Identifying a Sociopath

At least in my case, I never set out to identify a sociopath. For me, it was usually just a naïve accident, being somewhere to either see or hear something, or innocently ask about something I saw or heard.

I’ve stepped in it twice … with almost ten years in-between.  Frankly, I didn’t step in it the second time, I fell into it.

Don’t believe anyone who says that it’s easy to identify a sociopath. If that were true, it would be equally easy, if not easier, to misidentify a sociopath.

Example: you know someone you suspect is a sociopath because you’ve witnessed (not hearsay) the person displaying sociopathic traits. Suspecting is easy. Identifying likely means you’ve become a victim. Other than that, if you suspect, how do you prove?

If you become suspicious of someone as being a sociopath, you’ve got a couple choices, but with either one, you must be careful and stay observant. How do you become suspicious in the first place? The red flag. Something hits you as just not right. And it matters not how long you’ve known that person, as it could be someone you’ve known all your life.

I know that, for sure. I had just turned 50 when I discovered and confirmed that my oldest sister, Kathy, is a sociopath. Since then, she has done so much damage to my character that it could never be undone. 

Keeping observant does not mean being paranoid, it means being smart. Do not talk about it with anyone, as in no one at all — especially someone who’s known them for years. The longer someone is friends with a sociopath, the more they’ll defend them, and likely mention the discussion to their sociopath friend.

And just that quickly, you became a huge threat to the sociopath, because you have the ability to expose them … something they cannot risk. They will not wait to be in a position to defend themselves … they will go on the offensive immediately and you’ll be the target.

The sociopath knows they would be an instant outcast, and depending on their level, possibly even incarcerated. It has been estimated that half of all prison inmates are sociopaths. That does not mean that half of all sociopaths are behind bars. Which for me, simply begs the question: are we incarcerating bad people, or sick people?

These two options are virtually opposite, and are meant to suggest how to avoid certain risks:

1) You carefully avoid that person, especially in an office environment. Do your very best not to show any discomfort being around them, or that you treat them differently than anyone else. But do not allow that person to get close to you. Keep your distance, but watch your back. Keep an eye out for any other flags.

2) You work undercover, being as discrete as the best of investigators, and definitely not telling even one other person what you suspect or are doing — that means absolutely no one. Not your spouse, or even your dog (someone could overhear you).

At that level of commitment, you could either prove or disprove that the person you suspected is a sociopath. Could as in it’s possible, but definitely not easy, guaranteed, nor safe. So, let’s say you prove to yourself, without a shadow of a doubt, that the long-time friend you’ve been investigating is, indeed, a sociopath.

Now what?  I would suggest looking for a new job out-of-state.

If you stick around, there’s a good possibility that you will slip-up … in a month, maybe a year … and without knowing it, you just became a target, who will eventually become the victim of callous, malicious and undermining assaults — at a level you could never imagine, and one you are completely unprepared to deal with.

Why? Because that sociopath now knows you have the knowledge to expose them for who they really are. And that is the biggest fear of a sociopath — exposure.

By the time you discover your victim status, and attempt to recover from it, it will likely be too late. At that point, I would suggest looking for a new job out-of-state.

Even though my professional career has always been in the creative field, I believe I was born a natural analyst (using that ‘other’ hemisphere). Anything that comes into my data center (i.e., brain) is instantaneously scanned for bad, conflicting, or simply questionable data — all performed unconsciously.

If a flag of any size appears, or that data raises a question I cannot immediately resolve, that incoming information is not filed away until I can take the time to make sense of it.

In some cases, that has proven to be a huge curse.


Related Posts:
A family of sociopaths :: Part 1
Protect yourself from any sociopath.
Sociopaths are all the same … right?
What makes a sociopath so dangerous?
Psychopath/Sociopath: Similarities Outweigh Differences
Discovering Your Best Friend is a Sociopath
How do you spot a sociopath?
Identifying a Sociopath
AUDIO: Evidence from Recorded Phone Calls
Do School Administrators Help Young Sociopaths?


