We may have a specific image of what a psychopath or sociopath is ingrained in our minds—you can thank films like American Psycho and scores of other horror flicks for that—but the truth is they're significantly more complicated than that.
It's bad enough running into a psychopath or sociopath—I've had a negative experience with a psychopath and I lived to tell the tale—but imagine being involved with one intimately. Maybe they were a partner or even a best friend and you didn't notice their issues right away.
People shared their stories with us after Redditor DexterADB asked the online community:
"Friends of psychopaths/sociopaths, how did you realise your friend wasn't normal?"
Psychopath or Sociopath?
Psychopaths and sociopaths share a number of characteristics:
- lack of remorse or empathy for others
- lack of guilt or ability to take responsibility for their actions
- disregard for laws or social conventions
- inclination to violence
- deceitful and manipulative nature
But how to tell them apart?
Sociopaths are normally less emotionally stable and highly impulsive. They will lack patience, giving in much more easily to impulsiveness and lacking detailed planning.
Psychopaths will plan down to the smallest detail, taking only calculated risks. Psychopaths don’t get carried away in the moment.
"He could not comprehend the difference..."
"He could not comprehend the difference between harmless pranks and cruelty, which manifested in high school. Got so far that he broke into a friend's home, stole her TV, then got angry that her family called the police over a 'prank.'"
"Trying to talk to him about the difference between pranks and crime was met by a blank stare, almost confusion, followed by vicious mocking. I didn't see him much after that, then completely cut ties with him after he started casually talking about raping women."
To which this person replied:
"We had a dude like that in high school. He is now a photographer in LA, and I'm 100% sure it's only so he can have access to women's bodies."
"She let me read a written complaint from someone..."
"She let me read a written complaint from someone who claimed to have been bullied by her. It was very detailed, too detailed to be made up, but she denied all of it and played innocent. She showed it to me to gain my support against the accusations. A few months later she started bullying me with the exact same methods described in the complaint."
To which this person replied:
"People lie to others because they can't stand the truth of their own actions, in effect lying to themselves."
"He was very open..."
"He was very open with it. That guy was genuinely helpful. What he seemed to fear the most was to regress into a helpless person who couldn't fit into society, like the psychopaths that go in and out of jail."
"So, he made it a habit or a challenge to help at least one person with something every day with no strings attached, friends or strangers, as practice, to hold himself accountable. It was.. well, it was a bit weird, and he was kinda weird too, but he was open about it in advance so that he'd have a harder time screwing us over if ever he had a relapse in willpower."
To which this person replied:
"It’s always viewed as virtuous to be a nice/helpful person but people seem to forget that it’s a hell of a lot easier for some people than others. Sometimes just not doing something bad is the most good you can manage that day and no one sees that."
"He was a liar."
"There were lots of red flags. He was definitely closeted bi (which is fine, but his behavior wasn’t)."
"The main red flag is that he had a slew of ruined relationships in his wake. He was a college theater professor and had a pattern of behavior in which he would identify young men in the department who were emotionally vulnerable, often who’d had recent girl trouble and/or had no current male role model/father figure."
"Many of them had issues with their dads or their dads were deceased. He would then start spending time with them and love bombing them until they thought they were his best friend. He fed on adoration. I don’t even think he exploited all these guys for sex, though he probably did some. He just got off on people adoring him."
"When they started showing interest in other people, he’d go hard on the discard. There was a pattern of subtly putting these guys down and then building them up so they were conditioned to please him. If he got bored, he threw them aside."
"He once told me he viewed all his interactions with people through a caricature he created of them. For example, a black friend of ours was 'the loud black woman.' Another friend who’d lost his dad recently and suffering severe depression was 'Eeyore.'"
"He was incapable of self reflection. If he knew he’d upset you he’d apologize, but it was always empty. He could not reflect on his actions and actually accept accountability for wrongdoing. He was a budding alcoholic and would attend lectures and rehearsals drunk, then laugh about it later like it was some kind of inside joke."
"He was a liar. The man was pushing 40 trying to convince these college aged men he was in his late 20s so they’d hang out with him. He didn’t care about your boundaries. At his house he’d regularly expose himself 'as a joke' and acted confused when I didn’t find it funny."
"As one of these guys he love bombed and emotionally manipulated, I eventually wised up and realized that my relationship with him was not healthy, and that it was not acceptable for him to have the emotional relationships he was having with his 19-20 year old students. I cut ties and he went from love bombing to resentment so fast."
