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Telling friends and family.First of all: more power to you. It is extremely rarefor a sociopath to decide to get treatment. You are doing the right thing.

"When you're going through hell, KEEP GOING."

-- SabrinaSingularity.

Excellent Comments and Ideas from other WikiAnswers members:

How have you come to recognize this? Perhaps you should find a therapist that you trust first of all and discuss the best way of letting your friends and family know. Sociopaths aren't by definition dangerous - many leaders of industry etc can be described as this so it your family don't necessarily need to be scared. Telling those close to you is scary because you care about what they think. But presenting things in the right way is half the battle - and people are always understand more than you give them credit for. I would love to talk to you further, as I am developing a documentary along these lines and am talking to people for my background research. My details are on my profile. Good luck.

Answerperhaps by keeping his seeking mental help out to himself to avoid conflict with family and friends. Answeryou could get a private evaluation and treatment and leave your friends out of it a community mental health center - hospital referral - the American Psychiatric and the American Psychological Associations have referral databases


The newest breakthroughs yield enormous insight into this perplexing and devastating condition that plagues four percent of the population!

Almost everyone in the world -- except psychopaths (sociopaths) and a few others, such as those with ADD -- has a neatly organized way of storing information in the brain. The left hemisphere handles such things as speech, logic, and sequential thinking. It helps one keep things in order. Meanwhile, the right hemisphere handles such things as appreciation of (or creation of) art, symbols that evoke emotion, and the way one puts together in the present time all the pieces of the world around him or her as far as it is known.

But NOT if you're a sociopath.

Studies (see the masterful work "Without Conscience" by Robert D. Hare, PhD.) have now conclusively demonstrated that the way such information is stored in the brain of a sociopath is not at all like the way it is for others.

Instead of things being organized into those specific regions in one or other of the brain's two hemispheres depending upon the type of information it is, the sociopath has a brain that operates a little bit like a computer hard drive: it breaks all data down into tiny fragments and stores it all over the place and in both hemispheres. Thus, to retrieve any given segment is formidable and leads to omissions and errors far more often than most people experience:

(Patient in an inpatient unit, to an NP who is organizing an outing.) "No, I'm not going out with you guys this time, and I'm going to buy some magazines when I'm there." HUH???? This kind of thing, as Hare demonstrates, happens all the time.

Clinicians give numerous (including some erroneous) reasons for not wanting to treat sociopaths, and one of the more surprising ones is that it's very difficult at times to make sense of what the patient is saying.

Unlike the jumbled mess of a schizophrenic's speech, the sociopath's speech makes sense within the fragments, but when these parts of speech are strung together, they are often jarringly incompatible. Did the sociopath in the inpatient hospital intend to go out and buy some magazines? Or did she decide to stay in? She seemed to think she could do both at the same time. If the NP who had asked her was astute enough, she might've said, "Miss Smith, if you don't want to go out, why don't you write down what you want us to pick up and give us the money to buy it?" Although that's a realistic way to do both things at the same time, one might wonder why the patient didn't just say so in the first place!

When you speak, your brain is going through a staggering feat of juggling and data-organization at a speed that makes broadband look like a snail trail. If your cerebral cortex is storing your vocabulary and the related ideas behind it, as well as all of the other numerous types of information it must handle, in the right places, this isn't so hard; if your brain has to fumble all over the place for tiny fragments of data and try to assemble it fast enough to keep up with your conversation, it is not going to be easy -- and trained professionals will know that something, at least, is awry.

So, now scientists know that the seemingly meaningless and frequent lies that the sociopath tells may not all be actual lies. Some are lies, particularly in sociopaths who have broken the law and are trying to charm or bully their way out of trouble. But some -- especially impulsive-sounding bragging or announcements of lofty intent ("I'm gonna get out of this bugbox and write a best-selling novel, climb Mount Everest, and go work for NASA!") -- are not intended to deceive others so much as to tell them "I want to do something with my life!" But, sadly, lacking the means and wherewithal to do this, the sociopath will undoubtedly end up in trouble all over again.

Think about it: you know something isn't right, but you can't tell other people, because you have not the slightest idea how to phrase what's wrong. Plus, for some odd reason, everyone keeps getting rubbed the wrong way by you.

