By | December 4, 2008 570 Comments

The Single Most Powerful Signifier of Sociopathy

What is the single most powerful signifier of sociopathy?

How about, lack of empathy?

I don’t think so.

As an isolated factor, I don’t think lack of empathy best nails the sociopath.

Many millions of people, after all, lack empathy and aren’t sociopaths. Also, exactly what constitutes empathy is a subject of some disagreement. Some LoveFraud members, in fact, question whether sociopaths even lack empathy (some asserting, to the contrary, that the sociopaths they’ve known have used their capacity for empathy to exploit them).

But the biggest problem with lack of empathy is its weakeness in explaining the single, truly best signifier of sociopathy—the characterological exploitiveness of the sociopath.

It is a high level of exploitiveness that most singularly exposes the sociopath.

Now exploitiveness is also associated with the narcissistic personality. For this reason extremely destructive (“malignant”) narcissists can be hard to distinguish from sociopaths. Still, a high level of exploitiveness is rarely the single best signifier of narcissistic personality disorder, whereas it is, I suggest, the best single indicator of sociopathy.

Why does lack of empathy fail to explain the sociopath’s exploitiveness? It fails because most people who lack empathy are not exploitive. Just consider the autistic spectrum disorders: Lack of empathy is commonly associated with these disorders, but exploitive behavior is not.

Now it is true that empathic individuals will generally be nonexploitive. Why? Because their empathy will prove a deterrent against exploitative impulses or ideas. Empathy, in other words, surely is a powerful deterrent against exploitation.

But in someone nonexploitative (someone, say, with Asperger’s Syndrome), empathy will not be needed for its deterrent effect. However, in someone inclined to exploitation, lack of empathy will be a missing deterrent in a situation where deterrence is urgent.

Effectively, the sociopath’s exploitive nature is undeterred by empathy, which is missing, thus liberating him to exploit. And it is the sociopath’s tendency, or compulsion, to exploit, I propose, that best characterizes his sociopathy.

I’d be remiss not to clarify my working definition of empathy. Empathy, as I use it, is an experience, or appreciation, of another’s experience that, depending on the situation, elicits a thoughtful, respectful, perhaps nurturing, but never exploitive, response.

While some sociopaths may possess an evolved capacity to read others’ vulnerabilities, this doesn’t make them empathic.

It is the particular response to someone’s vulnerability that indicates the presence of empathy, or exploitation. It is the particular response, or pattern of responses, to someone’s vulnerability that separates the empathic individual from the predator.

In this respect, I regard the sociopath as seriously, and given his exploitive personality, dangerously deficient in empathy.

What about his remorselessness? Certainly the sociopath’s remorselessness is quite notable and diagnostically significant. However, I would argue that the sociopath’s remorselessness is a byproduct not of his lack of empathy, but of his exploitive personality.

Many people who lack empathy are remorseful, for instance when informed that an action they took, or something they said, left someone else feeling damaged. They may struggle to relate emotionally (or even intellectually) to the effect their behavior had on the wounded party (their deficient empathy); but they are upset to learn that their action caused damage.

In other words, they feel remorseful even though their empathy is deficient.

However, exploitation and remorselessness go hand in hand. The essence of exploitation is the intentional violation of another’s vulnerability. The exploiter knows, on some level, that his behavior is exploitive.

By definition, the exploiter is grossly indifferent to the damaging effect of his behavior on his victim. All that matters is his perceived gain, his demanded, greedy satisfaction. There is indifference to the loss and damage to others resulting from his self-centered, aggressive behaviors.

This sounds a lot like callousness; and we recognize callousness as another of the sociopath’s telling qualities. But I would suggest, again, that the sociopath’s callousness derives not from his defective empathy, but rather from his characterological exploitiveness. Most people with deficits in empathy are not callous. On the other hand, the exploitive mentality will engender a callous perspective.

I discussed in a prior post the audacity of the sociopath. I suggested a correspondence between audacity and sociopathy. But here, too, we want to get the causality correct: audacity doesn’t make for sociopathy; but the exploitive mentality will make for staggering audacity.

(My use of “he” in this post is for convenience’s sake, not to suggest that men have a patent on sociopathy. This article is copyrighted (c) 2008 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)

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Go Steve!

Yes they are Driven to Do Evil!

Ox Drover

DEar Steve,

I agree with Dr. Leedom!

