page by Adrienne Moore
They're charming, manipulative, intelligent, selfish, impulsive, promiscuous, egocentric, and irresponsible...They're Sociopaths!
Sociopaths are generally characterized as people who have problems with their conscience. Psychologists say sociopaths may lack a conscious entirely, have holes in it, or are somehow able to neutralize any sense of conscience or future perspective (www.ncwc.edu).
Sociopathy is a type of antisocial personality (APD) classified within the DSM IV.
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that over 3% of males in our society are sociopaths (Franzoi 2000).
Some of the most notorious sociopaths in history are also some of the most infamous serial killers. Some of the most well-known sociopaths include: Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), and the Hillside Strangler's, Kenny Bianchi and Angleo Buono.
Ted Bundy once said, "I'm the most cold blooded sonofabitch you'll ever meet. I just like to kill. I wanted to kill" (www.crimelibrary.com).
Sociopaths are extremely selfish and egocentric, leaving them only to care about themselves, their needs and desires. A sociopath warps those that he/she comes into contact with into objects that they can potentially use to fulfill a goal or sense of gratification. Their goals are generally sexually in nature (www.wright.edu). They will not stop until they get the pleasure and gratification they desire.
Sociopaths often report that they feel like their abnormal behavior is doing something good for society or nothing terribly bad. Most sociopaths are substance abusers (www.crimelibrary.com).
Sociopaths unsocial characters tend to come from unwed mothers and lacked a stable father figure in their life as a child. In fact, 60% of all sociopaths report losing a parent. Their parents are commonly detached or absent all together, and are often given inconsistent discipline, learning to hate authority and manipulate the softer, weaker parent Most sociopaths are males, however studies report an increasing number of females (www.ncwc.edu).
Deprecating attitudes toward the opposite sex, lack of interest in bonding with a stable inmate, aggressive acting out, excessive boasting and risky behavior products of illegitimacy, broken homes and a lack of any bonding with a male or societal authority are other typical behaviors and characteristics of sociopaths (Franzoi 2000)
Psychologists have classified four different subtypes of sociopaths. They include:
This is the largest type of sociopath of the four subtypes. Common sociopaths have a weak conscious, as they are not ashamed or embarrassed about certain things normal people are.
They are commonly experienced shoplifters and have active sex lives. They are relatively smart, however do not excel in school (www.wright.edu).
They have never developed or experienced love, empathy or affection with another person. They live an isolated life, often times holding inanimate objects and pets as more valuable than human companionship. They are commonly complainers and secretly wish the world would be destroyed (www.wright.edu).
They get a strong, twisted sense of gratification from hurting others. They like to injure, frighten, bully, and manipulate. They have a strong need for power and control, and commonly leave hints about what they are up to. They are usually effective in getting their way and especially vindictive if betrayed or denied (www.wright.edu).
They are extremely anti-social individuals and commonly associate with and are loyal to those groups that are also social outcasts. The few friendships they have are adopted through a "gang-like" type group. They identify with different subcultures that run counter to established or popular authority. They constantly complain about their life, position, status, poor relationships etc., but never accept responsibility for their faults or problems (www.wright.edu).
Psychologists have also researched some of the genetic factors that are apparent in sociopaths. Such factors include:
*Sociopaths tend to have a lower arousal level than that of normal people. This causes impulsiveness and thrill seeking as their need for higher stimulation makes them seek out dangerous situations.
*38% of sociopaths show abnormal brain wave patterns (EEG's).
*A greater fear threshold and are less likely to respond to fear inducing stimuli, such as loud noises.
*Skin temperature and heart rate are lower than normal people.
1.) Franzoi, Stephen. Social Psychology, 2nd edition. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2000.