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How sociopaths are diagnosed

Sociopaths are difficult to identify—in part because they all behave differently, and some are worse than others.

There are sociopaths who hold a job, get married, attend church—yet emotionally abuse their families, cheat on their spouses, manipulate their coworkers, steal from their employers, and never get caught. There are sociopaths who never work, torture animals, con their relatives and commit cold-blooded murder—and end up in jail. And there are plenty of sociopaths in between.

The point is that sociopaths exhibit a wide range of behaviors. So it is not just the behavior that defines the sociopath—it is the personality traits as well.

Dr. Robert Hare has identified the key symptoms of sociopathy (he prefers the term “psychopathy”). They are:

    Interpersonal traits:

  • Glib and superficial
  • Egocentric and grandiose
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Lack of empathy
  • Deceitful and manipulative
  • Shallow emotions
    Antisocial lifestyle

  • Impulsive
  • Poor behavior controls
  • Need for excitement
  • Lack of responsibility
  • Early behavior problems
  • Adult antisocial behavior

For more detail, see the key symptoms page on Lovefraud.com.

Sociopathy is a “syndrome.” That means for someone to be a sociopath, he or she must have almost all of these traits, not just a few. However, sociopaths can exhibit the traits to different degrees.

In order to diagnose a sociopath, Dr. Hare developed the Hare Psychopathy Check List—Revised (PCL-R). This is not a multiple-choice test that the subject completes himself. It is an evaluation completed by a trained professional, such as a psychologist.

The psychologist interviews the subject and reviews his or her past behavior. The psychologist gives the subject a score on each of 20 characteristics—basically the traits listed above. The scores for each characteristic are then added together for a total.

Scores on the PCL-R range from zero to 40, with 40 being the worst. The general population usually scores about five or six. People who score above 30 are considered to be sociopaths.

This leaves a lot of room for variations in behavior. Not all sociopaths are violent. Not all sociopaths take money from their wives and girlfriends. Not all sociopaths abuse drugs or alcohol. But many do.

The core of this disorder is that sociopaths have no conscience, no emotional connection to other people and no remorse. If you see those traits, start looking for the others as well.


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38 Comments on "How sociopaths are diagnosed"

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I tend to have a soapbox about that, too. It disturbs me that people bash same sex marriages or same sex couples raising children, yet it’s more acceptable for straight people to beat their wives and abuse their kids. I just don’t get it. Okay, rant over.

I am in CO with a my good friend (K). She know’s very little about my experience with (M). She asked if I would open a bottle of wine. Now get this, the wine is called (EVIL) spelled backwards and upside down. Very good wine. I make a toast to all my lovefraud friend’s regardless of your opinion of me. Too all of us that have been turned upside down and backward’s by evil, here is too life!!!!

Great wine Henry! At least the NAME IS GREAT!!! LOL

Yep, EVIL, backwards and upside down! But, at least my dear bro. you know you are well loved here! If I hadn’t called off our “engagement,” Kat would have pulled my hair out! LOL

OXY I remember when I proposed too you. I thought I was healed, I thought I had all this madness figured out and behind me. Wrong. I think that was when I finally figured out I was not crazy, I was not to blame. But the reality of what had happened set in. The enormity of the deceit, the realization of every thing I suspected, the fact that I ignored my intuition, I ignored red flag’s, I ignored me. And reading so many similar stories here on lovefraud. This was not just being rejected by a lover. This was not just a good relationship gone bad. The fact’s. The trait’s. The truth. It all hit me like a ton of bricks. I was victimized by someone who set out to do that from the first hello. It made me feel sick, it made me feel weak. I never in my life wanted to accept that someone could or would do that. But I was raised by a sociopath/narcissist, I was trained not to ask why. So begin’s the avoided truth’s – it’s time to deal with Henry. I guess I will never have all the answer’s. Too me there are no answer’s to EVIL – I just have to accept that evil is everywhere and stop avoiding it. I can’t avoid it. i have to face it, I have to get in evil’s face and tell it NO – your not going to victimize me – not ever again…

Henry,
Yay for CO residents! I live in CO too.

Even though I am feeling much much better and detached from my P (it was only a 2-1/2 month relationship), I am really changed from it because I know now that there is evil in the world. I always thought that what people called “evil” was just fear. I believed in the good in everyone. I have done a 180 on that. I feel like I see things very differently now. Even movies about good vs evil have taken on a different meaning. It’s as though I’ve taken off my rose colored glasses for the first time. My life will never be the same because of it.

I was at the pool today and met one of my neighbors. Coincidentally, she began telling me the story of her abusive ex and how she’s trying to fight him for custody of the kids. I asked her if he is a sociopath, and she lit up from recognition. She said nobody believes her, not even her family. I told her about this site, and I hope she signs up.

Henry,
I just flashed on the title of a movie that I never saw…”Sleeping with the Enemy”. That’s what I feel like happened to me.

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather here this weekend. What a great time to be in CO.

My ex, the P, told me when her first met me that he was planning to move to Oklahoma when he got his medical discharge from the army. I hope for the same of your fellow Oklahomans that that was one of his lies!

Oxy.. picking a fight with a psycho that points guns at people.. rofl!

LOL.. yes if Henry ever goes straight I’ll fight ya for him.. put up your dukes! 😉

You know peeps, the thing that really bothers me about this last guy that hurt me so much.. I used to be a lot like him.

Wow this is hard to write, but like some of you have said, this site is such a safe place.

I was brought up by an abusive mom and even more abusive step-father. My “job” in the family became sticking up for my little brothers and taking it on the chin “literally” to protect them. I also took a lot of the heat for my mom, because I was a very feisty little kid.

Later my mom remarried a very nice man, but I was pretty damaged by this time, and the experience left me lonely, needing validation, and nearly unable to say no to any adult.