I would also like to add that the ENJOYMENT of their success in exploiting others is also a sign to me of the psychopath. My P-son, who killed a girl, not only enjoys the fact that he killed her (and brags about how “much more horrible it was than the cops even knew”).

Rather than having a “neutral” feeling about “Oh, well,, I had to kill her because she turned me in,” it is “I enjoyed killing her because she turned me in and I made her suffer.”

That is the thing that runs chills up my spine, LITERALLY.


How do you know when a s/p is especially dangerous? Are there any studies on that? I often wonder because I have seen my s/p be super strong on “my way or the highway” type of thinking, controlling my daughter (which I never would have thought was possible), not wanting to be crossed or confronted at all in his thinking. He also brags about violence.

He is the first s/p that I have been made aware of in my life. So this is very new to me.


Onajourney – just the fact that they are a psychopath makes them dangerous. A true psychopath may or may not murder a person but at the least they are always hurting and slowly killing a persons spirit. A psychopath may never severly physically injure someone. But they always try to severly injure a persons spirit and mental well being.

“Most people with deficits in empathy are not callous. On the other hand, the exploitive mentality will engender a callous perspective.”

Please cite this,I ‘d loved to know what survery or study this comes from.

I am sorry for your grandson. A male close to me was molested, we acknowledge it and moved on. I’d talk about if he wants, but I agree best not to frow the memory. Maybe talk about later how bad things happen to good people- and it’s not their fault or blame etc.

I believe psychos are opportunists- regardless of “preference.”
My psycho lead on men,women and ogled young girls. A neighborhood girl was afraid of him I learned from one of his exes. Disturbing for sure.

“grow the memory”


I remember a long-ago thread that singled out lying as the most predominant characteristic of sociopaths. Not to be argumentative, because I don’t disagree with Steve. I do remember, though, that in the early days of my realizing my ex was an S/P, the one thing I knew before I knew all others was that he was a liar. I didn’t know that for 18 years, unfortunately, but when things started coming to light and I stopped accepting his explanations and started asking questions, I realized this man could lie as easily as most people breathe.

For me it’s been a bit by bit process. At first I thought, okay, he’s a liar, and okay, probably a cheat, but he cares about me, he loves me, he’s sorry, if he left he’d feel terrible, he has empathy, and on an on, so convincing his act was. Gradually I have come to see that he is definitely a cheat, he doesn’t care who he hurts, he has no empathy whatsoever and he exploits people to an extent that is truly breathtaking.

Just a week and a half ago I was on a long drive with my 6 year old grandson who had lived with my ex and I back when my grandson was 3 and a half until 4 and a half. I don’t know what prompted my grandson to do so, but on this trip, he suddenly started talking about a time that he was in bed, woke up, heard a noise and came downstairs and peeked around the corner and saw my ex, obviously with another woman. (I was “at the store.”)

And what happened after my grandson told me this story is that it triggered a memory of something he had said back when he was 3. It was a word he used for his penis. One that I couldn’t imagine any child hearing in any context other than molestation. I asked who he heard it from. He said my ex. At the time that was so out of the realm of possibility in my mind that I asked again and this time he said someone else.

And suddenly I remembered this and what I now realize was other telling behavior, that I thought odd at the time, but if I was suspicious of anyone it was his bio dad with whom he didn’t live or spend much time. But still the most likely suspect. Or so I thought.

And now, now, I feel almost 100% certain that my ex did perpetrate this abuse. He is predominantly hetero, but I know there has been an isolated homosexual experience, and he’s admitted to attractions, and now this. I remember discussion on another thread about pan-sexuality, and not to get off-topic for this thread, but I am wondering if that is not the case for most socios.

As far as pursuing the sexual abuse legally, I have decided not to. I gently questioned my grandson and this happened at an age where the memory could easily fade, in fact he made it clear he did not want to remember whatever happened. He said enough–gut reactions, like, “Icky!” but he wasn’t able to verbalize much more. Anyway, he wants to forget and I want to let him. He has acted out inappropriately in some ways and this knowledge explains so much. I acknowledged his anger and sadness and I could tell he felt understood. I feel like that is the best thing I can do for him at this point.


In an earlier thread Donna commented “Sociopath’s are neither gay or straight – they will screw anything” I agree. And the most predominant characteristic of Sociopathy is the way they lie – just as easy as breathing. And this bring’s to mind another comment I read ‘It is emotionally impossible to simultaneously suspect deceit and feel pity – the mind can only do one or the other….” Wich is how my X P/BPD manipulated me into feeling responsible for him…

Ox Drover

Gilliam, I think they are “sexual”–not homo or straight—in my opinion, any kind of “sex” is what they are after. They may have preferences and may not, but if it is “sexual” I think many of them if not all will try it.