"Later on, my wife and I were visiting some friends who were also friends with him. They’d known him longer than we ever did, and let him stay in their guest room for months when he lost his living arrangements during Covid. They eventually kicked him out and cut ties too. Then they told us they had recently run into a former high school classmate of his who said “I’m so glad you got away from him. There is something wrong with him. He’s dangerous.”
To which this person replied:
"That guy reeks of narcissistic personality disorder. Their actions can be similar but the difference is that the root of narcissism is insecurities while sociopaths have none. Their egos are really that big while narcissts inflate theirs so no one finds out the truth that it's empty."
"His mom basically committed the rest of her life..."
"We were friends with him and his sister. We later realized when we could only see anger in him and pretty much nothing else. That was the first flag."
"One of the friends started dating the sister and he came to us one day and told us that our friend had taken him aside and told him that if his sister was hurt he would have no problem hurting him in turn. Our friend was terrified because he truly believed him. That was our second red flag."
The final one was when his family got T-boned at an intersection and his dad and sister were killed and his mom was in the hospital for observation and he was in there as well with some broken bones. He didn't seem to care at all when some buddies went to see him."
"The hospital was a teaching one with psychiatrists and all and one came to see if he wanted help while he was there and he basically asked why would I need help. Mom agreed to a formal evaluation and he was confirmed psychopathic."
"His mom basically committed the rest of her life to make sure he could function in society. Taught him what societal right and wrong was and laws governing behavior and stuff."
To which this person replied:
"Damn. Good for that mom though! Hope she accomplished her goal."
"I was a pretty vulnerable teen..."
"I had a friend who always seemed a little off/low empathy, but I ignored a lot of the signs. She was a destructive party girl with a weirdly hostile relationship with her mom (as in she was regularly hostile to her) and i noticed she could be a bit of a bully and thought of people as below her."
"I was a pretty vulnerable teen who always struggled making friends so I tried to brush that stuff off because she was cool with me."
"There was a point where she got super drunk, slept with my boyfriend, and they called me together to mock me about it. It was humiliating. Like peak embarrassment. What's even more wild is the week after, she approached me as if nothing was wrong and it was all just a bit of fun."
"I knew she was a bad person when she called me, but I knew she had something deeply wrong with her when she had no self awareness about the fact that an action like that would make me not want to be her friend. She seemed genuinely surprised that I was pushing her away."
"I have had some updates about her from mutual friends and it sounds like this is a pattern she continues to repeat in her adult life as well."
"She really treats everyone in her life like a disposable amusement and she's not smart enough to 'mask' and manipulate them – everything she does is extremely blunt and she doesn't seem to ever really care or register that it is hurtful."
"Losing friends also doesn't seem to bother her. She is never like "how dare you be mad at me"? She just doesn't get why people are so sensitive."
To which this person replied:
"Had a destructive party girl friend too. She also slept with two men I started dating. Twice because I was dumb enough to forgive her the first time. The second time it happened, she jokingly said she was seeing me as 'competition' and wanted to show me who was the boss."
"I cut ties with her. To her merit, she did acknowledge she had problems, sobered up, went to therapy and apologized. Honestly happy for her, but I'll never let her into my life ever again because she broke my trust forever."
"My nephew is two..."
"He yelled at me because my nephew didn't want to watch a movie with his kids."
"My nephew is two and he's scared of the dark. The kids were using a projector instead of a regular TV so the room had to be dark. Every time the door would close, my nephew would freak out, so I decided to keep him with me."
"My friend started flipping out, screaming at me, and threatening to spank one of his kids (who did nothing wrong). He started yelling at his wife also. He has five kids, mostly girls. The oldest girl tried giving him snacks to make him feel comfortable and offered to sit next to him, but my nephew was too afraid."
"It felt like she was trying to help him because the safety of her siblings depended on it."
"I didn't know what to do other than leave with my nephew so the girls wouldn't get in trouble. I tried calling social services but there's no proof that the girls are being harmed or neglected so they're still with him."
"I am afraid for the girls and his wife. Think he's suffering a mental collapse because his mom died from cancer. His mother abused him. He's become very harsh with the women in his life, including me."
"My husband doesn't want me back over there without him. I've been trying to convince their mother to take the kids and leave, but she won't listen. I'm only able to reach her through Facebook. She uses her daughters school tablet to reach me."
"She can only contact me when he leaves the house. He takes all the phones when he leaves. She's not allowed to leave the house, have friends, or have company while she's away."
"He doesn't let his wife buy clothes or do her hair. She's always calling me to cry and complain about how he's treating her but she won't do anything. I defend them all when I'm there, but I try not to because he treats them worst after I leave."
