No spoilers, but I just wanted to acknowledge that Showtime's "Dexter" has done more to educate the general public on sociopathy than any other one source. It is such an accurate depiction of the inner monologue of a sociopath that I think there must be a sociopath on staff as a consultant or a writer. Interestingly, one of the writers at Love Fraud criticizes the character of Dexter for the very reasons that I think there must be an "inside man" who is aware of how a real sociopath thinks:
Speaking of actor Michael C. Hall, I wonder what your take is on Dexter, the great Showtime Series in which Hall plays a sociopathic serial killer working, by day, as a Miami crime-scene forensics analyst?One of the commenters on that site quickly points out what should be obvious to readers of this site:
I love this series, which is coming into its third season. But as disturbing a character as Dexter is, I would not characterize him as a sociopath. This is just a fun diagnostic quibble. Ostensibly, Dexter grows up a budding, violent sociopath. His father (or father-figure) recognizes the dark, evil side over which, as a boy and adolescent, Dexter seems to have little, and diminishing, control. The father sees that Dexter is compulsively, inexorably inclined to sadistic violence.
His solution is to somehow train Dexter to direct his sociopathic, homicidal proclivities towards cruel, menacing, destructive individuals. Best, if someone’s got to be snuffed-out by Dexter, it be someone the world will be better without!
And so Dexter becomes skilled, over time, at identifying individuals the world won’t miss; individuals as dangerous and creepy as he.
Why, then, is Dexter not really a sociopath—and indeed, diagnostically speaking, not even necessarily plausible? Because, despite his violent, murderous compulsions, Dexter is, first of all, a fundamentally sincere person. He is also loyal–for instance to his sister and a girlfriend. And while Dexter struggles to “feel” warm feelings, indeed anything—a struggle, incidentally, that he embraces—he knows how to have the backs of others, even where his self-interest may be at risk.
In a word, Dexter strives, against his darkest, most sordid inclinations, for growth. This is precisely what makes him and the series so fascinating, and precisely what rules him out as sociopath.
I think a sociopath can show what appears to be loyalty to a girlfriend or someone else, and they can also take action to have someone’s back, even though it appears to put them at risk. Why do I think this? I think if the girlfriend or someone else is someone they view as someone they “own” or have power over, and who will repay their act of loyalty in kind, if the person is someone who has utility to them, they will take action to protect the person. And if that girlfriend or other person is being mistreated or in some sort of trouble from someone OTHER than the psychopath himself, then I think it is also a game to them, to oneup that other person who is causing the trouble–to win over them. Even when it appears they are putting themselves at risk out of altruisim or concern to save someone else, it is really just to see how they can manipulate the situation to save the person, and it is thrilling to them to put their ownselves at risk, then get away with it and get themselves out of the situation and win the game. But if it actually came down to the wire of the girlfriend or person whose back they are saving or themselves, at that point, if they’ve exhausted all other options, then they’d throw the person under the bus.But again, if anyone knows or wants to find out who Dexter's "inside man" is, I would pay money to know. I would credit the insider's level of insight to the author of the original books, which I haven't read, but I hear they are not quite as good as the television series.