Do sociopaths realise that they are sociopaths?

A question that I had in my email today, was asking ‘do sociopaths realise that they are a sociopath?’


All people are obviously human beings. That is what we have in common. A diagnosis of a personality disorder is only that. It is a label, given by professionals in the psychiatric field, for a person that displays common traits of behaviour.

A sociopath will probably be aware that they are different. They are observant, and watch other peoples interactions, that they later mimic.  A sociopath couldn’t know that he or she was a sociopath, unless they had seen the  DSM checklist criteria, that outlines what a sociopath is. They might realise that they are different. They will probably know that they see things differently to most other people. But unless they have seen that checklist or received a formal diagnosis, there is no way that they could apply a label to themselves, if they didn’t know what that label was.

If they knew, would they be able to change?

When I was first dating the last person in my life, I don’t think that he knew. In fact, before we split, I yelled at him

What is wrong with you?

He simply yelled back

I don’t know!!

I don’t believe that he did either. Afterwards, we were friends for a considerable time. Almost a year. We saw each other every day. He understood what a sociopath was, and he agreed that it was an accurate description of what he had been doing, and why.

I think from that point on, he did try to manage his behaviour. There was a slight improvement. However, the fundamental traits, and patterns of behaviour repeated. Despite that he knew, and he also knew that I knew too. But those character traits repeated. Over and over, the same thing.

So no. There was no difference, fundamentally in his behaviour. I started writing my blog. Which broke down the behaviour. He read what I wrote. Things would go ok, for a short while. But then there would be burn out, and the same pattern of behaviour repeated itself.

Compulsive pathological lying

A sociopath finds it easier to lie, than they find it to tell the truth. If you are an honest person, you would think and act the reverse. You find it uncomfortable to tell a lie, and should feel a sense of relief when telling the truth.

The sociopath is reverse in behaviour to this. As he finds it more difficult to tell the truth than tell a lie, he quickly reverts to lies, manipulation and deceit, after a short period of time.

The  sociopath has poor impulse control, and finds it difficult, not to cease an opportunity. He also has a lack of empathy, guilt remorse or shame. So does not feel guilty if he is lying to you. Even if he knows by previous events how much his lies have hurt you, there will be no change over a period of time. He cannot, and does not feel sorry for hurting you. If he says that he does, he is lying. He might feel sorry that he is about to lose  source of supply, if you are still valuable to him. But that is all.

The way to look at this,and to understand would be to imagine that you (as an honest person) were asked to live your life, and to spend most of most of your time, lying cheating, conning, using manipulation and deceit to use  others. Can you visualise this? How long do you think that you would be able to keep up being dishonest, and compulsively lying? How uncomfortable would this make you feel? Could you keep this up for a long period of time, day after day?

If you have an imagination, like me, you would be able to see how difficult this would be to keep up for any length of time. You also, would revert back to your default setting of being honest, as this is how you feel comfortable behaving.

This is what the sociopath does in reverse. Being aware of sociopathic behaviour, and wanting to change (as some do, after hitting bottom numerous times in their life) or at least for a while. There might be an impulse to change. But it wouldn’t last long. Normally, they would have a motive to do this, only when they are losing source for supply and haven’t found another source for supply elsewhere.

Lack of long term goals

The sociopath lives in the moment, and finds it difficult to make long term goals, to plan for the future. He tends to  be

  • Impulsive
  • Immature
  • Lives in the moment
  • Doesn’t particularly think (or care) about long term consequences of actions

As he doesn’t think too far ahead, and doesn’t think about consequences of actions, he repeats the same behaviour over and over again.

Why does he promise to change repeatedly if he can’t?

There are two reasons why he would promise to change

  • If he feels that source for supply is coming to an end, and he hasn’t sourced additional supply elsewhere
  • He might put on a new mask, and really believe that this time, he can do it and make that change

But as already discussed, this is difficult to do. The sociopath often finds it difficult being honest. If you look back into the sociopaths history, he likely had a difficult childhood, and lived in a home where he witnessed dishonesty. A child needs for proper growth and development, a safe environment. A child learns most from the examples set by his parents. By observation. Observing interaction between both parents. A child learns from example.

If in childhood the child learned that it was normal and part of every day life to lie, this becomes ingrained into their personality. A child might be forced to lie to

  • Cover for what is really going on in the home to friends/family/teachers
  • Protect the parents
  • Cover for one or both parents actions
  • Might witness parents living a lie (in terms of infidelity of one or both parents, or if parents had a substance addiction problem)

As adults, we are comfortable (usually) with what we defined as ‘home’ in childhood. This is where we often learn our defence mechanisms. We learn, what part of us is acceptable to display to the world. How we should behave and  how we should act.

The sociopaths behaviour, is therefore so ingrained within his personality, it is difficult to ever make change. How can you make someone care about something that they really do not care about? You cannot give someone a range of emotions that they do not have.

