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Sociopaths do not necessarily have some sort of FreudianExcuse for their LackOfEmpathy (although if they get caught out with a lie, they will invent one). However, many works of fiction will have such characters grow up with [[AbusiveParents horrific abuse]], conditioning them to believe that they live in a [[StrawNihilist nihilistic]] [[SocialDarwinist dog-eat-dog]] CrapsackWorld where [[HumansAreBastards empathy is useless]]. One theory of sociopathy is that usually those who have it did not merely have Abusive Parents; rather, they had Abusive Parents who periodically would make some half-assed and short-lived attempt at discipline or generosity, or pretend that everything was "normal", for example to fool outsiders. It's the chaotic and random hypocrisy of the situation that really set them off, teaching them that punishment is arbitrary, kindness is a mask, and other such {{Family Unfriendly Aesop}}s that they end up internalizing, along with a shortage or total lack of more positive role models, which eventually leads them to adopt a mentality not unlike "ThenLetMeBeEvil". This is partly because many people can't see why somebody would be so 'cold' and 'ruthless' without a good reason. But sociopathy generally does not have any better reason to be there than any other illness, mental or physical (although negative experiences with other human beings will change the way it manifests itself). Others have theorized that they often have abusive upbringings because their parents have the same mental illness as their children.

to:

Sociopaths do not necessarily have some sort of FreudianExcuse for their LackOfEmpathy (although if they get caught out with a lie, they will might invent one).one if it comes to light). However, many works of fiction will have such characters grow up with [[AbusiveParents horrific abuse]], conditioning them to believe that they live in a [[StrawNihilist nihilistic]] [[SocialDarwinist dog-eat-dog]] CrapsackWorld where [[HumansAreBastards empathy is useless]]. One theory of sociopathy is that usually those who have it did not merely have Abusive Parents; rather, they had Abusive Parents who periodically would make some half-assed and short-lived attempt at discipline or generosity, or pretend that everything was "normal", for example to fool outsiders. It's the chaotic and random hypocrisy of the situation that really set them off, teaching them that punishment is arbitrary, kindness is a mask, and other such {{Family Unfriendly Aesop}}s that they end up internalizing, along with a shortage or total lack of more positive role models, which eventually leads them to adopt a mentality not unlike "ThenLetMeBeEvil". This is partly because many people can't see why somebody would be so 'cold' and 'ruthless' without a good reason. But sociopathy generally does not have any better reason to be there than any other illness, mental or physical (although negative experiences with other human beings will change the way it manifests itself). Others have theorized that they often have abusive upbringings because their parents have the same mental illness as their children.


A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. In fact this is one of the things that makes Autism blur - at least, from the observer's point of view. Autistic people also see words in a very different light to normal people and might make a horrible joke about rape, murder or torture for the shock value, whereas a normal people might be hesitant. To Autistics, with their "Treat others as you would be treated" attitude, it is just a joke. If there's a victim in the audience, they'd be mortified - it's just that Autistic people, with their analytical minds, reason on the odds being that there's ''not''. A sociopath doesn't grasp the shock value factor of the joke. It's funny on the same level that a man being hit in the groin with a football is funny. And if there was a victim in the audience, they'd laugh at them too.

to:

A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. In fact this is one of the things that makes Autism blur - at least, from the observer's point of view. Autistic people also see words in a very different light to normal people and might make a horrible joke about rape, murder or torture for the shock value, whereas a normal people might be hesitant. To Autistics, with their "Treat others as you would be treated" attitude, it is just a joke. If there's a victim in the audience, they'd be mortified - it's just that Autistic people, with their analytical minds, reason on the odds being that there's ''not''. A sociopath doesn't grasp the shock value factor of the joke. It's funny on the same level that a man being hit in the groin with a football is funny. And if there was a victim in the audience, they'd laugh at them too.
people.


Hollywood tropes of "sociopaths" have built them up as fiendish, [[DastardlyWhiplash moustache-twirling]] evil MagnificentBastard VillainSue masterminds with an ImprobablyHighIQ, however, this doesn't quite reflect reality. In particular, the famous "Hannibal Lecter" archetype has heavily influenced subsequent characters, but Lecter is more of a comic book villain - real sociopaths don't act like that. The reality is different, in some ways better, and in some ways worse.

to:

Hollywood tropes of "sociopaths" have built them up as fiendish, [[DastardlyWhiplash moustache-twirling]] evil MagnificentBastard VillainSue masterminds with an ImprobablyHighIQ, however, this doesn't quite reflect reality. In particular, the famous "Hannibal Lecter" archetype has heavily influenced subsequent characters, but Lecter is more of a comic book villain - real sociopaths don't act like that. The reality is different, in some ways better, and in some ways worse.