After she was arrested, we found photographs taken by my DIL’s boyfriend of bondage and other S & M type sex that they had had. My son had said that all during the marriage after about the first six months she would try to “provoke” him to hit her, and he would just leave the house until she calmed down. Apparently her first “husbands” (I know of 2 but am not sure there weren’t other marriages or long term live ins) all hit her. With my son, however, she was the aggressor and did the hitting on him. At one point she threatened to hit me toward the end of the chaos.

There just isn’t anything that they won’t do to get excitement.



Yes, yes. I told my grandson that whatever happened was in no way his fault. I said how awful it must have been for him, that he was too small and powerless to stop it. My ex told him not to tell me, that I would get mad, and said no one would believe him anyway because he was just a little kid. It breaks my heart to know that my grandson was not just hurt, but intimidated in this way and that I did not protect him

Thanks – I was wondering.

To expand upon my question- I asked because I want to figure out sociopathy.You may be correct, or not- I like to read a variety of sources and compare.

As we know- there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And while this is your opinion, you have credentials that leand more credence to those opinions. I respect your clinical opinion- but wanted to clarfy if was an opnion or a evidenced-based conclusion.



I guess since sensation is what they are after, just about anything or anybody will do. It is shocking how there is absolutely no recognition on their part of the humanity of others. How others’ feelings don’t count. It’s all about what they want, their only concern being that they don’t get caught.

And they get away with so much because most people simply cannot imagine that anyone they know could actually be so evil. The extreme outrageousness of what S’s do in a weird way contributes to them getting away with it. I’d imagine most of us here have the experience of relating our stories to people who think we must be exaggerating or outright making things up. They don’t realize that with an S, everything you could possibly say would be understatement. Hyperbole is impossible.


Gillian, you are so right: “hyperbole is impossible.” That, apparently, was my downfall. I simply could not imagine that a human being could do what my ex did. Lie as effortlessly and plausibly. And garner sympathy from others while doing it! It is otherworldly.

Once I was away from mine, but not yet in “no contact,” I told him he was as talented a psychopath as Ted Bundy. He liked that. He enjoyed hearing it.



How inhuman they are, they don’t even seem to mind being told they are psychopaths. I have told my ex that very thing. That he’s a psychopath. Spawn of Satan, I’ve even said. Doesn’t phase him one bit. Obviously, because now he’s feeding off his next prey. She, of course, thinks all her dreams have come true. I tried to drop a few veiled hints when I met her. This was a month or so ago, when my ex came to the house to pick up the rest of his stuff. (How much hubris is that for him to even bring her? And this was only a week and a half after our divorce was final!)

I know she wouldn’t believe me now. He’s got her completely bamboozled. I just hope that someday, when she has any slight suspicion or doubt, she will think back to what I said and maybe even call me as I invited her to do. Anytime.


Gillian hints will not work to the ow. My husband’s ex tried to warn me but I did not believe her. I was wondering what was wrong with her but now I am going through what she was going through. And so now my husband’s mistress is going through what I am going through.

Can anyone answer how in the world someone think they can have a happy relationship or life going from person to person with no “alone time?” That isn’t possible, is it? You need time to evaluate yourself. But I guess S’s can do that because they have no feelings.

My husband went directly from his ex, to me and now to his mistress. He has not had any alone time. That just seems so sick. He continues to try and be intimate with me. Our divorce is almost final.


Science! Psycology/psyciatry mental health Professionals! Guruos/witchdoctors , empaths What have you , want to Take Evil out of the picture!

