Sociopaths Among Us

Hi there,

One of my clients sent me an excerpt from a book, "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout which describes almost perfectly, the client’s ex husband’s character and behavior.

DSMIV (the Diagnostoic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV) defines sociopathy as:

Diagnostic criteria for 301.7 Antisocial Personality Disorder
A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

(1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors
as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.

(2) deceitful, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure

(3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead

(4) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults

(5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others

(6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations

(7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt,
mistreated, or stolen from another

B. The individual is at least age 18 years.

C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onsets before age 15 years.

D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of
Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.

Apparently this diagnosis may change when the new manual comes out, but the gist remains the same.

I was stunned to read in Stout’s book that the disorder is now thought to exist in around 4% of the population. This is a huge incidence. It means we all know someone who is a sociopath. When I actively thought about it I realized that I have come across many of them in my career . Their cases often end up being litigated, no doubt as a result of their psychopathy.  Sometimes a trial is the only way to get the reality of what has gone on before the court as sociopaths tend to lie consistently. Unfortunately  the perils of litigation are necessary when faced with an opponent with no conscience.

I have been listening to the reports of Amy Bishop and wondered if she isn’t a sociopath too.



1 Comment

  1. Dear Ms. Van Tine:
    I was surprised and felt really happy when I found your article. I’m currently in the middle of a very stressful divorce – he is a sociopath. I have found out, by my own experience and of others, that in most cases professionals like lawyers and counselors do not believe the victims; we are just taken as the angry soon to be divorcée. We need more awareness. Lawyers should listen and try to make assessment of the situation. My new lawyer believes me and I feel protected because I know I can call her at anytime if something happens. It is a very scary situation and after loosing all truth in life because of it, how can we have faith on the person that suppose to be helping us to put our life together if he/she doesn’t believe?
    Lourdes Psomos

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