UPDATED FOR 2021. Sociopaths are hiding in all segments of society. They can be male, female, all races, all religions, all ethnic groups, old, young, rich, poor, good-looking, homely. Only one aspect of their appearance may hint at their personality disorder:
The eyes of a sociopath.
If you’ve had any type of involvement with a sociopath, you may have noticed some weirdness about the person’s eyes. You may see this in one or more ways, such as:
Intense eye contact
In my book, Red Flags of Love Fraud one of the 10 warning signs is intense eye contact. To gather information for the book, I conducted the Lovefraud Romantic Partners Survey. Of the 1,352 survey respondents, 59% of them reported that their sociopathic partner engaged in intense eye contact.
Here’s how one woman described the moment she met the sociopath:
It was the most intense eye contact that I have ever experienced. So much so that it was all I could describe years later when I recalled “how we met.” — His eyes burned into my soul even though they were brown, and I didn’t like brown eyes!
Many Lovefraud readers also mention the eyes of a sociopath and how the sociopaths stared at them. Here’s a recent email from a man about his ex-wife:
It has been my experience with a sociopath ex-wife that there are different reasons behind the stare. I saw the angry predator stare but I also saw other stares.
Before I started dating my wife I would catch her staring at me in church and I would think that this woman is interested in me, let’s go talk to her. She had two sons by two different men; one was eight and the other was four.
The first three weeks were great, then for some unknown reason she started expressing her anger at me. At first it was over small things but eventually grew into full time hatred. I would catch her staring at me at different times and wonder what she was doing. Turns out she was studying me very closely.
I learned in church that everything was either good or evil, moral or immoral. But studying psychology, I found a third category: amoral or non-moral. Money is amoral; it is neither good nor evil, but how people use it shows their heart is good or evil. Emotions are also amoral they are neither good nor evil, but how you choose to react to them makes you good or evil.
My father when angry would raise his voice and yell, so I followed his example as an adult and as a father. I saw, however, that not everyone yelled when angry. Some got very quiet, some would leave and come back later when calmed down.
My ex-wife would provoke me to anger with insults or other unkind words. I chose one day to pick a different reaction when angry. I would blow it off or be quiet. My ex-wife picked up on this right away and said in frustration that I was unpredictable when angry: You used to yell, now you just blow it off. I was floored at how quick she pick up on this change in my behavior and how it frustrated her attempts to provoke me to anger. I thought either she has an IQ in the four-digit range, or she has experience in this area before.
The stare was her studying my emotions and my chosen reactions to my emotions. She could read me like a book, and manipulated me to get her desired reaction out of me. I was amazed. I saw that she did this with everyone and could very easy manipulate others to her will.
This is what I sometimes saw with my ex-husband. When he wasn’t actively engaged in manipulating me or someone else, his eyes seemed to indicate that there was nobody home inside.
In two Lovefraud surveys, I asked respondents if they agreed with this statement about their disordered romantic partners: “Sometimes, the individual’s eyes seemed to be lifeless.” In the Romantic Partner Survey, 60% of respondents agreed. In the Female Sociopath Survey, 57% of respondents agreed.
Because sociopaths can be so charming, exciting and magnetic, it can be difficult to spot this characteristic of lifeless eyes. Sometimes the best place to see it is in a photograph.
I’ve had several people tell me that when the sociopath was in a rage, his eyes turned totally black. I’ve only heard this about male sociopaths so far — if anyone has seen this in a female, please let me know.
Here’s a letter from a woman who was married to a male sociopath.
One occurrence to this day puts chills up my spine and tears in my eyes.
The night my husband held me at gunpoint with a loaded hunting rifle, something terrifying happened. My husband’s eyes are bright, light blue. He has beautiful eyes, so bright you notice them from across a room.
But that night, when he attacked me, his eyes were black. Not just black, but so black it goes beyond words. If you’ve ever watched the movie Amityville Horror, there’s a scene when the father has become deeply possessed and he turns on his family.
MY SPOUSE LOOKED 100% IDENTICAL TO THAT MAN!
AFTER THE INCIDENT I BEGAN TO QUESTION MY SANITY. BLUE EYES DON’T TURN BLACK. EYES CHANGE COLOR, BUT NO HUMAN HAS EYES LIKE THAT.
I researched it, and lo and behold there have been numerous cases dealing with narcissists and/or sociopaths where blue eyes were noted to have turned black when they were enraged!
How horrifying is that? It’s as though there is another being inside these people!
I still have nightmares. Never before nor since has he ever demonstrated that behavior. He says he doesn’t remember any of it. (No, I don’t think drugs and I know no alcohol was involved.)
Please warn your readers.
There’s a physiological reason for eyes turning black. Anger activates the sympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the autonomic nervous system from the primitive, cave man part of the brain that creates the “fight or flight” response. It triggers rapid breathing, increased heart rate and blood pressure, more adrenaline in the bloodstream and dilation of the pupils, which are the black parts of the eye.
The dilated pupils make the eyes seem black. They indicate that the person’s brain perceives a threat and is preparing to respond with aggression. You don’t want to be the object of possible aggression.
Pay attention to the eyes of a sociopath
If you experience intense eye contact, or see the predatory stare, lifeless eyes, or frightening black eyes, know that these are the only possible physical signs that you are involved with a sociopath.
You may only see the scary eyes of a sociopath for only a moment, before he or she regains control and starts love bombing or manipulating you. Do not doubt your perception. Do not tell yourself that you are imagining things.
It’s said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. If you see eyes that make you doubt there is a soul inside, pay attention. You may have just seen the truth.
Lovefraud originally published this article on Oct. 27, 2014.