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What are the Symptoms of Sociopathy?

A. Pasbjerg
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

People suffering from sociopathy, or antisocial personality disorder, may display a wide range of behaviors associated with the disorder, which generally causes them to have an overall disregard for the needs and rights of others. One of the primary symptoms of sociopathy is chronic lying, which is often used to manipulate others. Sociopaths do not feel guilt or remorse for hurting other people, though they are often superficially charming and likable. They typically see themselves as superior to other people, and have a general disregard for societal norms and rules. They also tend to be impulsive, making irresponsible decisions and engaging in behaviors that hurt other people.

Pathological lying is one of the symptoms of sociopathy that most patients display. Sociopaths are highly manipulative and will do anything to get others to do what they want. This often includes lying, either directly or by pretending to think or feel things they really do not. In most cases, they are extremely convincing and able to fool others into believing them.

A lack of feeling of regret or shame is another of the symptoms of sociopathy. People with the condition often use or hurt other people for their own benefit and have no concern for how this makes them feel. They themselves typically only feel very shallow emotions, and are not really capable of loving others; they are also not usually capable of empathy and in fact show scorn for emotion in others. They are often good at pretending to be pleasant and likable, however, and can typically mask their true nature when interacting with people.

Most people with sociopathy are highly egocentric, with an inflated sense of superiority. They consider themselves to be better than everyone else, which typically means they have little regard for the rules and ethics of society. Their behavior often reflects an overall scorn for societal norms, and an overall sense of entitlement due to their idea that they are superior to others.

Another of the symptoms of sociopathy is impulsivity and irresponsibility. Many sociopaths will make decisions quickly, with little or no regard to the consequences, as long as they get what they want at the time. This can lead them to engage in dangerous or damaging behaviors such as doing drugs, being sexually promiscuous, or physically abusing others. In many cases, sociopaths have a history of juvenile delinquency associated with engaging in these types of reckless behaviors.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By sundayschild — On May 25, 2014

I was involved for nine years with a sociopath before I realized it, and I'm still struggling. If you think you may be with one, trust your gut and learn about it. These are no garden variety jerks. They are skilled actors and extremely convincing. Nothing has been more exhausting or excruciating than this. We have a daughter and I've been forced to depend on him which is an exercise in futility. The entire time I was with this person he was leading a double life, even a triple life. He told me he was getting divorced, and then he told me he was divorced but he was lying. Meanwhile, he had a wife and two other kids, and he lied about me and my daughter to them. Finally, he had another girlfriend, and he lied about her too.

We all live within a couple miles of each other but he did everything to ensure we would never cross paths. He'd do things like say he was going away for week to each of us in turn, and say he was thousands of miles away when in truth, he was simply in another neighborhood. He used all sorts of stories and deceptive behaviors to keep everyone as separated as possible so he could lead a "triple life." He wasn't above anything, including bribing children to back him up or stay silent.

We went to counseling and he lied to the counselor the whole time so convincingly that even she believed him. He was so believable that even when he'd get caught red handed in a lie, he would gaslight me to the point where I'd begin to doubt myself, my intuition, and disregard what was plain as day. When I start to describe him, it's difficult. He has all the characteristics of a sociopath and a narcissist (he's charming, confident, his impulsive nature comes off as endearing--and he's very lovable until you get to know him). However, I still struggle accepting that this has happened to me and my child. It's so hard to know you have lived a lie for so long. He is cruel to animals, he's cruel to anyone he feels is beneath him, he's reckless, he's irresponsible, he's arrogant, opportunistic with delusions of grandeur and he's a pathological liar -- all red flags, but the sad thing is that I still want to believe him.

I deal with him on a regular basis because of our child. He is present when he wants to be, but he couldn't even tell you the name of her teacher at school even though he drops her off regularly; he just doesn't care enough to learn about that sort of thing. These people are dangerous, but the biggest conundrum is that by the time you figure it out, you may be so sunk into a situation with them that "walking away" becomes next to impossible until you can heal and get the help that you need to move forward.

