Throughout your life, you’d probably come across those people who you’d call ‘Psycho,’ those people who live their lives recklessly, be it driving down your peaceful suburban road at speeds exceeding 50mph, or continuously getting into fights down the pub. Basically these people seem to live their lives on the edge. However, these people aren’t to be confused with the type of person which I’d like to write about in this post, the ‘Psychopath.’
Now you may well be wondering as to why I am talking about Psychopaths (or Sociopaths as they are referred to nowadays) in a post about ‘Adult Bullying.’ Well the reason for this is because unlike most bullies, sociopathic bullies are probably one of the worst types of bullies which one could ever hope to get on the wrong side of. Furthermore, as sociopaths look just like the rest of us the only real way to know if you are dealing with a sociopath is by first knowing how they typically behaves. Yet even then you cannot be certain that he or she is a sociopath for while many people may behave the same way a sociopath would, under mental health examinations you’d find that they were not actually sociopaths.
So what exactly defines a sociopath? Well according to Dr Robert Hare, a leading expert on the subject, someone can be defined as a sociopath if they are said to possess most (if not all) of the following characteristics (before mentioning what these are, I would just like to add that while it may be fun to evaluate people you know on whether they have these tests or not, one needs to be a mental health expert to say with certainty whether such person is or isn’t).
TRAITS OF A SOCIOPATH
LACK OF REMORSE
While there are times when every one of us can be said to show a lack of guilt over something that has happened, Sociopaths on the other hand take this lack of remorse to the extreme, with some never having experienced true guilt in their lives. This is probably one of the reasons for why sociopaths are the worst types of bullies that one could come across; they will happily cross a line in intimidating their targets which no ordinary bully would usually cross. For instance, if a target of theirs is off from work due to grief over loss of a loved one, a sociopath would happily mock them about it the day they return to work. And they won’t ever feel any sort of guilt about what they had done, no matter what anyone says to them.
Another trait of the sociopath is the inability to feel any emotion at the level of depth that the average person would feel. They don’t tend to feel love to another in the same way that we would, treasuring members of their own family in a manner not to different to how you would love your own television or car.
Likewise, they don’t tend to feel much anxiety at all. If someone were to point a gun towards you, you’d probably sweat, tremble and be sick, etc. A sociopath wouldn’t feel such emotions to the extent that you or I would feel (perhaps just a little tremble, that be it). Similarly when things are going bad, a sociopath wouldn’t get depressed or feel despair, but probably go off to find something more fun.
LOW TOLERANCE TO BOREDOM
Having said that sociopaths don’t tend to feel much in regards to emotions, this is true in regards to most emotions except boredom. One of the main motivations behind most sociopathic behaviour is boredom. Unfortunately the simple things which would alienate boredom for normal person, such as driving along the road in open top car at speed just slightly above the speed limit would probably not do much for a sociopath. For a sociopath to be excited, they would probably have to push the car as fast as it can go, perhaps in a speed chase with the police, while having Class A drugs on them as well.
This would explain why when bullying their targets, a sociopath would be one of those bullies who won’t leave their targets alone. If in the office for instance, the sociopath would be one who would always be round their targets desk for instance, making their work lives hell.
MANIPULATION & LYING
Sociopaths tend to be manipulative and chronic liars. This is one of the reasons why it has taken experts so long to identify sociopaths and what makes them tick, due to the fact that they continuously lie about what they are thinking or have done. Likewise due to their shallow emotions, most sociopaths don’t tend to feel bad on being rejected by others and as such, can happily try again on the same (or different) person, altering their approaches ever so slightly till they master the best way to act.
This explains why sociopaths therefore can become rather good manipulators, they learn what interactions product the results and use those tactics in relationships to get what they want. Hence if been bullied by a sociopath, this explain why they are often so good at intimidating you, they have observed through prior interactions what works (and doesn’t work) with you and refined their manipulative skill.
