Therapists Share The Exact Moment They Realized They Were Treating A Sociopath
“You should never tell a psychopath they’re a psychopath. It hurts their feelings.”
Sociopaths aren’t necessarily murderous, but there is something about them that isn’t quite right—something amiss in their interactions with other people. Sociopaths are characterized by an inability to empathize and a weaker conscience than would be found in the average person. Many sociopaths are not deranged, criminal, or even abnormal by some standards. In fact, many successful business people could be categorized as such. That said, they do tend to teeter on the line between good and evil.
In terms of psychotherapy, the sociopath condition is one grounded in science and isn’t often diagnosed as much as movies would like us to think. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real-life sociopaths out there seeking analysis. Curated from the top Reddit comments, these are some of the most chilling moments when therapists realized a true sociopath lay before them on the couch.
#1 Unknown Dangers
I used to work with this teenage girl who needed support. I was an independent living skills specialist so I’d be with her after school making sure she did her homework, did her laundry, etc. She was very, very smart and hyper-focused on certain things she liked. She was taller and larger than me so she would try to intimidate me physically (which worked on her parents) but I never fell for it. I’ve seen her lie about terrible things that her parents or sibling did that I knew for a fact were untrue. It got to the point that her own parents told me once that if I was ever scared, I should call the police on their daughter. Her own parents told me that she scared them and they meant it. She was lovely and funny sometimes but sometimes she would say things and do things that freaked me out. This was a couple of years ago. I hope that family is doing okay.
#2 Microwaving The Cat Might Be A Tell
I’m not a therapist but I was left to watch a questionable kid for a girl I liked in high school once. First, he was acting like he was having a tantrum. Then when he didn’t get the reaction he wanted out of me, he got the family cat and tried to put it in the microwave, asking me if I wanted some Chinese. I stopped him of course. When the girl got back from the shower I bolted and never looked back.
#3 No! Not The Puppy!
#4 A Bird Named Jimmy
#5 The Logic Of Tyranny
Not a therapist, but I am a teacher!
A student of mine was arguing with me for 10 minutes straight, justifying why it was okay for him to bully other students. His logic: he wants other students to do as he wants, and if other students are afraid of him, they’ll do as he wants them to! Simple logic.
#6 That Does It—Winking Is Always Creepy
Mark nonchalantly came up to his nurse on this particular day and stated that he was suicidal and needed to be assigned a staff personnel. I was the only available staff person and was therefore assigned to him. He asked me to walk “laps” on the unit with him. I said sure.
As we walked he asked seemingly meaningless questions about things like my favorite food or holidays I enjoy. I am always cautious about giving out information and felt his questions were harmless. About an hour into our walking he commented that he gathered I care deeply for others. Then took his head and smashed it through a glass window. We had to transport him by ambulance to our emergency department.
Two days later he returned back to our unit, medically/physically cleared. Upon coming back he came up to me to apologize for “scaring me”, winked, and walked away. I fully believe he caused pain to himself to put that ever terrible visual in my head and scare me into knowing that if he could so easily hurt himself, he could do the same for others.
#7 If You Play With Fire…
#8 The Good Son
#9 Impatient Patient
This guy comes in. His first time and he has an appointment. He is greeted by my teacher’s secretary. The doctor is with another patient, running 5 minutes late. The patient is upset because he was told he would go in at X time sharp. He sits down. After 5 minutes the patient gets fed up, stands up from the reception chair, goes to the secretary’s desk, grabs the 15 inch CRT computer monitor and crashes it into the secretary’s skull.
He leaves, calmly.
The secretary suffered several vertebral fractures along with a skull fracture.
I don’t know if the police caught the patient afterward.
#10 The Spoils Of War
#11 Locked In An Awkward Position
#12 Ye Old Pencil Trick
#13 No Need To Worry, Doc
#14 Take Him Back, Please!
We had a foster boy that was exactly like this. Only he could charm the pants off of anyone and everyone he met on the outside but behind closed doors, he was a nightmare. He would scream. Just inconsolably scream and scream (not cry, just scream) for 5-6 hours if he didn’t get his way. If that didn’t work? He’d bang his head into a wall, destroy our house, etc.
When he would talk to us, it was always about how we were too old, fat, short, or whatever he could think of. He hated everything and would go on and on about how much he did. When someone would come to the house he would fake being hurt and/or be crying, then look at us and wink or smile…Ugh, just thinking about what we went through makes my blood boil!
#15 This Girl Should Write For Crime TV
#16 Has Your Kid Ever Threatened to Deport You?
#17 Okay, You’ve Proven Your Point!
