I’m no psychologist, but it probably goes without saying that many verbal/emotional/physical abusers could easily also be socialized sociopaths or at least people with extremely narcissistic behavioral patterns.
I’d like to recommend an excellent book about Sociopaths called “The Sociopath Next Door” by martha stout, ph.d (and unlike me, she DOES have creds).
This book might help abuse victims (and others) to be able to recognize and avoid dangerous people. And by dangerous, I don’t necessarily mean only physically dangerous, but professionally, financially, and emotionally dangerous people. Not that we ought to be suspicious of every person outside our front door, but it doesn’t hurt to learn to recognize a few red flags to help us determine who we might want to keep at arm’s length from our selves, our kids, our families, our careers if possible, and our money. Don’t go around “diagnosing” everyone, but if a person you interact with really behaves like a narcissist or exhibits some sociopathic behaviors – you can at least try to steer clear of him/her until or unless you have a better idea what they are about. Knowledge is power. Just use it to increase your awareness in the interest of protection.
People who lack any empathy, remorse, or conscience, and who always blame someone else for their hurtful and damaging behavior are typically defined as a sociopath. And they’re not all serial killers or axe murders either. Many of them are functioning in society right next to “the rest of us”. Our boss or co-workers, significant other, neighbors, “friends”, even family members. Thus the term “socialized sociopaths”.
The stories about a little kid who used to blow up frogs and grew up to be a ruthless, controlling, but very financially successful CEO or financier are typical. The numbers of people whose lives and livlihoods they damage in their path to “success” is often telling.
Same with people who go through intimate relationships like most of us go through socks – with a long string of failed relationships in their past and whose ex-lovers often refuse any contact with them because they are so dangerous and toxic – and because they caused so much emotional damage to their victim – again with no conscience, empathy, awareness or remorse about it.
And because they have plenty of “allies”, their behavior is often protected, even encouraged (particularly where profit, power, or influence is at stake), or it is hidden by those who are silenced by them and their unusually charming and manipulative tactics at “winning the game” – which is what they literally EXIST for. WINNING is all to them. And they think nothing about what it costs anyone else for them to do it, whether in an intimate relationship, friendship, work relationship, family situation, or the corporate world.
Many of them have a “public” face that is so charming that no one would EVER believe they’d be so ruthless and abusive to anyone as they are to their intimate partner. Or, they are so moneyed and influential that they are deemed to be “untouchable” so no one will stop them from destroying other people and lives to succeed, influence or profit – or just because they’re envious of someone else. Thus, their victims are silenced, because no one would ever believe what they’ve been put through by their abuser/sociopath because he’s SO “wonderful” to everyone ELSE – and/or, no one dares DO anything about it lest profits, power, or influence be lost.
For a quick reference, here’s a link to a small questionnaire – “How to spot a sociopath” that gives a few clues. But the book is probably a better reference.
According to the introductory page of that same site:
“The safest thing to do is to have nothing more to do with a sociopath. If that’s not possible, start reading the books mentioned and use the strategies they describe. Think only in terms of your survival – these people are a threat to your sanity, your career and your wallet.”