A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. Thus you might hear a sociopath, ''honestly trying'' to keep his cover and blend in with normal society, suddenly crack a joke that they think is hilarious about rape, murder, torture, etc, that a normal person would find offensive and inappropriate. It is common for normal people to [[GoodCannotComprehendEvil think that a sociopath just doesn't understand the full moral implications of what they're doing, that if they thought they were "bad" they wouldn't do them]]. However that is one of the reasons why they do it and why they enjoy it. They are malignantly antisocial, and the [[EvilFeelsGood worse it is, the more they enjoy it]]. On a broad, theoretical level, they sort of understand that they're not supposed to admit to murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, arson, cannibalism, etc. but the exact line between "morally acceptable" or not is very blurred. Essentially they have learned to mimic the rules of the society that they live in, but little mistakes will give them away. In interviews with real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, etc. they seem to have surprisingly normal speech patterns, they're not ranting or raving, but if you pay close attention over a long period of time, every now and then they make little slips where they say bizarre or disturbing things -- because they're just ''pretending'' to be normal, its all an act.

to:

A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. Thus you might hear In fact this is one of the things that makes Autism blur - at least, from the observer's point of view. Autistic people also see words in a sociopath, ''honestly trying'' very different light to keep his cover and blend in with normal society, suddenly crack people and might make a horrible joke that they think is hilarious about rape, murder, torture, etc, that murder or torture for the shock value, whereas a normal person people might be hesitant. To Autistics, with their "Treat others as you would find offensive and inappropriate. be treated" attitude, it is just a joke. If there's a victim in the audience, they'd be mortified - it's just that Autistic people, with their analytical minds, reason on the odds being that there's ''not''. A sociopath doesn't grasp the shock value factor of the joke. It's funny on the same level that a man being hit in the groin with a football is funny. And if there was a victim in the audience, they'd laugh at them too.

It is common for normal people to [[GoodCannotComprehendEvil think that a sociopath just doesn't understand the full moral implications of what they're doing, that if they thought they were "bad" they wouldn't do them]]. However that is one of the reasons why they do it and why they enjoy it. They are malignantly antisocial, and the [[EvilFeelsGood worse it is, the more they enjoy it]]. On a broad, theoretical level, they sort of understand that they're not supposed to admit to murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, arson, cannibalism, etc. but the exact line between "morally acceptable" or not is very blurred. Essentially they have learned to mimic the rules of the society that they live in, but little mistakes will give them away. In interviews with real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, etc. they seem to have surprisingly normal speech patterns, they're not ranting or raving, but if you pay close attention over a long period of time, every now and then they make little slips where they say bizarre or disturbing things -- because they're just ''pretending'' to be normal, its all an act.


This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvi]][[XanatosSpeedChess zation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at [[AmusingInjuries a man getting hit in the groin by a football]] he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus, a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or [[BelievingTheirOwnLies honestly believing]] that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, which makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless"; sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear, and will be unconcerned if they do get caught in lies. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, [[YouKeepUsingThatWord misuse or misunderstand words]], or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.

to:

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvi]][[XanatosSpeedChess zation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary [[JustForFun/TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at [[AmusingInjuries a man getting hit in the groin by a football]] he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus, a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or [[BelievingTheirOwnLies honestly believing]] that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, which makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless"; sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear, and will be unconcerned if they do get caught in lies. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, [[YouKeepUsingThatWord misuse or misunderstand words]], or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.


These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) is [[AlwaysChaoticEvil almost never redeemable]], with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is usually less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.

to:

These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) life[[note]]some have theorized that Histrionic Personality Disorder (which is almost AlwaysFemale) and Antisocial Personality Disorder are merely [[DistaffCounterpart different expressions of the same disorder]][[/note]]) is [[AlwaysChaoticEvil almost never redeemable]], with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is usually less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.


These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) is almost never redeemable, with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is usually less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.

to:

These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) is [[AlwaysChaoticEvil almost never redeemable, redeemable]], with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is usually less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.


Hollywood tropes of "sociopaths" have built them up as fiendish, moustache-twirling evil MagnificentBastard VillainSue masterminds with an ImprobablyHighIQ, however, this doesn't quite reflect reality. In particular, the famous "Hannibal Lecter" archetype has heavily influenced subsequent characters, but Lecter is more of a comic book villain - real sociopaths don't act like that. The reality is in some ways much, much worse.

While to the casual observer going about their everyday business a sociopath "seems normal" and often possess a [[BitchInSheepsClothing superficial charm that can allow them to pass as normal people]], if you spend any length of time with them or ''know'' to be looking for sociopathic indicators, their "MaskOfSanity" won't hold up under high scrutiny. Essentially, it is a very insulting ClarkKentOutfit that sociopaths mentally put on when they try to blend in with society: they perceive normal people as a bunch of gullible, sentimental fools who slather each other with token pleasantries like "Hi, how are you? Looking good today, have you lost weight?" and then honestly put their "trust" in other people, based on these shallow pleasantries.

