People have all kinds of thoughts that float through their heads. Sometimes you think about your to do list or dream about plans or activities that you're hoping will fall into place in the future. Sometimes you fume about a person or events that hurt you or made your life difficult. No one's thoughts are purely pleasant all the time — they don't always show people at their best (or they wouldn't, if other people knew what they were). But if you get these thoughts, you may think like a sociopath, at least, occasionally.
Now, it's important to emphasize that just because you occasionally have a thought similar to those that someone with antisocial personality disorder (the diagnosis that people sometimes referred to as sociopaths have) would have, it in no way means that you too have the diagnosis. Just because these thoughts might pop into your head from time to time does not mean that you're a sociopath. That's super important. Additionally, even if you were, at some point, diagnosed with the disorder, that doesn't mean that you'll ever commit a crime, as Dr. Deborah J. Cohan, PhD, an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina—Beaufort, tells Romper by email, despite the fact that some people associate sociopathy with criminal behavior.
Though these thoughts don't mean that you are a sociopath, they're thoughts that likely wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for someone who actually is.
1. I'm Not Sorry
Sociopaths often can't experience remorse, so being sorry often isn't really a part of the way they do things. "What’s different about sociopaths is not so much what they think but what they don’t feel," Laurie Endicott Thomas, MA, ELS, the author of Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health, tells Romper by email. "They’re a bit like a Terminator. They don’t feel much pity or remorse or fear."
They often aren't sorry and sometimes you might think that you're not either.
2. Everything Keeps Falling Apart
NRP reported that the author of the memoir, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, M.E. Thomas (a pen name), noted that she began going to therapy after things in her life (relationships, jobs) kept falling apart every couple of years, and that, though therapy didn't help her, eventually she realized that she was a sociopath after remembering a coworker's comment and searching for information about it. Sociopaths can sometimes struggle with relationships, as well as not take their responsibilities as seriously as they might need to, like consistently showing up late to work, Healthline noted. So those things can be related.
Sometimes it can feel like everything is falling apart and in those instances it's only natural to wonder why, but for some people who fall on that sociopath spectrum, this thought might be related to their own patterns of behavior as related to their diagnosis.
3. How Can This Person Help Me?
Because they sometimes look at people as pawns instead of people, sociopaths can struggle with forming real, lasting relationships, as Dr. Donald W. Black, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, told Health. When you look at relationships as transactional, the thought of "how can they help me?" can become a regular one.
But people are sometimes self-centered, especially if they're working to achieve specific goals, so you too may have thought this at least once in the past.
4. How Can I Use This Person Or This Position To My Benefit?
Sociopaths are also master manipulators, in many cases, so, again, they want to make sure they take full advantage of any person, position, or situation that might benefit them or just entertain them, as the previously-mentioned Health article noted.
"To the sociopath, their emotional coldness may feel like a form of superpower," Thomas says. "To them, our strong emotions may seem like a weakness for them to exploit."
And since nearly everyone is guilty of trying to get the best deal for themselves at some point or another, even if you're not manipulating anyone or breaking any rules to do it, this thought too may have crossed your mind at some point in the past.
5. What's The Benefit Versus The Potential Costs?
When you're making a big decision, it's not unusual to weigh the pros and cons of both sides to make sure that you're doing what you think is good for you.
For sociopaths, a weighing of costs versus benefits can happen too. "For this reason, they may actually behave reasonably well most of the time, simply because crime does not pay," Thomas says. They can be very rational, like you can when you have to decide something that will have potentially significant consequences.
6. I Know This Is Wrong, I Just Don't Care
Cohan says that sometimes a sociopath will have some sort of inkling that what they're doing isn't the right thing, but that they'll continue to do it anyway. People who aren't sociopaths can sometimes think this too. Regardless of what it is that you're doing that you know you probably shouldn't be (for whatever reason), that thought of doing it anyway is probably quite familiar to many people who would fall under the sociopathy umbrella.
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