15 thoughts on “Identifying a Sociopath

  1. I really appreciate your take on this disorder. And it is very important that you not talk to anyone (save for a counsellor), or talk to someone who has been on your side of the abuse/vendetta/smear campaign/etc.. It took me a while to understand the insidiousness with which this person tried actively to ruin my marriage (well, successfully for a time; but my spouse did eventually come home to work on our marriage).

    But I still am having a hard time convincing my spouse that this person is not his friend, and an even harder time getting my spouse to recognize that, not only were they not friends, but that there was some definite erosion of the soul happening, and distinct changing of the fundamental personality .

    If enough time passes, the people they have targeted think they have *changed*, and they feel bad themselves for not having spent any time with them. They rely on your good conscience to keep you feeling like you owe them something, when really, they feel just the opposite.

    Yep. If your life has been turned upside-down by rumours, projection, and insanity, look at the only person who is seemingly flawless and without fault at all. You either have your instigator, or, in my case, your sociopath.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    I think I’m going to stop trying to explain, even to those who ask, what it’s like getting trapped by a sociopath (one or more).

    My experience has been that people are so oblivious to the possibility of people around them (i.e., sociopaths) who are actually capable of such behavior, maintaining dual personas, etc., that they turn on me, and think I must be nuts. (well, everyone is, but not like that ; )

    And then there are those people, too, who are so buried in denial, that they refuse to look at substantiation that will prove the allegation. Those characters baffle me … they would prefer to listen to lies, over viewing the truth.

    I’ll save them for another lifetime.

  3. I just read these posts and I have seen my life in this text. I also have an older sister who has done everything to alienate me from both my immediate and extended family and my friends simply because I refused to be her “champion” any longer. I moved over 500 miles away. It also took me to 50 years of age to really figure out what she is. There is this hole where my heart used to be.

  4. If what you say is true, and you still have to communicate with this sociopath… on a regular basis…and they already know that you believe that they are a sociopath…and are fully aware that they have done unspeakable things to you…but, you share a child! What do you do then.

    I already moved away and he has limited visitation, but it is unsupervised and long 10 day periods four times a year and twice a week skype visitation. I fear for my sons safety, he is only three and knows too much already because he watch his dad hurt his mommy for over a year. I cant do anything about it, every time I see him you can only imagine the fear that floods me. I keep quiet and distant.

    What can I do now to protect my son?

  5. FM…

    Muffin states the very sad truth. It’s best not to believe it will ever go away, but do not lose hope. I do not need to communicate with my ex much more as my kids are out of high school. It’s my own siblings who are my worst nightmare.

    I don’t believe I ever really read of a sociopath just giving up on victims — it’s an evil enjoyment they find and hold onto. Unfortunately, your pain will stick around. There may be hope for your child, but your child could also inherit the bad gene. I was granted full custody of my son (then 4) and daughter (then 2). I walked away from a successful advertising career to be here for them. I watch both my kids take on their mother’s characteristics in about their middle teens.

    I never said a negative thing about their mom, but she did not play by my same rules. Though they trusted me implicitly and the would ask me about things they mom told them about me — which made me cringe — but I’d calmly say, “Are you sure she said that … that doesn’t sound right … does it to you?” They’d always say “no, we didn’t think so.”

    Their mom and hubby #4 abused my son, and he cut off most communication with them in his early teens. The system continually failed us. Now in his second year of college year, has no dealings with her. On the other hand, I let my guard down when my daughter was 14, and her mom kidnapped her, with the blessing of our judicial system. She made up a list of lies, and because I had all truth but no attorney (I couldn’t afford one) she proved nothing but the judge gave my daughter to her. She bribed my daughter by saying she’d have all the freedom she wanted.

    I have not seen my daughter for her entire high school years — all four. The Superior Court judge who did that, coincidentally, just resigned during this past month in disgrace. I’m sure more and more stories will surface about him. He seems very narcissistic.