You try to get ahead in life, but everybody keeps telling you about these strange rules you're supposed to obey, that they all seem to know by heart, but you don't. So you study them and try to memorize them and use them by rote, but keep messing up because you have no mechanism to tell you (from within) that you're stumbling over the line again, and inevitably, you do.

Then everyone gets mad at you and among other things tells you that you know perfectly well what the rules are, so why don't you obey them?

You start to secretly suspect they're adding new ones or changing the old rules around just to get you to screw up, but actually that isn't true -- however, you have no real way of knowing that, either.

As if all this isn't enough, you feel at the very least uncomfortable, and at the worst like a human bomb, most of the time you're awake, which at times can be several days in a row. You notice that the very things that make other people happy have a very opposite effect on you: your head fills with jarring "static," like a radio playing with the tuner caught between two or more stations. Reacting instinctively to this, you try to push people away because their closeness causes the static to get worse, but then you discover a new problem: you seem to need them anyway.

You seem to need something from other people, but you don't know why. That hug each other and smile, not a phony smile but a real one, and their eyes light up. They get close and they talk to each other without having to closely study the other's eyes to try to figure out what to do in response. This seems to be a delicious pleasure to them, much better than anything you've ever experienced.

But if you try it, and if you are actually lucky enough to persuade one of them to attempt such a relationship and interaction with you, it immediately starts to turn sour on you. Their touch does not warm you; you feel colder and deader than ever.

You don't know how to give back, so you end up grasping for words you've heard used by other people and trying to fake your way through it so they won't figure out how you are; you've experienced enough to know by this time that when others figure out your difference, they hate you for it; in fact, you've been told you're "not a real person" and that you "have no soul" (you're not too sure what a soul is, anyway) and that people like you "ought to be lined up and shot"!

After trying several times in this new relationship to get the pleasure other people are always basking in, and failing, you start to get angry at all of this -- and the anger builds into a terrible, towering rage that begins to make you feel like a human bomb. "I will actually, physically explode if I don't..." you're thinking, and yet under the rage there is a weird, disconsolate feeling that even your burgeoning hatred is as hollow and empty and starved as you are. You might at this point even consider taking your life, and certainly you may think about taking lives of some of these lucky, smugly superior others. You settle for embezzling money, or who knows what; something of that sort; you're clever and manipulative and you don't get caught. Triumph!

Or not. The things you buy please you for five minutes; a day, tops. Then...flat, meaningless, like so much else in your life.

Of course, you may suddenly feel that you don't HAVE a life -- and you never will. That's starting to seem increasingly clear.

But WHY???? Does it have to be so?


I refuse to accept that it does.

You see "The Others," as you're starting to think of them, studying diligently to help and even to cure other kinds of weird things wrong with people's minds, most of which seem to have to do with the brain.

But no one seems to know what's going on in you.

Except for one thing: the mere fact that some scientists know as much as they do about the brain of a sociopath means that solving the problem is no longer an impossible and obscure wish -- it's moving within the realm of concrete possibility.

As soon as large numbers of sociopaths begin to be treated in a way that actually helps them, that corrects as much as possible the chaos of misdirected signals in their confused and disorganized brains, and then a form of therapy that in addition to that, by necessity, teaches them to cope with the resulting maelstrom of emotion and impression that was formerly impossible, so that they can put it in order and start to develop the heretofore dormant and silent segments of their brains and better use those formerly mixed-up areas where no recognizable order ruled, THEN THE OTHERS MAY BEGIN TO NOTICE WHAT IS GOING ON...and they will know at least this much: instead of "the kiss of death," a diagnosis of ASPD (the DSM-IV way of saying sociopathy or psychopathy) will lead someplace; that there will be things done that actually make a difference.

Crippled as they are neurologically, sociopaths are yet shrewd, and they're always looking out for themselves in a way similar to that of a loner predator. Seeing others like them actually benefiting from treatment will have to start persuading them that there's something to gain in going for help after all.

Not being rejected or met with "We can't help you; you're evil incarnate," or the equivalent thinly disguised in euphemistic Psychology jargon; NOT being met with a situation where they'd have to substitute symptoms of an "acceptable" illness in place of those they bear in secret -- that would almost certainly, if gradually, have an effect: if a sociopath can clearly see a benefit coming from admitting his or her real situation, there's nothing to stop him or her from doing just that.

