In her fascinating book, The Sociopath Next Door, psychologist Martha Stout estimates that 4% of the population is comprised of sociopaths. That may not sound like a lot of people to you, but if you live in a town or city of 10,000 people, then roughly 400 of them are sociopaths. Sooner or later you are bound to run into a sociopath. They are awful people to deal with.
A sociopath has no conscience. It can be hard to accept the fact that their are people in the world like that, because the vast majority of us have a moral compass.
Here are ten sure-fire signs or clues that sociopaths will display, plus the surest way to tell that someone is a sociopath. And my own critical observation about sociopaths that you might recognize as well.
10 Sure Signs of a Sociopath
1. Sociopaths lie constantly
Almost everyone in life lies once in a while. Sociopaths lie constantly. To them, lying is just like eating, sleeping and breathing. It’s something they do everyday. A person who constantly and consistently lies to you is very likely a sociopath.
Think of the phrase, “I could always tell when so-and-so was lying because his lips were moving.” If that fits someone you know, he or she is likely a sociopath.
2. Sociopaths are overly charming
Some people in life are genuinely nice. Sociopaths are not nice people but they try to manipulate by appearing nice. If someone is sticky-bun sweet when you first meet them, and then quickly asks favors from you, or tries to get you to do something they want, that person is likely a sociopath.
Over time, sociopaths always display what they are. Once you realize someone is a sociopath, you’ll get sick to your stomach listening to them try to charm people with their sweet talk (and lies).
3. Sociopaths do not treat pets well
From an early age, most sociopaths display some type of cruelty to animals. They carry on this trait into adulthood. Sociopaths will often be investigated by the ASPCA, if not the police, for animal cruelty and neglect.
4. Sociopaths are lousy neighbors
If you move to a new neighborhood and ask a bunch of different neighbors if anyone is a troublemaker, and they all point out one person, that person is likely a sociopath.
If you ask one neighbor if anyone else in the neighborhood is trouble, and that person points out nearly everyone else in the neighborhood, that is the sociopath.
5. Sociopaths think the rules do not apply to them
If the phrase, “He doesn’t think the rules apply to him”, is true of someone you know, that person is probably a sociopath. Most sociopaths disregard rules like the plague.
6. Sociopaths are always in some kind of trouble
If the police are constantly at someone’s home, that person is likely a sociopath. The local police know better than anyone who the sociopaths are in their town. Why? Because they have to frequently go to sociopaths homes.
Whether it’s for continually walking their dog without a leash, playing loud disruptive music all the time, or for hitting their wife and kids, sociopaths cannot stay out of trouble.
7. Sociopaths are avoided like the plague
Sociopaths have no conscience and will always alienate virtually everyone who has to deal with them for any length of time, including family members.
The only people who tolerate sociopaths for long periods are the people the sociopath is able to manipulate into doing so. Like the wife of a sociopath who stays with her husband because he controls the money, even though the sociopath openly cheats on her at every opportunity.
8. Sociopaths almost always have affairs
It is almost impossible for a sociopath to stay monogamous. They are incapable of love, and have no conscience. So they act on many impulses, including sexual ones.
9. Sociopaths do things others cannot believe
Most parents try to protect their children from pain at all costs. A sociopath will go out of the way to try and inflict pain and harm on their own children. To a sociopath, their children are just pawns in their continuing game of trying to manipulate people, and in their own minds, win victories over other people.
10. Sociopaths accuse others of their own misdeeds
Most sociopaths are clever, but not particularly smart. They will often use their own misdeeds as accusations against others. A divorce lawyer I know told me she can always tell when she’s dealing with a sociopath because the sociopath will accuse his or her spouse of exactly the misdeeds the sociopath has done.
Sociopaths seek pity and sympathy to manipulate
Dr. Stout says the surest way to know if someone is a sociopath is the pity play.
A perfect example is a parent who has done unthinkable things to his children, completely alienating them, but still continually tries to make the children feel sorry for him by telling them he is lonely.
He is not lonely, he is a sociopath and incapable of feeling lonely, but he knows saying he is lonely will make his children feel sorry for him. Once he has their pity, he can manipulate them some more.
My Own Observation of Sociopaths
Having had to deal with a few sociopaths in life, I’ve learned one sure thing about them. They are just evil people. If you ever hear someone with authority, like a judge, call someone evil, you can be almost certain that person is a sociopath.
For more see Why Casey Anthony Was Acquitted
Mark Haines Cause of Death Released
Sources: my own experiences dealing with sociopaths, and Dr. Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door.