A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. Thus you might hear a sociopath, ''honestly trying'' to keep his cover and blend in with normal society, suddenly crack a joke that they think is hilarious about rape, murder, torture, etc, that a normal person would find offensive and inappropriate. It is common for normal people to think that a sociopath just doesn't understand the full moral implications of what they're doing, that if they thought they were "bad" they wouldn't do them. However that is one of the reasons why they do it and why they enjoy it. They are malignantly antisocial, and the [[EvilFeelsGood worse it is, the more they enjoy it]]. On a broad, theoretical level, they sort of understand that they're not supposed to admit to murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, arson, cannibalism, etc. but the exact line between "morally acceptable" or not is very blurred. Essentially they have learned to mimic the rules of the society that they live in, but little mistakes will give them away. In interviews with real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, etc. they seem to have surprisingly normal speech patterns, they're not ranting or raving, but if you pay close attention over a long period of time, every now and then they make little slips where they say bizarre or disturbing things -- because they're just ''pretending'' to be normal, its all an act.

Sociopaths do not necessarily have some sort of FreudianExcuse for their Lack of Empathy (although if they get caught out with a lie they will invent one). However, many works will have such characters grow up with [[AbusiveParents horrific abuse]], conditioning them to believe that they live in a [[StrawNihilist nihilistic]] [[SocialDarwinist dog-eat-dog]] CrapsackWorld where [[HumansAreBastards empathy is useless]]. One theory of sociopathy is that usually those who have it did not merely have Abusive Parents; rather, they had Abusive Parents who periodically would make some half-assed and short-lived attempt at discipline or generosity, or pretend that everything was "normal", for example to fool outsiders. It's the chaotic and random hypocrisy of the situation that really set them off, teaching them that punishment is arbitrary, kindness is a mask, and other such {{Family Unfriendly Aesop}}s that they end up internalising, along with a shortage or total lack of more positive role models, which eventually leads them to adopt a mentality not unlike "ThenLetMeBeEvil". This is partly because many people can't see why somebody would be so 'cold' and 'ruthless' without a good reason. But sociopathy generally does not have any better reason to be there than any other sickness (although negative experiences with other human beings will change the way it manifests itself). Others have theorized that they often have abusive upbringings because their parents have the same mental illness as their children.

to:

Hollywood tropes of "sociopaths" have built them up as fiendish, moustache-twirling [[DastardlyWhiplash moustache-twirling]] evil MagnificentBastard VillainSue masterminds with an ImprobablyHighIQ, however, this doesn't quite reflect reality. In particular, the famous "Hannibal Lecter" archetype has heavily influenced subsequent characters, but Lecter is more of a comic book villain - real sociopaths don't act like that. The reality is different, in some ways much, much better, and in some ways worse.

While to the casual observer going about their everyday business business, a sociopath "seems normal" "[[TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse seems]] [[VillainsBlendInBetter normal]]" and often possess a [[BitchInSheepsClothing superficial charm that can allow them to pass as normal people]], if you spend any length of time with them or ''know'' to be looking for sociopathic indicators, their "MaskOfSanity" won't hold up under high scrutiny. Essentially, it is a very insulting ClarkKentOutfit that sociopaths mentally put on when they try to blend in with society: they perceive normal people as a bunch of gullible, sentimental fools who slather each other with token pleasantries like "Hi, how are you? Looking good today, have you lost weight?" and then honestly put their "trust" in other people, based on these shallow pleasantries.

A feature of this is "semantic aphasia" -- sociopaths don't associate the same negative meanings to words as normal people. Thus you might hear a sociopath, ''honestly trying'' to keep his cover and blend in with normal society, suddenly crack a joke that they think is hilarious about rape, murder, torture, etc, that a normal person would find offensive and inappropriate. It is common for normal people to [[GoodCannotComprehendEvil think that a sociopath just doesn't understand the full moral implications of what they're doing, that if they thought they were "bad" they wouldn't do them.them]]. However that is one of the reasons why they do it and why they enjoy it. They are malignantly antisocial, and the [[EvilFeelsGood worse it is, the more they enjoy it]]. On a broad, theoretical level, they sort of understand that they're not supposed to admit to murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, arson, cannibalism, etc. but the exact line between "morally acceptable" or not is very blurred. Essentially they have learned to mimic the rules of the society that they live in, but little mistakes will give them away. In interviews with real-life serial killers like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, etc. they seem to have surprisingly normal speech patterns, they're not ranting or raving, but if you pay close attention over a long period of time, every now and then they make little slips where they say bizarre or disturbing things -- because they're just ''pretending'' to be normal, its all an act.

