What is Sociopathy and How Is It Diagnosed?

by • March 3, 2022 • PsychologyComments (0)431

There are many reasons we should learn more about sociopathy and its symptoms. If someone in your family lives with sociopathy, you can use your knowledge to support and assist them. Another reason this is useful to know is to prepare yourself for the complications that often come with sociopathy. Learning more about mental health disorders allows you to help you and your family stay healthy and happy.

What is Sociopathy?

Sociopathy is also known as an antisocial personality disorder (APD). An antisocial personality disorder is a disorder that focuses on an individual’s inability to accept social norms and responsibilities. Mayo Clinic describes it as “a mental disorder in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others.” In short, sociopathy is a condition that affects the way a person interacts with others, mostly negatively and without remorse.

There is not one single, proven cause of antisocial personality disorder. However, there are risk factors that can cause someone to be more at opt to develop sociopathy. For example, genetics and environment may play a large role in the developmental stages of sociopathy. If a child is exposed to an antisocial or sociopathic caretaker, they may be likely to experience antisocial personality disorder traits. Another way that a child may develop sociopathy is if they are surrounded by those that live with a substance abuse disorder. Exposure and indulgent addictive behaviors are major risk factors. In addition to substance abuse, children that experience physical and sexual abuse are also more at risk of antisocial personality disorder or sociopathy.

Signs and Symptoms of Sociopathy 

There are many signs and symptoms of sociopathy that you may see in the people in your life. However, consistency is key when it comes to antisocial personality disorder. While someone you know may show similar signs of sociopathy if they do not show these signs over a long period of time they are not likely to have sociopathy. In many cases, it takes time and a mental health provider to determine if someone has sociopathy.

Sociopaths are often impulsive, aggressive, and threatening individuals. Impulsivity often causes individuals with this disorder to participate in impulsive crimes such as theft, murder, road rage, physical assault, drug use, etc. These individuals have difficulty controlling their anger and need to fight, which is another reason they may see jail time and police altercations.

Those with antisocial personality disorder also have a hard time understanding punishment, responsibility, and remorse. Without feelings of remorse and responsibility, sociopaths may take part in failed relationships. A person with antisocial disorder rarely maintains healthy relationships, a good work ethic, and social life.

Lastly, a sociopath will show a lack of empathy and excessive manipulation. The lack of empathy is the cause of many other antisocial personality disorder symptoms. Manipulation shows itself through lying, threats, flattery, and charming behaviors. You can learn more about sociopathy and its symptoms with the assistance of BetterHelp articles.

How is Sociopathy Diagnosed?

Sociopathy is often diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders. This book is a resource that many mental health providers use to diagnose patients with various disorders.

The first step to diagnosing an antisocial personality disorder is to complete a psychiatric examination. A psychiatric exam is a conversation between a professional and the patient; they will discuss symptoms, behaviors, and the consistency of their disorder. Using this conversation, mental health providers can determine what the illness is not. For example, many symptoms may overlap, but a professional can discover the minimal differences in disorders.

There is also a criterion that a person must meet to receive an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis. These criteria are found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder, the individual must show symptoms that are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A mental health provider also must evaluate the individual’s behavioral patterns, relationships, and feelings. By looking into the individual’s symptomatic history and risk factors, sociopathy can be determined.

How is Sociopathy Treated?

There is no specific treatment that will solve all of the symptoms of sociopathy. However, various medications and therapies can aid a person in their recovery. Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), family therapy, and support groups are all reasonable options for those living with antisocial personality disorder. Therapy allows licensed counselors to understand the patient’s symptoms and behaviors. Together, they can implement methods for combating impulsivity and irresponsibility. There are also several medications that an individual may benefit from.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, common medications used for sociopathy are antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Antidepressants help control serotonin levels; serotonin regulates behaviors, concentration, and body temperature. Antipsychotics can assist patients in controlling their aggressive tendencies. Lastly, mood stabilizers help control any major changes in a person’s mood or conduct.

How to Live With The Sociopath in Your Life

If there is someone in your life living with sociopathy, it is possible that they do not know it, nor will they seek medical attention for it. You must educate others about receiving a diagnosis and getting the help they need.

It may be difficult to be around someone that tends to be aggressive and impulsive. However, those living with antisocial personality disorder may not have any in-depth or intimate relationships. Despite their hostility, isolation is not the answer. Consider showing them the support they need to work through their symptoms.

If you find it overwhelming or daunting to help someone with sociopathy, there are therapy options for you as well. Support groups and interpersonal therapy can benefit those that have difficulty remaining supportive.

The most crucial part of living with the sociopath in your life is to protect them and yourself. Your mental or physical health should not suffer because of another person’s mental illness. Talk to a licensed professional about setting boundaries and seeking support from others.

If you or a loved one need immediate help, consider calling an emergency number or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They are available 24/7 and can offer you the help and support you need.

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