antisocial personality disorder

Man diagnosed as a sociopath answers people's questions.

The term "sociopath" is something that people don't often understand. The public's exposure to what a sociopath is generally comes from the media depictions, usually in some psychological thriller that portrays the villain as a manipulative, out-of-control killer. They slap the sociopath label on them either in the background information or through inference.

But what is a sociopath? For starters, it's not actually called "sociopath," though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The correct diagnosis is "antisocial personality disorder," and the Mayo Clinic defines it as, "a mental health condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others." While it's true that people who have this specific type of personality disorder often engage in criminal behavior, that doesn't mean they are going to be unpredictably violent.

Greg, a man who says he was diagnosed with sociopathy around the age of 21, sat down to answer people's questions about the disorder.

When describing what "sociopath" means to him, Greg said that it's someone who has no regard for the safety of themselves or others, impulsive, reckless and "basically like a child." In the sort of rapid-fire setup where people take turns sitting behind a curtain to ask their burning questions, the man appeared relaxed. Surprisingly, he revealed that he was relieved by his diagnosis.

"I had felt out of control and didn't understand why I was doing what I was doing for a long time, so knowing that there was an actual reason behind why I was doing these things, it was really kind of freeing in a way."

One person asked what people most often misunderstand about being a sociopath, and the answer is insightful and informative for people who may be curious.

"Personally, I think that the stereotype is that they're incredibly violent and malicious just to be mean, just for its own sake. At least for me, that's not how it presents," he continued. "More often than not people with antisocial personality disorder, or sociopaths, they're just irresponsible, impulsive people that can lead to being a little aggressive and irritable. But the myth that we're violent and out-of-control monsters is just blown way out of proportion."

He speaks about seeing all relationships as transactional and his lack of empathy and guilt, which he admits has caused relationship issues in the past. The entire interview is fascinating, and you can visibly see the participants' body language relax as they start to have a better understanding of the person on the other side of the curtain. Hopefully, opening up conversations like this will decrease the stigma around certain mental illnesses.