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An Interview with a Sociopath (Antisocial Personality Disorder and Bipolar)

It took approximately one year for the divorce to be final, during which time all hell broke loose. Jason returned to Atlanta from his parents house in Pennsylvania and continued to stalk me, breaking into my apartment, stripping my car, and hurting me however and whenever he could. To make matters worse, the court awarded visitation to him.

We continued to try to make the best of the situation for the next nine years, following the rules and trying to help Katy relate to her biological father, who thought of her as his property rather than his cherished progeny.

However, finally, he lost parental rights when Katy turned eleven and the court finally witnessed his verbal and physical abuse firsthand. My second husband, Kris, Katys daddy since she was three-and-a-half, adopted her.

Since that time, I can look back and say that I was able to stop the cycle of violence in my family. I have never experienced any verbal or physical abuse in my second marriage, and my daughter is a healthy and happy college student on the Deans List.

I continue to counsel battered women, write articles and speak out against domestic violence.

Anyone that knows me now would never imagine that I would tolerate any disrespect, much less verbal abuse, cruelty, and violence. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family, well-respected and well-educated.

Treating Antisocial Personality Disorder

In the past, antisocial personality disorder was thought to be a lifelong disorder, but that’s not always the case and it can sometimes be managed and treated.

Evidence suggests behaviour can improve over time with therapy, even if core characteristics such as lack of empathy remain.

But antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult types of personality disorders to treat.

A person with antisocial personality disorder may also be reluctant to seek treatment and may only start therapy when ordered to do so by a court.

The recommended treatment for someone with antisocial personality disorder will depend on their circumstances, taking into account factors such as age, offending history and whether there are any associated problems, such as alcohol or drug misuse.

The person’s family and friends will often play an active role in making decisions about their treatment and care.

Sometimes, substance misuse services and social care may also need to be involved.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is sometimes used to treat antisocial personality disorder.

It’s a talking therapy that aims to help a person manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.

Mentalisation-based therapy is another type of talking therapy that’s becoming more popular in the treatment of antisocial personality disorder.

The therapist will encourage the person to consider the way they think and how their mental state affects their behaviour.

Signs Of A Female Psychopath

Male and female psychopaths share certain antisocial traits like a lack of empathy and remorse and a pattern of violating other peoples rights.4,5 Still, men and women psychopaths are different in the way they victimize others, with women using less violent methods of aggression.1 Female psychopath traits and symptoms can also vary, and can include more impulsivity, irritability, and social interest.2,3,6

Below are 10 signs that can help you spot a female psychopath.

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Disregard For Rules Laws & Norms

Psychopaths do not follow the same code of ethics as most people in society, which is why they often behave in immoral or even illegal ways. These may include minor offenses like inappropriate comments or profanity or more serious offenses like crime and violence. While not all psychopaths are violent criminals, a very high percentage of people who commit crimes have psychopathic traits.1,5,6

The Relationship Between Sociopathy/psychopathy And Bipolar Disorder

Erratic behavior

The subject of the overlap between bipolar disorder and sociopathy is important to me personally and professionally. One of the reasons I did not understand my husband was that I saw him as a bit on the manic side. In some of the letters he sent me from prison, he declared himself to be bipolar rather than psychopathic/sociopathic. My experience is not unique, in our survey of Women Who Love Psychopaths, Sandra L. Brown, M.A. and I asked about manic symptoms in male partners. Over half of the women attested to the presence of these symptoms in their men.

I first wrote about the connection between bipolar disorder and sociopathy in March, 2007. For more background please read ASK Dr. LEEDOM: What is the difference between bipolar disorder and sociopathy?

The above results suggest that the manic mood problems that are associated with bipolar disorder interfere with personality development. The earlier the manic mood problems start, the more personality is affected. I have had the privilege of teaching child adolescent and adult development many times now. It is well established that our personalities do not stop developing at 18 that is why mood problems at any age can affect personality.

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Whats The Difference Between Having Psychopathy And Sociopathy

Both psychopathy and sociopathy fall under the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, Dr. Coulter notes. But, he adds, that doesnt mean theyre the same: Most people with psychopathy meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder but not all people with antisocial personality disorder have psychopathy.

Those with sociopathy tend to be more erratic and impulsive whereas those with psychopathy are often able to maintain the appearance of stable, normal life. We make a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder based heavily on behavior we can see, he adds.

With sociopathy, were often making the diagnosis based on what we or others see. With psychopathy, the diagnosis is based more on what that person is thinking and how they got to that point.

Traits Of Sociopaths And Psychopaths

No one is officially diagnosed as a sociopath or psychopath, but rather as having antisocial personality disorder.

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others present since at least adolescence. It presents with behaviors such as:

  • Disregard for social norms and laws
  • Lack of guilt or remorse
  • Repeated lying
  • Aggressiveness
  • Disregard for the safety of others

Sometimes the term “sociopath” is used to emphasize the antisocial, rule-violating aspects of antisocial personality disorder, and “psychopath” is used to emphasize the internal experience of lack of remorsepleasure in “getting over on” or inflicting pain on someoneand other emotional deficits.

