How are we to understand Sociopaths?

I’m in a very friendly debate on Sociopathy. I believe Sociopathy is formed by abuse, possibly pre-disposed to illness by mental frailty? Not sure… My husband believes people are born like that - like some other mental illnesses. I can’t accept that because ‘God doesn’t make junk’ and the Sociopath is incapable of remorse. Thererore, from conception, they would be incapable of remorse to God for any sin they are guilty of throughout their life including original sin. Without ever being remorseful, they couldn’t be forgiven. Would God actually create someone like that?? I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I guess I just don’t understand the Catholic view… any help would be greatly appreciated.

I don’t think we can ever know if someone is “born like that” since from the minute one is born, we begin to experience our environment (love or its absence in parents, etc.).

If however, God for His purposes did create such a soul, it would certainly affect that person’s degree of guilt. God judges justly.
When one considers a severely mentally handicapped person (ability way below the age of reason), that person also may be incapable of remorse for acts they commit which are contrary to God’s commandments. Yet, we believe that God shows mercy in His judgement of that person for those acts.

i am not sure but is remorse(for confession for instance) is an act of the will and not necessarily the heart.

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I think it important that we realize that nature makes mistakes, and God allows this to happen. In the US, approximately 3% of babies are born with a defect. This isn’t necessarily God’s will. If anything, God wants us to assist those persons to overcome their handicaps.

As for the “incapable of remorse” idea, yes, it is a hard concept. However, just as we accept than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists etc have the opportunity to accept Christ (in full knowledge) after their death perhaps it is reasonable to think that persons afflicted with sociopathy will also have the ability and opportunity to understand and choose Christ.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I guess I just don’t understand the Catholic view… any help would be greatly appreciated.

ILoveRocks:Its disordered personality due to childhood experiences.They are unable to feel empathy.They are self centered narcisstic.

I was marriend to a sociopath for several years. At the point of the end of the marriage he actually admitted to being a sociopath. He knew what he did was wrong, however, he justified everything because he felt entitled.

Whether all of them are highly intelligent or not, i can’t say, but he was very intelligent and he could have been a success in whatever he chose to do. Instead he loved to get one over on business associates and even people he considered to be friends.

In the end I do believe that he had some remorse for what he created in my life, but this didn’t stop him from continuing his behavior.

I will say that they are very clever and can fool about anyone. I do not consider it a mental illness, there are evil people in the world as we all can see. Their choices of evil are from free will. He told me he got a high from his actions, it seems that they have an addiction of fooling others. The world is only about them in the end and the hurt and damage they cause is easily left behind.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


Sociopaths are aware of what they are doing and they know its wrong.Their excuse is that they can’t control themselves.They are impelled to do what they do.If they deny God and put no trust in Him that they can overcome their behavior then they have nothing to fight this evil in them.It seems they are unwilling to give God a chance.Maybe if they were confined and taught about God from a real professional they could come to believe and therefore control their behavior.I believe God will help anyone who asks.They must be persistant and start at the beginning.They need to work on stopping the little sins in their lives first.

Okay, I read everyone’s feedback. another question I am pondering… along the same lines.
Not always, but sometimes, a person is influenced by, or possessed by, demonic forces.
Satan himself is The Sociopath.

I know modern science cannot discern demonic influence or possesion. It is gravely faulted in that it seeks material, objective, and what they would define as - logical / reasonable conclusions… I consider a blend of true Science, Medicine, etc. [which were created by God, and proceed from the Wisdom of God…] combined with the Supernatural Wisdom and the ways of God (far, far, and surpassingly far beyond our full comprehension) to explain the existence of (Holy)-Spirit-filled persons born anew in Jesus / vs. manifestations of evil spirits which possess the faculties of persons and control their thoughts and movements.

Is it possible that some, most, or all sociopaths are in some way manifesting either influence by … or possession by… the evil one and his minions? Because if the evil one is The Sociopath, then it would be a sensible conclusion that those under his sphere of influence and control would resemble him (sociopaths) as our beloved Lord, Jesus (verbally) condemned those who worked for their father the Devil. Whose condemnation in actuality was reserved for the particular judgement in time and eternity.

