Ted’s essays

figuring people out

We tend to consider people in our immediate world through the lense of who we are, what we feel and how we act. Surely everybody is kind-of like we are. Sometimes, however, you find yourself dealing with someone who just isn’t doing what you expect, or reacting in ways that don’t make sense to you.

That is probably time to consider they really are not so much like you are. Here is a little review of what psychologists today call “Antisocial Personality Disorder – APD.”


Both sociopaths and psychopaths have a pervasive pattern of disregard for the safety and rights of others. Deceit and manipulation are central features to both types of personality. Contrary to popular belief, a psychopath or sociopath is not necessarily violent.

The common features of a psychopath and sociopath lie in their shared diagnosis — antisocial personality disorder. Psycholigsts define antisocial personality as someone having

3 or more of the following traits:

Regularly breaks or flouts the law

Constantly lies and deceives others

Is impulsive and doesn’t plan ahead

Can be prone to fighting and aggressiveness

Has little regard for the safety of others

Irresponsible, can’t meet financial obligations

Doesn’t feel remorse or guilt

In both cases, some signs or symptoms are nearly always present before age 15. By the time a person is an adult, they are well on their way to becoming a psychopath or sociopath.


Obviously some of the traits above are adolescents bouncing off the edges of society while they try to find a comfortable place in it. The main difference will be in the frequency of these anti-social behaviors. A good kid may hit one or two of these once or twice in their teens.

“Regularly” and “constantly” are bad signs; time for intervention. The trajectory is not good.

Or time to make some space between you and them.

Or both.

If you think you might be exposed to someone with APD, here is some of the research I looked through.