What is sociopathy?
Sociopathy is another term for antisocial personality disorder. “It’s a mental health condition where somebody persistently has difficulty engaging appropriately with social norms,” says Dr. Coulter.
What are the traits of sociopathy?
The list of common traits you might see in someone who has antisocial personality disorder, says Dr. Coulter, include:
- Not understanding the difference between right and wrong.
- Not respecting the feelings and emotions of others.
- Constant lying or deception.
- Being callous.
- Difficulty recognizing emotion.
- Violating the rights of others through dishonest actions.
- Difficulty appreciating the negative aspects of their behavior.
What causes sociopathy?
Sociopathy can be both a learned condition and one you’re born with, says Dr. Coulter.
“These behaviors aren’t episodic in nature. They’re a chronic condition, part of a chronic way in which a person interacts with the world,” he says. “In a lot of cases, it’s something you’re born with, this personality structure or way of engaging with those around you.”
But, he adds, there are cases in which sociopathy is seen as adaptive behavior. “Someone may have grown up in a difficult environment,” he notes, “or you may see some of these traits in someone who has a chemical dependency.
Can I tell if I have sociopathy?
It’s possible to hurt someone close to you without realizing it and once you understand it, it can be alarming. And, in some cases, you might begin to worry that you have sociopathy.
According to Dr. Coulter, the answer is probably no. “Most people with an antisocial personality disorder don’t really seek help or treatment or even recognize what they’re doing is problematic,” he points out.
“It really can be an egocentric illness because you do things without the regard for others and it benefits you this way,” he adds. “More often, people find out that they have this diagnosis when someone else tells them.”
What treatments are available for sociopathy?
There are no medications specifically for antisocial personality disorders, says Dr. Coulter. “When we use medication with these individuals, we’re treating aggression, hostility or a co-occurring condition like depression or alcohol use,” he says.
Psychotherapy is often recommended but that can be difficult. “For psychotherapy to be beneficial, the patient has to recognize the issue and want change,” he notes. “Unfortunately, with a condition like this, it doesn’t always pan out.”