The Making of a Sociopath

There is a disturbing trend of a rise in the prevalence of sociopathy in our society as revealed by many sources of media. Our present culture has become the breeding ground for sociopaths. We even don’t know that a sociopath might be living next door.

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards of the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Individuals with this disorder are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths. They are mostly used interchangeably.

A simple definition of the sociopath is someone, who has no conscience and is tremendously antisocial.

Sociopathic behavior is characterized as the inability to care about right or wrong behavior and how it affects other people.

Typically, sociopaths can be recognized by possessing most of the characteristics that include lack of empathy, difficult relationships, manipulativeness, deceitfulness, callousness, hostility, irresponsibility, impulsivity and risky behavior.

Statistically, sociopaths make up about 3 to 5 percent of the general population. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about three out of 100 males and one out of 100 females are sociopaths. Approximately, 70 percent of sociopaths come from fatherless homes and 30 percent are born out of wed-lock. As many as 15 to 25 percent of prison inmates show signs of being sociopaths.

Causes of sociopathy:

Neurological causes –

The brain of a sociopath shows distinct neurological abnormalities of the frontal lobe of the brain. It is a section of the brain that is the center for judgment and self-control. Genetic factors can be at the root of a sociopathic personality. In general, sociologists are of the opinion that the odds are increased for children to inherit the sociopathic traits if one of the parents has the condition.

Environmental causes –

Sociopaths do indeed come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Besides distinctive neurological abnormalities in the brain, there are certain environmental factors that play a role. With the right biological conditions in place, a person’s environmental conditions can further aggravate the severity of sociopathy.

According to the criteria of diagnosing sociopathy, the person in question must have shown some antisocial tendencies before the age of 15. Therefore, it can be concluded that a person’s early childhood life has a great impact on the subsequent development of sociopathy.

Studies have proven that the circumstances centered in the home, school or community settings also can contribute to the sociopathic behavior. It also has been shown that if a normal amount of affection was not expressed by the parents, it could generate dysfunction for the child that would manifest itself in sociopathic tendencies.

Family influence – Children born to sociopathic parents are subjected to emotional and physical abuse by them to the effect that they also develop traits of sociopathy. The exact nature and impact of the ramifications of abuse vary from child to child and are dependent upon the severity of the sociopathy and the level of functioning of the parents. It also depends on the nature of the child and his or her level of resiliency, and presence of other support systems.

Sociopathic parents instill fear, shame, and a sense of worthlessness and self-blame in their children. A sociopath parent is what a child dreads most: the monster under his bed and everywhere and he can’t turn to this parent for comfort.

Social influence – Sociopaths are also influenced by various social factors before the age of 15 years. Some of them can include deprivation, sexual or physical abuse, abandonment, emotional abuse, and association with people, who are antisocial.

Brain injury – The researchers have linked head injuries involving pre-frontal cortex, orbito-frontal cortex, and amygdala with sociopathy and violence.

The conclusion –

In actual fact, sociopaths are social predators. They are antisocial with no conscience and ignore reality to make their uncaring and selfish life.

There are potential genetic and non-genetic contributors to sociopathy. The experts believe that sociopathy results from the interaction of genetic predispositions and an adverse environment. What is adverse may differ depending on the underlying predisposition. However, it is difficult to determine the extent of an environmental influence on the development of sociopathy because of evidence of its strong heritability.