Sociopaths do not necessarily have some sort of FreudianExcuse for their Lack of Empathy LackOfEmpathy (although if they get caught out with a lie lie, they will invent one). However, many works of fiction will have such characters grow up with [[AbusiveParents horrific abuse]], conditioning them to believe that they live in a [[StrawNihilist nihilistic]] [[SocialDarwinist dog-eat-dog]] CrapsackWorld where [[HumansAreBastards empathy is useless]]. One theory of sociopathy is that usually those who have it did not merely have Abusive Parents; rather, they had Abusive Parents who periodically would make some half-assed and short-lived attempt at discipline or generosity, or pretend that everything was "normal", for example to fool outsiders. It's the chaotic and random hypocrisy of the situation that really set them off, teaching them that punishment is arbitrary, kindness is a mask, and other such {{Family Unfriendly Aesop}}s that they end up internalising, internalizing, along with a shortage or total lack of more positive role models, which eventually leads them to adopt a mentality not unlike "ThenLetMeBeEvil". This is partly because many people can't see why somebody would be so 'cold' and 'ruthless' without a good reason. But sociopathy generally does not have any better reason to be there than any other sickness illness, mental or physical (although negative experiences with other human beings will change the way it manifests itself). Others have theorized that they often have abusive upbringings because their parents have the same mental illness as their children.



In real life, medical tests conducted on sociopaths show that they're often unable to recognize pain or suffering in others - they're not necessarily ''evil'', they just lack the ability to "connect" to other people's feelings even if they understand them on a rational level. In fact, Cleckley notes that often the greatest harm that they bring to others is the worry and sleepless nights that they create in family members from their frequent unexplained absences, irresponsible and reckless behavior. Sociopaths are far more likely to be common, callous petty criminals, bullies and abusers than they are to be serial killers. That said, an "evil" person would probably score highly on a sociopathic checklist.

Brain scans have determined that there is indeed something structurally wrong with the brains of sociopaths. They have structural and functional abnormalities in their amygdala, the deep part of the brain responsible for generating emotions, and certain regions of their prefrontal cortex, which is involved in learning and the processing of higher emotions such as Empathy. [[EvilCannotComprehendGood They can't comprehend empathy]]. Heavy use of narcotics is associated with the development of sociopathy, because the drugs cause brain cell apoptosis (cellular death), causing brain lesions. Brain damage to their prefrontal cortex and some neurodegenerative diseases that affect the prefrontal cortex can cause a condition known as ''acquired sociopathy''. Genetics are also believed to have a large role to play in its development, and sociopathic traits in children who have otherwise healthy childhoods, known as callous and unemotional traits, have been detected from an early age.

They can use the rational part of their intellect to play-act or mime their way through ''imitating'' complex emotions, but they don't truly feel them, and thus can't really understand them. Besides pretentiousness and an utter lack of empathy, the other major defining feature of sociopaths is extreme impulsivity. Impulse Control Disorders have been shown to be caused by frontal lobe damage. They frequently complain of being "bored" and thus doing it "ForTheEvulz" psychologists suspect this is due to a lack of serotonin which causes the ever-present boredom and the seeking out of "exciting" activities, or because their damaged amygdala also structurally prevents them from restraining their impulses. Given that socialized traits like impulse control and ethical norms are initially learned by children through stimulated emotional responses, such as learning to associate breaking rules with fear or anxiety, and normally always evoke those same emotional responses at least to some degree throughout life, it follows that people who can't experience emotions in a normal way likewise can't readily learn through processes that rely on emotional responses.

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, once identified as such, [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people. Their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear, and will be unconcerned if they do get caught in lies. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.

Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. Their compulsive dishonesty and grandiosity also very often leads them to pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, medicine, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-minute opening speech" to lay persons (which often aids them in running cons or other fraudulent schemes), but which readily collapse in the face of actual expertise. It's common for sociopaths who are in trouble to try to "match wits" with clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results. (Ted Bundy, for example, insisted on retaining control of his own legal defense during his final murder trial despite the involvement of five court-appointed attorneys, and refused a plea bargain that would have kept him off death row and possibly allowed him a later appeal. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and died in the electric chair.)

TL;DR: We think that, for sociopaths, everything goes "[[GambitRoulette Just As Planned]]" when in fact that's what they want you to think. An exception to this cognitive weakness can exist in the more intelligent types of sociopaths who do know how to CutLexLuthorACheck and use their skills to rise in the social hierarchy.

The combined result is possibly one of the most frightening aspects of the most hardcore of sociopaths: Because they're so apathetic, impulsive and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], they have an [[AesopAmnesia inability to learn from past mistakes]] and it becomes impossible to punish them, and they never learn to fear punishment of any kind, even when it would mean their own destruction. The Sociopath never seems to see that there's a problem with the way he treats others and as such doesn't admit he has a problem, even if you humiliate him and kick him out - so it's tough to teach him a lesson. The only reason he'll stay in somebody's life is because that person is gullible and there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Thus criminal recidivism (re-offending) is highly correlated with sociopathy (On the plus side, though, this can cut both ways and make the sociopath prone to failing because they DidntThinkThisThrough; they might attempt to commit the same type of crime on three different occasions only to be foiled in the same exact way every time since they forget about what doomed them the last time).

