When it comes to sociopaths, many people have the image of some prominent sociopathic character from a TV series, like Tony Soprano or Dexter Morgan. The truth is that these characters aren’t accurate depictions of the sociopaths you’ll meet in everyday life. Not every sociopath is keen on murdering people.

The scary part is that they’re likely someone who is already somewhat involved in your life, like a father, sister, aunt, a teacher at your school or even your boss. They could literally be anyone, and they like to hang out under the radar.

In fact, psychologist Martha Stout authored a book in which she states that about 1 out of every 25 Americans secretly has no conscience whatsoever. A scary prospect indeed.

Here are six signs you’re dealing with a sociopath:

  • They have extreme, harsh, or hurtful behaviors, and then expect you to be okay with it, or they’ll pretend as though it never really happened.
  • They like to manipulate people, either directly or indirectly.
  • The way they treat you is seemingly random. Some days they’re great to you, other days they’re complete jerks.
  • They have no problem lying to get away with things.
  • They have trouble accepting responsibility, and often shift blame onto others to avoid feeling accountable for misdoings or poor behavior.
  • Sometimes it seems as though they enjoy being malicious towards others, whether it’s through manipulation or just plain meanness.

Your sociopath might not fit any of these exactly, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from any damage they might try to do to you. Here are four things you can do to shield yourself from a suspected sociopath:

  • Always be on guard. Expect the unexpected. Try to figure out their pattern of behaviors if at all possible so you can be ready.
  • Never confide in this person. If you need emotional support or advice, find someone else. Your vulnerability will only make you a target.
  • Start building up an emotional barrier between yourself and the sociopath. Paint the picture of a wall that surrounds you, protecting you from anything hurtful the sociopath says or does.
  • Never let the sociopath off the hook for anything; you need to keep them accountable. The more you stand up to their poor behavior and actions, the less likely they are to keep trying to manipulate you.

h/t Pysch Central

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