"I feel helpless. I don't know what to do. If I was wealthy, I'd buy her a house and move them far away where he can no longer scare them. I feel so helpless."
To which this person replied:
"Start a notebook so you can provide evidence if she ever pursues legal action. Character witness and detailed notes about interactions and events can make a case for a long term restraining order. Without them you likely just end up with an angry abuser in your house looking for revenge."
Some of these stories were more unsettling than others. And they might leave you wondering if you've ever run into a psychopath before. Who knows? Even if there doesn't happen to be one in your daily life, you never know who you might be sitting next to at work... or on public transit.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!
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"Don't touch me or my skin!" is a legendary battle cry in my family, courtesy of a frustrated and dramatic then-three-year-old.
She wanted to be picked up and cuddled, but also not touched in any way shape or form.
Honestly - same, fam.
Like... it's impossible but also I totally get it.
Reddit user NoLifeNoSoulNoMatter asked:
"Parents of toddlers, what was today’s meltdown-worthy tragedy?"
Buckle up, friends.
Toddlers are a wild and confusing ride.
"He asked me to open the banana but he didn't get to open it himself"
"This is why I just slightly open it and then give it to them to finish the job. Took me many MANY breakdowns to figure it out."
"This one is the worst. 'I can’t open it. Dad you do it'. I open it. 'Why did you doooo that?! I waaaanted to oooooopen it!!!!'."
"Lmao I feel so seen right now"
"This. Mine says 'No, my turn!!' God forbid you don’t let her do the thing. Which is normally just closing a drawer or something mundane."
"He wants to put a box on my head but it's broken and keeps falling off. So apparently it's ruining his play time."
"How dare you"
"I mean my playtime would definitely be ruined if my mommy's head kept falling off."
Ah Yes The Terrible 22's
"Took the car down to the body shop to get the side panel that he crunched buffed out. The car won't be ready until Wednesday but he wanted to go back downtown to party with his roommates tonight. He's 22."
"Ah the terrible twenty-twos! Hopefully he grows out of it soon!"
"So, you’re telling the rest of us that the whining never stops. Thanks. Haha"
"He's a great kid and we're very lucky. But yeah, the whining never really stops."
There Was A List
"First: his dad left for work. Second: he dumped out the box of goldfish crackers. Third: I picked up the goldfish crackers. Fourth: it wasn’t the right episode of Paw Patrol. Fifth: I won’t let him eat shoes."
"Wow that last one is just plain rude of you."
"Oh, don’t you love it when they want the second part of the show and you have no idea which one it is because they only list the first part?"
Tell Me More To Do List GIF by Disney ChannelGiphy
"My husband kissed me and apparently he is only allowed to show her affection. There was a lot of screaming and forcibly pulling us apart."
"My toddle is like this but the reverse. He fully believes I am his woman."
"(Nods in Sigmund Freud)"
"Yep. From what I remember It takes a while to understand the concept that affection is not a finite thing"
We Get This One
"She wasn't on the couch with her bottle and teddy bear."
"But actually, she was, but things weren't right"
"I mean to be fair how many of us are guilty of this? Or like when I get my food and blankies and become ensconced and then Netflix won’t play what I want or the remote is out of reach?"
"The worst is settling in with blankets and snacks only to realize the remote is out of reach. Ugh! I have to get up now?!"
"Aw bless. She just doesn't know how to explain how she feels."
"So far she's communicating 'eat', 'more', and 'banana'. We're slowly working our way up to the fung shui of the couch haha"
Those Two Are Tough Ones
"The cat was touching his toy. The toy HE threw onto the cat..."
"He also had a meltdown because his leg was attached to him..."
"Ok I need more information on the leg"
"We were driving along, all of a sudden from the back seat he starts crying and what not."
"I can't get it off!"
" 'My leg!' queue him pulling at his leg through fits of tears..."
"I flushed his poop and can’t get it back and now he can’t poop again."
"This one. I still love to embarrass my 15 year old by bringing it up. His dad flushed the toilet after he peed when he was maybe 3 or 4 years old. It was just before bedtime. Oh the heartbroken tears coz 'daddy flushed my wee'. Told him to go again. 'I don't have soooooome', was the wailed answer"
"I love this, but want to add to it- my kid is convinced the toilet can’t handle his poop. I’ve shown him how the toilet works, I’ve explained the entire sewage processing system to him several times, but he’s not going for it."
