We’ve all heard or said, “She’s a psycho!” Or how about this one: “He’s a pathological liar!”. But would you know the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath if the traits were in a list? More importantly, would you know how to spot those signs in a person before finding yourself in physical or emotional danger?
It’s an important element of your personal safety and self-defense education to gain a basic understanding of these two psychological disorders as a safety precaution because these are your predators. These are your domestic violence abusers, rapists, burglars and con-artists. Studies have shown that 61% of inmates convicted of violent crimes were diagnosed with a mental disorder. Knowing how they operate will boost your self-defense preparedness game.
Psychological Characteristics of a Sociopath
There are certain specific personality traits in a person diagnosed as a sociopath. Knowing the signs will give you an inside advantage and help you identify and distance yourself from these people. Sociopathy, or antisocial personality disorder, is a disorder which can be treated, but not cured. Symptoms can reveal themselves in childhood and adolescent stages of a person, but a clinical diagnosis cannot be definitively made until maturity at approximately18 years of age.
- Sociopathy is one mental disorder in the larger class of anti-social disorders. Given the antisocial part of the disorder, sociopaths typically don’t conform to societal norms. Their views and principles would be considered on the “fringe” of what is acceptable in society. However, they don’t always show this skewed thinking to the outside world.
- Sociopaths are charmers. People exhibiting sociopathic traits are like chameleons; changing the way they engage with different people, in order to get what they want.
- Sociopaths are extremists. They often speak in grand terms and all or nothing scenarios. Their story or drama is always bigger and better. Over the top.
- Sociopaths are masters of deceit and manipulation. Emotional vampires, the priority of a sociopath in a relationship is to fill their needs, no matter what the cost.
- Sociopaths are impulsive. They want, what they want. And they want it now. They tend to make high risk choices and rarely think of the consequences
- Given their impulsivity, sociopaths are also usually irresponsible with work, money, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (aka “high risk choices”).
- Sociopaths often exhibit aggressive tendencies. This may take the form of physical outbursts or cutting you to the bone with their sharp tongue and words. Domestic violence patterns are frequently seen in the histories of sociopath patients.
- Sociopaths have a lack of empathy. They either lack or suppress the emotions of remorse, sympathy or empathy. There is a blatant disregard for others’ feelings, but there is also a blatant disregard for the consequences of their actions to themselves as well. Studies have shown there is simply a disconnect between the brain and the ability to feel remorse.
Psychological Characteristics of a Psychopath
One of the major defining differences between a sociopath and a psychopath is that a psychopath is born with this psychological disorder. They can show symptoms as early as the age of three. As children, we learn right from wrong. However, medical studies have shown that this information is not processed in the same manner in a child’s brain with psychopathic tendencies. They lack emotion, and even more so, they lack empathy.
- Psychopaths tend to pre-meditate their crimes where sociopaths act more impulsively.
- Psychopaths can’t be flipped. When identifying a true psychopath, first know that this person was born with a dangerous mental disorder. Unlike a sociopath, this person’s behavior was not created by a bad childhood, or learned in adolescence, or even established throughout their life.
- Psychopaths lack emotion. Psychopaths can almost be described as a different breed of human because they literally lack emotion. Their mental state cannot be treated or cured, they cannot learn emotion or how to correctly interact with people, they are just simply psychopathic. However, many have “trained” themselves to deliver emotional reactions when societal norms dictate such a response. It’s simply learned manipulation.
- Psychopaths have a very low tolerance for frustration and discharge of aggression, including violence.
- Psychopaths exhibit extreme egocentricity. In other words, they are narcissists to the next level.
- Psychopaths are pathological liars.They will tell lies without even realizing they are doing so. In fact, they often begin to believe their own stories.
Below is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist which is used by medical professionals to determine if someone falls on the psychopathy spectrum.
To score the test, participants read a series of statements that describe certain traits and rate them accordingly.
0 = does not apply, 1 = applies somewhat, 2 = definitely applies.
The highest score anyone can achieve is 40. In the US, if someone rates over 30 in the test, they are considered to be psychopathic, but in the UK, it is only over 25.
Here are the 20 traits on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist
- Do you sense you are someone extremely important?
- Would you say you need constant stimulation?
- Do you find pleasure in manipulating people?
- Would you lie in order to get your own way?
- Do you never say sorry?
- Are you known to be charming and persuasive?
- Would you agree you show little emotion?
- Are you incapable of feeling empathy for others?
- Are you in and out of relationships all the time?
- Do you have a promiscuous sex life?
- Are you impulsive and live for the moment?
- Are you known for behaving irresponsibly?
- Do you fail to accept responsibility for your actions?
- Is it right to get as much as you can from other people?
- Is it hard to control your behavior?
- Did you display early behavior problems?
- Do you lack long-term goals?
- Do you have a history of juvenile delinquency?
- Have you ever had your parole or bail revoked?
- Are you known for committing many different criminal acts?
Psychopaths and sociopaths are very similar. Lack of empathy is the prevailing common factor. If you think you are going to rationalize or reason with a sociopath or psychopath, you are wrong. They don’t think like you do. Understanding this allows you to prepare in advance to better defend yourself against these two types of attackers.
How to Defend Yourself
If you are being attacked, you need to tell huge over-the-top lies because their brains think in grand and hugely dramatic scenarios. For example, tell an attacker that you have AIDS or that your brother is an FBI agent. You need to be wild and aggressive in your self-defense, meeting their violence with greater violence.
If you are taken from the scene of the attack, you need to be extra sly and decisive in your escape. More than likely, this was pre-meditated to a certain point and precautions may have been taken to ensure you don’t escape. You may only get one chance at escape so observe their behavior, patterns during the day, and even weaknesses in their psyche that can be used against them to escape.
If you are in a personal relationship with a sociopath or psychopath you need to understand that these tendencies are not going to change and exit the relationship immediately for your own safety.
Above all, you should be carrying self-defense protection with you at all times. At Defense Divas®, we offer an amazing selection of self-defense options for women, including bulletproof gear, pepper sprays, stun guns and tasers, concealed carry purses and more. Learn more about women’s empowerment, self-defense and female personal safety at Defense Divas®
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