It's already started to happen, if in a tiny, barely perceptible trickle.

Right now, all science has at the ready for them is to use various types of preexisting medication given in attempts to counteract the chaotic way the brain of a sociopath functions. That and types of talk therapy carefully altered to avoid the pitfalls that have in the past caused regular therapies to make sociopaths worse instead of better. But the more that scientists such as Robert Hare and his colleagues delve into and experiment with the new types of brain scans and learning what makes sociopaths tick like human bombs, the more likely that it becomes with each passing year that a means will soon be isolated to defuse those bombs.

The primary source of a sociopath's infamous rage is frustration, of a sort so alien and so extreme that almost no one else can understand what it means. Once they start getting taken seriously, that frustration, and the wild rage it provokes, will lessen, and since it is a primary source of the constant distrust that makes regular therapy fail sociopaths, the defusing of that rage and its maddening causes will be a huge step in the right direction.

I have commented elsewhere that the human brain is the greatest new frontier in many ways. (Although I certainly have no lack of interest in space.)

Sociopaths, along with other "hopeless cases" like people with Alzheimer's disease, Down's syndrome, Asperger's, ADD, ADHD, autism, and the schizophrenias, along with more common disorders such as depression and addiction, and so on, are a mystery, but scientists have a way of hammering away at mysteries until they unravel them, and they are well on their way to the core of this one.

If you are fairly young, it will come within your lifetime.

Personal comments from a diagnosed psychopath:

I am living in a group home run by a deeply empathic and compassionate woman who believes that sociopaths need some kind of help, including medication, and to this end she has helped to support me as I searched for a therapist who wouldn't slam the door in my face as though I had the plague!

I was diagnosed as a "primary psychopath" in 1992, by a young male clinical psychologist. He "treated" me for eighteen months, if one can call the hell he put me through 'treatment'. It very nearly killed me.

It took MORE THAN TEN YEARS after that to locate a therapist who was brave enough to take me on. But I did, after trying so many I lost count, and being rejected with open contempt and even threats. The one I found isn't easily rattled.

Even so, she had to adapt at first, learning that, no, my being as I am doesn't automatically make me lie about everything and, no, I'm not absolutely hopeless, despite the "very poor" prognosis the clinical psychologist who originally diagnosed me insisted on including in his own report on me.

He also vehemently warned other local clinics to reject me and to bar me from entering. Even the local Rape Recovery Center refused to let me in. It's incredible the power the word "psychopath" carries!

To my face, he told me I have "no soul," that he couldn't imagine any sane person wanting to be my friend, and that no emotion I ever expressed was real.

If I cried during a session, he'd snap at me to cut the act, no one was buying it. If I said it was real, he told me that it wasn't possible to hurt me, because people like me aren't ever vulnerable. Again, he reminded me that I have no soul, just an empty space where a soul would be if I was a real person.

I tried to be optimistic back then, just like I try sometimes now. And so, when I said to him that everyone has a gift to bring to the world and that that included me, he dismissed my optimism as egocentricity. How could a walking corpse like me have anything to offer?

He said I was impervious to any kind of pain. But that wasn't how I felt. I did feel pain. I felt a lot of pain. I started cutting myself again, just to try to show it, because my face was like a mask, unable to communicate pain or anything else.

I couldn't cry at first, then I did, really cried for the first time in many years, but he said that my tears were "all for show; crocodile tears, meant to impress," and told me that he was not impressed with my acting skills.

If ever I did anything 'good,' the motive was suspect, he'd say.

I used to wonder why he pretended to be treating me at all, then.

It was like that when I showed -- or TRIED to show -- him my high school diploma and college papers, to prove my education: he refused to look at them, and I said in exasperation, "Then I guess I can't prove you wrong!" -- so he entered in my records, "Patient admits she cannot prove she attended high school or college"! I believe THAT qualifies as a gross twisting of the truth.

Once I was unhappy about impending surgery and he lit into me, calling me "Rebel Without A Cause," which drives me up a wall, and he was sneering at me with contempt and refusing to accept that what I actually felt was fear and depression.

He said I had an attitude problem because I was sitting hunched in my chair. I knew that this time my sadness and fear were showing on my face, but he misread it as sneering cockiness, what he expected to see. He tended to do that every time I was depressed. It's like there's something wrong with my face, and those emotions don't look like other people's -- or something about him made it so he just couldn't read them.

