Adult sociopaths often exhibited antisocial behaviors in childhood and may have been diagnosed with conduct disorder. Behaviors include cruelty to animals and other people, stealing, excessive lying, setting fires or otherwise destroying property and refusal to follow rules.
Sociopaths often lie and create alternate personalities or life stories to manipulate people into giving them what they want. They may also tell stories about others in order to create drama and control others' lives.
People with antisocial personality disorder lack empathy and show little or no remorse for hurting others. They may appear remorseful after being caught doing something wrong, but the emotion is rarely genuine.
Sociopaths feel that they are better than everyone else and that rules and laws don't apply to them, though they know right from wrong. They may have very high standards for others' behaviors but not hold themselves to the same standards.
Sociopaths are often violent and aggressive, abusing peers, spouses and even their children, insisting that the abuse was the victims' fault.
Many people with antisocial personality disorder are quite intelligent and are capable of being charming, funny and flattering. This ability to "cover" makes the disorder hard to detect, as sociopaths present to doctors and others as bright, healthy and well-adjusted until they are confronted with proof of their disorder, at which point they often erupt into rage.
The nature of antisocial personality disorder can make it difficult to determine when someone is a sociopath. However, there are a few characteristics that define the disorder and make it easier to spot.