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In real life, medical tests conducted on sociopaths show that they're often unable to recognize pain or suffering in others - they're not necessarily ''evil'', they just lack the ability to "connect" to other people's feelings even if they understand them on a rational level. In fact, Cleckley notes that often the greatest harm that they bring to others is the worry and sleepless nights that they create in family members from their frequent unexplained absences, and irresponsible and reckless behavior. Sociopaths are far more likely to be common, callous petty criminals, bullies and abusers than they are to be serial killers. That said, an "evil" person would probably score highly on a sociopathic checklist.

Brain scans have determined that there is indeed something structurally wrong with the brains of sociopaths. They have structural and functional abnormalities in their amygdala, the deep part of the brain responsible for generating emotions, and certain regions of their prefrontal cortex, which is involved in learning and the processing of higher emotions such as Empathy. [[EvilCannotComprehendGood They can't comprehend empathy]]. Heavy use of narcotics is associated with the development of sociopathy, because the drugs cause brain cell apoptosis (cellular death), causing and subsequently brain lesions. Brain damage to their prefrontal cortex and some neurodegenerative diseases that affect the prefrontal cortex can cause a condition known as ''acquired sociopathy''. Genetics are also believed to have a large role to play in its development, and sociopathic traits in children who have otherwise healthy childhoods, known as callous and unemotional traits, have been detected from an early age.

They can use the rational part of their intellect to play-act or mime their way through ''imitating'' complex emotions, but they don't truly feel them, and thus can't really understand them. Besides pretentiousness and an utter lack of empathy, the other major defining feature of sociopaths is [[LeeroyJenkins extreme impulsivity.impulsivity]]. Impulse Control Disorders have been shown to be caused by frontal lobe damage. They frequently complain of being "bored" and thus doing it "ForTheEvulz" psychologists suspect that this is due to a lack of serotonin serotonin, which causes the ever-present boredom and the seeking out of "exciting" activities, or because their damaged amygdala also structurally prevents them from restraining their impulses. Given that socialized traits like impulse control and ethical norms are initially learned by children through stimulated emotional responses, such as learning to associate breaking rules with fear or anxiety, and normally always evoke those same emotional responses at least to some degree throughout life, it follows that people who can't experience emotions in a normal way likewise can't readily learn through processes that rely on emotional responses.

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, once identified as such, [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people. Their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also [[EvilCannotComprehendGood poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions.reactions]]. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: improvi]][[XanatosSpeedChess zation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at [[AmusingInjuries a man getting hit in the groin by a football football]] he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus Thus, a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or [[BelievingTheirOwnLies honestly believing believing]] that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this which makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", "shameless"; sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear, and will be unconcerned if they do get caught in lies. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, [[YouKeepUsingThatWord misuse or misunderstand words, words]], or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.

Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. Their compulsive dishonesty and grandiosity also very often leads them to pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, medicine, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-minute opening speech" to lay persons (which often aids them in running cons or other fraudulent schemes), but which [[IgnorantOfTheirOwnIgnorance readily collapse in the face of actual expertise.expertise]]. It's common for sociopaths who are in trouble to try to "match wits" with clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results. (Ted Bundy, for example, insisted on retaining control of his own legal defense during his final murder trial despite the involvement of five court-appointed attorneys, and refused a plea bargain that would have kept him off death row and possibly allowed him a later appeal. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and died in the electric chair.)

TL;DR: We think that, for sociopaths, everything goes "[[GambitRoulette Just As Planned]]" Planned]]", when in fact that's what they want you to think. An exception to this cognitive weakness can exist in the more intelligent types of sociopaths who do know how to CutLexLuthorACheck and use their skills to rise in the social hierarchy.

The combined result is possibly one of the most frightening aspects of the most hardcore of sociopaths: Because they're so apathetic, impulsive impulsive, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], they have an [[AesopAmnesia inability to learn from past mistakes]] and it becomes impossible to punish them, and because they never learn to fear punishment of any kind, even when it would mean their own destruction. The Sociopath never seems to see that there's a problem with the way he treats others and as such doesn't admit he has a problem, problem (because he genuinely thinks he doesn't have one), even if you humiliate him and kick him out - so it's tough to teach him a lesson. The only reason he'll stay in somebody's life is because that person is gullible and there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Thus Thus, criminal recidivism (re-offending) is highly correlated with sociopathy (On the plus side, though, this can cut both ways and make the sociopath prone to failing because they DidntThinkThisThrough; they might attempt to commit the same type of crime on three different occasions only to be foiled in the same exact way every time since they forget about what doomed them the last time).



On the whole, however, they are completely impulsive and will keep doing bad things...because possessing no empathy, there is no greater rush for them than to cheat and harm other people. Being utterly impulsive and lacking any emotional and rational restraint, they'll keep doing harmful, self-destructive things. Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy killed dozens of people, not as spur-of-the-moment crime of passion, but consistently over many years...because they honestly enjoyed doing it, thought of their victims as simply objects for their amusement, and would never stop.

