Rational but Ruthless Predator
Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
The Sociopath, also known as a Psychopath or as one having an anti-social personality disorder is a ruthless, callous, remorseless predator. Though they have a personality disorder they are not insane, meaning they are completely aware of what they are doing and what the consequences of their actions will be. Decisions are made rationally, not out of delusion.
Sociopaths lack what’s called the affective part of empathy meaning that they are aware of how the other person is feeling or what they are thinking but simply do not care. People are just objects to use for their own gratification; the easiest targets are those who are weak and vulnerable.
Most often male, sociopaths begin showing seriously problematic behavior when they’re children. Unlike those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, sociopaths are just as likely to come from supportive, loving homes as abusive ones. The disorder seems to be more neurologically related. Some research points to dysfunctional neural circuits.
Many similarities do exist between the anti-social personality disordered and narcissistic personality disordered:
Both are often very likeable, charming people; quick witted, intellectual, and excellent conversationalists.
Both are chameleon-like, convincing actors who can instantly alter their personalities to manipulate whatever situation they are in.
Both lie as easily as they tell the truth.
Both are adept at weaving incredulous stories to make themselves look good, and convincing rational people to buy into them.
Both convincingly mimic caring relationships and friendships.
Both objectify and view people as possessions.
Both feel entitled and justified to live by their own rules.
Both are easily provoked, reacting to criticism, frustration, and failure with outbursts of sudden violence, threats, and verbal abuse.
At an early age sociopaths may bully, be violent, persistently lie, set fires, vandalize, steal, take drugs, be sexually inappropriate, or be trouble makers in school. Because they ignore authority and make their own rules they tend to get in trouble from a very young age. A huge red flag with these children is cruelty—cruelty to animals and cruelty to other children, including their siblings.
Sociopaths lack remorse and guilt, lack normal physiological responses to fear, and are immune to anxiety. With a keen ability to rationalize away their behavior by assigning blame to others, they rarely feel embarrassed over their personal failures. And if they aren't conjuring up on-the-spot excuses for their behavior they are denying it. No matter the atrocity of their actions they will refuse to acknowledge their problematic behavior.
Lacking in impulse control, sociopaths are motivated by an insatiable need for immediate satisfaction, pleasure, or relief. Very little time is spent deliberating or weighing and there is no consideration taken for the possible consequences of their actions.
Sociopaths are brilliant con artists who lack normal physiological responses to fear. Acts of cheating, stealing, defrauding, and manipulating are executed without a second thought. With a total disregard for the truth and their uncanny ability to lie without generating anxiety, many are able to pass lie detector tests.
The world looks black and white to sociopaths; there are those who take and those who give, those who are prey and those who are predators. Not only do they feel justified in exploiting whomever they can, they believe it would be foolish not to.
Masters at convincing others that they can be trusted, they have learned from their mistakes, and won’t repeat their bad behaviors, they often get away with their crimes--even with the criminal justice system. But they are twice as likely to re-offend as other criminals, and three times as likely to commit acts of violence after they have been convicted.
Many sociopaths are thrill junkies who get bored easily. They cannot tolerate routines, repetitiveness, or monotony. And because they get bored easily, they may commit crimes for purposes that make no sense; in ways that do not even seem to benefit them. That is what differentiates the sociopath and an ordinary criminal. The ordinary criminal is looking to gain something from his actions. The psychopath is not.
It is estimated that between one and four percent of the population are sociopaths, though the percentage is likely much greater. Very few commit the cold-blooded horrific acts we tend to associate with them. They do, however, represent approximately fifty percent of all serial rapists and a large percent of domestic violations.
More often than not, their callousness manifests in other ways. Motivated by the thrill of using, dominating, and emotionally hurting others, their actions are extraordinarily devastating to victims. Some neglect their families and children and allow them to suffer cruel consequences. In the case of sociopath Bernie Madoff, a man who bilked hundreds of well-intended people out of their life savings and bled charitable organizations dry, his cruel actions drove some of his victims to commit suicide.
Science has made very little progress in treating those with empathy disorders such as Sociopathy. Current therapy modalities do not help build empathy in those who lack it.
Sinister people, such as the sociopath, with the propensity to become serial killers and rapists silently walk among us. We must be very discerning who we put our trust in.
Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach. She is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery Second Edition, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.