There is incredible diversity amongst the sociopathic population. Although we share some physical/genetic/environmental characteristics, there are also many things that vary widely such as intelligence, ethnicity, race, age, socioeconomic status, gender, education, etc. These factors all affect the way our sociopathic traits manifest themselves making each one of us a special snowflake. In fact, when you consider the breadth and depth of influence that these factors have in a typical person, it's amazing that sociopaths are as similar as they are. One important environmental factor that I hadn't really considered before is the role of growing up in a small town vs. a larger city, and the stifling effect the former would have on sociopathic behaviors. From a reader:
I think focusing on impression management is key to the high-functioning part of "high-functioning psychopath". Nearly all of us mimic to give the impression that we are just like everyone else. Those of us who recognize that we can get more out of people if they want to give it to us just focus on our overall reputation a little more. Those of us who recognize that we can't control our baser urges every single time and may need some benefit-of-the-doubt cover, make a point to emanate safety and innocence.
I think the lack of understanding about the importance of impression management among others is probably due to one of three issues: One, the individual isn't a psychopath or anything like it. Two, the individual is not a high-functioning psychopath, and thus can't see the big-picture benefit. Three, the individual is a high-functioning psychopath, but has never lived in a small town or been part of some small sub-community within their city. I currently live in a decent-size city, and can see how easily anonymity is attained here. In a small town, most people know where most other people are most of the time, and what they are doing, so from a psychopath's perspective, it is a different world.
Being a child adds another complication. How you are viewed is inextricably linked to how your parent is viewed. Your power in the community derives from theirs. It was vital in playing my town--getting what I wanted when I wanted it--that my mother was viewed favorably. Now I'm doing the same thing for my spouse, who is in a career where image and reputation are very important.