Key symptoms

Protect yourself from sociopaths
Learn to recognize the traits — then stay away

Sociopathy is a complex personality disorder. Sociopaths exhibit a wide variety of maladaptive behavior which makes the condition difficult to diagnose. Sociopathy is not one trait; it is a syndrome—a cluster of related symptoms.

To help professionals accurately diagnose the sociopath (also called a psychopath), Dr. Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist. This is not a quiz you can try at home; it is a tool designed to be used exclusively by trained mental health professionals.

Dr. Robert Hare has identified key symptoms of psychopathy. Excerpts from his descriptions of the symptoms appear below. (To be consistent with his work, Lovefraud has substituted the term “psychopath” for our usual use of “sociopath.”) Lovefraud strongly recommends that you read his entire book, Without Conscience. The examples of behavior he includes with each description are eye-opening and chilling.

If you’re dealing with a person who exhibits some of these traits, put your guard up. If that person shows many or all of these traits, get him or her out of your life.

Dr. Robert Hare’s Symptoms of Psychopaths

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

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
  • The complete picture

Psychopaths are often witty and articulate. They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming.

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