By anon953229 — On May 24, 2014

Have a Daughter in law who has all classic symptoms. unfortunately the 3 year old is constantly in her path. She controls and manipulates our son to reprimand the child while she stands there gloating, smiling, she even gets him to reprimand the animals,, just by whining and he takes care of it. She blames everybody else, has no qualms about telling you what she thinks of you, but she's above everyone, she does no wrong,, demands full attention when she enters the room, no one watches tv or talks but her. She pouts when she doesn't get her way, pitches fits, it goes on and on... The 3 year old walks on eggshells, we all do... She fits all the classic signs,, compulsive lying and plays the victim, gossips and is malicious all the time. Unfortunately she gets along with my sibling,, they REALLY LIKE EACH OTHER,,,, my sibling has always been a sociopath,,, she's ruthless too never apologizes,, it's everyones elses fault, etc... uses and abuses,,, the daughter in law is pushing for another child....,, Just frustrated and discouraged.... they are abusive malicious horrible evil people.

By anon346448 — On Aug 28, 2013

I find it very funny when people find out information and without a second thought, start applying it to people in their lives. The definitions of sociopath vary and most likely you will have met one or two in your life without noticing. I myself am a sociopath and know for a fact no one in my life knows about it. When I say I’m a sociopath, I mean that, and I do not mean I am a psychopath. There is a big difference. After reading some of your replies, I think some of you need to please remember that.

Also, I find it strange how some people can be so judgmental without even fully understanding what it means to a sociopath, since society has made it a very negative word. So here’s a scenario for you all. Let’s use me as an example. If I were to volunteer, for example, and by doing so I helped others, but it ultimately helped me and bettered me, would it discount all those other people who were helped because I ended up in a better position? Anyway, I’ll pop back to the forum as I’ve found it very interesting.

By anon345892 — On Aug 23, 2013

@anon 293881: I do pray for you and everyone who has to deal with this crap. I found that when I left my husband. I actually had to go somewhere the person doesn't know the people and use a phone number that isn't published. Send one text that says goodbye, turn the phone off and change the number. Cell phones are harder for people to trace or do a phone number look up. I wish you the best of luck. You can end it. You just have to observe and wait. The right time will come.

By nasteeboy — On Jul 29, 2013

Wow. That’s all I need to say. I couldn’t believe each sentence I read described about my juvenile life more and more and I wasn’t that bad a person. I’d say I’m selfish and only learned to love myself and family.

It started when I was 11, I’m 25 now and learned way more about life from being locked up. Gangs and violence are as real as it gets, but to be honest, personally, I just have anger and hate towards my enemies and haters who talk all that crap but aren't about it. Or, my most favorite deadbeats who don't pay up when they say they will and beat around the bush trying to play you for a fool.

I've been done dirty a lot and what I just read scares me but also made me laugh. I’m not a bad person at all. I like certain people. It's what politicians say and do that makes it worse. Yup, I'm a real one, though. I know a lot about how this world is messed up as it is. Screw the system, but I just hope nothing happens in the long run and I stay positive as can be and pray to God.

By anon320817 — On Feb 19, 2013

It makes my eyes cross and my head hurt to comprehend exactly what I have been through with this guy. It is unbelievable -- the lies, women... Eight years later and a baby girl and what I thought was our life being built and came to an end. I found out that my whole relationship was a lie.

Thankfully, I've been studying about the sociopath for years and getting counseling. Unfortunately, if you are like me, it was hard to walk away because I was never quite sure that I was truly experiencing what I was, which was everything above plus more.

Be careful in legal issues, as this person has no stops, no guilt to guide them and cares nothing about playing fair. If they are hurt or caught, they will do nothing/everything to ensure they win, even if it means calling children's services to take the children, as in my situation. Run. Practice getting ready to go, then when your head clears up enough to go, get out. It really is happening. Don't doubt your perceptions and don't look back even if you hurt and he is saying he loves you. He's programmed to mimic what true emotions look like and is good at it.

By anon319771 — On Feb 14, 2013

@anon298694: Definitely. You have all the characteristics of a sociopath. It almost sounds like you're joking but that's the way they come off.

