How to Spot Sociopathic Behavior in Teens

Sociopathy, sometimes called anti-social personality disorder, can be a highly destructive and dysfunctional chronic mental condition. Sociopaths are the individuals who have anti-social behaviors, and as a parent, you want to spot this in your teen if he or she has it because you can keep other major problems from arising. Someone with this disorder will treat others with blatant disregard, and they don’t seem to have empathy for other people. Many times, this could also indicate that your teen has trouble with alcohol and drug abuse. What are some of the symptoms that could be seen in your teen?

The Symptoms Begin in Childhood

Many times you will see the symptom of sociopathy as early as childhood, but it becomes more apparent in teen years. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the leading hospitals in the nation, sociopathy can arise because of environment and genetics. Unfortunately, you can’t even officially diagnose this problem until the teen turns 18. Based on information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, you will see the symptoms even before age 15. In fact, part of the symptoms for criteria is how they were present before the age of 15. However, sometimes a teenager grew up inside an abusive or neglectful home, and this doesn’t always indicate sociopathy.

The Signs

One of the first signs that you will probably notice about a teenager with these symptoms is how they seem to lack empathy. They might even be cruel to animals, and especially in early childhood, this can be a negative sign. Another symptom of sociopathic behavior is when the teen shows no regard for what’s right and wrong. They will be persistent with lying and exploiting others if it means that they can come out on top. They might manipulate other people using their charm or their wit for personal gain. Normally, sociopaths don’t feel the same emotions that others do when they hurt people or break the law.

Negative Consequences

Some of the signs that a teen has sociopathic behavior are actually in the negative consequences that arise from it. For example, they might be overly aggressive, which leads them into many physical and verbal altercations. They might get into fights with other people or participate in reckless behavior. Unfortunately, they might also engage in risky sexual behavior or take to drug and alcohol abuse. Sociopaths will normally have a hard time forming relationships. If you have a hard time getting close to your teen, and they seem to have a hard time getting along with anyone, this could be a sign. They will struggle to get along with family, co-workers and friends. Unfortunately, teenagers like this will have a higher chance of being incarcerated because they have a higher chance of breaking the law.

Treating Sociopathic Behavior

What good does it do to know the symptoms of this behavior if you have no intention of treating it? The hardest part, however, with treating anti-social personality disorder is how it can be difficult to treat. It becomes especially hard for teenagers because you can’t make a diagnosis until they turn 18. One of the things that you can do might be to check to make sure that the teen doesn’t experience depression, substance abuse problems or anxiety. These are some of the things that you could treat, according to MedlinePlus. In some cases, a treatment center like Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center might be able to help your teen with behavioral problems and addiction issues.

Medication and psychotherapy have also proven to be highly effective in treating some of these problems. Unfortunately, according to the Mayo Clinic, treatment can be exceptionally difficult if the teenager has symptoms that are severe, and they don’t want to change their behavior. Teens who exhibit anti-social personality disorder will be at a higher risk for anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

As Martha Stout’s book “The Sociopath Next Door” suggests, a lot of mystery still remains around this kind of illness. We don’t understand what causes this illness, but the conventional belief is that the sociopath has an intention already to cause malicious harm. The actual truth could be a little more complex than that. Some people might be quick to judge a sociopath as a bad person, but the reality is not quite as simple. Sociopaths may not even necessarily feel malicious towards others, but the problem is how they have little ability to feel what others are going through, and this gives them the ability to treat other people more like an object. One of the signs that a teen exhibits sociopathic behavior is that they emotionally destroy those who are the closest to them.