"I see no difference between things and people."The Sociopath is far from your ordinary criminal or villain. Combine a willingness to cross the Moral Event Horizon without a shred of guilt, a keen sense of other people's mental and emotional fault lines, and a Lack of Empathy, and you have the consummate evildoer. The Sociopath displays these following qualities:
— Seishiro Sakurazuka, Tokyo Babylon
- Lack of Empathy and Devoid of Conscience: Their defining feature. Utterly ruthless doesn't begin to describe them: except for when trying to appear normal, they will disregard any social norms and semblance of morality in pursuit of their own selfish desires. The Sociopath will do whatever it takes: lie, cheat, steal, extort, manipulate, or use outright violence without the slightest hesitation, disgust or remorse, and for as little as Pleasure or The Evulz. Murder and violence have no more emotional weight than eating Chinese takeout or some other mundane activity, and they have no concern for the direct or collateral damage they do to other people, being unable to understand why anyone should. Likewise, they never truly understand the feelings of others on anything more than an intellectual level, and may even believe that everybody else is faking it too. As many Real Life criminal psychologists put it: "They know the words but not the music." Techniques for learning moral behaviour, such as reason, therapy, rehabilitation and behavioral reward/punishment, will not work on them or tend to only make their behavior even worse by making it easier for them to fake it.
- Consummate Liar and Manipulator: In the event they are ever targets of suspicion in crime dramas and thrillers, sociopaths are able to fool any Living Lie Detectors in the cast, pass polygraphs effortlessly, and fool even you, the audience, into believing they are genuinely kind and caring people who are victims of a "big misunderstanding" (assuming they are not so smugly confident of their own invincibility that they feel no need to hide their unsavory personality). Moreover, despite their lack of empathy, sociopaths are capable of using their knowledge of others' desires, emotions and insecurities to manipulate them for their own personal gain. Because of this, many of them are Faux Affably Evil. This is related to their lack of empathy and shame - they don't feel the slightest discomfort about lying or exploiting others, so they do so with the same ease in which normal people perform mundane activities.
- Pathological Need for Stimulation: The Sociopath's raison d'etre (i.e.: an overriding goal which serves as one's "reason for existence"). Due to their inability to empathize or even care for those around them, sociopaths largely view their existence as boring or meaningless and therefore feel compelled to engage in "thrill-seeking" activities to alleviate their restlessness. How this manifests depends largely on the sociopath's personality. It can be as relatively benign as binging on video games, compulsively gambling, or leading highly promiscuous lifestyles. Far more dangerous examples are prone to satiate their lust for thrills by partaking in criminal enterprises, becoming serial rapists and killers, or (if they are unusually high-functioning) accumulating vast wealth and/or influence for the sole purpose of dominating as many people as they can for their own amusement. Due to their obsession with indulging their insatiable appetites however they want whenever they want, sociopaths have a very low tolerance for inconvenience or irritation which in turn leads them to have a pronounced lack of impulse control. Because of this, many of them are Ax-Crazy, have a Hair-Trigger Temper, and/or are Mood Swingers.
- Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth: If there's a skill that exists, you can bet they believe they can master it in no time at all. Much like the Narcissist, they are supremely confident in their own resourcefulness, consider themselves vastly superior to all those around them and feel entitled to special treatment exclusive of everyone else. However, while narcissists are self-conscious of how they measure up to others' standards, a sociopath's grandiosity is all-encompassing to the point they have no concern how their actions reflect upon them UNLESS it threatens their ability to indulge their appetite for further stimulation. Under such circumstances, high-functioning examples will obey social norms to the extent necessary to sustain their hedonistic lifestyle while more low-functioning examples will react with unrestrained hostility towards anything resembling a challenge to their "freedom". Likewise, sociopaths are incapable of acknowledging personal responsibility for any failures or disappointments they encounter (i.e: events which they automatically attribute to those out to "keep them down" or unfortunate twists of fate entirely beyond their control).
- Shallow Affect and Complete Lack of Emotional Reciprocity: A Sociopath is physiologically incapable of experiencing a deep emotional attachment towards others but - being a Consummate Liar - learns early in life how to fake them. This shallow emotional life means that the Sociopath is unable to form sincere long-term relationships with anything or anyone, but will feign feelings of love and affection if they feel it serves their purposes. Most of the true feelings a sociopath harbors towards others, positive or negative, are rooted in an insatiable desire to dominate or control them. While narcissists would prefer to be loved or at least respected, sociopaths don't care whether others view them positively as long as they don't stand in the way of their own self-centered gratification. In the rare event that a Sociopath actually does form an "attachment" to another person, it rises no further than that between an owner and a possession and/or a valuable resource for advancing their goals. Thus, once such "friends" cease to be useful or entertaining, they will abandon them or, in some cases, even kill them without any hesitation or regret.
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- Several songs from the Hip-Hop group Gravediggaz are known for their lyrics describing people mentally unstable, or completely sociopathic murderers.
- Cracked has 17 Famous Love Songs Clearly Written by Sociopaths. As usual however, few of the examples are displaying actual clinical symptoms of sociopathy. In fact, many of the songs go in the complete opposite direction, detailing people with borderline-like symptoms such as feeling deep connections or falling in love with people they barely know. Relationships involving sociopaths, on the other hand, are defined by their lack of (real) emotional connections even with their spouses and family, and instead using a so-called "Mask of Sanity" to feign, among other things, caring and love in order to use people or maintain a facade as a well-adjusted person.
- In Trinity, this is the dirty secret of the main branch of the vitakinetic order. Their powers make them intimately aware of the physical and mental health of people in close proximity to them. Quite a few of these healers find being surrounded by so much pain and decay so overwhelming that they voluntarily undergo a process that turns them into sociopaths, just so they can get on with their jobs without being constantly crippled by empathy with their patients.
- Among the Night Lords in Warhammer 40,000, Captain Jago Sevatarion (best known for being the first to utter the Chaos Marine catchphrase "Death to the False Emperor") pretty clearly suffers from genuine antisocial personality disorder. As an illustration of how screwed-up the Night Lords are, Sevatar approaches being the Only Sane Man; he might suffer from a Lack of Empathy and believe strongly in the power of Flaying Alive, but the rest of the Night Lords are worse.