To my daters...
One in 25 people is a sociopath. So that charming person you're sitting across from at dinner? They may be missing an important part of their brain -- literally. Sociopaths lack a portion of their brain which is responsibly for producing feelings of guilt -- they are physically disabled, and this is not treatable.
This enables them to do harm to others and feel no remorse. It all comes down to capabilities, ambition, and what the sociopath wants out of life -- some sociopaths might steal a friend's $20, or lie about something small, while others are CEOs who steal millions of people's money. One sociopath might delight in quietly bullying others at work, just to watch people become upset. While another sociopath may be violent and kill people or animals without a second thought. Scary.
It's all shades of gray, but the central idea is that sociopaths don't feel remorse. They can kill your dog, or steal your spouse, or lie to your face -- and sleep soundly at night. They might not do it, but they are capable of it. The average person, just isn't emotionally capable of hurting others without feeling intense guilt and remorse.
In North America, an estimated 2 million sociopaths, 4 percent of the population, are roaming the streets.
Most sociopaths know that they are "different" and they try their best to fit into society, all the while knowing they don't really "care" about things that others seem to. This fact doesn't bother them, except for the fact that people keep screaming at them, and blaming them for things all the time -- which is of course just sooo annoying! "You killed my dog, you broke my heart, you stole my wallet, you cancelled our important plans, you laughed as I cried," blah blah blah...it's just a headache for the sociopath to deal with.
To make their life easier, they pretend to be a "normal person." They might pretend to show guilt, or placate others to avoid conflict. But they really, truly, just don't give a damn.
The trouble with this, of course, is that "normal" people may not spot the sociopath. They're often quite charming initially (and whenever they need to be charming), and the "normal" person often projects their caring qualities onto the sociopath. Sociopaths often seek out very caring people, so they will appear to have those traits as well (the same way people who lack intelligence or looks will gravitate towards a partner who does have these qualities). Combine this with a sociopaths ability to lie (often), and if you have a brainy sociopath on your hands, watch out. They can trick you.
So my dating clients can go by one thing only -- your gut instinct. If you find yourself recounting your dates, with a feeling that something just didn't add up -- but never being able to figure out what that thing was -- or scrutinizing your date's facebook profile (unsure what you're even looking for), or asking all of your friends and family their advice on whether you should date them (without having any real "issue" that is bothering you, you may be dating a sociopath.
To help, ask yourself:
1. Do they seem to have morals and a conscious? Have you seen them upset about a mistake they made? Do they remedy mistakes and learn from them? Sociopaths will just scrap the endeavor and quickly move on to something else.
2. If they accidentally hurt you, do they seem truly concerned? Will they do whatever it takes to make it right? Or are they just placating you with a quick "sorry" as they move on to something else?
3. Do they focus on themselves and their interests and give little or no thought to your needs and concerns? For example, if you want Chinese food, and your date wants Mexican, will they automatically assume you're ordering Mexican?
4. Do they fly into a rage if they don't get their way? Do they ignore your wants and needs completely?
5. Do they need something from you? (money, social company, sex, favors, help with their career?) If you stopped giving, would they stay out of love for you? Or hit the road?
6. Are they inconsistent? Do they make plans only to break them? Or make no plans at all? One moment, are they lavishing you with attention and love, and the next bullying you, emotionally starving you, or even causing you to cry and then seeming to enjoy watching you suffer? Are you constantly confused?
7. Do they seem to have no "moral code"? For example, they've never even thought about whether cheating (on a test, or in a relationship) is wrong, or they'll break a rule or law without a second thought? Does nothing "keep them awake at night?" Do they sleep soundly even after having done something really wrong? Is their only concern getting caught?
8. Do they see people as items to be used? And do they expect others to try to use them? (projecting)
9. Do they have no concern for your wants, needs or feeling? If you tell them something upsets you, will they ignore it, pretend to not remember, or just continue to do it?
An interesting article goes into more depth. "The panicked feeling of a guilty conscience never squeezes at your heart or wakes you in the night. Despite your lifestyle, you never feel irresponsible, neglectful or so much as embarrassed, although for the sake of appearances, sometimes you pretend that you do."
"Sociopaths can be very convincing and charming at first, especially at the beginning of relationships. A history of poor relationships, problems with the law, and hexcessive lying are just a few red flags to watch out for at the beginning. A lack of remorse, when noticed in a possible sociopath, is often a warning sign. It is nearly impossible to have a normal relationship with a sociopath, and in some cases, being involved with a sociopath can be dangerous. Their lack of regard for the welfare of others and typical lack of conscience can make sociopaths dangerous.
"Is there something wrong with your guy? Does he lie, cheat, steal, commit fraud, use people then discard them, have fits of rage, seem self-centered or have no conscience? Do you feel like something is wrong with him, but you are not sure what it is? It sometimes seems like his brain just does not work right and he does outrageous things. Beware! You might be dating a sociopath. What are the warning signs? What should you do?"
Pathological lying about all things, big and small, is the first feature of a sociopath. This man will lie about the most ridiculous things, even when he doesn't have to and even when he might not want to: he just does. These lies are bewildering because they seem so ridiculous and unnecessary, and they are frightening because of what they stand for: a personality disorder that cannot be fixed. When your man does this, call it what it is: pathological lying.
Fits of rage, the second symptom, often happen when the sociopath is crossed, challenged or questioned. He can't stand it, and he will take it out on you. He might stomp around and yell, or get violent. Either way, you learn quickly not to question him; in fact, you had better be completely supportive all of the time or he might suddenly turn into a raging person you feel like you don't know. Before this article you did not know who he was, but now you do. A sociopath with fits of rage.
The third feature is a self-centeredness or devotion to self unlike any you have ever seen. This man sees the world from his eyes only, will always makes sure he gets 'his' first, and is constantly plotting against the world who plots against him (in his mind). This feature will allow the sociopath to discard you without a second glance when you no longer suit his needs. He only functions around his needs and wants. He has an overwhelming sense of self that does not allow room for others. This is why you feel so 'stepped on' by the sociopath; you were not only stepped on, you were run over!
The hallmark feature that ties these three broad characteristics together is an amazing lack of guilt, remorse or shame for their actions; a complete lack of conscience, and lack of boundaries that prevents healthy people from doing what the sociopath will do easily and without hesitation over and over again! This feature is astonishing when you see it; you can't quite believe someone is capable of acting the way they do. It overwhelms those involved with the sociopath; it is so hard to comprehend that someone could even do one of these things, much less accomplish the long list of lies and fraud accompanies the sociopath throughout his lifetime."