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On the whole, however, they are completely impulsive and will keep doing bad things...because possessing no empathy, there is no [[InHarmsWay greater rush rush]] for them than to cheat and harm other people. Being utterly impulsive and lacking any emotional and rational restraint, they'll keep doing harmful, self-destructive things. Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy killed dozens of people, not as spur-of-the-moment crime of passion, but consistently over many years...because they honestly enjoyed doing it, thought of their victims as simply objects for their amusement, and would never stop.



These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) is almost never redeemable, with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.

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These kinds of behaviors cause TheSociopath to be nigh-universally shown in fiction as remorseless, unsympathetic, and [[TheUnfettered unfettered]], and he ([[AlwaysMale and it is almost always a he]], as female sociopaths are extremely rarely diagnosed in real life) is almost never redeemable, with no remorse for their actions or the pain they cause others and take a sadistic pleasure in it; we very, ''very'' rarely get a sympathetic or redeemable sociopath. If a sociopath is portrayed as attractive or [[DracoInLeatherPants "sympathetic"]], it is usually less from actual sympathy and more from {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry and other examples of EvilIsCool. This is unfortunately frequently TruthInTelevision, as they often inflict repeated harm on both those close to them and strangers.



Additionally, from the Useful notes page on UsefulNotes/LackOfEmpathy: Publicly, sociopaths, psychopaths, and people with Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are thought of as the same thing. Officially, there is a distinction, albeit a very blurry and not entirely consistent one.\\

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Additionally, from the Useful notes UsefulNotes page on UsefulNotes/LackOfEmpathy: Publicly, sociopaths, psychopaths, and people with Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are thought of as the same thing. Officially, there is a distinction, albeit a very blurry and not entirely consistent one.\\



ASPD is the DSM's answer to psychopathy and was established out of concern that the diagnostic criteria of the psychopathic personality was too subjective. Because personality characteristics cannot be assessed objectively, ASPD diagnostic criteria disregards most of them and instead is based predominantly on the presence of a consistent, long-lasting pattern of antisocial behavior. As chronic antisocial behavior is not exclusive to a single disposition, this means that the diagnosis of ASPD covers a significantly larger population than that of a psychopathic personality -- most psychopaths fit the criteria for ASPD, but most people with ASPD would not be considered psychopaths according to the PLC-R.\\

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ASPD is the DSM's answer to psychopathy and was established out of concern that the diagnostic criteria of the psychopathic personality was too subjective.[[YMMV/HomePage subjective]]. Because personality characteristics cannot be assessed objectively, ASPD diagnostic criteria disregards most of them and instead is based predominantly on the presence of a consistent, long-lasting pattern of antisocial behavior. As chronic antisocial behavior is not exclusive to a single disposition, this means that the diagnosis of ASPD covers a significantly larger population than that of a psychopathic personality -- most psychopaths fit the criteria for ASPD, but most people with ASPD would not be considered psychopaths according to the PLC-R.\\



The difference between psychopathy and sociopathy is fuzzier. The term was introduced in 1909, reflecting the new suggestion that psychopathy was largely a product of [[SocietyIsToBlame social factors]]. It eventually came to be used to describe "secondary" psychopaths -- people who shared many characteristics with "primary" psychopaths, but were a product of severe social maladjustment and were capable of experiencing emotions of depression or fear. However, there is no official diagnosis of sociopathy/secondary psychopathy, and its distinction from psychopathy is more a matter of preference than fact.\\

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The difference between psychopathy and sociopathy is fuzzier. The term was introduced in 1909, reflecting the new suggestion that psychopathy was largely a product of [[SocietyIsToBlame social factors]]. It eventually came to be used to describe "secondary" psychopaths -- people who shared many characteristics with "primary" psychopaths, but were a product of severe social maladjustment and were capable of experiencing emotions of depression or fear.fear (in other words, a psychopath [[InTheBlood was born antisocial]]; a sociopath [[NurtureOverNature was driven to be antisocial]] [[FreudianExcuse by external circumstances]]). However, there is no official diagnosis of sociopathy/secondary psychopathy, and its distinction from psychopathy is more a matter of preference than fact.\\


The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people. Their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

to:

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], such, [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people. Their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.


Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. Their compulsive dishonesty and grandiosity also very often leads them to pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, medicine, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-minute opening speech" to lay persons (which often aids them in running cons or other fraudulent schemes), but which readily collapse in the face of actual expertise. (It's common for sociopaths to try to "match wits" with clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results.)

to:

Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. Their compulsive dishonesty and grandiosity also very often leads them to pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, medicine, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-minute opening speech" to lay persons (which often aids them in running cons or other fraudulent schemes), but which readily collapse in the face of actual expertise. (It's It's common for sociopaths who are in trouble to try to "match wits" with clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results.)
results. (Ted Bundy, for example, insisted on retaining control of his own legal defense during his final murder trial despite the involvement of five court-appointed attorneys, and refused a plea bargain that would have kept him off death row and possibly allowed him a later appeal. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and died in the electric chair.)


Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening speech" to lay persons, but that readily collapse in the face of actual expertise. (It's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results.)

to:

Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They Their compulsive dishonesty and grandiosity also very often leads them to pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, medicine, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sound convincing enough to give a good "two-line "two-minute opening speech" to lay persons, persons (which often aids them in running cons or other fraudulent schemes), but that which readily collapse in the face of actual expertise. (It's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart "match wits" with clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative proceedings, often with shambolic results.)


In real life, medical tests conducted on sociopaths show that they're often unable to recognize pain or suffering in others - they're not necessarily ''evil'', they just lack the ability to "connect" to other people's feelings even if they understand them on a rational level. In fact, Cleckley notes that often the greatest harm that they bring to others is the worry and sleepless nights that they create in family members from their frequent unexplained absences, irresponsible and reckless behavior. Sociopaths are far more likely to be callous petty criminals, bullies and abusers than they are to be diabolical fiends. That said, an "evil" person would probably score highly on a sociopathic checklist.

to:

In real life, medical tests conducted on sociopaths show that they're often unable to recognize pain or suffering in others - they're not necessarily ''evil'', they just lack the ability to "connect" to other people's feelings even if they understand them on a rational level. In fact, Cleckley notes that often the greatest harm that they bring to others is the worry and sleepless nights that they create in family members from their frequent unexplained absences, irresponsible and reckless behavior. Sociopaths are far more likely to be common, callous petty criminals, bullies and abusers than they are to be diabolical fiends.serial killers. That said, an "evil" person would probably score highly on a sociopathic checklist.



They can use the rational part of their intellect to play-act or mime their way through ''imitating'' complex emotions, but they don't truly feel them, and thus can't really understand them. Besides pretentiousness and an utter lack of empathy, the other major defining feature of sociopaths is extreme impulsivity. Impulse Control Disorders have been shown to be caused by frontal lobe damage. They frequently complain of being "bored" and thus doing it "ForTheEvulz" psychologists suspect this is due to a lack of serotonin which causes the ever-present boredom and the seeking out of "exciting" activities, or because their damaged amygdala also structurally prevents them from restraining their impulses. Given that socialized traits like impulse control and ethical norms are initially learned by children through stimulated emotional responses, such as learning to associate breaking rules with fear or anxiety, and normally always carry those evoked emotional responses to some degree throughout life, it follows that people who can't experience emotions in a normal way likewise can't readily learn through processes that rely on such evoked responses.

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.

to:

They can use the rational part of their intellect to play-act or mime their way through ''imitating'' complex emotions, but they don't truly feel them, and thus can't really understand them. Besides pretentiousness and an utter lack of empathy, the other major defining feature of sociopaths is extreme impulsivity. Impulse Control Disorders have been shown to be caused by frontal lobe damage. They frequently complain of being "bored" and thus doing it "ForTheEvulz" psychologists suspect this is due to a lack of serotonin which causes the ever-present boredom and the seeking out of "exciting" activities, or because their damaged amygdala also structurally prevents them from restraining their impulses. Given that socialized traits like impulse control and ethical norms are initially learned by children through stimulated emotional responses, such as learning to associate breaking rules with fear or anxiety, and normally always carry evoke those evoked same emotional responses at least to some degree throughout life, it follows that people who can't experience emotions in a normal way likewise can't readily learn through processes that rely on such evoked emotional responses.

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their people. Their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also poorly able themselves to accurately predict and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear.hear, and will be unconcerned if they do get caught in lies. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative this kind of communication actually is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories.


The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also with a poor ability to accurately predict it. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they actually are. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sounds convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening" to lay persons, but that readily collapse in the face of actual expertise (it's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other administrative processes, often with shambolic results).

to:

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Their Conversely, their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also with a poor ability poorly able themselves to accurately predict it.and understand other people's behavior and reactions. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're ways. They're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and words, and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke neologisms. Their speech also regularly invokes superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are they're also often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, pressed for detail, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they this kind of communication actually are. is. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. histories.

Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sounds sound convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening" opening speech" to lay persons, but that readily collapse in the face of actual expertise (it's expertise. (It's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other legal or administrative processes, proceedings, often with shambolic results).
results.)


This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they actually are. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sounds convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening" to lay persons, but that usually collapse in the face of actual expertise (it's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other administrative processes, often with shambolic results).

to:

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they actually are. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sounds convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening" to lay persons, but that usually readily collapse in the face of actual expertise (it's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other administrative processes, often with shambolic results).