I'm taking criminology classes right now and this is what we are going over. You can seek help with learning to actually feel. Sociopaths' minds let them believe that they are almost all knowing. If you seek counseling, you can get help with learning how to actually feel for others and accept people and yourselves for all your mistakes. You do make mistakes. Admitting that is the first thing you should work on.

By anon319465 — On Feb 13, 2013

@anon212374: This is absolutely how it is dealing with a sociopath. I have to believe that anyone here in denial of this is likely a sociopath themselves.

My fiancee moved back into her apartment, but wanted to stay engaged. We were going to counseling to work on communication, and she was going to a sex therapist to try to figure out why she she's allergic to intimacy. We were supposed to be having regular date nights to work on being normal again. She bailed on the first four.

Finally, last Friday night, we were having dinner at her place. The guy whose place she had been staying at for the two weeks before Christmas kept texting her. She kept turning her back so I couldn't see. I told her I thought that it was pretty rude, and that I didn't think much of it and she freaked out and said that she had friends, and sorry if I couldn't handle that. When she went to the bathroom, I checked her texts and it was all there. She'd been leading a total double life with this guy. She had told the people at her work that she and I were done and not even speaking.

When she came back, I “'asked” her (again) if she was sleeping with that guy and this is what I got for an answer:

"You're going to have to deal with the fact that lots of guys probably are into me, but that doesn't mean I'm sleeping with them! You need to get over yourself, and in fact, it's really insulting that you could even suspect that I might be capable of such a thing! This is totally abusive and is the reason that we're struggling. Frankly, it's really sick that you're this messed up, blah, blah blah."

It was an Academy Award winning performance. Scared the crap out of me, and I had to wonder how many times I fell for it over our five-year relationship.

By anon316970 — On Jan 31, 2013

It seems that a lot of the people who commented here still don't know what sociopathy is.

Listen, just because you got burned by an ex doesn't mean that your ex was a sociopath. It probably only means that you got burned by an ex. Just because you are getting beat by your boyfriend doesn't mean that the boyfriend is a sociopath. The only person whose story here would be convincing is the woman with a career criminal spouse and the brother who is a drain on society.

By anon298694 — On Oct 21, 2012

So here's my story. I am 23 years old and had a real good childhood, I had hundreds of friends, but never cared for them. I never felt like I truly loved someone, I thought I did, but that didn't last longer than a few days. I do like helping people, but when I think it's time for them to move on, I leave them. I'm charming, and people say, very intelligent. I know what to say to make people like me. I love manipulating; it gives me a rush. I see every conversation as a mind game that I want to win. I lie a lot, especially for my own uses. I feel I'm better than everybody else and obeying rules is a no go when it does not help me.

Being alone is most comfortable for me. I've never regretted anything. I don't care what someone thinks of me and I really find personal conversations really boring to have, and also to listen to. I feel like I'm living with a mask on when I am not alone. I'm fascinated with serial killers.

The good things about me are I don't like physical abuse, I don't take drugs or steal and I'm friendly to people as long as they are not in my way, I know I fit a lot of the descriptions but tell me: am I a Sociopath?

By amypollick — On Sep 29, 2012

@anon293881: Your ex sounds like a sexual sadist. Please take steps to get away from him. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They have a toll-free number.

Your life is at stake. Please get some help. Good luck.

By anon293881 — On Sep 28, 2012

I am going through the same thing. My ex-boyfriend seems to fit the role of a sociopath to the very end. but my ex is at the point that he told me if you leave me I'll kill you, he is very jealous, and hostile.

One thing I know is that he won't take no for an answer, and he won't let me break up with him. And when he told me that he is always going be in my bed, he meant that he is going to continue to sexually and physically abuse me and that that's never going to change!

He likes throwing me up against the wall and making me put my hands on the wall while he is sexually touching me, and he would go as far as to putting me in a choke hold and lifting me ten feet off the ground until I am damn near passing out I got so unbalanced. I was extremely dizzy, I had a sore throat, and I was trying to catch my breath and my vision weren't good, either, but that wasn't enough for him, so he did it again and he only let me go because my mother's friend walked in to use the bathroom. After that, I was extremely afraid of him and he knows it now. So for all of you who are going through what I'm going through, please be safe, and take care of yourselves. Please pray for me as I will pray for all of you. God bless.

