In keeping with my last two blogs comparing Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Personality Disorder and then comparing NPD on paper to real life, I want to continue showing how ASPD looks in real life!
Fortunately, I have only intimately experienced one sociopath. They are about 4% of the population, so I’m sure I’ve met more, but you often don’t know who they are unless you are close to one. My second ex-husband is a narcissistic sociopath. I’d never met anything like it, but when I met him and he started showing his true colors, I had NO doubt that he was seriously messed up! Now, there are different types of sociopaths. Some are smarter, some are not. Some are crafty enough to stay out of jail while others are common criminals. Some are blue collar, some are white collar. Most of them are not like Hannibal Lector or the obvious killer monsters we might expect to see. The one I had to deal with managed to keep himself out of jail but his mind-set was definitely sociopathic.
Also, remember that sociopaths depend on exploiting others, so they might seem amazingly charming and nice. The hints of sociopathy might be subtle at first, but if you spend enough time with them, they will expose themselves.
Here are the criteria for diagnosing Anti-Social Personality Disorder and how I saw them in action:
Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
Sociopaths feel they are above the law. They don’t think or care that consequences apply to them. The one I dealt with had extreme road rage and bragged to me about getting involved in hit-and-run accidents on at least three occasions. He had been arrested multiple times for battery or harassing people, but usually managed to wiggle out of far more situations. After he attacked my toddler, the police officer who spoke to him told me that he thought my ex was just smart enough about the law to know what he could do and say without getting arrested.
After he was arrested for battering me, he absolutely refused to be served with a restraining order. He wouldn’t go home, he wouldn’t go to work and he wouldn’t give a real address for where he was staying. He would, however, repeatedly show up at my house taunting me and getting away with it because he hadn’t been served yet so the restraining order was not yet valid. He did the same to my mother.
Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
I could think of sooo many examples. For one, my ex talked his brother into co-signing on a $20k loan so he could go to a special school. He then got kicked out of the school and got a refund. Instead of repaying the loan, he lived off it. His brother got stuck repaying the loan. The ex feels absolutely no need to pay his brother. Even when I suggested it, he asked why he should.
He will tell whatever lie it takes to convince his latest romantic interests that they are his soul-mates. He is an extreme lothario/womanizer. When he married me, he had told at least one other woman that he was going to marry her. She was surprised. There were several other women being led on as well. When we were married, he was pursuing at least a dozen other women and taking phone calls in front of me. He’d then run into the bathroom where I couldn’t hear him.
There are many instances where he borrowed money then refused to pay it back and didn’t feel like he should have to. In fact, when he hurts people with his lies, he always says it’s their own fault for letting him do it. He says they should have been more cautious.
Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
When I’d known my ex sociopath six weeks, he started pushing really hard for me to marry him. Then, he insisted it had to be the next weekend and if I didn’t do it, he would break up with me and find someone who would. (How stupid was I to fall for that crap! I wish know I’d told him to go ahead!)
Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
The rages were frequent and severe. From the night before the wedding to the day I kicked him out, he would rage multiples times a day screaming and yelling and calling me names. The tiniest thing would set him off and he’d just go crazy. Although he only physically attacked me once, he also attacked my toddler which is why I ended the relationship. He has a history of physically attacking others and many people that knew him contacted me to warn me.
When he’s not physically attacking, he’s verbally pummeling. He gets into rages at work frequently and cannot keep a job for long. He doesn’t restrain his anger or his entitlement. Once had came home angry and told me he’d yelled at a co-worker for doubting his expertise. He has no idea that his is not appropriate behavior.
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Back to the road-raging. The ex sociopath would speed far above the speed limit and weave in and out of traffic. He’d get aggressive and act like he was going to hit other drivers–sometimes he did. I was with him once when he spun out on a wet road after trying to go around a curve on a exit ramp too fast. The reckless driving was scary. One night he drove close to 100 MPH on a winding mountain road going into both lanes because he couldn’t make the sharp turns. I just held on to the door and prayed for my life. After he did this with my child in the car, I refused to let my child ride with him again. Soon I had to protect myself the same way. The sociopath didn’t care one bit. In fact, he’s covered with scars from previous fights and accidents.
Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
The idea of a sociopath willingly paying child-support or feeling obliged to pay his bills or re-pay people who assist him is laughable. My ex is even in trouble with the IRS. He will vacation and treat himself, but he feels no need to pay the people to whom he owes money. He will go years at a time living off others or taking pay under the table to avoid his obligations.
Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
I first realized my ex was a sociopath when he told me a story about punching a woman…and blamed her for “making” him do it. He went on to tell me many such stories. In every story, he was the aggressor, but his victim was at “fault” in his head. Then he started abusing me and doing all the same to me. He’d scream and call me names and say it was my fault for doing something “wrong.” He’d tell me about cheating on me or his exes and say it was okay because he was bored. He told me the story of conning his brother out of $20k and had the nerve to be mad at his brother because his brother wants nothing to do with him. He told me about road-raging and forcing another driver off the road before fleeing the scene and it was the other driver’s fault. On and on, he would hurt people and ALWAYS found a way to rationalize it. I never saw a hint of remorse for all of the horrible things he did–stealing, cheating, lying, conning, battering…none of it. It was always the victim’s fault and he always had a way of rationalizing it. In fact, he became enraged if he was ever held accountable for anything he did.
For me, that last one was the biggest hint–hurting others and not feeling any remorse. As my ex told me all his stories and I sat in horror, he had no idea that he was revealing just how sick he was. Remember, a sociopath isn’t necessarily a killer or even a convict. It’s someone who doesn’t adhere to basic rules of society, (and not in a fun bohemian way,) and someone who hurts others without conscience. Just one horrible thing doesn’t make a person a sociopath, but if this is their way of life and they meet most of the criteria, they are bad, unfixable news!