We see an example of a possessed man being made like a lamb - gentle, sitting at the feet of Christ as He instructred him after releasing him from his demonic possesion… was this man initially like unto a sociopath? Perhaps there is a better example… Your thoughts?

Hickman Josh - I believe that remorse - especially in the case of the Sacrament of Reconciliation - must be from the heart (true), and not just an act of will. Forgiveness may begin as an act of will… but contrition (if it be perfect contrition) must be from the heart.

If this scenario was true and sociopaths are possessed by evil spirits then how would such a possessed soul be judged at death? As Jesus and the apostles dispelled such spirits whilst on earth, does this indicate it would be impossible for a normal human being to do so on their own? Hence what chance do they have to love/obey God while they are possesed? If their entire lives on earth was marred by demon possession, it seems difficult to see how they would be judged, as in a way their free will would have been overpowered by possession?

Well, they could realize that God doesn’t like the sin even though they don’t find it wrong, and ergo be “sorry” in a mechanical sense of not being proud of their going against God.

In addition, even if it were nature alone and not nurture or a mixture, which I’m very skeptical of, it wouldn’t be God’s fault because the genetic or brain flaw would be the result of accident or coincidence, either on a previous family member or the current sociopath.

Personally, I think Antisocial Personality Disorder is nurture. But that’s just my opinion. I’m not as well-read on this as I am on other mental illnesses.

As with all persons, sociopaths are not all the same. Most live perfectly normal lives and never seriously harm anyone. But, they have a need to be admired and thought as good as or better than everyone else and cannot truly empathize with the pains and sufferings of others. They know right from wrong and are capable of living within the law and even of being virtuous, but it’s harder for them to acknowledge their sins and they cannot relate to the harm they’ve caused others. This is a handicap, like any other, but they can work around it and be good people. How culpable they might be is up to God to determine, of course, depending on how seriously afflicted they are. Heaven knows it can be hard enough endeavoring to live a holy life without having to live with such a disorder. They deserve our sympathy, but no one needs to make himself a victim of their narcissism. If they can’t/won’t keep within reasonable boundaries they can’t be trusted. Something to consider when dating such a person or entrusting him with money or one’s life.

Oooo I love this topic. It’s like a psychology students dream. May not be a ‘Catholic’ view as such but the Bible isn’t a diagnostic manual.

I disagree that anyone is ‘born’ with any form of mental disorder - there can be a heavy genetic predisposition, as has been seen with schizophrenia and bipolar depression, but in the end there is still a need for an environmental interaction. People misunderstand genetics, genes most often depend on an environmental ‘trigger’.

Sociopathy is actually entailed in Antisocial Personality Disorder (according to the DSM of Mental Disorders), with the terms psychopath and sociopath being considered outdated and obsolete by the American Psychiatric Association though are obviously still pervasive in our language. Some have suggested that sociopathy, as a distinction within APD, is more environmentally caused whereas psychopathy is more heritable but both still have genetic and environmental factors contributing.

Okay, but in considering possession, is this not ususally temporary, and seems to mimic sociopathy, but is not the actual presence of true sociopathy? So a true sociopath - without remorse (lacking the desire to repent and the ability to receive from God and to offer atonement to God for sin through confession and conversion), in a perpetual state of narcissism (self-love, rather than love of God)… how can this person be saved if it were theoretically from birth?

