How sociopaths blend in

Charming, entertaining, witty
Sociopaths look and act like your best friend

If you expect sociopaths to have a crazy or sinister appearance, you’re sadly mistaken. Sociopaths look non-descript, average or attractive—just like anybody else.

Sociopaths come from all walks of life—including well-educated, well-off families. Many sociopaths, therefore, have good social graces. They know how to dress and how to behave in polite society.

This doesn’t stop them from lying, cheating and stealing. On the contrary, it makes their deceptions easier. Sociopaths from middle-class or privileged backgrounds often excel at white collar crime—fraud, phony stock schemes, embezzlement.

Want to see how they do it? Read Love Fraud How marriage to a sociopath fulfilled my spiritual plan.

Why sociopaths are hard to recognize

  1. They’re fluent talkers (liars). Even when caught in a lie, they change their stories without skipping a beat.
  2. They’re totally comfortable in social situations and cool under pressure.
  3. They use family or business connections to make themselves appear legitimate.
  4. They often become, or pretend to be, clergy, lawyers, physicians, teachers, counselors and artists. Most of us generally assume people in these positions are trustworthy.
  5. They’re happy to exaggerate—or fabricate—credentials. Few of us check their references.
  6. They will say absolutely anything—”I love you,” “You can trust me,” “I’ll never do it again.” The words, to them, mean absolutely nothing.

Subcriminal sociopaths

According to Dr. Robert Hare, many sociopaths (he prefers the term psychopaths) behave in a way that is technically not illegal, but violates conventional ethical standards. Dr. Hare calls these cases “subcriminal.”

In his book, Without Conscience, he states:

“They appear to function reasonably well—as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, businesspeople, writers, artists, entertainers and so forth—without breaking the law, or at least without being caught and convicted. These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath; however, their intelligence, family background, social skills and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normalcy and to get what they want with relative impunity.”*

These subcriminal sociopaths rarely go to prison or any other facility.

* © 1993 by Robert D. Hare, PhD. Reprinted by permission of The Guilford Press.

Next: Sociopaths and violence


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