By anon284596 — On Aug 10, 2012

They are very dangerous and cannot be reasoned with. I feel sad that there isn't any kind of fix for them. I have an ex who just came after my boyfriend and me and tried to kill us, and we have not been together for three years! And what happened in Aurora, Colorado apparently is not a good enough example for law enforcement to believe the fear as they treated us, since we were the crazy ones when he came after us!

By BigE — On Jul 22, 2012

I have been involved with a woman for 27 years, married for 21, and just a few weeks ago found out she was a sociopath.

I started dating her when her first kid was eight months old, and I should have known something was wrong then. We went out only on weekends for the first year and a half and only saw each other then. I guess I was the booty call back then. She moved into my mom's apartment about a year and half into the relationship, after her parents moved to Puerto Rico and took her daughter with them. She left to go to Puerto Rico to live about 2 1/2 years into the relationship, and it took a month or so but I convinced her to come back.

We moved out of my mom’s to an apartment and it was O.K. for a few months, but she was always rearranging furniture and painting rooms. She wanted to get her daughter back and I agreed to send her to Puerto Rico to get her. While there, I would call looking for her and her parents would always be hesitant to tell me where she was. I couldn’t call her since it was before cell phones. We moved to another apartment and had a son. A year later, she told me to get dressed, that we were getting married. I had no clue she had all the paperwork done, so we got married in city hall.

When my son was two years old, I let her go to Puerto Rico to see her parents and she disappeared for the weekend. I found out from her sister she went on a cruise with a guy, and when I confronted her on the phone three days later, she denied it. I told her bring back my son and leave at the airport and she cried and begged. I agreed and then a phone bill came in where she was calling him in Puerto Rico, and again she acted confused, saying she didn't know what she wanted. I laid it out: stay here or leave. She chose to stay, but I told her we would not be sleeping together anymore.

A few months later, we were drinking at a party and she took advantage and got pregnant with my daughter. A year or so after having her, she became pregnant again and had an abortion. She went to Puerto Rico to show off my daughter and again went missing for a day. She came back from Puerto Rico with crabs and blamed it on the little girl that put her head in her lap when she was washing her hair because of bugs.

She used to go out with her sisters dancing and my brother-in-law went with them one time and told me to tell her to take it easy. A few months later, I found a hotel parking receipt in the back of my car. She said it was from the overflow parking lot for the club. I went there and the two places were side by side.

She wanted and got breast implants and constantly changed her appearance. She changed jobs frequently and always had an excuse when she left or supposedly got fired. I got sick with cancer in 1985 and have been going downhill ever since. About 2005, she got a job in a hospital and my friend's wife who worked there spotted her going to lunch with some guy. When I confronted her, she quit a few days later saying she hated her boss.

A few years later, while working for AT&T and I was laid up in the hospital, I called home and she wasn’t there. I called her cell phone and she was at a diner with a girl. The next day, after leaving me in the hospital, she went again to the diner with the girl. She threw me out the house a few months later and was being picked up by a guy whom I followed home. I saw a fat kid get out of the car me and my brother looked at each other and said, “No.” A week or two later she came to get me and take me back home. I refused and she said the kids needed me. I went back and cried with my kids and stayed over, she attacked me upstairs and forced herself on me. That’s when I noticed she was completely shaved. When I confronted her, she said that’s what I always wanted but she didn’t know I was coming home with her.

She went to work for another company, where I found out later her name was the “Interglobe slut”. She bounced around to two other jobs before landing a job at Time Warner Cable as an HR rep. I visited her at work in the beginning but towards the end she always had an excuse as to why I couldn’t visit during lunch. In October of 2011 we went to Puerto Rico and that’s where she said she didn’t want to have any more responsibilities and wanted to be single. I questioned her and she kept saying over and over she was tired of taking care of me and the kids.

Over the next couple of months, she began looking for a vacation home which became a home for her “to clear her mind.” She moved into the basement and had a singles pad down there. I kept trying to fix this and she kept getting nasty and confrontational. I would see her texting and she said it was work related.