It was always like: Oh, that's right, of course, I forgot. I don't have any real human feelings; I'm not even a person; I'm just a "fembot"!

Right. I don't think so.

With the diagnosis in my records, no one wanted to touch my case. I even had trouble finding a regular doctor and a dentist! I was a pariah!!

I once had a county case-manager who told me I wasn't allowed to speak to her while we went places in the effort to find me a therapist, doctor, dentist, etc.! The "no talking" rule was only for me, because "my kind" send out words like an attack, bombarding people with what some call "verbal vomit". So, right from the start, I was prohibited from speaking to her. Unless she asked me a question, then I had to answer it in less than ten words, which she very often incorrectly assumed were lies.

Later the agency dumped me -- because of my diagnosis, I'm sure -- but what they claimed was that I had too many physical problems and that their workers were trained to deal with the mentally handicapped but not the physically handicapped.

Suuuuure! I'm not even in a wheelchair, and I go hiking and such! Gimme a break. They were all, "She can't even pull open doors; she has trouble with stairs; she can't lift heavy weights," and yet neither could one of the case-managers who worked with me over time.

So, on the one hand, people have shunned and scorned and sometimes flagrantly abused me.

On the other hand, it is true that I'm more or less dead inside, that I don't have a conscience, that I've never felt love (including for myself; I mean, I don't get it -- how does a person love herself??), that I cannot be a decent friend or a decent person for that matter, and that I owe a warning to anyone who attempts to befriend me that I'm pure poison.

In fact, I even accept that my essential nature is evil.

If I had a deep religious faith as do so many of the people here where I live, I'd have to conclude that I am damned.

But I don't believe in an afterlife. But then, how could someone like me believe in such a thing? I don't even believe in me.

I've surprised myself by deciding I definitely don't want to die. That'll happen way too soon anyway.

Anyway, MY POINT HERE IS THIS: I've been telling people, although you must not ever just allow anyone to abuse you, REMEMBER AS WELL THAT PSYCHOPATHS ARE IN FACT LIVING MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RACE.

Defending oneself against a psychopath is one thing; attacking someone just for being one is quite another. I do not need to have a conscience to see that!

How can people know I'm "totally hopeless" if they never give me a chance? The therapist I see now is doing just that, and this all, in combination with medications that change the ways my nervous system functions, seems to be helping me.

Which, of course, is supposedly impossible. Well. It's happening anyway, and not just to me; now I do know there are other ones out there too!

It's true that traditional therapy doesn't help people like me. As I'm sure you know by now...

But NO therapy isn't right, either: one can become a time-bomb, and draw very near to detonation. My therapist is working patiently and confidently on defusing that bomb.

She has repeatedly said I can get a lot better, but that the problems I have with my nervous system may be lifelong. I will almost certainly be taking medications all my life.

I'd like "all my life" to be a very long time.

Almost funny: I once was asked if I had the legal right to vote. I said of course I do; I've never committed a felony. Whomever had asked was indignant that "my kind" can vote, since we are presumably motivated only by evil. Funny; it sometimes seems that most of the politicians being voted for are, too.

In any case, the relentless, searing hatred that had ruled my life and eaten away at what was left of my health as long as I can remember has, for the very first time in my remembered life, relented enough to permit me to do things like this. But I know it is still there, and I will deal with it...

I don't know what I'd have done without professional help, and I'd rather not think of it. I have a feeling I'd have been rather well-known by now, and NOT in a good way!! ("CSI: Real Life"!!)

I'd rather be known as "One who got better."

My purpose in telling this is to illustrate that it doeshappen...

Keep Going.


Quite often, sociopaths in professional fields, such as dentistry or medicine, are over-achievers. They build up a wall of credibility in their chosen profession. This wall shields them from persecution and accusation from their clients. They are respected and awed by members of their chosen community for their accomplishments. I have personally known a doctor, and recently a dentist, that are sociopaths. They abuse their patients repeatedly, while their offices are shrouded in awards and certificates demonstrating how awesome they are. In one case, the dentist, Narcissism was very apparent. The patient feels helpless because the doctor or dentist is so well respected that no one would believe them if they spoke out against him or her.

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Q: How can a sociopath who has come to recognize his disorder seek help without scaring off his friends and family?
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