4. Recognition

Unfortunately there are no sure fire tricks at recognizing a sociopath when you meet one.  Clues abound to make you suspicious, but due care must be exercised else one begins to see Sociopaths “everywhere” and doom themselves to a life full of suspicion and despair.

Some have tried to devise systems of recognizing the signs of a sociopath, but the disappointing reality is that  they look just like anyone else.  One self-appointed expert tries to sensationalize the whole ordeal with “easy steps” and “quick signs that give them away,” such as the length of their index finger or droopy eyes (??).  If only there were obvious signs, but the sad reality is that behavior tests show they are a mixed intelligence with a wide divergence of occupation and varied levels of business success.  Some are good at their personality disorder and others are not.

Jesus has already taught us that Matthew 7: (which certainly includes Sociopaths).

 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them”  (Matthew 7:15-20).

 

There’s no way to be sure until you can study their track record.  Do they leave harm and chaos in their wake or are people blessed by their influence.  Don’t worry, the difference will be obvious.  Sociopaths leave behind horrible suffering, and they just might be proud of some of the scorched harm they have caused in other people’s lives.

“The number one trait of a sociopath/psychopath is the ability to make you feel sorry for them …, and to make you care about them; in order to manipulate you even more.”                       Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door

Sociopaths will cause much harm and suffering before people will take notice.  Part of this is their own refusal to admit that such bad people exist all around them.  Although prisons hold a great number of them, plenty still walk among us. They have learned where the line is drawn to stay out of prison and continue their joy of inflicting pain.  Although they enjoy the thrill of dancing near that line they still know enough not to cross it … at least when anyone is watching.

Life is good and wonderful with much depending upon what you make of it.  However, as we will show, care must be exercised.  Just as in the beauty of nature predators may suddenly appear to harm innocent creatures so will Sociopaths without provocation harm the innocents around them.  “Discernment” is crucial, which is only a part of living life with maturity and rising above our childish naivete.

 

___________

Theodore Millon ~~ Ten Psychopathy Subtypes

Psychopaths and Sociopaths are the faces of the same coin.  Their distinctions are blurred.  The term “Psychopath” is often avoided merely to avoid images of Hannibal Lecter or John Wayne Gacey.  “Sociopath” just sounds softer somehow.   One may think in terms of Psychopath orienting itself by nature, whereas Sociopath is oriented by nurture.  But in reality, they refer to the same personality disorder

They truly exhibit a broad range of images, a veritable parade of characteristics.  Millon and Davis note that “some observers see psychopaths as impulsive, immature, naïve, aimless and flighty; [while] others view them as sly, cunning, and well educated, capable of clever long-range plans that deceive and exploit others.”  Although there is no simple formula for identifying psychopaths, there are certainly ways to spot high-risk individuals. Theodore Millon, one of the leading experts on Psychopathy and Personality Disorders in general (with significant contributions to DSM IV), has identified ten subtypes to further expose and clarify their behavior and schemes for Power and control.  Each of these types will manifest a different set of traits. However, at their core they are driven by a common “marked self-centeredness and disdain for the needs of others.”

1. The Unprincipled Psychopath

  • Frequently seen in conjunction with the narcissistic personality patterns
  • Stays just within the boundaries of the law
  • Devoid of a superego – no moral regulator
  • Unscrupulous, amoral and deceptive approach to relationships
  • Elicits an attitude of nonchalant indifference
  • Rarely enters clinical treatment programs
  • Preys on the weak, enjoying their dismay or anger.
  • Rash and willing to risk harm
  • No fear of threats or punishment
  • Adept at charming others

2. The Disingenuous Psychopath

  • Variant of the histrionic personality pattern
  • Disguise of friendliness and sociability (don’t be naïve to believe it)
  • Unreliable, impulsive, and resentful towards others
  • Flagrantly deceitful, projecting blame on others
  • Insincere and calculating
  • Enjoys seductive play
  • Anxious that others may see them as indecisive or softhearted
  • Strong need for attention and approval, which never sustains itself giving rise to manipulation and cunning

3. The Risk-Taking Psychopath

  • Variant of the histrionic personality pattern
  • Engages in foolhardy risk taking, seeking adrenaline rushes
  • Enticed by the excitement it provides
  • Thrill-seeking is an end in itself
  • Oblivious to the danger in such pursuits
  • Undependable as well as irresponsible actions