Finally, I put a voice activated recorder in a brand new SUV that I got her to try to fix our relationship. This is where my mind was blown away. She was talking to her boyfriend like they had been together for years. He was calling her baby, sweetie and constantly telling her he loved her. These are all things she always told me to tell her every day but after 27 years and numerous times I thought (and now know) she had cheated on me, it was hard.

She stole money from the 911 lawsuit I was a part of and paid for the closing on the vacation house. One day she came with a U-haul truck and two guys and took her stuff while also stealing some of my things. She called the cops on my son twice while moving because he was there watching them to make sure they didn’t take everything.

She was in relationship on Facebook a year and a half before moving out, so she basically started a new life two years before moving out. Now that I've checked the bank statements, I've found she stole $60,000. She was purchasing stuff for him and her new house. She hated our two dogs and just yesterday texted my youngest daughter who lives with me a picture of a dog and tells her it her new dog.

She had wanted to leave, now that I look at my life, a year and a half into it, and I kept looking, and getting her back. I should have known, but I didn’t see any of it. Everyone else, including my kids, saw it, but I didn't. There is a lot more but my fingers would fall off trying to type all of it.

By anon252007 — On Mar 03, 2012

I dated someone for two years only to find out our relationship was a total lie. Unbelievable how he fits the diagnosis to a T. Anyone who has had a recent breakup with a sociopath read, read, read about the issue. It's the only way to move on!

By ChanDawn — On Jan 13, 2012

I realize that many professionals may disagree with me, however I am entitled to my opinion which I have spent over a year researching.

I come from a family fraught with neural abnormalities (don’t let the phrase scare you or discredit my voice as I have a 148 IQ). I believe that sociopathy is strongly linked to autism. Not that all autistics are sociopathic, but that all sociopaths are autistic. Look at the evidence.

Autistics commonly suffer malabsorption problems. In some cases, a little glass of milk can be absorbed by the body as an opiate, which is addictive, so if a person were injured and prescribed an opiate for pain, then the predisposition for addiction to the drug would already be present.

Autistics commonly suffer a lack of empathy. Sociopaths have no concerns for the feelings of others.

Autistics have overactive imaginations and thereby suffer perceptual difficulties. Sociopaths are chronic liars.

The list goes on and the similarities are uncanny. The trouble is that there is no cure for either.

If a person reaches adulthood without a diagnosis of Autism, by then they have learned what it takes to fake their way though almost any situation. If the parent (or parents) of an autistic child use their child’s disability as a means of excusing the child’s bad behavior and expect the world to adapt to them rather than the other way around, then what you get is a sociopath: someone who expects that the world owes them and who uses others to get what they want without regard for others’ feelings or the greater good.

My live-in boyfriend is a sociopath. I know his basic life history (as told by family members. I’m not dumb enough to believe him), and I have been with him now for 11 years. Yes, it has been difficult and I see an end coming. However, we have a seven-year-old son together, who is unfortunately, autistic. He has Asperger’s, which is on the high end of the spectrum, but I can tell from their father-son interactions that my son would likely grow up sociopathic as well. I say “would” because I don’t intend to allow the father to be a major influence. I would not take him away from the boy, although I’m sure he would not be hurt.

For now, my son has feelings and I intend to keep it that way. Seriously, think about the link!

By anon234841 — On Dec 14, 2011

I have a brother who just went through his third divorce. I hadn't seen him in quite a few years, so I told him to stay with us and look for work. He is definitely a sociopath. He lies about everything in his life to get his way. He tries to get everyone to feel sorry for him, to get what he wants. He is 49 and is jealous of children getting attention and not him.

He is now taking up with a woman who is a prostitute, and he doesn't even care that she is. He fakes illnesses to get out of work, and can't keep a job. He wants the government to support him the rest of his life, and plays disabled, although he is healed of past injuries. He walks fine now after breaking his hip (it's been nine months since the accident). He walks fine when he's on a date or having fun, but when we mention that he find work, he acts disabled. He doesn't even help around the house.

