Sociopathy or Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a mental health condition in which a person harms others for selfish gain. Sociopaths have a win-lose mentality and lack remorse when they hurt others for personal gain.
One may have sociopathic traits but not full-blown ASPD. In fact, most people have a mix of selfish (sociopathic) and altruistic (empathic) traits.
Sociopaths are antisocial because they have a reduced capacity for social emotions like empathy, guilt, shame, and love. A traumatic event probably hampered the normal development of brain areas responsible for these emotions somewhere in their developmental journey.
It’s also possible that some sociopaths are born that way, meaning their genetics prevent them from experiencing social emotions normally.
Following the key signs of a sociopath:
- Lacking empathy
Common things sociopaths say
There are some phrases sociopaths use frequently. Since most people have a balance of sociopathic and empathic traits, hearing someone say one or two of these phrases doesn’t mean they’re a sociopath.
However, if you know someone who uses most of these phrases regularly, chances are high that they’re a sociopath.
1. “I swear I didn’t do that.”
Sociopaths are deceptive and experts at selling their lies. When they lie, they exaggerate and stir emotions in you to make you sympathize with and believe them.
“I didn’t do that.” (Neutral)
“I swear I didn’t do that.” (Emotionally charged)
“I swear on my mother’s grave I didn’t do that. (Highly emotionally charged)
2. “It’s not my fault.”
When conflicts happen, usually, both parties have some role. A sociopath doesn’t take responsibility for their part in a conflict. They avoid responsibility and blame others even if it’s entirely their fault.
3. “I never said that.”
Say you’re arguing with a sociopath about something hurtful they said. They won’t admit what they said. It’s a manipulative technique called gaslighting that makes you question your perception and sanity.
In a similar vein, they may also say things like:
“You’re imagining things.”
4. “You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”
Sociopaths often use flattery to charm and manipulate others. Flattery is hard for most people to detect because everyone likes praise. Flattery brings you under the flatterer’s thumb because you have a high opinion of them. It triggers reciprocity and makes you more likely to comply with them.
5. “You’re so sensitive.”
Sociopaths use this phrase for two reasons:
First, they genuinely can’t see things from others’ perspectives. Second, when they know your emotions are valid, they try to dismiss or minimize them to get their way.
So, your valid emotional reactions are seen as you being hypersensitive.
6. “Who cares about tomorrow?”
Sociopaths are impulsive and can’t think about the long-term consequences of their actions. This is why, in pursuit of their selfish gain at the expense of others, they often get in trouble with the law.
7. “People are disposable.”
Sociopaths see people as nothing but tools for personal gain. Their relationships tend to be superficial because they can’t connect deeply. They can’t connect deeply because they lack social emotions and have trust issues.
8. “I was just kidding.”
Sociopaths will say something rude or sarcastic and then try to save themselves by saying they were kidding. This is usually accompanied by the “You’re so sensitive” phrase.
Of course, it’s possible that they were only kidding, but more often than not, with sociopaths, the goal is to put down the other person.
By devaluing the other person, you can more easily assert dominance- the ultimate goal of sociopaths.