Are you representing a sub-clinical sociopath?
Do you feel queasy in the presence of certain clients? Are these people just this side of immoral or antisocial? You might be dealing with a sub-clinical sociopath. These are the clients, friends or relatives who drive you crazy, sometimes deliberately. People with subclinical psychological disorders are not bad enough to go to prison, but are bad enough to make your life extremely unpleasant.1
Sociopathy is a psychological condition in which the individual lacks capacity for empathy, shows a willingness to engage in immoral and antisocial behavior for short-term gains and a failure to take responsibility for their actions. A most important distinction is all are remorseless.2 Yet many are witty, articulate and may be narcissistic and impulsive. They see other people as objects to be used.
“Many sociopaths never go to prison or to any other facility. They appear to function reasonably well— as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, businesspeople, writers, artists, entertainers, and so forth— without breaking the law, or at least without being caught and convicted. These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous, and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath; however, their intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normalcy and get what they want with relative impunity.”3 They represent 5 to 15% of the general population.4
Sociopaths get what they want by assessing the utility, weaknesses and defenses of those around them. They manipulate others to bond with them and get what they want, then abandon their targets and move on. Or, in a corporate environment, often move up.5
Be alert to possible sociopaths or sub-clinical sociopaths. They have a knack for targeting vulnerable people. Be skeptical of people who aggressively turn on the charm. If someone is going out of their way to flatter you, ask yourself “Why?” Accept that some people are bad. Pay attention to actions, not words. Trust your instincts. Do not be taken in by favors. They are adept at appearing normal and credible. They are not afraid of lying or using and hurting other people. Corroborate these clients’ claims. They are not afraid of authority including their attorneys.
- Eric Barker, Time Magazine, Oct. 18, 2016
- Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy? by Ronald Schouten and James Silver
- Dr. Robert D. Hare, one of the foremost authorities on psychopathology. Created the Hare Psychopath Checklist. www.hare.org
- Schouten and Silver
- Dr. Robert D. Hare
With gratitude to Linda Monroe for suggesting this subject.