"I thought the answer would be to show him 'dad’s poop going down', so I asked his dad to 'save' a poop to flush with him watching.Dad sent a text, I sent my kid up, and seconds later I hear traumatic crying. Kid came running downstairs crying about daddy’s 'massive' poop, (my kid loves the word massive, but is good at using it in proper context), and I think we’re a good 3 months before he’ll even try pooping in the potty again."
I Have Rights
"Watched my 3 year old niece. Apparently not letting her eat cat treats is a violation of her civil rights"
"I've sharpened my pitchfork & lit my torch. You are obviously a monster."
"Talked to my pediatrician because my child kept eating the cat's food. (Elderly cat, tall toddler, really couldn't put the food up higher.) He suggested we switch to a moister food so my kid wouldn't choke."
"Let her eat them. They won't harm her."
Let's be honest—they're a lot more relatable than we'd like to admit.
Years ago, I knew a girl who came from a very strict family of Christian evangelicals. We never hung out, but she was forbidden from wearing anything "secular" and always looked very uncomfortable. It was apparent she suffered from anxiety.
She eventually found a few friends but I recall one friend who hung out at her place later told classmates that they had to answer questions about their religious affiliation before they would be allowed to enter the house.
I don't know if there's any truth to that story at this point but that would have been a giant red flag for me, just saying.
People shared their stories with us after Redditor daryandy asked the online community,
"What was the strangest rule you had to respect at a friend's house?"
"Friend wasn't allowed..."
"Friend wasn't allowed in her room unless she was sleeping or changing her clothes. She wasn't allowed to shower for more than 10 minutes. Her brother was also locked out of his room and was forced to take cold showers. All so they wouldn't pleasure themselves."
This is over the top and sounds like a surefire way to make overly sexual kids.
"A good friend of mine..."
"A good friend of mine went through a season where he didn’t have running water at his house so the rule in the house was that no one could come over unless they brought a couple gallons of water with them to pour into the toilet in the event that they had to poop."
Poor kid, growing up with that kind of stuff really sucks, even when it's only temporary. Especially if other kids find out.
"It wasn't really..."
"It wasn't really rule of the house but my friend's parents were huge helicopter parents. Went to a concert with a friend and we had to call (not text) her parents every hour to let them know we were okay."
Oh no, helicopter parents are the worst. That's no way for a kid to live.
"Her mom made us..."
"No "boy talk."
"Her mom made us keep the intercom on when we were in her bedroom and would listen to us talk, if we started talking about Boys, she would chime in and tell us to change the subject. We were 15/16 and not having the privacy to talk about crushes and stuff felt weird."
This is so wrong I don't even know where to begin with it.
"We had to keep our hands..."
"We had to keep our hands above the covers when we went to sleep so they could make sure we weren’t “doing anything”. I was 9. Literally was the last time I spent the night there. Weirdos."
Yeah... I can't say I blame you. Run for the hills. Not people you want to remain around.
"Stayed at a friend's house one night and the family communicated exclusively through whispering... not just hushed voices but full on hand to ear. Serious mind f*ck."
Something about this just gives me a creepy feeling.
"No one was allowed to laugh at the dinner table or talk other than to ask, "Please pass the. . ." No one was allowed to leave the table (even for a potty emergency) until the dad was done eating."
I don't understand this. This seems to defeat the purpose of eating as a family.
"It was impossible..."
"My friend's mom's boyfriend had one of those rooms we weren't allowed in for any reason. Problem was, it was the living room."
"It was impossible to get to the kitchen without going through that living room. Also couldn't reach the door to the backyard. So I never once entered the kitchen in that house, and any trips to the backyard meant walking out the front door and going through the gate on the side of the house."
Another one I just don't understand. Why are people like this? And the living room of all places? The living room?!
"I remember watching a movie at a friend’s house with another person, so there were three of us sharing a bowl of popcorn."
"Before any of us went to eat the popcorn, my friend said it was a rule in their house that each person can only pick up one small single piece of popcorn at a time.. we’d have to finish chewing it and wait to swallow it until picking up the next one individual piece of popcorn."
That's frustrating, would be better just to give everyone a bowl to split it. Especially since I bet the rule was made for potentially dirty hands.
"We had to finish..."
"We had to finish all the milk in the cereal bowl. Like every drop. But we weren't allowed to pick up the bowl or be noisy. Imagine three little kids carefully trying to drink milk from a spoon without slurping or scraping the bowl while one scary AF mom watched us in silence."
Something about this just grosses me out. Probably because I just don't like milk in cereal most of the time.
Your childhood feels pretty normal in comparison, doesn't it? You bet it does. I feel for some of the people here. Their parents are truly something else.
Have some stories of your own? Tell us more in the comments below!