    Best of luck to you. There is hope.

  6. Thank you so much for your comments.

    They are reassuring inasmuch as they make me feel that I am not alone. So far, my “sister” has blocked my ability to get employed and I have now been omitted from a family gathering this July 4th. I worked for her for many years and for this reason she is listed as an employer on my resume.

    I would also like to add that you must be very, very careful in dealing with a sociopath. It has literally made me sick. It started as stomach pains while I worked with her and grew into an autoimmune disorder that originated from stress. The problem is that you cannot turn your body off from attacking itself. You can manage it but you cannot turn it off.

    My advice to anyone dealing with a person like this is to RUN IMMEDIATELY as far away as possible!

    Best of luck to you also and again, thank you for your comments.

  7. I have one other question. Do sociopaths know their condition and hide it or do they just believe they are the best?

  8. Having a father for a sociopath is particularly painful.

    A sociopath doesn’t seem to have the normal feelings even for their own dhild.He projected on me, punished me for his bad behavior, said it was me, could convince anyone of the most outrageous lies, just because he said them.

    I believe what is said that you can’t convince others that he is lying about you-even close friends, it doesn’t have to make sense either, they have a way of convincing their victims there is no other side of the story. Distance is the only thing that helps-just a little bit-and watch your back!

  9. Muffin,

    I believe that any “successful” sociopath — that is one who makes the most of his or her sociopathic-borne traits — has accepted they are different, likely even better, than everyone else, but I would doubt they look at it as a disorder. They do know they are on stage, and they are always ready to perform.

    I would not think that many sociopaths consider much beyond that. They think of the bad people as those with the ability to expose their dark secrets. Those of innocence, as we are, represent danger to the sociopath. They will never let up on that risk.

    That’s why I suggest getting small, such as making yourself invisible. The more they are reminded of you, the more damage they will likely do.

  10. Diane,

    I know exactly what you relate in growing-up with a sociopath father. I was the whipping boy. I was the only one who received corporeal punishment, and it could have been for anything. My dad even made me kneel down in front of him to apologize, after he spanked me. I can remember that I believed his satisfaction was to hear me cry, so I wouldn’t.

    I took it like a man, and probably took more than if I had begun crying, since that’s what he wanted to hear. It was more important to me, as a child, not to satisfy his narcissistic expectations, than to be hit a few more times. I did not think of it specifically that way at the time, but that’s what I did.

  11. I have been looking for a web site to expose a known Sociopath who has recently targeted me and four of my friends. I do this not for revenge, but in the hope that his next victims will have something come up on an internet search that will warn them of who he really is!

    His name is Thomas F…*, for the last 18 months he has told thousands of lies to me and my friends and caused much pain and suffering.

    What He Is Not:
    A Navy Seal, a Millionaire, a Jet Pilot, a Resort owner.
    He dose not own an airline and dose not have movie star friends.

    What He Is:
    A Compulsive Liar


    *Editor: I do not disclose anyone’s full identity. Sorry.

  12. He came to the US from Egypt. My sister met him in College, got him his US citizenship, supported him through graduate school and now he great job where he makes over $250K a year.

    He was always “off”, socially unacceptable and elitist by his own definitions. He was extremely difficult to like but he was now family. After the first child, it was almost like he snapped – He had his education (PHD) and now he has his boy so he no longer had any need to be nice to my sister. The boy turned out to be autistic so he convinced her to have a 2nd child, (which she naively thought it might make the situation better)

    After child number 2, the shit hit the fan. I don’t think that any explanation can even do justice to the way he demoralized and utter lay waste to her being.

    She finally filed for divorce . . . And a whole new chapter in hate has begun. She wanted a “no fault” But he’s a sociopath with money and an expensive lawyer. His barrage of motions, insults, accusations and everything else imaginable has left her almost destitute with her own legal bills. She’s suffering health problems as well as nervous breakdowns, heart palpitations and anxiety attacks. All because he has unlimited access to a heartless legal whore that bills hourly.

