words sociopath and psychopath are often used interchangeably because of this confusion. In a clinical sense, they are identical, as is an official diagnosis. They both describe an individual with ASPD. As a subtype of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), psychopathy is characterised by distinct behavioural patterns distinct from sociopathy. Psychopathy is often considered a more severe type of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) compared to sociopathy.

Psychopathy is strongly associated with genes, according to studies. The emotional centres of the brain may not mature to their full potential, according to scientists. Childhood trauma and abuse are the most typical causes of sociopathy, however it may also run in families.

Sociopathy Traits

People have numerous different characteristics that make them unique. A person may not necessarily have ASPD just because they are violent or show signs of selfishness. It is important to keep an eye out for regular patterns of behaviour since many persons with ASPD don’t see these qualities as problematic.

Symptoms of ASPD might include the following:

  • Not caring about other people
  • Acts without planning
  • Using force or threats to exert control over another person
  • Influencing other people by one’s wits, charisma, or natural intelligence
  • Absence of self-correction or punishment-based learning
  • Dishonesty for one’s own benefit
  • Initiating or participating in violent confrontations
  • Typically, partnerships that are superficial
  • On occasion, engaging in theft or other criminal activities
  • Making a suicidal threat in order to exert control without really intending to accomplish it
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Distress about mundane tasks like attending to one’s work or paying one’s debts.

Common things people with ASPD say,

Manipulative behaviour is common among people with ASPD. Some may be more direct with their threats, while others may employ charisma or passive-aggressiveness to mask their true intentions.

A manipulative sound could resemble:

  • It wasn’t my fault.” Manipulators may choose to minimise or lie about their involvement in a disagreement rather than take responsibility. Perhaps this will evoke feelings of empathy in you.
  • That’s not true.” When people with ASPD want something, they will typically lie to acquire it.
  • I’ve never met someone as kind as you.” In order to gain your support and, eventually, your favour, flattery is utilised.
  • At least you don’t have it as bad as me.” This is a common way for people to try to divert your attention away from your emotions and onto themselves.
  • Just kidding!” Some individuals cover their cruel comments with irony.
  • You’re so sensitive.” If someone you care about has ASPD, they may say this to make you feel that your reaction is too negative to anything they said or did.
  • I did it for you.” You, and not the speaker, will be held responsible for this.
  • If you really loved me, you would do this.” In order to obtain what they want, manipulators may appeal to your emotions.
  • If you break up with me, I’ll kill myself.” A manipulator’s toolbox includes threats as a means of coercion.
  • You’re imagining things.” Gaslighting describes this kind of manipulation. It casts doubt on your rationality and self-confidence.

How to Deal With Someone With ASPD

First and foremost, when interacting with someone who suffers from ASPD, you must ensure your own safety. Prioritising your own health is essential, regardless of whether a loved one or acquaintance is suffering from the condition. Getting them to therapy, which may be your primary priority, isn’t always easy. It is quite improbable that someone with ASPD would seek medical attention or even recognise that they have a problem.

Follow these procedures to ensure your safety:

Stay inside your limits:

Always go right to the point while communicating with them. Do not become emotionally involved or divulge any private information to them.

Get some help and advice:

If you need someone to lean on emotionally, reach out to those you trust in your life. For more information on how to cope with the individual with ASPD, it is recommended to talk with a mental health expert, if feasible.

Gain knowledge:

To better comprehend the behaviours, patterns, and causes of ASPD, it is important to get familiar with its symptoms.

Stay out of it:

Things have the potential to get dangerously out of hand very fast. When interacting with someone who has ASPD, it’s important to be calm and neutral. If you let your emotions show, others may be able to manipulate you.

Avoid attempting to alter them:

People who suffer from ASPD often fail to recognise the severity of their condition, and it may be challenging to persuade them otherwise. It might also make them more aggressive, manipulative, and furious.

Being close to someone who suffers from ASPD might make you feel extremely alone. A therapist or support group may be able to assist you. Your loved one’s behaviour is beyond your control, but there are things you can do: gain insight, develop coping mechanisms, establish healthy boundaries, and safeguard yourself.

If you have experienced anxiety and depression as a result, support groups or therapy can help you. Having someone to talk to can make things easier. 

A Note from Known_Psychology

People with ASPD aren’t inherently bad; it’s only that their illness makes it difficult for them to understand and relate to the feelings of others and behave in a socially acceptable manner. Consult a mental health expert if you or a loved one is suffering from ASPD. Treatment options and tactics for dealing with manipulative behaviours might be discussed with them.

FAQs

Can people with ASPD love their children? 

Individuals with ASPD may have difficulty forming relationships with strangers, despite their capacity to love those closest to them.

What upsets someone with ASPD? 

Love and connection are sought after by many individuals with ASPD. But they have a hard time relating to others since they can’t understand or relate to their feelings.

What is someone with ASPD’s weakness? 

People who suffer from ASPD often struggle to rein in their impulsive and risk-taking tendencies. Frustration and even harm might result from this.

References

Cleveland Clinic: “Personality Disorders: Diagnosis and Tests,” “Personality Disorders: Management and Treatment,” “Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).” 

National Domestic Violence Hotline: “Narcissism and Abuse.”

Mayo Clinic: “Antisocial personality disorder,” “Personality disorders.”

Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri: “Psychopathy vs Sociopathy.”

Psychiatric Times: “The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath.”

Simply Psychology: “Examples of Gaslighting Phrases Used to Command and Control,” “How Sociopaths Are Different From Psychopaths,” “Is Gaslighting the Same as Manipulation?”

Jurimetrics: “The Criminal Psychopath: History, Neuroscience, Treatment, and Economics.”

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