Even if the sociopath were to discover that they were a sociopath, they still wouldn’t really change as

  • They feel more comfortable with the lie than telling the truth
  • They receive dupers delight from conning and being deceptive
  • Dishonesty was likely learned as far back as childhood
  • They repeat patterns of behaviour, as they have poor impulse control and find it difficult to resist temptation
  • They don’t feel bad about lying and cheating, as they have a lack of empathy, guilt remorse or shame
  • They are immature, and selfish, thinking only about themselves, they cannot put the needs of others first
  • They have a lack of long term goals and lack ability to plan for the future
  • When things go wrong, they simply put on a new mask of charisma, and adapt to the new situation. Again, this is for their own benefit (despite if they say that it is for yours)
  • Others are simply tools to be used for source of supply. which means that partners can be easily replaced. As long as the new victim can offer source of supply
  • They have a grandiose sense of self and entitlement

So if the  sociopath acknowledges that he is a sociopath,and will change…

This might be an initial desire on his part. To keep current source of supply, but the  sociopath will not be able to sustain this change. You would be asking that person to be different to who they really are.

If the sociopath has moved onto someone new, the  same pattern of behaviour will repeat again, just with somebody new. There will be a trail of disaster in the future, just as there was in the past.

Once you know, it is like discovering that santa isn’t real. Do you next Christmas believe in Santa, because you wanted it to be true, and it was a nice feeling? ….

Words ©

17 thoughts on “Do sociopaths realise that they are sociopaths?”

  1. I believe that they truly dont think anythings wrong with them. I told mine theres something wtong with you, he replied no there isnt. He beleived thete wasnt so I left it alone.

    1. My sp also has bipolar and narcissistic disorder he is medicated for this.he told me he wants to change and is seeing a psychiatrist next week… you think that he can change with help?

      1. How long have you known him?

        You know, they will say whatever they need to say, to get whatever it is that they want. They make it up as they go along, being who you want to see. This is how they keep you there, in false hope…..

        Do I think he can change? Why hasn’t he sought help before? No I don’t think that they can really change, the circle continues with them. Over and over the same thing. Its like being a hamster on a wheel.

        Focus on you…… don’t put all of your hope into him, instead find your own spark of hope!!

    2. Yep – that is a worry, but here is my theory.
      If stayed on in toxic relationship and if slowly figured out sociopath’s game and patterns, then at certain point target may have started using some of sociopath’s own nasty tricks to fight back towards the end of relationship. This is when get dragged down into their reality – like being dragged through a muddy ditch – and pick up a few nasty tricks to fight back with. You will know if this is part of your story or not – as you feel the tension moving more into the open at the time. Sociopath’s covertly use the target’s weaknesses against them – but turns out sociopaths are themselves very vulnerable to their own tactic if a target figures out what is really going on, or discovers this accidentally, and pushes back. With say, own silent treatment or hints of abandonment toward the sociopath – and the sociopath will quickly become very angered if they sense they are losing control of target and try and intimidate/ escalate their abuse. But at that point the target also becomes very hard work and frustrating for the sociopath, so they start really working on securing their next primary target/ supply. But it can degenerate into a toxic mess once the sociopath’s covert pattern has been revealed to the target, who none the less is not quite ready to fully accept and exit the realities of the sociopath’s relationship game. But once target gets well clear of the sociopath, with time the nasty traits recede – as no longer needed – they were only a temporal and necessary acquisition, to fight back and defend against sociopath. My theory.

  2. I’m afraid that I may be sociopath. I look back on my motives and I have been lying a lot and manipulation. What scares me is I didnt even realize or think about it at the time. It was just impulsive. I have extreme guilt and shame and I was hoping this wasnt me. Im a Christian. I dont know if God can forgive me for these things. I want to change. What scares me is I thought at the core I was a good person. I thought all my motives were pure. But when I reexamine my life I realize that i used quite a bit of deception.
    I lied to myself and saw worldly people and I thought “Oh Im nothing like them”. Im not out drinking and partying and having random sex with strangers. But I can be manipulative and I want to be the center of attention. I truly do not wish to be this way. Im not sure what happened. I was bullied a lot in school and my mother died when I was 11 years old. I feel sometimes that I have a hard time loving others, but its because I fear they wont love me back. I feel broken inside. I cant stand this about myself. I want to be a good person. I never thought that this could be me.. I never thought I could be so evil. I think I need to talk to a psychologist or a priest because I feel this is something I cant deal with on my own.

    1. Sociopaths don’t experience guilt remorse or shame. They only ever feel sorry they got caught when they do. They rant rage and change the subject onto something you have done.

      1. mine just laughs and then pretends it never happened or he never got caught out lying. I don’t push it any further as I don’t see the point in fighting with someone who doesn’t believe they are ever in the wrong

    2. Asking for professional help might help you. It must have been tough to have lost your mum at a young age, and then be bullied at school 😦 who could you talk to? Do you have anyone that you feel confident you can be just ‘yourself’ with and will be liked for who you are? If you have a conscience and feel guilt for your actions it’s doubtful you are a sociopath. Professional help through a therapist. Also maybe look up bdp (borderline personality disorder) (Am not saying you are but it’s worth looking up). Bdp can be caused through sudden loss in childhood. People with bdp can be manipulative and also lie. Often the behaviour is through fear of losing someone from their life. A therapist should be able to help you.