At this time, my new dad’s best friend came into my life. He was the first real S in my life, and he filled my head with all kinds of strange notions, and molested me for years. I tolerated this because I craved attention and the love of a man.

By the time I grew up and married, I knew there was something wrong inside me. My marriage (to a classic S/P) was draining and left me cold and empty, and for some reason I don’t really understand, I turned to cheating and to picking up one man after another, “wooing” them, then dumping them, which is the very same behavior that my ex-bf does. I also lied to my husband a LOT, even though before that (and since) I have been a ruthlessly honest person.

Well I felt horrible about all this, and I dug until I discovered the causes, and rooted out the behavior. But it’s kind of hard for me to judge my ex-bf, since I once acted just like him. I was also a very giving and caring person, which he is as well, in every other way. I talk to him like a friend now, demanding truth, and giving it. Still feel kind of like it’s throwing silver down a well, and I’m sure I’ll give it up real soon, but like I said, it’s kind of hard for me to judge him too harshly.

Last year, as well as breaking my heart and lying to me, he lent me over 600 bucks and his van for months to help me get back and forth to school, he even rearranged his schedule sometimes to make sure I didn’t miss any classes. It’s hard for me to think he doesn’t care. He always used to carry my groceries, help with the laundry, try to do my dishes, it’s so confusing.. is it possible there is a man under there? I know there was a real woman under my behavior. sighs

Kat,

I know that I, and probably some of the rest of victims too, have done things as a result of our pain that we are NOT PROUD OF and are OUT OF CHARACTER for us.

Forgiving ourselves for these things can be difficult. But at the same time, I think it is NECESSARY to forgive ourselves.

To “not judge” someone else’s bad behavior because we have also “been bad” is one of those things we have to look at closely.

To me, the definition of “judging” someone is to think I can “read their minds” but the Bible tells us to LOOK AT THE FRUIT OF A TREE to determine if the tree is good or bad.

All people in the world, every last one of us (adults) are “sinners”–by that I mean we have thought and done things that are NOT NICE to one degree or another. But if we accept responsibility for those actions and “repent” (are really sorry for what we have done and change our ways) then we do not need to “tolerate” that behavior in someone else just because we once-upon-a-time did the same thing.

People CAN change their behaivor IF THEY WANT TO, the P though is inconsistent with his behavior and he never “changes” it he just changes his TACTICS.

Because you, in your pain from your childhood traumas engaged in some destructive behaviors does not mean that you should continue to feel “guilty” about these things and give any “slack” to the Ps, or think that they can “change”—the “nice things” they do for you (and you mentioned several) all have STRINGS attached. Even today if I went to my mother and asked to borrow money she would most likely lend it to me, or even give it to me, but I know the STRINGS and believe me, I would live in a tent and eat out of a dumpster before I would pick up “gifts with strings”—remember the old saying “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts?” (no insult to people of Greek heritage intended) but it is because when some people “do nice things” for you, it is because there is a HOOK IN THE BAIT. BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY, THAT IS ALWAYS THE CASE WITH THE Ps. (((hugs))))

PS Kat–

I don’t “Pick fights” but I don’t always back down from them either. There are just some things that are NEVER OKAY and pointing a gun at someone–even an unloaded antique or reproduction of one is NOT EVER OKAY. It isn’t a JOKE. I didn’t take it as a joke. When I went off on him verbally and later called the cops his “apology” was–“Well, it wasn’t loaded, and I didn’t intend to shoot you, and I only pointed it at your butt anyway” My response was, “if you ever point one at me again, loaded or unloaded, the one I point back WILL BE LOADED and I will pull the trigger.” That was NOT a bluff.

In my life I have only pointed guns at three people and each time I was in peril, and I was prepared to pull the trigger if I had to. Once my sons and I were camping in Wyoming when some drunk oil rig workers came out into the wilderness area we were in and discovered us, I fully believe if I had not had my pisotol I would have been raped and/or murdered. Another time my GF and I were broken down on a major freeway one night and a drunk guy kept someing around the exits and stopping and on the 2nd or third trip, he tried to pull my GF into the car with him, ditto for the gun, and the third time I pointed it, I was working in a “stop and rob” all night convenience store on a major highway and a guy tried to rob the place. He had been in earlier that night and “acted strange” and “I trumped his ace” (“Never take a knife to a gunfight”) I probably wouldn’t have pulled it if he’s had a gun instead of a knife, unless I was pretty sure he was going to kill me anyway even if I gave him the money.

I’m not some “gun toting Ma Barker” by any means, but I grew up knowing how to shoot, and like the old joke says, “Don’t pick a fight with an old man, he probably will just kill you instead of fight.” LOL Well, if you substitute “old woman” for Old man, you get my drift.

BTW, if Henry goes straight, we’ll DUEL for him, how about SKILLETS AT 100 PACES? LOL

Dear Henry,

I “ain’t” no Annie Oakley, by any means, but I am a good shot, and I WILL DEFEND myself. I don’t start fights, but if push comes to shove, I will do my best to END one, with me still breathing. LOL

Dear Kat, Oh, darn, Henry’s blown us both off, and I was looking forward to the “skillets at 100 paces” DUEL (I think that should have been safe for us both! LOL) The longest I have every been able to fling one is about 25 feet, they have the glide ration of a brick! (or less) I did do one at a living history event once, and a fire wood chunk, and another time I won the Blue Ribbon for the “worst singer in camp” prize! I also won the “liar’s contest” (telling the funniest biggest tall tale whopper) three years in a row. LOL

Well, here come the hurricaine Gus rains and winds, we are supposed to get between 6 and 10 inches this week total for the week, and rain every day til next monday I think. Oh, well, give me time to clean house–my FAVORITE THING—NOT!!

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