And if not from birth, as I believe, but occuring during life - and profoundly and perpetually crippling to the ability for the soul to be born anew in Christ… does this not cast this person forever from the sheep fold? I can’t see how a person with sociopathy could be created as such…

Unless we are talking about the doctine of Election. Could this be the answer? Some are not elected from the beginning and as such are not pre-disposed for Heaven? But the Lord tells us that when everyone is created, they are all given the deposit of faith…

It’s a mind-bender and I am no closer to resolving it, but now have much more to chew on… Come Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful and grant us Your wisdom in this matter that we may see and understand. Amen.

when one talks about possession he has to speak in degrees.One person had 9 demons.Maybe some have 1 or 50.A sociopath in the likes of Ted bundy or the hillside stranglers were definitely possessed.Bundy with many maybe hundreds of demons.Jeffrey Dahmer was different in that he was able to confess his sins accept Christ be baptized and be saved.I doubt whether he was ever completely rid of his demons though.his desires never left him(therefore i assume there was still a demon or two still in him)and he admitted as such when he said if he were released he would probably kill again.Bundy was so controlled that he admitted he couldn’t possibly change and till the end was still plotting on how he could escape.He never accepted Christ as far as I know.The man possessed in the Bible could have been a sociopath .It was never indicated what kind of crimes he committed.he may have been possessed by demons which caused him to steal repeatedly or hate and slander people all the time.In the case of possession a person has to let the devil in and has to continually give in to his temptations.When the devil enters he finds a nice place to dwell and invites other demons to come in.The more a person lets the devil control him the more the demons will come an enter.A person completely possessed has lost complete control of his free will and is unable to fight any temptation.God or a priest has to cast him out.Someone more powerful than the demons.Energy would leave Jesus’s body when He casts demons out.It took an effort on His part.The Sacrament of Penance would be a first step.He would have to admit he’s possessed and needs God’s sacrament of grace to help fight this or these demons.He would have to continue going to confession many times and doing much penance and praying to get rid of the demon.With God’s help all things are possible.Withoout God a sociopath hasn’t a chance.

I happen to know someone with APD and he is no more likely to be possessed than I am. Having a psychological disorder doesn’t make one an automatic target for demon possession. Such disorders have sometimes been thought to be possession, which is why the Church is very careful to investigate reported cases of possession to be certain that is the case.

None of us stands a chance, as valentino put it, without God. Being naturally kind isn’t an automatic ticket to heaven anymore than having APD is an automatic ticket to hell. True virtues are engendered and nurtured by the Holy Spirit as we cooperate with him. They aren’t natural gifts or naturally withheld. It’s why no man can claim that God is unfair because everyone can have access to the grace of God if they want it.

I dated a guy for a couple of years. We met through mutual friends - in fact, our point of introduction was - “Hey, he’s Catholic too - he goes to the same church as you.” I thought this was a great thing! . He immediately said, " I know - I’'ve seen you there". I took it as a compliment at the time (But I realize now I was prey). When we first dated, all it consisted of was going to mass together. I actually found it odd at the time that he did not want to go out to eat or anything after… and finally invited him out after mass one day. He seemed so torn about the simple suggestion of brunch - at first a yes, then a no, then a yes, but on his terms… He was the smartest guy I had met in quite some time - so charming and funny, portrayed himself to share my values, political belifes and faith. I thought I had finally met THE ONE. Then, some shift occurred… he had made this effort to make it seem as if I was the most important thing to him and that we were in sync - but he could not maintain it. Odd behaviors began to mainfest - only perceptible to me, who he, against clearly everything in him, was trying to act normal for… but alas, he could not keep it together and it proceeded to get more and more odd to me in many ways, while he continued to maintain a stance of composure and confidence and hubris, frankly.( As I have since read about psychopathic relationships, one is so enamored of the person they initially met and saw such wonderful things in, they excuse so much after and continue to recall the amazing initial things of such promise and dearness they initially saw in the person and continue to await their return. I regret that I did.) But it never happens. This person proceeded to cause much destruction in my life - I realized without the slightest care on his part. I recall going to confession one time - confessing nothing terribly untoward, just venting my frustration with my unknown to the priest"boyfriend" - and the dear priest jumping out from behind the confessional screen (never happened before in my life!), admonishing me to “stay away” from him! That was it - thank you, my Dear Lord!

