Thanks to a significant interest in sociopathy in popular culture through film and literature, there’s been a stark rise in online searches around the term. What does it mean? Am I a sociopath? How do I know if my partner is one? It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of conflicting research and misinformation. We break down the biggest personality traits and characteristics that make up a sociopath, or someone with antisocial personality disorder, as it’s technically classified in the medical world.
But we before we dive in, a quick breakdown of a sociopath vs. a psychopath (a common source of confusion for casual searchers), according to Toronto-based psychotherapist Liza Finlay. “A sociopath, like a psychopath, is somebody who lacks empathy,” she explains. “The only difference is that a psychopath can pass as somebody who has empathy. They are still going to do what they want, get what they want, be deceitful and manipulative, but they can put a smile on their face and pass as a ‘regular’ person. There is a level of cunning that the sociopath doesn’t have.”
As for why people, specifically women, might search for the signs that they’re dating a sociopath, Finlay believes it all has to do with their partner’s behaviour. “I suspect it’s because there is a lot of gaslighting going on,” she says. A lot of ‘it’s not me, it’s you.’ People are searching because they have been made to doubt themselves. [Sociopathic behaviour] is designed to make you feel unbalanced.”
Here’s how to read the warning signs.