He takes his "sex for hire" girlfriend (who is not allowed anywhere near our home and I've tried to tell him she's using him) to Vegas, dances and spends money he doesn't have (he has a credit card). We tried to help him, but he does not help us, or try to change, and complains about people of different colors, as being inferior, or causing his problems.

He is 49 years old and just texts women and complains about the government and doesn't work. I have had it for 10 months trying to help him move on and get a job. He is definitely leaving. He manipulates us to get his own way, and if he gets hurt by others (or if he hurts others), he has no feelings for them, just for himself. He only talks about himself and how terrible his life is, and it's a recording every day, over and over.

He labels all women and a certain race as the cause of his problems. He takes pills sometimes and then gets in his car and drives erratically, but tells me (his sister) that I need to save him from himself because he's been too hurt. I have two people in my family with diabetes and they just deal with it. He is healthy. I am in my 50s and I'm old and tired, and he's moving on somewhere else.

By anon225396 — On Oct 26, 2011

"My, my, sociopaths sounds like dangerous people but they are still humans who have feelings."

The sociopath/psychopath does not feel emotions. They have even done brain testing on this. They mimic emotions that others display in order to use them.

That's why most politicians sleep well at night bombing countries or sending millions to gas chambers. It's efficient, no feeling involved.

By anon223721 — On Oct 20, 2011

I unleashed a sociopath upon society. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. And daughter please forgive me, I didn't mean to, I was a depressed mother. I escaped from her to protect myself and wasn't until a few weeks later, just recently, that it hit me what she is, and I looked it up, and she fits it all to a "T". It all makes sense now, but makes me feel terrible.

I had no idea what antisocial personality disorder was, but now unfortunately I do, having felt the effects of her abuse first hand. I will never see my grandchild again.

By anon212374 — On Sep 06, 2011

I have an ex g/f with all the symptoms. Lie, lie, lie and more lies, she can`t even remember what the last lie was about. She cons and manipulates. She was coming to see me while living with another man, and two more men on the side, using them for money gain to gamble, and was very abusive. Everything with her was always one sided, all take and no give. She was a lying whore, and I'm glad I caught her. You can't rehabilitate them and there are no meds to give them.

If you are with one, run away fast and don't look back. They are dangerous. People on here are saying there is nothing wrong with them. They just don't know. They have no clue how dangerous these people are.

By anon195856 — On Jul 12, 2011

This is very true. Beware of the sociopath!

By anon195855 — On Jul 12, 2011

If you don't agree on what a sociopath is, you are most likely a sociopath yourself. For real!

By anon185219 — On Jun 10, 2011

Listen. This stuff you all call crap, is real. I Believe I am a sociopath. Good luck my dears. Goodbye.

By anon182487 — On Jun 02, 2011

My, my, sociopaths sounds like dangerous people but they are still humans who have feelings. What if sociopaths just want a simple thing: to be loved? Yet how can s/he be when people label him/her as dangerous and stay away from the person? With that, it can trigger the person's violence and react, creating wounds for others in his own fun. I think humans shouldn't be careful too much or shouldn't label often because it only ends up hurting others.

By anon178048 — On May 19, 2011

I have a woman stalking me and making things up about me, including false evidence that I am stalking her. I completely agree with this diagnosis. It is ruining my life and there is nothing I can do about it.

By anon164146 — On Mar 30, 2011

I also agree this is not a load of crap! I am researching this because of a client I have on my caseload and everything they are describing here is him to a "T"! This person has always made me uncomfortable and I do believe he is a danger to the people around him! Thank you wiseGEEK. This has been helpful!

By anon155993 — On Feb 25, 2011

I always wondered why I couldn't understand why people take things so seriously.

By anon148863 — On Feb 02, 2011

My soon ex husband displays all the signs of being sociopathic. He has had a history of violent behavior scanning 25 years of his life from the court records I found in Illinois and Missouri. It is not a load of crap. These people are seriously ill and dangerous. There should be a stiffer punishment for a cure with repeat offenders who suffer from this illness.

By anon140580 — On Jan 07, 2011

What a load of crap. According to this article anyone who isn't a butt-kissing toady or mindless drone is a person who suffers from sociopathy.

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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