Dr. Helen

Is 1 in 25 people really a sociopath?

Doug Giles has a post up (from the Huffington Post) entitled “DATE FROM HELL: 11 Signs You May be Dating a Sociopath:”

Could that amazing new person you or a loved one is dating actually be a sociopath? It’s not as far-fetched as you might imagine. Roughly one in 25 Americans is a sociopath, according to Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door. Of course, not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals. But they certainly can make life difficult, given that the defining characteristic of sociopathy is antisocial behavior.

Stout is saying that 1 in 25 people or 4% are sociopaths. Are there really that many sociopaths these days? In the older DSM-IV, the prevalence of Antisocial Personality Disorder in a community sample is about 3% for males and about 1% for females, and just because one has APD does not mean he or she is a sociopath. A sociopath is even more extreme than someone with APD. Are sociopaths growing among Americans or are we renaming many people as sociopaths? It’s a tough question to answer.