Although there is a lot of overlap in the ways these terms tend to be used, psychopathy and sociopathy are sometimes considered as having distinct traits.

  • Lack of life goals

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In Children And Adults

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists the same symptoms of bipolar disorder for children and adults. Bipolar disorder may include psychotic features.

Bipolar disorder and psychosis are difficult to diagnose, particularly in children and teens. A psychiatrist needs to confirm that the behaviors they are exhibiting are not due to other factors.

Other causes of symptoms could include:

  • everyday highs and lows, the result of stress that is common in teens
  • acute trauma
  • another mental health problem

However, if a child or a teen shows signs of psychosis or experiences changes in mood that are more severe than usual for their age group, it is important to consult a doctor.

A person may experience the following:

These symptoms can occur during episodes of mania, depression, or during a mixed episode, when a person with bipolar disorder shows signs of both a low and high mood.

They can cause the person to behave in unusual ways, and this can impact their relationships with others, whether in their personal life, at work, or in other situations.

If the person believes they are very important, they may behave in ways that are outside the law. In some cases, this can lead to aggression, for example, if someone confronts the person.

An individual who believes that they have committed a crime or that someone is coming after them may become defensive or talk about suicide.

What To Do If You Think Your Teen Might Be A Psychopath Or Sociopath

Narcissist, Psychopath, or Sociopath: How to Spot the Differences

If you begin to suspect that your teen might have psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies, its important to get help. Note that an official diagnosis wont be made until he or she is 18, but its important to document whats been happening to this point and to seek treatment. One reason for this is that while there is no accepted effective treatment for adult psychopaths, children can sometimes be rehabilitated. Group therapy and seem to be the most effective treatments for children and adolescents.

Sociopathy can be treated at times with psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication. One way that therapy can help is to assist the sociopath in seeing how his or her behavior is separate from his or her emotions. This can, in some cases, cause a change in behavior. If your adolescent has sociopathic tendencies, early treatment could be the key to successful rehabilitation. Unfortunately, most people who are sociopaths do not voluntarily go to their therapy sessions. A court order might get your teen to therapy, but its not possible to force someone to participate against their will.

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Can Psychopaths Experience Happiness

There is little research on whether psychopaths can experience happiness, per se, but one could assume that psychopaths experience some positive emotion when they commit antisocial acts thus being part of the reason they continue to commit them. Additionally, psychopaths constantly strive for stimulation and this may be a way of seeking positive emotions as well.

APA ReferenceTracy, N. . Can Psychopaths Love, Cry or Experience Happiness?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 31 from

Signs Of Antisocial Personality Disorder

A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

  • exploit, manipulate or violate the rights of others
  • lack concern, regret or remorse about other people’s distress
  • behave irresponsibly and show disregard for normal social behaviour
  • have difficulty sustaining long-term relationships
  • be unable to control their anger
  • lack guilt, or not learn from their mistakes
  • blame others for problems in their lives
  • repeatedly break the law

A person with antisocial personality disorder will have a history of conduct disorder during childhood, such as truancy , delinquency , and other disruptive and aggressive behaviours.

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Childhood And Adolescent Precursors

The PCL:YV is an adaptation of the PCL-R for individuals aged 13â18 years. It is, like the PCL-R, done by a trained rater based on an interview and an examination of criminal and other records. The “Antisocial Process Screening Device” is also an adaptation of the PCL-R. It can be administered by parents or teachers for individuals aged 6â13 years. High psychopathy scores for both juveniles, as measured with these instruments, and adults, as measured with the PCL-R and other measurement tools, have similar associations with other variables, including similar ability in predicting violence and criminality. Juvenile psychopathy may also be associated with more negative emotionality such as anger, hostility, anxiety, and depression. Psychopathic traits in youth typically comprise three factors: callous/unemotional, narcissism, and impulsivity/irresponsibility.

The DSM-5 includes a specifier for those with conduct disorder who also display a across multiple settings and relationships. The specifier is based on research which suggests that those with conduct disorder who also meet criteria for the specifier tend to have a more severe form of the disorder with an earlier onset as well as a different response to treatment. Proponents of different types/dimensions of psychopathy have seen this as possibly corresponding to adult primary psychopathy and increased boldness and/or meanness in the triarchic model.


Emotion recognition and empathy

Psychopaths And Shallow Emotions

25 Signs Your Partner is a Psychopath

Having shallow emotion and a lack of empathy, fear and guilt altogether are diagnostic symptoms of psychopathy. However, this still means that psychopaths can experience emotions like happiness to a smaller extent and in a fleeting way. These are not emotions to the intensity that the normal person would experience, but they are there. Rage may be an exception to this rule as rages appear to be something that psychopaths can feel.