Many people lie or exaggerate about seemingly little things. For example, I've wondered if many are lying or at the very least stretching the truth about the number of partners they've had.
One of those strange things where half of the people are lying and making the number higher, and the other half are lying and making it lower.
It's funny, isn't it? But you do you! What do we know?
People shared some of their thoughts with us after Redditor SleepingOmibozu asked the online community,
"What's something you're 100% sure most people are lying about?"
"How much their side hustle nets them."
When it comes to side hustles, everyone is much more successful than they actually are.
"Steroid abuse in the fitness industry."
This is a big one. So many people who say they're natural are juicing.
"I have read..."
"I have read and understood the terms and conditions..."
Stop attacking me! I did not ask for this!
"That they don't..."
"That they don’t pick their nose."
Yeah, right. The number of people I've seen digging for gold in public is so high.
"Fully understanding the plot of the Metal Gear Solid series."
I stopped trying to. Do I get a cookie? I'd love one.
"How often they clean..."
"How often they clean their bed sheets."
I'm not even going to ask. I think I will be seriously horrified by the answer.
"If you're not busy..."
"About their productivity levels. If you’re not busy, you’re not a good person."
Yeah, whatever. This is as bad as bragging about not taking breaks at work. It's not a good look.
"So many lies."
"Their income. So many lies."
Many people feel very self conscious about their salaries. It's sad.
"Why they're late."
"Why they’re late."
I'm not late often but when I am it's usually because of something ridiculous where if I said the truth it would sound like a lie.
"Hating the word..."
"Hating the word 'moist.'"
I love the word moist and I won't apologise.
You mean there are still people going on about this? It's just a word, people. Calm down.
Life's a competition, apparently. Take what a lot of people tell you with a grain of salt. That's the best advice.
Have some observations of your own? Tell us more in the comments below!
I once met a guy who, by all accounts, appeared to have given up. And by that, I mean that they had pretty much decided that life basically ended in the 1970s and early 1980s. He had no interest in modern technology, was remarkably out of the loop when it came to technology or even current events.
This was all very frustrating to witness, but he was actually proud of himself! Proud to not know much–if anything–about the modern world. (And then he complained about how he kept having trouble finding a job.)
It was quite the flex–an unimpressive one at that.
People shared some of their thoughts with us after Redditor metallicmuffin asked the online community,'
"What unimpressive things are people idiotically proud of?"
"Missing breaks at work for a company that wouldn’t care if they died the next day."
This is a big one. It's not cute. Take your break! There's more to life than work!
"Not eating any vegetables. Known a few people state it as if it's some kind of achievement giving themselves constipation."
Knew somebody like this. They wanted to go out on a date.
We did not go out on a date.
"Going into work while sick. Had a coworker who bragged on social media about having strep throat, but was still working because she 'values hard work.'"
Some people appear to have missed the memo that risking other people's health is not a bragging right.
"I know people..."
"Drinking a lot. I know people, grown @ss people in their late 20s, who will brag about passing out on their lawns because they couldn’t make it from the car to the front door."
To be fair, they're in their 20s and most people are idiots then. They might grow out of it!
"I once had..."
"I once had a coworker brag about how dark his pee is."
Are you seriously telling us that they bragged about their kidneys not working correctly?
"I've heard that..."
"Driving better when drunk. I’ve heard that ridiculous statement more times than I should."
If some people seriously believe that, then they should not be allowed to drive.
"I overheard a co-worker recently brag to a girl that he'd already had COVID three times and during his most recent bout, he went to the gym every day that he had it."
There are so, so many things wrong with that person's statement. Can you imagine? "Sure, I got COVID, but at least I didn't miss leg day!"
"I keep hearing people..."
"Not being able to cook. I keep hearing people bragging about how the only thing they can do is boil water."
If you've made it to adulthood and you don't know how to cook for yourself, there's something gravely wrong with this picture.
"Nothing surprises me..."
"Nothing surprises me more than when people are proud of their ignorance."
Knowledge is no guarantee of wisdom but prideful ignorance is proof of its absence.
"I worked with a guy..."
"I worked with a guy who, otherwise very smart, was extremely proud of the fact that he could remove the foil from the neck of a wine bottle without cutting it. He brought it up so many times I lost count. I just let him have it, though, because he seemed to need it."
Of all the things in this thread this is the most reasonable thing to be proud of.
Let's face it, it seems like a lot of people have made over-compensating a part of their personalities.
Sadly, they don't even seem to be doing that all too well, which means we'll continue to be largely unimpressed.
Have some observations of your own? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below!