What are the traits of a sociopath and does it describe my child?


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Many years ago when I was coming to terms with what my daughter was I made a file so whenever I felt weak, I could go back and review what I learned. I was just reviewing it when I came across this sociopath checklist by: Dr. Hervey Cleckley published The Mask of Sanity, a groundbreaking approach to psychopathy

Cleckley introduced 16 behavioral characteristics of a psychopath.

  1. Superficial charm and good intelligence
  2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  3. Absence of nervousness or psycho-neurotic manifestations
  4. Unreliability
  5. Untruthfulness and insincerity
  6. Lack of remorse and shame
  7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  8. Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  9. Pathological egocentricity and incapacity for love
  10. General poverty in major affective reactions
  11. Specific loss of insight
  12. Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  13. Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without
  14. Suicide threats rarely carried out
  15. Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  16. Failure to follow any life plan


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I also liked this information if you think you might be dealing with a sociopath:
When They Get Close
In the final chapter of Without Conscience, Hare offers a survival guide. He also allows those who run discussion groups about their experiences to link to his Web site

Cognizant of the fact that there are few formal survivor groups for victims of psychopaths—although there are several chat groups online—he believes that people need to know what to do to protect themselves in the event they find themselves involved or associated with a psychopath. Among his steps are the following:

  • Try not to be influenced by "props" the winning smile, the promises, the fast talk, and the gifts meant to deflect you from the manipulation and exploitation that may be occurring. "Any of these characteristics," he writes, "can have enormous sleight-of-hand value, serving to distract you from the individual's real message." Close your eyes, look away and concentrate on what's really going on.
  • Don't wear blinkers Anyone who seems too perfect, is likely far from it. Psychopaths hide their dark sides until they get their target person deeply involved. Too much flattery, feigned kindness, and cracks in grandiose stories should provide clues and put you on your guard. Make reasonable inquiries.
  • Know yourself or you might be vulnerable at your blind spots. Psychopaths know how to find and use your triggers, so the more you realize what you tend to fall for, the more closely you can guard against manipulation.
  • Set firm ground rules, and thus avoid some power struggles that you can't win. Psychopaths tend to like control, so if the rules are unclear or weak, they'll take advantage. Be clear, and establish and maintain firm boundaries.
  • If necessary, get professional advice. Too often people wonder if they're just seeing something that's not real, or they dismiss the lies because they don't know what else to do. Listening to an expert may not only support their suspicions but provide a way out.
Hare admits that even he, with all his experience, can still be duped—at least temporarily--by a psychopath. "In short interactions," he says, "anyone can be duped."

In a related publication, Hare notes, "We must find ways of studying psychopaths in the community if we are ever to provide some relief for their victims—which is to say, all of us."

The best way to protect yourself is to know what you're dealing with.


Well-Known Member
Please be aware that only a licensed professional can give an accurate diagnosis - but as many of you know this may be impossible. So I post this just so that you can see to what degree your duck is quacking


Well-Known Member
Sounds that, like me, you research this stuff. It's good information and very painful to see these signs in your own child. But it can actually save us from lots of financial and emotional grief if we do see it and accept it and take precautions.