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What The Future Might Hold For Psychopaths And Sociopaths

Those who have antisocial personality disorders, like psychopathy and sociopathy, often have a hard time living a normal adult life. They might not be able to find a romantic partner, they often do not make close friends, and holding a job is usually difficult.

A sociopath generally will not go through life committing heinous crimes over and over, simply because they tend to create bonds with others and will become deterred from harming them. A psychopath is not concerned about the suffering of others and is capable of committing terrible crimes such as torture and murder, and they might do it over and over again.

Its important to note that psychopathy and sociopathy are sometimes seen as a spectrum. Not all psychopaths will become serial killers or commit heinous crimes. Some psychopaths become con artists but do not have violent tendencies. The common factor is a lack of remorse and empathy.

Lies Exaggerations & Dishonesty

Many psychopaths are prone to pathological lying. They may exaggerate the truth to get their way, inflate their ego, or get others to think, feel or do what they want them to. Most normal people feel guilty or at least a little worried about being caught in a lie, but a psychopaths lack of conscience makes lying a guilt-free activity. In fact, deception is even a listed symptom of ASPD, and can even show up as a person faking remorse, empathy, or care and concern for other people.2,6,7

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Final Thoughts On Psychopath Traits

Psychopathology is a severe form of antisocial personality disorder, an uncommon personality disorder that affects approximately 1% of women and 3% of men in the US. A small percentage of people with APSD are psychopathic, and are more prone to committing crimes, violence, and other harmful acts.1,2,3

Because of the severity of psychopathy and the poor response to treatment, most people are advised to limit their contact with psychopathic people in order to avoid becoming their victims. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a psychopath can help you identify a person with these dangerous traits, and finding a therapist who has experience and knowledge of ASPD can help you learn ways to cope and heal from these interactions.

A Trail Of Short Broken Relationships

Narcissism vs Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD vs NPD)

Psychopaths lack the ability to empathize with other people, so it makes sense that they have trouble forming and maintaining close relationships with people. While they may be able to use their charm or powers of persuasion to fool people into liking them, they usually lack the ability to maintain these relationships over time.7 This is why most psychopaths have very short, shallow relationships with people, as well as many people who theyve betrayed, hurt, or turned into enemies.

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Narcissism And Bipolar Disorder: What Is The Connection

Several mental health professionals discovered a few similarities in bipolar disorder and narcissism. Setting lofty, impossible ambitions and acting are two examples. As a result, they link bipolar disorder with a narcissistic personality disorder.

But, there is disagreement on how much the conditions overlap and whether they occur. Most of the experts agree that both disorders occur. Yet patients with bipolar disorder may exhibit narcissistic personality features.

They Leverage Secrets & Personal Information

One form of relational aggression thats common among female psychopaths is the tendency to use personal information about other people against them. Female psychopaths may use secret or personal information about other people against them as leverage to bribe, manipulate or control them.

For example, they might threaten to expose information about a previous affair or substance use problem their boss had unless they agree to pay them more. Some will also gossip or spread rumors or lies about other people who they want to discredit, which is another form of relational aggression.1,8

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They Develop Relationships With Their Victims

One of the traits of a female psychopath is the tendency to form relationships with the people they victimize. While male psychopaths usually target strangers, females are much more likely to victimize people they know.2

Some female psychopaths use flirtation or sex to lure in people with money or power and then lie, con, or manipulate these people into giving them things.6 This tendency shows the cold-hearted nature of the female psychopath, who wont feel bad about hurting or using others, even those closest to her.

They Use Indirect Forms Of Aggression

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Female psychopaths are just as aggressive as males, but they just use different, less direct forms of aggression.1 While male psychopaths are prone to physical aggression, female psychopaths use relational aggression like gossipping, excluding people, or forming alliances against someone.1,3

Some may even threaten to self-harm in order to manipulate other people, or they may lash out at people when theyre upset, name-calling or becoming verbally abusive. 1,6

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Diagnosing Sociopathy And Psychopathy

While psychopathy and sociopathy are not formal mental health diagnoses, a healthcare provider will identify these characteristics as a person’s pattern of behavior.

Mental health professionals use the DSM-5 to do this. It defines each mental health condition, including antisocial personality disorder.

Children and adolescents who display early signs of antisocial personality disorder are often first diagnosed with conduct disordera condition characterized by a pattern of violating other people’s rights and social norms or rules.

Behaviors can include:

  • Serious violation of rules

Can I Tell If I Have Sociopathy

Its possible to hurt someone close to you without realizing it and once you understand it, it can be alarming. And, in some cases, you might begin to worry that you have sociopathy.

According to Dr. Coulter, the answer is probably no. Most people with an antisocial personality disorder dont really seek help or treatment or even recognize what theyre doing is problematic, he points out.

It really can be an egocentric illness because you do things without the regard for others and it benefits you this way, he adds. More often, people find out that they have this diagnosis when someone else tells them.

If you do grow concerned about a long-standing pattern of behavior thats problematic, though, Dr. Coulter advises seeking out a mental health professional for evaluation, especially if its causing problems in your personal life or at work.

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