What is a Sociopath? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Some people find it difficult to rightly understand and interpret the feelings and emotions of other people, and that’s why they have trouble developing and maintaining the social relationship. Today, we’ll discuss what is a sociopath; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is a Sociopath? 

The term sociopath outlines that the person experiences ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) just like psychopaths. The latest edition of DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) explains ASPD; when a person violates the rights of other people and disregards the social norms and rules.

On the surface, sociopathic people seem to have charismatic and charming personalities, but it’s difficult for them to rightly interpret the feelings and emotions of other people. Often they;

  • Have a controlling nature
  • Use deceit and manipulation
  • Feel a little remorse and guilty for harming and inflicting pain on others
  • Behave impulsively and aggressively
  • Break the law or rule

Psychological experts and professionals start using the term “sociopath” in the early 1930s. Having the same prefix of sociopath and psychopath, people used to believe that they both have similar behaviors and traits relevant to the socio-environmental factors. In fact, researchers used to employ both terms synonymously until the addition of the ASPD term in the 3rd edition of DSM in 1980.  

Symptoms of Sociopath

The sociopathic condition doesn’t have the precise symptoms, but the persistent patterns of ASPD’s signs of disregarding others are as follows;

  • Having the capability to justify their actions that would negatively impact others
  • Little to no feelings of remorse and guilty
  • Facing difficulty dealing with responsibilities like paying the bills or rent, managing tasks, and going to work
  • Disregarding your safety and the safety of others
  • Aggressive behavior in terms of physical conflicts and fights
  • Difficulty to plan for the future, trouble controlling your impulses, and taking actions without thinking about the results
  • Using deceit, dishonesty, false identity, and manipulating others for your personal goals
  • Avoiding laws and social norms, destroying property, harassing others, stalking, stealing, overstepping the social boundaries, and breaking the rules at work or school

ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) people have the capability to show interest and emotions for others. They would be;

  • Appear charming in the beginning until their self-interests become clear
  • Using their charisma, intelligence, and humor to manipulate other people
  • Seem superior, arrogant, with strong fixed options

It’s challenging for people with ASPD to develop and maintain relationships and friendships that require mutual cooperation. It happens because of the following traits;

  • Capability to threaten and intimidate others has control over others
  • No concern for the safety of yourself and others
  • Trouble learning from mistakes
  • Low Emotional intelligence and empathy

Causes of Sociopath 

Many professional psychologists and experts view sociopathic conditions as environmental issues rather than a genetic or hereditary problems. It’s true that the chemistry of your brain inherits genes from parents and ancestors and they play their part. However, we can neglect the upbringing style, parenting, and other environmental factors, because they’re equally important. Psychopathy has got more association with biological and inner factors.

Children that don’t receive the attention of any type of nurturing, learn the thing while growing up that they have to take care of themselves and no one would. Kids that experience manipulation, violence, and abuse at an early age. They would follow this behavioral model and they navigate their conflicts along with it.

Research studies have also suggested that you can get a sociopath by head injury. Like trauma occurs by the damage to the front lobes of your brain as a result of any progressive condition or head injury like dementia and it results in the form of antisocial behavior.

Diagnosis of Sociopath 

It’s important to remember that DSM-5 doesn’t make any differentiation between sociopath and psychopath, or consider them as the subtypes of ASPD. Many experts and psychologists employ the criteria of DSM to diagnose ASPD. You can diagnose someone if their behavioral traits align with the definition of psychopathy and sociopathy. In order to diagnose ASPD, at least three of the following symptoms should be there;

  • Antisocial behaviors and traits aren’t relevant to the bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Exhibiting the symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15, allows you to differentiate ASPD from the lawbreaking disorder that starts in the early adulthood
  • The age should be 18 years old
  • The behavior appears in various areas of life

In order to make the diagnosis, your therapist would conduct the examination by;

  • Asking for your signs/symptoms and your medical history
  • Inquiring from your romantic partner or family member about your behavior
  • Questioning your personal relationships, behavior, thoughts, and feelings

Treatment of Sociopath 

People with personality disorders and sociopathic conditions don’t consider their behavior a problem, and they don’t think that they need any type of help. They would only work with the therapist if they court them to do so. Since people with ASPD conditions don’t opt to have therapy, it doesn’t mean that the therapeutic approach doesn’t work for them. It would work if the person is willing to cooperate with the therapist.


It means that the concerned person talks to the therapist about his/her aggressive thoughts and harmful feelings. Some of the main therapeutic approaches are as follows;

I-CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)

CBT teaches people about the responses of people in different situations, and it improves their behavior. For instance, it teaches people to negotiate and the benefits of negotiation rather than involving in violent activity to resolve conflicts and disagreements. CBT also teaches people about ASPD and psychoeducation.

II-MBT (mentalization-based therapy)

MBT allows people to learn and understand their mental and emotional mindset. A study conducted in 2016 showed that MBT helps people to lower self-harm, paranoia, anger, hostility, and communication difficulties that people face in both borderline personality disorder and ASPD.

III-Democratic Therapeutic Communities

It’s a group therapy applied in the prison helping them to make a collaborative decision as a part of group activity towards a specific problem impacting the entire community. I develop a community mindset among the participants and a prosocial attitude among the people with ASPD.

IV-Contingency Management

It offers rewards and incentives to promote the progress in the treatment. Previous research studies have shown that people with ASPD should minimize the use of substances and alcohol.


FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has not officially verified and approved any drug to treat the symptoms of ASPD. Some of the medicines that therapists usually recommend are as follows;

  • Anticonvulsants
  • SSRI Antidepressant
  • Antipsychotics

Conclusion: What is a Sociopath? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is a sociopath; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that a sociopathic condition is a serious mental health condition. If you see any of the symptoms in your acquaintances, then you should refer him to the therapist.