As soon as you’re wondering if you’re living with a sociopath, things aren’t so great!
If you’re thinking whether your spouse’s behavior might be attributed to sociopathy, you’re probably not being treated as you deserve, to say the least. But, as we will discuss in this article, there are normal reactions to stress and frustration, and then there’s sociopathy as a personality disorder.
In one case, you can hope for a change. In the other, it’s better that you tend to your own safety and needs.
Sociopathy as a diagnosis
Firstly, yes, sociopathy is a psychiatric disorder.
And unfortunately, it’s a disorder that is rather difficult, if at all possible, to treat. This is because it falls under the broader category of personality disorders and they seem to be embedded into the person’s psychological makeup.
The exact aetiology of the disorder isn’t clear, but it seems that simply put, it’s just how they are.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) presents what we usually call sociopathy as Antisocial Personality Disorder. To be diagnosed with this disorder the person needs to exhibit symptoms at least before they were 15 (although they cannot be officially diagnosed before the age of 18).
But, in most cases, a sociopath will be a sociopath as soon as they were toddlers.
The DSM-5 describes individuals with this disorder as lacking remorse for their actions, irresponsible, blatantly disregarding self and others.
They are irritable, aggressive, and impulsive, and often get into fights with others. They manipulate others and lie for fun or profit.
And they mostly fail to obey laws, which usually leads them to face incarceration – eventually.
How did you end with such a person in the first place?
Many, especially those on the outside of your relationship or marriage, might wonder how you ended up with such a person.
Nonetheless, it’s not strange that no one notices that there’s a sociopath amongst them. This is because they’re so sneaky and manipulative that they will slip right under the radar if they want to.
Chances are, they were astoundingly charming, sweet-talking, intelligent, and seemed incredibly interested into you and all that concerns you, ironically, given that they don’t really care about others at all. It was easy to believe that you’ve found the right person to share your life with.
However, with time, what might have been intoxicating, the sociopath’s charm and intense reactions to the world and others, will become too intensive.
And usually turn into aggression.
This differs from someone’s reaction to frustration, it’s normal to lose it here and there but sociopaths tend to be controlling and abusive.
Treatment of sociopathy
There isn’t any official prescribed treatment that would be recommended as proven to work. To put it bluntly, there’s a consensus among professionals that there is little to nothing that can be done.
This might sound scary to you, but it’s a truth that you need to be aware of.
In fact, the discussion among psychiatrists and clinical psychologists revolve around ways to protect society from these individuals.
There are some indications that sociopaths, in some cases, can feel some degree of empathy.
This is probably due to the fact that sociopathy is a continuum. It’s not like you’re either a sociopath or you’re not. So, in milder cases of the disorder, the person might be able to feel some sort of empathy, and in those cases, there might be a way towards some sort of a normal life.
There are cases, although they’re rare, that a sociopath finds their way to leading a life within the society’s norms. In some cases, religion is the way to understanding and coming to respect higher principles and consider others’ well-being.
In other cases, a sociopath might react to some degree to psychotherapy in which alternative behavior and communication styles are adopted. But, in most cases, they just learn to hide their disorder better.
How to move forward
We can’t give you any sort of general advice, as you should discuss your individual situation with a trained professional. Make sure that you have enough support and stay safe at all times.
Unfortunately, most sociopaths are highly revengeful. Pay special attention to their ability to manipulate people.
If you’ve had enough of their abuse, you will need all your resources and support to get through it. Brace yourself for impact, and be well prepared. We don’t want to scare you, but it’s better to be prepared for the worse and then surprised by a better outcome than be unwary of what might happen.