IMPULSIVE & IRRESPONSIBLE
As you may have guessed from the prior traits, sociopaths aren’t very responsible people, in that on making a decision which didn’t turn out so well, they aren’t the type of person to take accountability for that decision. Along with their low tolerance of boredom, you can see how a sociopath is a very impulsive person, tending to not live their lives with much order or long-term plans. As such, your typical sociopath is unlikely to be the sort of person who will be truly successful in life or accomplish anything great, due to their reluctance to put in the hours of work required for success, as well as taking accountability for their mistakes (keys to success).
Having said that, many sociopaths are often found in perceivably success positions, such as high up in the corporate environment, be it head of sales, etc. Though most don’t tend to last long in such positions, it is interesting how many reach these positions and this is due to;
SUPERFICIAL, GLIB CHARM
One of the traits which sociopaths have in abundance, which to be honest many of us wished we have is charm (charisma). While all their other traits would make them stand out a mile as someone who you’d certainly not want to be around, what makes these social chameleons fit well into groups and move up the social hierarchy very quickly is the charm that most possess. In many cases, people claimed that they knew X person for years and thought that he was a nice, charming person, only to find out afterwards that this person is really a sociopath.
So what makes sociopaths so superficially charming? Well one of the traits which make up their charm is a high verbal IQ. These people can be very witty, complimentary (to the people they wish to please), etc whilst being nasty bullies or extremely cold to everyone else. Likewise their ability to tell lies and lack of shame when been caught out means that they can easily convince one that they are something that they are not. They can manipulate our emotions into making us feel what they want us to. It comes as no surprise therefore that when dealing with sociopathic bully, you may feel at a disadvantage when the bully can almost charm the birds of the trees and everyone else loves him or her, but at the same time they are making your life an absolute hell.
To say that a sociopath loves themselves would be an understatement, they are obsessed with themselves. To these people, they feel that they are a superior being living in an inferior world. As such they don’t really see any problem with who they are, even when been diagnosed as sociopaths. They love the attention it can bring when discovered, else if not discovered, will happily talk for hours about all the great things they have done (lies) and high-powered goals they will achieve (though they never tend to have any plans in which to implement those goals).
It seems to be part of the human condition to gravitate towards those who seem to have an air of confidence around them and sociopaths ooze this confidence. Along with their charm and convincing lying skills, they can be one of the most impressive people one could hope to meet, often keeping the charade up for many years before being uncovered for who they really are.
Unfortunately sociopaths are one of those types of people who will tend to move up the corporate ladder very quickly, due to their high levels of charisma and ability to deceive people into thinking that they are excellent. Fortunately for those of us who more acute don’t take things on face value but look beneath, a very different picture emerges.
For instance I once heard the story of a guy who joined an organisation and very quickly moved up to a high-level within the organisation, been put in charge of his own department. His department were the most effective department in the whole entire office. Fortunately it was only when senior management were investigating a case of missing stock from the organisation did the trail lead back to this guy. Further investigation uncovered that in actuality, this guy had never done proper days’ work, instead intimidating those around him to do his work for him whilst he took all the credit. This explained why his department were one of the most productive departments around, they were all too scared to stand up to this intimidating sociopath and so undertook all the work set out, whilst at the same time he was pulling the wool over everyone else’s eyes, making them believe what a fantastic achiever he was.
Further analysis of his prior background later revealed that he had lied completely about all his past achievements and jobs. Unfortunately almost everyone had been taken in by his charm to the point where they had overlooked the obvious background checks. He was subsequently fired!
From the traits mentioned above, it is no doubt that anyone having a sociopathic bully with most of these traits would certainly be in for a hard time. Due to their lack of conscience, it is probably not worth trying to tackle the sociopathic bully as if it were a personal war for there is no low that these people would happily sink to. Likewise due to their lack of fear, etc, reporting them to whoever is in charge (employer if at work) is unlikely make them back off out of fear of punishment. However as sociopaths are impulsive by nature, the chances are that if you become a hardened target (not letting them get to you and continuously dealing with their bullying efforts) they will probably get bored with you and move on to someone else.
So if you believe that your bully maybe a sociopath, than the first thing I’d recommend you do is to seek out some sort of support and help, knowing that many sociopaths on being caught would simply move on to their next target rather than try and intimidate you!