    3. You are not a sociopath. You seem more like a pathological liar, if anything. You seem to have a fairly negative view on ‘being a sociopath’ as, in reality, most sociopaths haven’t decided (and will not decide) if being a sociopath is good or not. Seek out professional help, as I’m sure a professional would be able to diagnose you much better than myself.

  3. I have spent the last 31 years with an undiagnosed socio path.
    Hed never be outed because he can charm the sox of anyone and for the most part , people think he is a very intelligent, open, honest and forthright NORMAL male.
    People seek his advice and counsel and he garners respect and admiration from most who ( think they ) know him.
    In fact hes such a good actor I take my hat off to him.
    Sociopaths truly do use the world as their stage.
    He has rarely if ever shown emotions that are honest.
    The closest to an honest emotion I have ever seen is anger and that is behind closed doors.
    He NEVER reveals himself anywhere he could be witnessed.
    Weve been to counsellors in the past.
    Total waste of time and money.
    Had them fooled from the get go.
    Councillors shouldn’t feel bad at not recognising a sociopath though.. Hes fooled people who have known him all his life
    Some of his more charming traits are lying, cheating, mental and physical abuse of me and our children and a total selfish disregard for anything remotely family orientated or any responsibility towards us apart from a roof over our heads.
    Around his own family and work colleagues he is a completely different person!

    He kept his accounts separate, told me his business was his business, never cared or showed any physical affection to the children, ( they referred to him as the headmaster from a very young age) and denied me physical and emotional affection.
    He could be reasonable on minute and beyond reason the next. Nothing was ever his fault and he spoke at me not to me. His favourite conversation was to constantly correct every single thing I said.
    Silence wasnt just a weapon. It was a way of life
    . He could remain silent for weeks or months yet talk the ear off a visitor.
    I pointed many of these traits out to him once and his response was that I was mental and needed help.
    Add projection to the list.
    One of his most enviable traits is his ability to re write it all, in his head, so he can tell me how it never happened.
    I so wish I could do that to my entire miserable life with him .

    1. Dee and so many others here – sounds alot like my husband. Just as doctors and therapists and me were closing in on a definite diagnosis, he does something to take off. He’s put me through hell for almost three years with his lies, cheating, manipulating, projection, rages, gaslighting and personality switches. About a month ago, I confronted him on catching him in lies and cheating. He tried to lie and manipulate his way out of it but I wouldn’t have it – not this time. But I saw this person returning that I haven’t seen in a long time and I shut down. I went to the bathroom and cried for over two hours. all he did was turn up the volume on the TV and sat on the bed eating and playing with the pets. When I finally came out of the bathroom, he looked at me in disgust and with such contempt, went upstairs. When he did come downstairs, he completely ignored me. I knew what was coming next and I wasn’t going to play that game this time. I was exhausted, fell asleep only to get woke up by him three times (I just pretended to be asleep). First thing in the morning, I left, went to a women’s crisis center who helped me with housing until I could get him out of the house. It took a little more than a week, he made it so difficult that I had to get the authorities involved. No matter how much I cried, told him about his behavior and how much he was hurting me again, it didn’t make one bit of a difference. He’d already found a new supply source, i was even more of nothing to him. I chose to use his silent treatment against him and began the No Contact rule for myself. I sent him an email telling him that I was not coming back due to his abuse and I’ve had enough. He doesn’t work so I asked him to go somewhere else while I work everything out – he made that difficult and sent me an email saying he will not respond to someone being so petty. Ha!. Obviously there are alot of details left out to summarize this but i’m sure you all get the idea. Sorry for any of you who have had to deal with this kind of person. It’s a nightmare.

  4. So, a guy I had met online and spoken to while he lived out of state for four months finally moved into my city. I was so excited, I felt that we both were on the same page with everything. Long story short, after a few months, things were off. I was willingly paying for things, driving him everywhere, doing everything for him. I then found out he had another person he was saying the same manipulative things to that he had been with me. I confronted him about it, but he pretended like none if it was true. Okay, he could just be a liar. But THEN I found this site — I started asking questions to see what he would say. He would openly say things like, “you are the host and I am the parasite,” “I am a man of a million different faces, chameleon,” “I’m sad to see you go (No remorse or guilt or anything on his face, as if it were some line he was supposed to say in the situation),” “I still need to find a job, but I just feel overqualified for all this positions, I know it’s a problem I have,” etc… It was as if he were reading off the checklist criteria. But I got my revenge on our last meet and used him for sex. He didn’t want to but I told him that if he really wanted to work things out, we needed to fuck. I just wanted to use him back the way he used me… I felt guilty later, I can’t say he felt anything. Why am I so attracted to a sociopath? I still want to fuck him…

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