If it looks like chit ,smells like chit, taste like chit , feels like chit, Don’t Step in IT! Do you get it? Good! LOVE JJ


I would agree that the lies & the fact the s. even believes them himself make them dangerous, that & EVERYTHING is for their own benefit. To them, they are supreme beings, & the whole rest of the world is stupid,& no one’s feelings matter but their own.


after reading this thread, i remembered once raging at my ex-s/p/n, “you are a pathological liar and the most sadistic person i’ve ever known!!”
his response: ”you hadn’t heard?”


well then, it totally makes sense why my ex sociopath waited until I was 6 months pregnant. He had to do it at my most vulnerable. He had many opportunities to do it, but he choose that particular time. It must be lack of empathy mixed with an exploitive mentalty. A sociopathic cocktail!

now that i am strong again, it makes me want to kick him in the $#% for not picking on someone his own size! They are cowards for picking on vulnerabilities! He doesn’t have the guts to go head to head with me when I am strong. What a wienie


I think sociopaths can’t stand to be alone because there’s no one there to be alone with.


nic – You described my X – to my knowledge he has never lived alone. Just less than a month at a gay motel – and then he was setting his hook’s into his new BF. But isn’t that a classic trait of a sociopath or Borderline? They just change address’s like we change our underwear – and for a while we are convinced we failed then somehow. They leave behind a path of distruction – broken heart’s – empty wallet’s. They don’t plan for the future because they never look beyond tomorrow. LOSTINGRIEF – one time I told my X “you are not who I thought you were – this is not what I wanted” and his reply? “well we don’t alway’s get what we want do we?” So after 3 year’s I had nothing left to give him – I had lost all respect for him and myself and it became this sick twisted Relationship of circumstances. I would kick him out and he would come back and say (Can we talk?) and I would say why? I can’t believe anything you say – but always I would end up taking him back or sometimes begging him back because I didnt want him to hurt anymore…….You know guy’s there are Broken people out there – all kind’s of hurt people that can not be fixed – they don’t understand what they do is wrong – that is just what they do. Survive the only way they know how. Let’s just be happy we are not like them. Because we feel life they don’t……


Before every discard, my ex always has his next victim lined up. But he always lives three or four months with somebody else in between (who if possible he has sex with) to make it all look legit. Like he wasn’t involved with woman B before he dumped woman A. He makes up some bs reason to leave. Evil, gutless.


There’s no there there.


Dr Steve,

I think that perhaps that is correct, about the exploitive aspect.

Dr. M. Stout says it is “the pity play” that is a dead give away.

I wish I had paid more attention to the “extra special” extra decent, extra everything aspect of my ex’s personality. Rather than swooning over his goodness, his generosity, his flowers and gifts, his showering me with favors, I should have paid attention to his eyes. I should have paid attention to his cold dismissal of things that had deeper meaning.

The exploitive bit, I didn’t get till much much later. Sure he was cutthroat in business, but that is just good business right?

Bottom line, they are chameleons in every sense. maybe it is the second p/s/n in your life that is easier to spot. Maybe the third. At least we are here, survivors, helping each other and educating each other. We are many and they are few.




You said it perfectly: “Sociopaths can’t stand to be alone because there’s no one there to be alone with”.

So true!


Gillian, Interesting. So many of them appear to be afraid of being alone. Need the next target all lined up. Supply? Someone to exploint? Fear of boredom? Fear of too much time alone? Fear of self?

You are right. There is no there there. But man they sure can fake it. And leave a big swath of destruction in there path.

I seldom remember my dreams, but a recurring “nightmare” is that I am with him again, he is being all nice and helpful and solicitous.

AND I AM LIKING IT!! In my dream I am inwardly going “oh no, no , no…!!

Maybe when I am truly back on my feet I will not dream about the fake way he “took care” of his family. I will not long for the fake idea of what he presented.

He still trys to present that I was the homewrecker. He was only doing what he could. blah blah…while using every trick in the book to destroy me.

With all due respect to the people who have survived physical abuse, I think that the subtle under your skin crazy making is even worse somehow. You can’t define it, you can’t really argue against it, you are in a house of mirrors, you can’t find your reality.

It maybe also just plain come down to conscience. If any of us had had a moment of true apolgy, remorse, or expanation, perhaps it would be less painful. Dunno.


Right on…They just can not stand to face their own empty, hollow selves.
My X-S even stated to me (while we were breaking up) “I won’t be alone”… Like Steve’s essay said ” all that mattered was his greedy demands and satisfaction”.
Thankfully, I have absolutely no contact with the a**hole so I don’t know how fast I was replaced, but his track record shows a history of one relationship after another after another…


[you can’t define it, you really cant argue against it, you are in a house of mirror’s, you can’t find your reality.] Are any of you old enough to remember the Twilight zone on TV? Was it Rod Sterling that was the narative or host? I remember as a child watching those episode’s and at the end your hit with this WHAM – nothing I was watching was ever real – they twisted reality and f–ked with your mind….

