The literature review chapter seeks to gives insight on the topic of Sociopathy. It constitutes analysis of scholarly works, that is books and journals that have sort to delve into the subject of sociopaths, their behaviors, symptoms, manifestations ,underlying causes and generally the impact of these sociopaths in the society, how to live with them and corrective measure that can be taken to prevent them from becoming a menace to society as well as addressing protective measures to be taken when dealing with such sociopaths.
A sociopath is a person with antisocial personality disorder. Sociopathy refers to the general conduct of sociopaths which is characterized by aggression, total disregard to the right of others, disregard to what is considered as societal norms, have antisocial tendencies for example affective shallow and show no genuine emotions such as love, have no regrets or remorse for the harm they cause to others among other antisocial behaviors. These people are considered a menace to the society although they are also useful as they make excellent soldiers in times of war (Rogers, Salekn &Cruise 2000).
These people are not easily distinguished form the rest of normal people as on the first encounter with them they are particularly agreeable and make distinctive impressions, may be friendly and easy to talk to and thus they can easily become ones friends through this disguise of acting normal and are likely to cause harm to their unsuspecting victims (Barbara 2007).
Some scholars use he terms sociopath and psychopath interchangeably. These two are similar as they both exhibit antisocial behavior although some scholars argue that sociopathy is a distinct type of psychopathy. Both however, are classified under the umbrella of persons with antisocial personal disorder and exhibit the same behaviors.
Sociopaths are believed to be made by the dysfunctional environment they are in or exposed to. They exhibit high levels of intelligence, superficial charm, they are not delusional, nor do they portray signs of irrational behavior, they do not portray psychoneurotic manifestations, they lack remorse or regret and are thought not to have a conscience, egocentric and lack interpersonal relations. They are poorly intergraded and have no intentions of seeking help for this condition as they are comfortable with their personalities (Barbara 2007).
However psychopaths portray disorganized episodic aggression and are born with this disorder. Their symptoms include ritualistic behaviors, they try hard to conceal their mental instability, they have severe memory disorder, hardly tell the truth, they periodically search for help and have suicidal tendencies, and physically they may have head injuries suffered at birth, genetic disorders and display biochemical symptoms. They often feel powerless and inadequate and most of them opt to alcohol and drug abuse to escape reality.
According to (Blair 2005), to declare one a sociopath or one with antisocial personality disorder requires a continual observation of the disregard of the rights of others from early childhood up to the age of 15 years. They are characterized by general antisocial behavior, disrespect of the law and the social norms deceitfulness and lack of remorse for ones wrong doing among other antisocial behaviors; however it is advised that help should be sought at least at the age of eighteen years. Sociopaths are also social predators who can charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly go on with their lives breaking hearts and shuttering dreams in the process without and sense of guilt or remorse. They exhibit unique characteristic such as:
They exhibit superficial charm as they can be verbally facile, smooth, are not shy nor do they exhibit self consciousness. These are people whom one is likely to make friends with and can cause harm to unsuspecting people.
These people are deceitful and great liars too. They are shrewd, crafty, clever, cunning and sly. They know what they want and regardless of whether it can cause misery to other people, they go for it. They con people leaving them penniless and can be manipulative in relationships in that due their craftiness they easily get way with these things.
They are always seeking stimulation and are prone to boredom. Their sexual lives are impersonal, trivial and poorly integrated, they do not like sticking to one sexual partner as they do not regard the feeling of their spouses and do not care to hurt them in pursuit of satisfying their massive sexual desires. They also cannot keep a job as they easily get bored, are errant, and therefore easily get fired or leave their jobs to look for something more exciting (Blair, 2008).
They generally lack remorse and a sense of guilt. In fact they seem to derive pleasure at the misery of others. They can do anything and their chief characteristic it the lack o f a conscience. They do show no concern for pain and suffering of others, they watch others suffer with disdain (Hare, 2003).
They are manipulative and most of them are con artists. Being deceitful they cheat, defraud and con people without remorse for personal gain. They strategize and can easily rob and corn people as they prepare to move onto the next victim. They are elusive to authorities and due to their manipulative nature can easily hurt people without breaking the law.