The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and judgments that affect most people's behavior. Their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react and judge their behavior, but very often also with a poor ability to accurately predict it. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid for a given context, misuse words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they actually are. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily.

to:

The behavior of a sociopath also seems to make very little sense to those who observe them. An example would be a patient at a psychiatric facility who spends weeks trying to get grounds privileges. Once they have these privileges, they do something so obvious that a sensible person would expect to get caught, and which results in little gain, like escaping only to get into a fight at a nearby bar. It appears that they have just squandered something that they worked weeks for, for only a slight bit of amusement. This results because their cognitive abilities (i.e. ability to sort through information immediately coming from the surrounding environment) is limited by an inability to take responsibility and long term goals into consideration, making them unable to learn from punishment. Whatever the cause, this leads to one of the major disconnects between the Hollywood "evil supergenius" sociopath and the real-life kind: '''true sociopaths tend to be very bad at long-term planning'''. They cannot take the past or future into account; only the immediate present, and, thus, they largely lack the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of larger ends. They follow poorly planned out whims, purely focused on the immediate gratification and with ''zero'' thought of the consequences...even to themselves. Even when lying or bragging would only get them into even more trouble. Paradoxically, this can make sociopaths, [[GenreSavvy once identified as such]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder easier to predict]] than average people: their behavior will usually be directed toward the shortest and easiest perceived routes to their own immediate personal needs or wants, and will be unaffected by many of the varied, complex, and often conflicting constraints, influences, and internal and external judgments that affect most people's behavior. Their lack of empathy will also typically leave them not only apathetic to how other people are likely to react to and judge their behavior, but very often also with a poor ability to accurately predict it. This might be surprising considering how well sociopaths are often able to charm normal people in long-cons, blending into society...but a [[HonestJohnsDealership charming used-car salesman]] doesn't really need that much long-term planning.

This is because a sociopath's skills as a ManipulativeBastard is based largely on [[IndyPloy improvisation]]: they custom-tailor their lies spur-of-the-moment, without much thought as to how all of their lies will fit together into a cohesive whole. Not that they care, they'll just think up a [[VoodooShark new lie to patch over the inconsistency]], but over time they add up (to put it in [[TVTropesWillRuinYourVocabulary troper-speak]], this is the same kind of repetitive lying that drives a FawltyTowersPlot, the biggest difference being that a sociopath will continue building even as the lie is in the process of collapsing). For example, when Ted Bundy was asked if he ever did drugs, he launched into a long and rambling diatribe, first adamantly insisting that he never did, then that he might have tried marijuana, then admitting that he took marijuana and might have tried crack, but yeah, he still feels he "doesn't do drugs". Each individual sentence was "acted" wholeheartedly in their respective moments, because he was a shameless liar, but if you paid attention to the logic of his words, they were incredibly incoherent. John Wayne Gacy adamantly insisted in court that he was innocent, but when victims on the stand described how he tortured and nearly killed them, he started ''laughing'' in open court, sort of how a normal person might laugh at a man getting hit in the groin by a football he couldn't comprehend that this was inappropriate to normal people, nor did he realize how absurd it made his defense look. Thus a sociopath can maintain the mime-act of pretending to be normal for years, but this isn't really a "long-term plan" so much as they're so impulsive and willing to lie, that they just make up new lies every day. The reason for this charm is fairly simple: Having zero remorse and [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness the ability to discard anything if it does not suit them]], they have absolutely no fear of lying and/or honestly believing that TwoPlusTwoMakesFive, and this makes them very good actors. A major component of sociopathic lying is not appearing nervous, and being truly "shameless", sociopaths will tell you exactly what you want to hear. Pathological lying is caused by damage to the frontal lobes to the brain, so their compulsive lying is also a symptom of their illness. Additionally, sociopaths' emotional abilities are so stunted that their cognition and language are affected in characteristic ways: they're often unable to effectively grasp the emotional connotations of words (and so often use words with connotations that are either too sparse or else too florid for to be appropriate in a given context, misuse or misunderstand words, or create idiosyncratic neologisms); invoke superficial, hollow expressions of trite sentiment; and are often unable to maintain a coherent narrative in their communications when pressed, instead digressing into unresponsive tangents (or, more to the point, tangents responsive only to what they want to talk about). Their manipulative glibness, [[RefugeInAudacity the audacity of their lies]], use of DirtySocialTricks, and effective delivery often prevents their victims from catching on to how creepy and manipulative they actually are. It occasionally happens that even experienced psychologists studying probable sociopaths in custody get [[HannibalLecture taken in by their manipulation]] in interviews, only to later be shocked and embarrassed by how obvious the attempted manipulation was after reviewing the recordings of the interviews as well as clinical and criminal histories. Also, beyond being merely a functional necessity and outgrowth of their personality, sociopaths' compulsive lying is also driven by [[ItAmusedMe personal enjoyment]] at the thought of being able to manipulate people, called "duping delight" by at least one clinical psychologist. Their [[SmugSnake egocentric worldview]] is fed by the perception (whether accurate or not) that they are able to manipulate others easily.
easily. They also often pretend to expertise and knowledge in particular fields, such as psychology, philosophy, law, finance, business, science, or the arts, in ways that sounds convincing enough to give a good "two-line opening" to lay persons, but that usually collapse in the face of actual expertise (it's common for sociopaths to try to outsmart clinicians, law enforcement, correctional authorities, lawyers, judges, and other trained specialists, and to try to represent themselves in court or other administrative processes, often with shambolic results).

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