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The latest sociopath

  1. Feb 1, 2012 #1
    He actually called my business, claiming that he wanted us to represent him in court (which we don't do for any individual). He then told a story about how he was wrongly charged, that he did not make terroristic threats (or something of that matter) and that he deserved, by virtue of his disability, our lawyers to concentrate on his case. There was an immature tone to his voice, like he had practiced sounding honest to himself. Fortunately, he was not well practiced in his argument, so I showed him back to his public defender. He did not immediately demand to speak to our Executive Director, curse a blue streak or verbally manipulate our representatives into arbitrary arguments, as some with antisocial personality disorder do.

    Most sociopaths learn early from their parents, like the woman whose adult son had "only" committed two felonies. She was appalled to find out that jail diversion was only for those with at most one strike. She seemed to know that what I had to offer was a repeat of what she had gleaned from the courts, other organizations, lawyers and the juvenile system. Her son just didn't belong in prison. Apparently, she had a history of bailing him out rather than demanding responsibility from him. I explained that over 30% of prisoners have a mental disorder, that her son was no exception and would likely not be placed in a mental hospital. At least she did not attack me over the phone.

    I have learned that there is a great divide between the disease of mental illness and the learned condition of sociopathy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2012 #2
    From what I've read it's not considered to be "learned". There is actually a tell tale fmri that demonstrates certain activity, or lack thereof, in the frontal lobes. However, it might well be very hard to detect a difference between the behavior of a sociopath and someone who's been chronically indulged from birth. In some cases it's hard to tell the difference between a sociopath and someone in a manic state. They're both highly confident, manipulative, and self-centered.

    Anyway, sorry you had to deal with someone like that. That's gotta be a pain.
  4. Feb 1, 2012 #3


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    There's a TV journalist who took the sociopath fmri test and didn't respond emotionally to pictures of dead/mutilated bodies, but he wasn't a sociopath by DSM standards.

    Can't rememberthe show. Dude looked kind of likethe guy who played Sylar from Heros.
  5. Feb 1, 2012 #4
    Did you hear about this guy? :

  6. Feb 1, 2012 #5


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    Yeh, he gave a TED talk
  7. Feb 1, 2012 #6


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  8. Feb 1, 2012 #7
    I am probably completely wrong, but I have read some, that nutrition plays a role as well. There is a book, nutrition and physical degeneration by weston price, where he studied the effects of the western diet on native tribes. I found it amazing how a tribe used to eating unprocessed food, had huge changes within a generation of switching to the western processed food diet. Nasal cavities changed, giving birth became difficult. facial features changed, and the main reason he was there, their dental health changed abruptly and detrimentally. One of the later chapters was about nutrition and how it may cause sociopaths. It is an interesting read although very dry and takes a bit to get through it.
  9. Feb 1, 2012 #8


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    I am confused. Where and when did you determine that this guy was a sociopath? Did I miss something?
  10. Feb 1, 2012 #9
    That's unsettling about the changes in the tribes.

    Do you recall what sort of nutritional things he thought might cause sociopathy?
  11. Feb 1, 2012 #10


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    I assumed Loren Booda works in or owns a law firm that specializes in insanity defenses.
  12. Feb 2, 2012 #11
    No. As part of my job I refer those with mental illness to lawyers (usually pro bono). The great majority of people calling are genuinely good, poor folks. This recent caller I refer to was selfish to the point of manipulating beyond what I believe is a reasonable standard, the concerns of most callers. He had the story of a lying teenager, believed he was entitled for free services for the indigent (which he was not) and exhibited several of the following behaviors:

    "Be able to act witty and charming
    Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions
    Break the law repeatedly
    Disregard the safety of self and others
    Have problems with substance abuse
    Lie, steal, and fight often
    Not show guilt or remorse
    Often be angry or arrogant"

    (from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000921.htm)

    I am not a clinician, but have a good feel for such a person. A survival mechanism might be ingrained with the general public to recognize sociopaths, but sadly not with my neighbor who was murdered by one.
  13. Feb 2, 2012 #12
    To be honest, I'm not really sure what you're talking about here.

    Just start over and state exactly what happened and why it's bothering you. I'm an old guy and I've dealt with felons. Maybe I can help.
  14. Feb 2, 2012 #13
    As if it makes a difference whether a person is a sociopath or mentally ill. Either way if they are a threat to society they are locked up and treated. The real question is why society still insists on treating them differently and demanding some be punished and even killed. Why we still create prisons that no outside agency is allowed to inspect and why we have the largest prison population in the world.
  15. Feb 2, 2012 #14


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    Well, you probably should have stated that it was your hunch. People have a tendency to over-values their skills.
  16. Feb 2, 2012 #15
    If I remember correctly it was his observation that some of the changes the tribes were going through were also apparent in some incarcerated criminals, he thought that nutrition might have something to do with it as it seemed to in the tribes. It has been probably ten years or more since I read the book, so it is a little foggy. You may be able to find more info and the book at http://www.westonaprice.org/. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that some thought he was a kook.
  17. Feb 2, 2012 #16
    It may not be worth it to read him if he hasn't made a respectable case. I was just curious because I hadn't heard it linked to nutrition before. Knowing, though, that the diet of sailors used to inevitably lead to scurvy given time, it makes sense, in principle, that some kind of malnutrition could lead to psychiatric manifestations.
  18. Feb 2, 2012 #17

    Would you mind relating some of your experiences with antisocial personality disorder rather than have me rehash mine?