They have a grandiose perception of self worth, they place themselves above everyone else, they have an inflated view and perception of themselves and their abilities, are opinionated arrogant braggarts and this elevated self perception makes them see others as objects of play and personal satisfaction (Rogers, Salekn &Cruise 2000). They have poor behavioral control and are promiscuous. They rarely control their anger and in their rage can cause harm and destruction to people and property; they are easily depressed and harbor emotions like strong hate and desire for revenge. They take on to beastly sexual practices can rape , abuse children sexually, practice weird sexual obsessions and fantasies and take great pleasure discussing sexual conquests and exploits.
They exhibit shallow affect and are parasitic. They cannot have genuine emotions, and are always stargazing on how to massage their huge ego at the expense of others. They can live off their victims without any concern, are selfish and care to burden others.
2.3 The underlying causes of sociopathy.
Sociopathy has a wide range of cause’s for instance genetic factors play a role in the formation of antisocial personality disorder. These factors are inherent and cause brain disorder. According to (Blair 2005), neurosurgeons advance a theory that the amygdala crucial for stimulus reinforcement, responding to emotional expressions like fear, learning, they act as rein forcers and are important initiators of stimulus reinforcement learning, and also are important on the formation of both stimulus punishment and stimulus rewards. Sociopaths show impairment of this stimulus reinforcement learning and hence lack fear or sad expressions resulting to psychopathy and sociopathy.
Sociopathy can also be caused by brain damage, that is damage to the regions of the cerebral cortex .Neurosurgeons say that this is the source of emotions like love, hate ,.happiness, compassion and moral compass among others. It is the emotional center of the brain and thus when this is damaged through incidences like road accidents and drowning among others they lead to creation of sociopaths (Hare, 2003).
Environmental factors also affect ones behavior which could lead to formation of sociopaths. Incidences of child abuse could lead to formation of sociopaths and create attachment disorder especially when they face parental neglect, abuse, abandonment, among others which affects their ability to form emotional connections in life making them sociopaths.
Brain differences also are a cause of prevalence of sociopaths. Non sociopaths react faster to emotionally charged words like love hate, happiness etc. and can differentiate them with neutral words like wall and table. They also demonstrate ability to solve problems regarding emotional words instantly unlike sociopaths whose brain response to such tasks is taking it tot the analytical thinking part of the brain which if found on the temporal lobe of the brain thus reacting awkwardly an irrationally(Blair 2005).
According to (Fishbein 2002), The clinical symptoms of antisocial personal; disorder which also encompasses sociopathy, include failure to conform to social norms, deceitfulness, impulsiveness, being manipulative, and little regard to the safety of others among others. Despite the seriousness of this disorder the discouraging news is that there is no known cure for it and the effectiveness of these available treatments is controversial. The reason for this is antisocial personal disorder manifest the tendency for coexisting disorder called comorbidity.
The major problem encountered in treating these patients is that most of them are often in denial of their need for help and treatment. Their outward personality characterized of magnetism and charm leads them to defending and rationalizing their behavior and the belief that the behavior works for them. Their grandiose attitude makes them feel superior even to the doctors, and thus are uncooperative and their lack of sincerity and deceitfulness can be misleading in assessing their behavior. However, most of them end up seeking help due to family pressure and thus this involuntary search for help can only make the situation worse. Therapy, drugs and physical treatment are administered to try and contain this disorder.
They are generally in three basic categories namely behavioral, cognitive and psychotherapy. Behavioral therapy is based on the idea that a behavior is not as a result of a set of beliefs but rather a poor set of behaviors or undesirable conditioning found within the patient’s environment they have been exposed to over time beginning from childhood. This consequently leads to adults reacting to emotionally tasking events in the present environment with antisocial responses which they learnt in the past. Therefore, Identifying the environmental conditions that trigger the rise of antisocial responses, then teaching new socially acceptable behaviors therapist hope to do away with by replacing the antisocial behavior with more socially acceptable ones (Fishbein,2002).