    Meantime, He’s taken my family’s money (long story). He’s driving my sister to an early grave and he uses his own children as tools.

    We’ve done nothing but help him. We’ve loaned him money when he needed a down payment for a house. I’ve fixed his cars, fixed his house etc. He’s gotten so much from his association with my family. And now that he doesn’t need us. We are all enemies and he’s extending his accusations to my family of “alcoholics and deranged people”.

    I know that he’s sick, but that doesn’t make it right and this shouldn’t even be legal. What’s worse is that his barrage of lies seems to be getting the stamp of approval from the legal system simply because his lawyer seems to be able to make his un-provable lies fly.

    I hate him – I never thought that I would feel this way about a person but I find myself praying that he has a heart attack or falls in front of a bus and dies quickly. I sincerely believe that a world without people like him would be infinitely better. And on a side note, a legal system without “billable hours” would be infinitely more just. A system that shitheads like him can’t bribe – But that’s a pipe dream.

    As you can tell, I’m exasperated and have absolutely no idea how to help her. Because we can’t get away from him. He’s here for at least another 13 years until his kid is 18. And I’m sure he will be exacting his revenge every minute.

    What’s equally sad is that everything he’s doing to everyone else, he’s doing to himself. He’s aged 10 years this year. He looks like shit. I’d say that there’s a good chance that he’ll loose his 6 figure simply because he’s putting his all into hurting everyone else that have “wronged” him.

    He needs to be exposed soon and I have no idea how to do it. He has no problem using his lawyer to do his bidding and suck others into his crazy financial drain. But he cannot be allowed to get his way with this. He’s getting worse and now he’s getting physical.

  13. Berto,

    After reading your words, I feel as if you described pure hell … and with my non-secular opinion, that’s where they’re all from. I know how unjust the court system can be. But then, look at the traits of a psychopath, and think about lawyers and judges. It’s all about power with little conscience. It’s truly frightening.

    The most painful act my ex did to me and my family took place eleven years after our divorce. I made the mistake of leaving the proverbial door cracked open, and her evil rose again, as if right from hell. From that one unjust act, my life will never be the same.

    Your sister needs you and all her loved ones to be there for her now. She’s lucky to have you. My philosophy has always been: never give up hope for the best outcome, but be prepared for anything less. That may not sound like uplifting advice, but it has helped me survive those things I had no control over.

    Your sister needs you more than she’ll probably admit. I wish you both peace.

  14. Fearful mother,

    I’m in the same situation, with my 7 month old son. I don’t know how to keep my son safe, either. He spends each visit literally forcing my son to sit on his lap and gets a big kick out of my baby screaming for me and points out that if I hadn’t had a restraining order against him, the baby wouldn’t think he was a stranger, so the baby wouldn’t be hysterical when his father held him.

    I know he’s warped, but he’s smooth- he almost convinces me that I’m crazy, or that things he did didn’t really happen, or didn’t really happen that bad. And I’m an adult. How’s my BABY gonna know what’s what? 🙁

  15. I believe my partner of nine years to be a sociopath. I was confident when I met and moved in with him, then the snide remarks began about my wearing too much make-up, the wrong clothes, saying the wrong things to people etc.

    He is very charming but has no empathy, when I suffered a head injury recently he initially made it into a joke, then tried to make me believe it was very serious. He has been violent, then says I fell over, that he can’t remember the incident. Recently, he went on a ski holiday when a group of our friends (I don’t ski) and at the eleventh hour told me that a female friend from his running group was going too.

    When I got very upset he said my behaviour was ‘not commensurate with the situation’. During the holiday, I became more and more depressed and eventually emailed and telephoned the woman’s husband. Now he says I have created a terrible situation. He tells me that friends who have supported me over this are doing so only because they know I am out of control. He has said people in our village dislike me. Yet when I say I will leave he breaks down and cries.

    Am I right, is this man a sociopath?

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