He sold illegle substances and enjoyed power tripping off messing with desperate addicts. He would make them do gross/painful/awful things to “earn” their fix. He was also the only antisocial person I’ve ever met who had a weakened pain response. He once poked himself with a pen to prove to me he “didn’t feel pain”. And I mean a legitimate, flesh visable kind of stab. Yeah…
#18 Yeah, That’s Not Really The Point Of Counselling
My best example was after this guy’s wife had broken down crying in our third session about how he talked down to her, I asked them both what some goals for therapy might be. His Immediate response was: “I want to work on understanding why my wife makes such stupid decisions.” She broke down crying again and ran out of the room. The guy just looked at me like, ‘women, am I right?’ He had no idea that what he said was hurtful, or he wanted to hurt her. Either way, it was chilling to watch. Spoiler alert: she left him two weeks later after he threatened to shoot her if she left him. Yes, she’s safe and much better now.
#19 Playing The Godfather
#20 At Least She’s Honest
#21 It’s A Trap!
#22 Time With The Teacher
As a former kindergarten teacher, I can tell you what a kid who got me concerned did…
[The girl and I] toss a ball and I do some magic tricks but after a while, I hear the other teachers calling out the names of several 3 and 4-year-olds and I tell her I have to go help.
She’s furious, telling me they’re ruining her fun and screaming like a wounded pterodactyl.
It turns out she had locked half the group in a shed for trolleys, and keep in mind that this was in Norway in February, so even though they were dressed warm, their tear covered faces were ice cold.
#23 An Unashamed Monster
He casually admitted to domestic abuse in the same way someone would admit they left the hall light on by accident…to me, in front of his partner!
#24 A Serial Pact Predator
#25 That Killer Smile
I used to be a social worker in an inpatient mental health facility. I was very young and very inexperienced and I’ll never forget his almost telepathic ability to zero in on my vulnerabilities.
Genuinely one of the most chilling people I’ve ever met.
#28 That’s A Bit Extreme
I lived as a roommate to a sociopath. Originally I felt bad for her cause there was always someone out to get her and she claimed to be hurt by men multiple times. I believed her and felt really bad for her. She was very manipulative and she felt this need to get revenge on people as well.
The horrible part is that she works for a women’s health centre where she has access to patient information. She claimed this classmate of hers from college harassed her which resulted in her taking in his information from her work where he went and using the information to call immigration on him and his family.
#29 Monkey See, Money Do
My mother is the head of quite a dangerous psychiatric ward. I don’t really know what she does now, but last time we spoke her job was to meet with people who had been incarcerated, do a full evaluation, then decide if they were fit to go back into society or into her ward.
The thing is, it’s my mom that displayed so many qualities of a sociopath. She’s the most manipulative person I have ever come across and incredibly stone cold. She always said once you turn 16, I’ll kick you out because legally I’m no longer obliged to support you.
Sure enough, she did. I had seen her cheating on her third husband, so she’d turned everyone against me and kicked me out for good. Truthfully, I was too scared to say anything at the time.
#30 Those Eyes
We’ve had many sociopaths through our unit in the 9 years I’ve been here. Only one truly sticks out for me though; a 40-something year old male with seemingly no psychosis to be noted when I met him. He was covered head to toe in tattoos with many being offensive.
I read into his history and he had worked as a bouncer and ended up throwing a 20 year old patron through a two story plate glass window to the sidewalk below.
When I met him, he was very non-verbal, but when he did speak, it was chilling. He’s was the only person I’ve ever met that I was genuinely afraid of. I didn’t like looking him in the eyes but made a point of it, so as not to show weakness. His eyes were entirely empty; it felt like you were looking into a soulless void, as cliche as that may sound. When he was angry, he didn’t show it, he simply stared blankly at you which was more than unsettling.
I tried not to be too hard nosed with him, but we eventually found steady footing through mutual respect. He eventually left the ward and continued to physically hurt many more people while he was out.
#31 CEO, ASPD, MBA
You may or may not be surprised to learn that many folks in leadership positions at large companies often haveantisocial personality disorder. It just happens that their symptoms manifest in different ways. It’s not easy getting to the top – so it’s to their advantage to not feel empathy for those they stomped on on the way up.
Of course, please don’t take this as meaning that all organizational leaders are sociopaths – it’s just a lot more frequent there than with people who hold lower level positions.
#32 It’s More Than A Feeling
You know how you can tell a fake plant from a real one by feeling its leaves or petals? It’s hard to describe, but treating a sociopath is kind of like that.
There’s something different and some kind of vitality and connection missing. It’s usually very subtle. It’s different from people who’ve been traumatized and are a little dissociated. It’s different from psychosis where the person is very disconnected from reality. The person looks and seems like everyone else, but as you go along you get an odd feeling.
#33 Don’t Cross Me
He showed up to meet me with a red face of rage and all he wanted to talk about was himself and how he would get vengeance over the people that crossed him.
#35 What Prize
A younger kid I worked with was placed into a facility after trying to harm the family dog again and had already injured his newborn brother. He told his roommate in the facility that if they hurt someone, they would earn a magical prize.
#36 Teacher Sees It
One of my students in dissection class is constantly in other people’s personal space. He also asks a lot of odd questions. He’s very concerned with the inner workings of bodies. What eventually got to me was that he wanted to rip all of the organs and our rats apart with his bare hands. Kind of gives me the creeps.