Different modalities of behavior target different flovour of learned scope. For example, aversion therapy is a type of classical conditioning act that aims to reduce unwanted behavior by teaching the patient to associate unpleasant sensations antisocial behavior. This kind of sensitization uses imagery rather than physical stimulus while the operant conditioning addresses voluntary responses (Blair, 2008).
The token economy approach is also used especially within institutional setting to treat sociopaths. It reinforces behavior modification by encouraging good behavior through a reward system where they use tokens that can be traded for privileges and could also be lost when one manifested antisocial behavior.
Social skills training approach of combating antisocial behavior is based on the assumption that antisocial aggression is as a result of a patient having no positivity in life or willpower to handle situations which triggers aggression. This form of therapy teaches patients how to interact socially and teaches then how to control emotions like anger and dealing with authorizes through role playing instead of being defiant to them.
Cognitive therapy is based on the believe that our behavior is governed by the way we think therefore identifying and replacing antisocial thoughts and feelings with more positive ones can result to behavioral change (Rogers, Salekn &Cruise 2000) The technique employs the use of therapeutic modeling where patients are made to study an learn how a well a reformed person copes effectively with challenging events or situations through the use of social imitations to help manage anger and improve social skills.
Psychotherapy is the third type of therapy which takes an empathetic approach to sociopathy by delving deep into the world of patient seeking to find their ways of thinking and try to identify the deep rooted causes of their antisocial behavior. Psychotherapists consider antisocial personality disorder as a personality dysfunction and work to repair them through cognitive fractured aspects of personality, structure and development (Fishbein, 2002).
Just as every treatment to sociopathy conditions efficiency is debatable the use of drugs in treating sociopathy is controversial. Sociopathy being a behavioral disorder that develops over along time chemical masking is considered a complementary treatment rather than an effective answer.
According to (Fishbein 2002) antipsychotic drugs also known as neuroteptics are given alongside therapeutic treatment to patients with aggressive and violent tendencies. They are prescribed in small doses and have a tranquilizing effect and without heavy sedation associated with lithium
Drugs are also used to treat coexisting disorders like depression, schizoid behaviors, and paranoia among others. Lithium, antidepressants, anticonvulsants drugs and sometimes stimulants are used to treat these conditions. However, finding the right prescription and the right dosage for a patient is a process that requires time patience, cooperation and experimentation to find the right management technique to this condition (Hare, 2003).
However it is emphasized that drugs do not cure the disorder but rather manages the effects of the disorder. These drugs have side effects whose harm must be weighed against the potential benefits while it is noted with concern that outpatients are prone to abuse these drugs, forget to take them or even stop taking them which reverses the effort to gain behavioral stability
Electro convulsive therapy (ECT) also commonly known as shock therapy and neurosurgery are the two types of physical treatment employed. These two are rarely considered as they are highly risky. ECT is considered effective in treating psychopathy and some types of depression especially among inmate with this disorder. Neurosurgery is only used in extreme cases when all forms of treatment fail. It is mostly done to patients with brain deformity or trauma resulting form acquired sociopathy. This procedure is highly selective targeting very small amounts of brain tissue in specific areas. For example the amygdale which is associated with fear, aggression and also the hypothalamus (Fishbein 2002)
The most promising treatment however is prevention by addressing conduct behavior rather than waiting till the child becomes and adult with sociopathic syndromes. In children these behaviors include being violent, easily irritated, overly angry, lying, being a bully, bedwetting at an older age, stealing, and cruelty to animals among others. Children with these traits are likely to become adults with antisocial personality disorder. Therapeutic interventions at an early age help children learn how to channel emotions like anger in a healthy manner and build positive behavior which averts sociopathy.
Sociopathy is a distressing conditions both for the individuals suffering from it and the society at large. For example those with psychopathy which is an inborn condition suffer immensely including those who acquire sociopathy due to accidents and other conditions. However these people can be considered a menace to society as they have the ability to disguise themselves as normal people and can easily harm unsuspecting victims. However early detection of antisocial behavior can lead to prevention of formation of adults with antisocial personality disorder. Sociopaths are highly dangerous people who close friendship should be avoided and any victims of sociopaths should be open and report these crimes (Rogers, Salekn &Cruise 2000).