Psychotherapy often deals with the damage done by psychopaths. In her recently published book, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Hiding in Plain Sight, M.E. Thomas shows just how different a psychopath can be from the rest of the population.
I am a sociopath. I suffer from what psychologists now refer to as antisocial personality disorder, characterised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others”. Key among the characteristics of the diagnosis are a lack of remorse, a penchant for deceit, and a failure to conform to social norms. I prefer to define my sociopathy as a set of traits that inform my personality but don’t define me: I am generally free of entangling and irrational emotions, I am strategic and canny, I am intelligent and confident and charming, but I also struggle to react appropriately to other people’s confusing and emotion-driven social cues.
I am not a murderer or a criminal. I have never skulked behind prison walls; I prefer mine to be covered in ivy. I am a typical well-respected, young academic, regularly writing for law journals and advancing various legal theories. I donate 10 per cent of my income to charity and teach Sunday school every week.
Maybe you are a sociopath, too. Recent estimates say that one per cent to four per cent of the population, or one in every 25 people, is a sociopath – that’s higher than the percentage of people who have anorexia or autism. Never imprisoned? Most of us aren’t. Only 20 per cent of male and female prison inmates are sociopaths, although we are probably responsible for about half of serious crimes committed.
Read more from a book at this link
NB My understanding is that Sociopath and Psychopath are interchangeable. Sociopath was originally used to suggest that surroundings had produced the condition rather than it being hereditary.