Are you dating a SOCIOPATH? Psychologist reveals the red flags to look out for – including charm, lying and difficulty holding down a job
- Australian psychologist Marny Lishman explains how to recognise a sociopath
- She says a standard trait of a sociopath is that they are charming and gregarious
- Dr Lishman advises while they appear functional, they can act without remorse
- She outlines a list of behaviours that can be common to those with this disorder
PUBLISHED: 00:05 GMT, 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 GMT, 21 November 2018
Many people use the word ‘sociopath’ flippantly to describe people they dislike, but few understand what the term really means.
In actual fact, most ‘sociopaths’ have a form of antisocial personality disorder (APD) and as a result have zero disregard for what is right and wrong and rarely care about the feelings of others.
Research has found that one in every 25 people has the traits of a sociopath so it’s entirely possible that you could be dating one and have no idea – especially as they are often charming and highly charismatic.
Australian psychologist Dr Marny Lishman recently spoke to FEMAIL about the tell-tale signs of a sociopath and what you should know if you’re dating someone with APD.
According Harvard psychologist Martha Stout sociopaths aren’t all that uncommon with one in every 25 having this type of personality disorder (stock image)
Anti-social personality descriptions:
* Exploits others
* Uses charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
* Intense egocentrism, sense of superiority and exhibitionism
* Repeatedly violating the rights of others by the use of intimidation dishonesty and misrepresentation
* Lack of empathy for others
Source: Psychology Today via Mayo Clinic
Charm and gregariousness are their top traits
According to Dr Lishman, a sociopath is a person who may be diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder and is someone who can harm others unconsciously – often with no remorse.
‘They do appear functional and are often charming and successful, but deep down they are unconsciously driven by shame and guilt,’ she said.
Incessant flattery and compliments tend to be among their arsenal of skills and they will often know just what to say in order to get a person to like them.
They have little regard for your feelings
A sociopath may be quite charming at the beginning of a relationship and those that have high empathy are often attracted to them, Dr Lishman explained.
However, when they don’t get what they want, they will unconsciously manipulate and behave in ways that are cruel.
‘They lack morals and are uncaring and ruthless when it comes to getting what they want. This can be very confusing for those on the receiving end.’
Australian psychologist Dr Marny Lishman (pictured) explains some of the traits you may observe in a sociopath
Sociopaths are skilled liars
Manipulation and control tend to loom large as character traits of a sociopath.
While this can take the form of blatant, outrageous lies, on a lesser scale this may appear as a tendency to be untruthful or insincere.
‘They can lie as a way to protect themselves,’ Dr Lishman said, ‘as well as pick on the faults of others and become defensive of themselves if someone calls them out on something.’
They can find it difficult to hold down a job
Because sociopaths have antisocial elements to their personality, this can cause a range of problems in the workplace.
‘They may often be quite ruthless with staff, show a blatant disregard for team members, lack empathy as well as be hard to connect with,’ Dr LIshman advised.
‘Sociopaths can also show up as a person striving for individualistic gain, they may blame others when things don’t go right, push boundaries or break the rules.’
What can you do if you or someone you know has APD?
It is difficult to treat this disorder because people with ASPD rarely seek treatment, as they do not think that there is anything wrong with the way they behave. When treatment is given, it is usually when individuals have entered the Corrective Services System and are forced to participate in treatment.
No medication is known to be helpful in the treatment of this disorder. However, some medication might be useful in order to manage some of the symptoms.
Talk therapy could be helpful for people with ASPD. It may include anger and violence management, substance abuse treatment and treatment for other mental health conditions.
Source: Way Ahead
Is there a difference in behaviour between the sexes?
Dr Lishman said while some of the underlying traits are the same in the sexes, they express themselves differently.
‘Females may be able to express more emotions (although not feel it), and come across as nurturing or attentive or flirty, but are more manipulative.
‘They also may have trouble regulating their emotions, similar to those with borderline personality disorder.
‘Males tend to be more physically aggressive, overtly manipulative and seemingly unemotional.’
Manipulation and control tend to loom large as character traits of a sociopath (stock image)
Common character traits of a sociopath:
* Charming at the beginning
* Successful and intelligent
* Hard to connect with
* Low empathy
* Don’t like negative feedback
* Lack Morals / break rules
* Lack of remorse and doesn’t learn lessons from consequences
* Manipulative (gas lighting behaviour)
* Ruthlessness and bullying
* Self serving and denies responsibility
Can a sociopath destroy you?
Dating someone who displays anti-social behaviour can be problematic for a number of reasons, the psychologist revealed.
‘If they don’t get what they want, and their ego isn’t being fed, they can inflict a considerable amount of damage.’
Depending on the level of the sociopath (there are those who are low or high-functioning) the damage can range from sexual promiscuity, physical, emotional or financial damange to longer-term plans that allow the aggrieved person to exact revenge.
‘Sociopaths do have a mental health disorder and need help too. But they rarely do get it as they feel that they don’t need it,’ Dr Lishman said.
‘It’s a very sad situation. If people do feel they have these signs, seeing a psychologist would help greatly.’
If you are concerned that someone you know is showing signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder, it is important to seek help from a skilled mental health professional.
Where can you get help?
Talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:
SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 18 7263
beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help
Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online
Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467
Source: Health Direct