4. The Covetous Psychopath

  • Aggrandizement is at the core of this subtype
  • Feels that life has not “given them their due”
  • Driven by envy and a desire for retribution
  • Vindictive quest to take back what destiny has deprived then
  • Extreme manipulative power games
  • Greater pleasure in taking over having
  • Deep jealousy of what others have achieved or earned
  • Regardless of how much they acquire, their insecurity drives them to remain ever jealous, envious and greedy, ostentatious and conspicuous

5. The Spineless Psychopath

  • Dynamics derived from the avoidant and dependent personalities
  • Excessively insecure and irresolute, perhaps even cowardly
  • Psychopathic aggression in this sense “represents a paradoxical response to felt dangers and fears” in order to prove that one is neither weak nor fearful
  • Violence is a counter-phobic act, presenting a façade of formidable strength in order to divert and impress others — as a means of overcoming fear and insecurity
  • Engages in preemptive attacks to forestall their antagonists
  • Swaggering tough guy and petty tyrant portrayals
  • Drawn to militaristic groups seeking to cleanse the world of shared scapegoats are prototypical of this variant

6. The Explosive Psychopath

  • Reminiscent to sadistic borderline
  • Uncontrollable, unpredictable and sudden rage, with no apparent provocation
  • Hostile attacks upon members of their own family
  • Appears as “adult tantrums”
  • The outburst “serves to discharge pent-up feelings of humiliation and degradation” (Millon and Davis, 1998, p.166)
  • Hypersensitive to feelings of betrayal
  • Certain people may symbolize their frustration and hopelessness
  • Avoid interaction, acts of violence are easily triggered

7. The Abrasive Psychopath

  • Exhibits features associated with the negativistic and paranoid personality disorders
  • Characterized by overt contentiousness
  • Quarrelsome behavior
  • Intentionally abrasive and antagonistic
  • Faultfinding and dogmatic
  • They are unquestionable right, while others are unquestionably wrong
  • Delights in rambling rationalizations to frustrate and undermine opponents
  • Opposition countered by bitter complaints, nagging, and criticism

8. The Malevolent Psychopath

  • Similarity to the sadistic and paranoid personality disorders
  • Especially vindictive and hostile
  • Displays hateful behavior
  • Destructively defiant of society
  • Cold-blooded ruthlessness, anticipating betrayal and punishment
  • Suspicious of any effort at goodwill is merely a ploy to deceive them
  • Fearless and guiltless
  • Many serial killers fit this psychopathic pattern
  • Feel no/minimal guilt for their violence
  • Displays arrogant contempt for the rights of others
  • Whereas they appear incapable of feeling guilt, they do know the difference between right and wrong
  • “They do not lose self-conscious awareness of their actions, and press forward only if their goals of retribution and destructiveness are likely to be achieved.”

9. The Tyrannical Psychopath

  • Among the most frightening and cruel of these variants
  • Exhibit both the sadistic and negativistic personality disorders
  • Enjoys the thrill of attack, intimidation and destructive interaction
  • Often stimulated by resistance or weakness, which encourages attack rather than slowing it down
  • Peculiar sense of satisfaction from being unmerciful and inhumane
  • Delights in creating suffering and seeing its effect on others
  • Keen pleasure in intimidating others, forcing victims to cower and submit
  • Calculatingly cool and cruel, they instinctively know how to choose their victims for their submissiveness
  • Violent in order to inspire terror and intimidation
  • Driven by their fear that others may recognize their inner insecurities and low sense of self-esteem

10. The Malignant Psychopath

  • Shares patterns with the paranoid personality disorder
  • Best characterized by its “autocratic power orientation”
  • Mistrust, resentment, and envy of others.
  • Deep sense of vindictive fantasies
  • Plots and treachery are expected at every turn
  • Project their own venom, malice and ill will on others
  • Absorbed by their primordial belief in their own excessive self-worth

 

 

For a fuller description see: Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior (The Guilford Press, 1998), ed. by Theodore Millon, PhD, DSc, Erik Simonsen MD, Roger D. Davis PhD, Morten Birket-Smith MD, Chapter 10, “Ten Subtypes of Psychopathy,” by Theodore Millon and Roger D. Davis.


 

_____

“Breathes There the Man?”

(AKA, “The Wretch”)
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart has ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

(From “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” Canto VI)

(recited in “Groundhog Day,” about Bill Murray’s character, Phil)

 

 

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