Months later, I got a message from a friend (with whom I had commiserated over time about our "jerky boyfriends’ " similar uncool behavior), outlining the traits of a psychopath,. And I all but fell over as the cascades of revelation came over me as I realized that he completely fit the mold and it accounted for so much of that which was just plain crazy to me in his behavior, despite his attempts to make me think it was all me! I will never forget having a conversation with him one time in which we were discussing the devil - and it was the only time, I now realize, that I saw a tear in his eye, as he said “Yeah - I met him one day- but I did not give in”. But he clearly did.

Do I have to pray for him? I would rather overall prefer no further recollection in my life, and know he is a lost soul, frankly in league with the devil and heartless and emotionless as a human being, whose life is spent trying to bring evil to others…

P.S. When I first found this out, I actually sent him a message telling him that I had “figured him out” and that he needed to pray as, as in my understanding, no soul is lost outside of its own volition. He never responded to me, but it got back to me that proceeded in his evil way to tell mutual acquaintances (for whom I worry and pray) that I was “harassing” him… typical… Isn’t it a waste to pray for the devil and his minions?

Yes you need to pray for his soul. I was married to my husband for over 9 years and as you stated he was the most charming and intelligent man I had ever met. I was divorced from a man, who now I realize was bi-polar, (I do pick them) who I met while very young and didn’t have any idea that he had problems. After that experience I was just as naive as I was when I was a teenager about men.

Although I was not Catholic, I was heading that way and he said he was baptized Catholic, which was a lie. He had been married before and I got the papers for annulments, however he never seemed to have the time to fill them out.

He was very attentive and convinced me that every time he “quit” a job it was because his boss was either an alcoholic or a drug addict etc. He talked me into re-financing the house so he could start a business, as his first wife was selfish. He made promises that everything would be fine etc. I bought into his stories, he was very smooth and set me up for each lie. There were some wonderful times, however, in the end he took advantage of a man and his life savings to keep his business going. He went to another country to work as he could fool most business men, so it wasn’t just love that blinded me.

In the end he went back to his old ways and I was left holding the bag financially. It was a very painful experience and although I didn’t hate him, I wished he would go to hell. God showed me in a dream/vision hell and I woke up and said “don’t send him to hell”. At the time he wasn’t on my mind and I truely believe that God intervened so that I would pray for him, as although I can’t describe hell, I saw something very frightening. It took me years to finally get over him. He also has been hiding from me and others. Although I know which town he lives in. I rarely think of him anymore. You are very lucky to have escaped what would have been a harmful situation.

I have grown much and don’t trust people as I did before. The sad part is that they can just go on with life and not look back at the harm they have done to others.

God Bless


Talking about Sociopathy (Anti-social behavior disorder - which I think is the lesser of the two)… we do delve a lot into considerations on the particular judgement of the soul and that’s okay. Even though we cannot really know because we aren’t God. It is a very important point. And one I think is a factor in us cracking the case… Some have mentioned (and I’m certainly paraphrasing to include all similar threads of discussion)… that a Sociopath may be able to overcome their temptations and live a good life. Also that they can acknowledge their wrong compared to God’s law - admitting faults as an act of will… but I think that’s also not within the confines of God’s revealed truth in sacred Scripture. He certainly says of the Pharisees… They confess me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. So the heart and true love (not narcissism - which at its essence is self-idolatry - a mortal sin), true remorse / contrition, and a turning away from sin (repentance) are necessary, are they not? I’m not giving up. We are kicking around a lot of ideas. We noodle it out, speculate a little, but this is not one of THE GREAT MYSTERIES like The Holy Trinity. It IS knowable. My husband has been very supportive and even went online to google ‘Sociopathy and Catholicism’. There really isn’t anything out there. I guess he said THIS THREAD came up and one other thing which didn’t explain it. So, I’m not at all discouraged. I just don’t think it’s been difinitively discussed. But I honestly do believe there is a difinitive answer on this side of eternity. We just have to chew on it and ask the right questions. Someone… somewhere knows something that’s going to be the key to answering the quesiton beyond what we personally think, feel, and believe. You all have me thinking. Thanks for sticking with it. Let’s keep going…:thumbsup:

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