Ox Drover

I thik that they need an “audience” to appreciate their “greatness”—that if no one else admires them for what they do—crooked business deal, dump on or cheat on another person, etc.—it is like it isn’t any satisfaction to them unless they can share that “triumph” with someone who will “appreciate it.” Siince NO ONE is as good, bright, smart, cunning, mean, etc. as they are, there really isn’t a peer of theirs, but they still need an audience.

My P-bio father said (in interviews in print) that he was THE smartest man that ever lived (and if you didn’t believe him, just ask him) smarter than Einstein, than anyone. Yet he craved attention of others and the ENVY of others. He wanted everyone to think he was a smart Hugh Hefner, with hot and cold running bimbos and adventure and fear from others who wanted so badly to be like him, but “just couldn’t make it.”

In actual fact, lots of people feared him with good reason, including all his wives and children, and most business and ex business associates. He was so crass he didn’t even realize that people thought he was about as “low class” as you could get, but because he was wealthy, he thought they HAD TO ENVY HIM. It never dawned on him that all the money in the world couldn’t buy respect or “class.” He never realized that making people fear him didn’t generate respect or admiration. He bombed out on all counts, and as far as I know there has never been anyone associated with him for any length of time that had any personal affection for him before too long. He had his 15 minutes of fame, his interview in Playboy with his 18 yr old wife (he was nearly 60 at the time) but no one with any couth at all would have touched him with a 10 foot pole.

Psychopaths seek “rushes” and excitement in one way or another, his rushes came from constant and intense anger and rage. He loved to be angry, to feel superior to the rest of the human race, yet he needed the in order to be in the “footlights” and on stage. What a “Catch 22”—despising the rest of humanity yet desperately wanting their admiration.

My P-son gets his rushes from “breaking rules” and getting away with it, then if he doesn’t get away with it, he can be angry at the cops for catching him—it is always someone else’s fault that he got in trouble. Yet, even he needs an “audience” and the only audience he has is the rest of the convicts, whom he despises as well—he actually sees himself as a “success” in life. DUH!???


That is so true about them needing an “audience” for their incessant boasting….And if people reject the way they boast and brag about their self-proclaimed talents they assume they are just envious!


I must start posting to other peoples posts but yours are so darned interesting! About your P- bio father. Good grief! I can relate to having family members that just embarass the hell out of me. Everything they say and do is presented as okey-dokey by them like it’s the most normal thing in the world. They are a small portion of family but they feel to me like an enormous crowd because they are so noisy, attention grabbing and never seem to stop their B.S. The more wicked the act the bigger and louder the distraction from the ugly reality of what they are doing. Yes, they certainly love to hold court by surrounding themselves with people who will encourage, justify, affirm and hand them the excuses they demand. I’m sick of these reprobates and I feel everyone here are sick of the reprobates they are dealing with (even in the aftermath). I’m glad I can come here and tell them to p-ss off and never have to look at their faces or hear the ugly bones fall from their lips. I’m glad I can get it all out. It’s like poison leaving my system. I wonder how many of the P’s that have turned the worlds of the good people on here upside down and think they have effectively silenced their prey; would be horrified to know these people have a voice and are here healing. A little time, a little grace and we are all survivors!!!


