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What is a Sociopath? How to Identify or Profile One

Sociopath is a word used very often in the news. But exactly what is a sociopath?

When you say 'sociopath', most people think of serial killers or murderes. While it's true that many serial killers are considered a sociopath, the other way around doesn't necessary follow -- that many sociopaths are serial killers since many of them can lead quite normal lives.

The trait difference in someone labelled a sociopath is that the individual is lacking empathy -- i.e. being able to identify with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another person. Hence they are able to manipulate and deceive convincingly without the slightest hesitation.

It is very difficult for a sociopath to feel the same affection as others, so often, what they do is mimic the appropriate response for the appropriate time. This not only makes the sociopath seem 'normal' to everyone around them, it turns out to be a good survival mechanism for them.

But just as it's difficult for a sociopath to feel what others feel, it's difficult for other people to feel what a sociopath must feel like. Many people don't want to be that way, but they cannot help it.

Characteristics of a Sociopath

Many studies have found that the brains of a sociopath functions a little differently than normal people. However, here a few traits you can look for, short of a brain scan:

- Superficial charm
- Sense of self with feeling of entitlement
- Pathological lying, often with the skill of a professional actor
- Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
- Lack of empathy for others
- Promiscuous sexual behavior

A sociopath can also be described as a psychopath, or someone with antisocial personality disorder.

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