According to a therapist, Bill Eddy, sociopaths have one of the most hidden personality disorders. They know how to subtly get under your skin and subtly charm their way into manipulating you.
This is why most people often realize that they’re victims of sociopath manipulations after it’s too late. Because sociopaths are urged to manipulate, they quickly pick victims wherever they go. And this, unknowingly, has made a lot of people their victims.
Hence, the best way to arm yourself against the manipulations of a sociopath is to understand how their mind works. We’ll be looking at interviews/confessions from a diagnosed sociopath and advice from psychologists.
However, note that none of these traits individually signals sociopathy. Studies show that 3.7% of the general population will meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder. But if you spot all of them together in one person, there’s a high chance you’re dealing with a sociopath.
1. The strong urge to manipulate others
For a sociopath, playing with people’s emotions, deceiving, and hurting them is just a game. If you fall for it, it means you lost and they won. It’s as simple as that. They don’t understand the concept of trust, loyalty, or empathy.
We all have this urge to get things from people. In fact, when I was young I wished I had the superpower to read minds and get people to do stuff for me for free. But as we grow up, we start to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us.
As we become more emotionally mature, we learn to sometimes put other people’s needs above ours. And because of this maturation, we tend to hold back from manipulating people. Even when we have the chance to, we would rather tell the person about a weakness they should watch out for, instead of rushing in to exploit it.
But a sociopath doesn’t have this awareness. They have all the urge to manipulate and have zero conscience to control themselves. They feel the urge, and they act on it.
“Because sociopaths lack conscience,” therapist Billy Eddy wrote, “they are willing to hurt others to get what they want.”
2. Lack of empathy
According to psychologists, the defining characteristic of the sociopath is a profound lack of conscience.
Sociopaths can’t relate to the feelings of others. This is the major reason why they can freely hurt you emotionally and physically and think it’s just a game.
When you see someone who gets joy in seeing others hurt, watch out for that person. It takes a dead conscience to rejoice at other people’s sorrow. A sociopath cannot relate to another person’s pain (or happiness).
For instance, they may find a fatal accident where someone was seriously injured amusing. Sometimes they’ll be the ones causing the pain just for the fun. You’ve probably come across people like this. They’ll laugh at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.
3. They are masters at deception
When you’re telling a lie, the major risk you face is your own conscience. The guilt you feel from telling the lie might make you shy away from making eye contact with the person you’re lying to.
This is how a normal human being functions. When you’re cheating on your partner, for instance, you’ll feel guilty at some point, especially when you realize you’re betraying your partner’s love and faithfulness. You just feel sorry for them. And this guilt either makes you stop cheating or pushes you into breaking up with your partner.
But a sociopath doesn’t function like this. As Billy Eddy further explained, a sociopath can even get married to — or date — multiple partners while confidently confessing love and sweet talking to all their partners at the same time. How?
It’s just a game to them, and they’re winning.
4. They can often be too good to be true
This is what a diagnosed sociopath, Dyshae, said he does when he meets people:
“I’ll speak to someone, I won’t really tell them much about me, they’ll tell me about them. And once they tell me about them, I’ll kind of form a personality. I’ll exaggerate certain features about my own personality to match what they are looking for.”
It’s instinctive to want to change or modify some parts of our personality because we want to make a good impression on someone. But a sociopath does this to another degree. Their primary instinct isn’t just to make a good first impression. They want to charm you so they can manipulate you.
Of course, just because someone quickly has a special connection with you doesn’t automatically make them sociopaths. Some people can just be charming. So this alone isn’t a sign that someone is a sociopath.
However, while a normal person tries to make a good first impression by being well-behaved and attentive, a sociopath may want to win you over quickly by showering you with extremely positive words. In essence, they’ll give you that “too good to be true” feeling.
5. Extreme behavior
“Extreme behavior is common for sociopaths, but they quickly cover it up with excuses,” said Bill Eddy. And their excuses are often the same.
For instance, they’re comfortable with getting into relationships with (or marrying) multiple partners until they’re caught. Then they’ll give a flimsy excuse about why there’s nothing wrong with them having multiple partners.
Or, you’ll suddenly catch them smiling (or laughing) uncontrollably at something tragic that happened to someone else.
When you see these extreme, abnormal behaviors play out with someone multiple times, don’t pay attention to their excuses, pay attention to their actions. Sociopaths will often attempt to use their words to take your attention away from their actions.
This article isn’t a diagnosis of sociopathic personality disorder. Rather, these signs are hints for you to stay alert to the possibility that someone might be a sociopath. It’s much easier to not be swayed by their manipulation when you’re already aware of the signs.