No Conscience, No Remorse: Am I a Sociopath?

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Reader’s Question

Sometimes I don’t think I have a conscience. It’s only after I do something wrong and I’m told by someone else that it was wrong, do I get concerned. And, I only pretend to feel remorse. This happens automatically. I also struggle to feel any real emotion. My boyfriend says I have sociopathic tendencies. Is that true?

Psychologist’s Reply

Sociopathy (or Psychopathy) is a personality disturbance characterized primarily by the lack of capacity for genuine empathy, which leads to a tendency to senselessly use and abuse others and a compromised ability to have genuine remorse for so doing. People can of course have psychopathic traits in their personality without having a full-blown psychopathic personality disorder.

Psychopathy can only be diagnosed by a well-trained professional. One of the most eminent researchers on the topic, Dr. Robert Hare, developed a fairly time-tested instrument that helps screen for psychopathy. Professionals using the instrument must have special training in conducting thorough history-taking and other procedures in order to score and interpret the instrument correctly.

The fact that you are even asking questions about this is actually a good sign. So, seek out someone with the necessary expertise to render an accurate assessment.

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