Well Steve I agree 100% with what you have written . However is this not just another sypmtom along with the lies , the manipulation , the lack of empathy etc etc . I suppose that what I am getting at is , what the hell are they ??. I feel that I am at the stage now where I can literally see them without any other evidence . I have tested my perception on a number of occasions and so far I have had one maybe , that at this point I am not sure of . The rest about 20, mostly women , I would have to say were 100% psychopath . I have become aware of psychopaths in the past 8 months after I broke up with a psychopathic woman that took me to emotional hell . So heres the question . What am I seeing .
Just to add weight to what I am saying . The other night I was in the local bar . At this bar we quite often discuss the whole psychopath delemma and even some of the waitresses have gotten in on the discussion . Well last night a woman and a man walked into the bar . The woman was good looking , probably in her 40s . Could probably pass for 30 in most situations . At first I barely noticed her until she passed by not far from me and our eyes met . Right then there was a reaction between us . My impression was this . As our eyes met I knew instantly she was a psychopath . At the same time she knew instantly , that I knew she was a psychopath . Her stare intensified and became more piercing and then eye contact was lost to the crowd . What was that , what was I seeing and how did she know I had seen her . The bar was fairly busy that night . Not far from me were a couple of waitresses that I new quite well . I beckoned to one of them and she came over to where I was sitting . I told her in a hushed voice that there was a psychopath in the bar and then asked her if she thought she could figure out who . At this point the other waitress also came over , curious as to what we were talking about , I suggested that they should both go psychopath hunting and get back to me when they figured out who the psychopath was . They were both enthralled with the concept and headed off in different directions with their trays . I had to laugh as the expressions on their faces had changed to a somewhat sherlock Holmsy look . There were about 50 people in the bar and most of the tables were full . I did not tell them whether it was a male or a female they were looking for . The one waitress came back within 5 minutes and indiacted to me who her choice was . She indicated to me her choice without pointing . It was the woman who had given me the piercing look . I acknowledged that she was correct . She headed off to the bar to get a tray of drinks . The other waitress then showed up a couple of minutes latter . “So“ I said . She leaned closer and indicated to me the same woman that the other waitress had picked .
Yes , we all know what the sypmtoms are , but do we really know , what they are . For what its worth ,I am 52 years old and have lived in a number of counties . At the moment I live in Canada . In the past my instincts saved me from these kinds of people , even though I did not know what they were . When I met my X my instincts failed me and I became the victim of a human predator unlike anything I had ever experienced before . For the last 8 months I have been trying to figure out what this woman had done to me and how she had done it . Of course the other question was how come my instincts failed me when I needed them most . I slept with the devil and did not even know it , until it was almost too late . Well I know psychopaths inside and out now, but I still do not know what they are . They are intelligent , confusing , phoney ,nasty , manipulative , controlling sympathy seeking , ly lots, selfish , egotistical , the list goes on , but what the hell are they .


Dear Dr. Steve,

I Love the article. I feel you are right on every count.

One thing I wish (for personal reasons), that you had adressed more in depth…

How DO you tell the difference between a malignant narcissist and a sociopath? (Almost sounds like the set up for a bad joke, especially at this late hour). This has been a question in my mind from the beginning of my self education on my ex. when we separated 5 years ago. There seems to be so much overlap in the syptoms/behaviors of the two. Is there one defining factor, one LINE that must be crossed for a diagnosis of sociopath vs. “just” a mailignant narcisist. That’s in quotes because I couldn’t think of a better way of phrasing it… if malignant narcissist wasn’t bad enough! My story is like so many others here. I wish I could go NC and say I could care less now/not my problem. But my kids are still in the middle of it and being exploited and hurt in the process of his attemps to hurt/control/devalue/besmirch/torment me and serve/protect his selfishness and cover up his past. Perhaps, since I feel like prey, it would be better to know what is hunting me. Perhaps a label just gives folks more comfort….or more fear? But maybe, just maybe knowing whether it is a garden spider or a house spider would be an advantage in protecting the lady bug and her family.


Peace and Be Well.


I Would like to Agree! The most Obvious Evil is their enjoyment in the deciet , game , play , drama , act , and accomplishment of their goals and crimes! To brag about doing something that is obviously wrong IS EVIL!


Have you Read The aftermath of the Sociopath by Dr Hare? If not Google it and it will probably sound like your life story , like it did for me! LOVE JJ


So what Clued you to that person? was it the look/eyes I am still rather clueless what tips you off! But I am also interested in this detection. We need like a pagerdetector that SCREAMS at the approach of the Psycopath! :)~

There are many people who have deficits in empathy but are not sociopaths. Problems with empathy are found in people who have schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. Also among non-disordered people there is a great deal of variation in empathetic ability.

Here is a quote from the back of a book Empathy in Mental Illness:

The lack of ability to empathise is central to many psychiatric conditions. Empathy is affected by neurodevelopment, brain pathology and psychiatric illness. Empathy is both a state and a trait characteristic. Empathy is measurable by neuropsychological assessment and neuroimaging techniques. This book specifically focuses on the role of empathy in mental illness. It starts with the clinical psychiatric perspective and covers empathy in the context of mental illness, adult health, developmental course, and explanatory models. Psychiatrists, psychotherapists and mental heath professionals will find this a very useful encapsulation of what is currently known about the role of empathy as it relates to mental illness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)