    Even though some psychiatrists have been said to live for years under the same roof as a person with unrecognized sociopathy, I believe that it is often possible to recognize a personality disorder when talking briefly to the person with it.

    It is frustrating that such callers are often abusive and project egotism. However, antisocial personality disorder is known to develop from oppositional defiant disorder of childhood, so at least there may be a means of lessening the severity of the later disorder with early therapy. The aforementioned scans may one day be definitive.

    To me, not having a developed conscience as an adult would seem a very frustrating condition. I try to sort out popular misconceptions from real experiences, one of which from my job's phone bank angered me enough to start this thread.
  19. Feb 3, 2012 #18


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    I've met quite a few people with all these properties :uhh:
  20. Feb 3, 2012 #19
    There are quite a few of them out there. And, like any other psychiatric condition, there's a gradient of severity. A lot of them will never get in bad enough trouble to be diagnosed or imprisoned, but they still create big trouble for the people around them.
  21. Feb 3, 2012 #20


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    And sometimes the emergent behavior does not have the consistent underlying biology. Psychology classifies only by behavior, and this becomes controversial with personality disorders like sociopathy.
  22. Feb 3, 2012 #21

    Chi Meson

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    And essentially ALL of them go to public schools.
  23. Feb 3, 2012 #22


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    What's the significance of public schools?
  24. Feb 3, 2012 #23


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    Originally Posted by Loren Booda

    Originally Posted by wukunlin
    Originally Posted by zoobyshoe

    It sounds like a regular normal teenager to me also.

    The list of "symptoms" or "behavior" is not a diagnosis of a sociopath. In fact the site says that an individual with antisocial behavior may display such behaviors, the key word being "may". Exhibiting any one of the behaviors could lead to a further evaluation of the individual with the final result being that the individual has a tendancy towards anti-social behavior -OR NOT.

    Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions - typical politician
    Break the law repeatedly - the speed limit
    Disregard the safety of self and others - oh no , all skydivers , risky behavior
    Have problems with substance abuse - happy hour anyone
    Lie, steal, and fight often - white lies, taking pens from the office, verbal sparring or physical fistcuffs?
    Not show guilt or remorse - guilt or remorse over what, an unexplained item by the site
    Often be angry or arrogant - your boss

    Does 100% of the population fall into this trap of simple easy labelling.

    In fact, the wall street guy convicted a few years back of the billion dollar financing scam was never ever suspecting of anything but being such a nice intelligent guy. Boy did a lot of investors lose their savings in trusting an individual they misdiagnosed as being 'normal' since he wore clean clothes, conversed intelligently, appeared successful.

    The name Maldoff comes to mind.

    sorry Loren, not knocking you, it is the general public that pays the price of chronic anti-social behavior.
  25. Feb 3, 2012 #24
    The stuff on the list can be misinterpreted and misapplied, especially if that's your intention. I've seen the same thing done to demonstrate that "everyone has Asperger's" and that "everyone has depression".

    If you really can't tell the difference between "everyone" and a sociopath, I would suggest you familiarize yourself with some real sociopaths. I recommend you watch some youtubes of "Tex" Watson. There are interviews with him in prison. He's the guy who actually did the killing in the Manson Murders. His rationalizations, excuses, and claims of reform now that he's "found Jesus", are some of the clearest examples of sociopathic behavior I can offer.
  26. Feb 3, 2012 #25
    If your point is that not having a developed conscience (ie., sociopathy) is not necessarily due to a chemical imbalance (ie., a mental illness), but can be a learned behavior. I agree. If you're saying that antisocial personality syndrome or disorder can, as well, be learned. I agree. One's familial and social situation during formative years would seem to have a great deal to do with determining enduring personality traits.

    The only effective way that I know of to deal with such people is to punish (both on a personal and a societal level) their antisocial behaviors.

    If you submitted the OP because you're worried that maybe the caller was actually mentally ill, then all I can offer is that I think that it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference, but, not having the knowledge or authority to prescribe drugs, I treat any antisocial behavior as I think any antisocial behavior should be treated. That is, it needs, in some way or other, to be punished. I'm using the word "punish" here to refer to any consequence or treatment that reduces the probability of the offending behavior.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
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