Hi Indigoblue . The whole detection thing is something that I have been trying to figure out myself . I think that it was something that I always had but up until now I did not know what I was detecting . One thing that has crossed my mind goes like this . When I first came to Canada, I was 25 , I lived in Quebec and at the time I was married to a french speaking woman from that province . We had met in Scotland and got married . She spoke fluent English although I noticed that some english speaking people had difficulty understanding her what with the accent etc . At the time I did not speak french at all . Because she was french we lived in a french part of Montreal and most of the people we knew were french and spoke very little english or else chose not to speak english . So if you can imagine this situation for a minute , I am english speaking and am surrounded by french speaking people . If someone decided that they wanted to speak to me or I to them , there had to be some translation going on . In most situations I was basically left out of the conversation . What slowly started to happen was my awareness of people actually started to change , untill it seemed that I more or less could understand what was going on just by watching the eyes of the people. I could not understand the words but I could see the emotions in their eyes and hear it in their voices and see it in the body language . When me and my wife were alone together we always spoke english , which obviously did not help me learn french . Learning foreign languages was not something that I did very well at all . Well I lived in Montreal for 5 years . During that time my ability to read people without language reached a level that surprised me . Keeping in mind that this was not something that I consciously set out to do , it was just what happened . I would imagine that deaf people would probably be very good at spotting psychopaths . So what do I see . Well right now , I feel it is the predator that I can see . Once you know the look you will never forget it . The scary part is , that they know I can see them and perhaps it is also this recognition on their part that also tips me off . When somone knows that you can see straight through their disguise of normalness they feel threatened . In a wierd kind of way I think it also makes them curious . Needless to say I attrack psychopaths like flys to a rotting carcase . Even before i knew what they were I was attracting them , now its even worse . Mostly it is the female variety . Whenever I detect a male one I usually avoid the situation as they tend to turn nasty very quickly .



Thanks. I did Google and don’t get an exact match but perhaps I’m overlooking it. Is The Aftermath of the Sociopath a Book on it’s own, or maybe an article? I did see that he has a website, but I didn’t go to it yet.

Peace and Be Well,


Aftermath ; Surviving Psycopathy


Awsome , I am gettin It!
In an environment where a Sence is lacking or deficent the other Sences kick in to compensate! Wow!

Yes I know all about the Nastyness! Rage! Violence!

This was very important in NC , How to put out the Fire once I lit It! Just add Alcohal and you have a Tazmanian Devil to handle! I would prefer the real creature to the Human kind any day of the week!

Thank you Peace and Happy Holidays to you and Yours LOVE JJ


Thank you Dr. Steve. I will look that one up as well.

The timing of your article is PERFECT!
I’m 45 and starting over since my divorce. I’m in college…better late than never. While I’m doing my pre-req’s for the nursing program I take as many psych courses as I can. Right now I’m taking the “Abnormal Psych.” class. I’ve been waiting all semester to get to the chapter on Personality Disorders. CHAPTER 13…YAY! We are finally there this week. I’m going to show your article to my professor and see if we can get class discussion going on this. My prof. knows of my situation. When I first told her about it after class one day I said her, “I think my ex-husband is a malignant narcissist.” Her immediate response was two words. In her beautiful Indian accent….”Get Away.”
Even with all I have learned on my own, I was still shocked for a moment. I wish I could do just that, but my youngest child is only 8. Only 10 more years or so and I’m “home free.” For now, all I can do is learn everything I can, watch my back and keep records. Yuck

I’m so grateful for this site! Everyone here helps so many in so many ways.

Peace and Be Well,


Thanks Indi. I’ll definately check that out.
Also, OMG YES on the alcohol!

Peace, Healing and Hugs to ALL


Why is it when a Sociopath has been uncovered that he doesn’t admit to being callous or admit to his exploitiveness? If they don’t care what you think or say why hide? Why not unveil the dirty trail of lies and deceit that the Sociopath have been giving to his victims?

What do they have to hide to you? You already know the truth. I can understand hiding from others but not from the victim.


On a side note , alcohol seems to have an interesting effect on some psychopaths . With my X I believe it was almost like truth serum as I think that after a few beers that was when she actually expressed how she really felt about a lot of things. She hardly ever turned nasty but she did turn my head with some of the things she said . One classic that I am sure I will never forget was . “First time sex is best” . At the time my first thought was , well that kind of wrecks it for us does’t it . The next day when I asked her about the statement she denied saying it . For her sex was a means to an ends , all part of the control manipulation thing . Rediculous as it may sound it took me 1 and half years to realise it . I suspect that a lot of psychopaths find it hard to maintain their mask when they have been drinking . The smart ones tend not too drink much as I am sure they are aware of this . Some of the rest turn real nasty

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