What is a Sociopath?

What is a Sociopath?

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

I was married to a sociopath for 30-years. My marriage counselors told me I was the most abused woman they had ever met. In the course of gaining my freedom I have listened to the life stories of survivors and of sociopaths. Like many other survivors, the information we are providing is helping to equip counselors to deal with the aftermath of a pathological relationship.

The first step to freedom is naming your adversary, and that is what this page is about: Identifying what a sociopath is, how you can know if you are in a relationship with one, and what to expect when you take your first steps to freedom. A relationship with a sociopath is unlike any other relationship and needs special handling.

How can you tell if a person is a sociopath? Here's why it's tricky:

Many sociopaths are considered to be "pillars" of our community: doctors, pastors, lawyers, therapists. You will find one in every 25 people and they look just like you or me. Male or female, sociopaths commonly represent authority figures in our world, especially those in the "trusted" professions like "pastor" or "counselor". 

They are generally popular and the kind of person you want to vote for, whether in politics or church. They appear jovial and kind… as if they are the most caring person on the planet.

What you don't see or know, except behind closed doors, is that they don't really care about anyone but themselves. They are out to destroy you, if they can. You may be very creative and find joy in painting, poetry, or writing stories. They feel jealous of you so they find ways to cut you down. They might say things like, "You could never do ____." Or, "You're not good enough to be ____." The jealousy is rooted in deep insecurity, and only God can heal that wound.

A sociopath will make cutting remarks over and over so that even though you know it's not the truth, you slowly begin to doubt yourself. Gradually you begin to believe their words are true, especially if you live with a sociopath. Your diminished identity causes you to shrink your dreams, passions, and lifestyle, as a result of this level of attack against your core being.

If they've been allowed to get away with bullying you, they will grow bolder and bolder. They might threaten to harm your body, but what you might not realize is that they are already damaging your mind.

They ask a lot of questions, and even though you try to put up boundaries, they will smash down your boundaries with their persistent questions. Sometimes, they will take you for "interrogations" at times when they know you are weak, weary, and more vulnerable.

They need to know everything about you and your friends, too. Their motive is control and manipulation. Information is power. Words are their primary weapon, and all that you confide in them will be used against you.

They may borrow your money and never repay you. They may demand more and more money from you, using their "hard luck" stories to gain your sympathy. They will drain you empty, and turn it around to blame you for the loss.

They prefer to hold the purse strings. A sociopath is normally not very good at managing money. In fact, they may use your name to gain credit, take out loans, and harm your credit rating.

If you risk revealing what is happening to you, they will make your life more miserable. If you try to get away, they may threaten to harm you, or someone you love. It's one of the few promises that they intend to keep.

Sociopaths like to "keep peace" so they will promise and then "forget" or make excuses why they could not keep their promise to you. If you get angry or sad about how you are being treated, they will tell you that you misunderstood them, you're hyper-sensitive or you got it all backwards.

They will say things to make you feel like you are crazy. That's what is called gaslighting.

For example, your purse is missing, but you know you left it on the dresser in your bedroom upstairs. You ask everyone in the family to please help you find your purse. You thoroughly look through your bedroom, starting with the dresser. It's not there. A half-hour later, after everyone has been searching the house from top to bottom, the sociopath points to the bedroom and announces, "Your purse is on the dresser – didn't you see it?" In reality, the sociopath took the purse and later returned it to its place. The motive is to make you feel and look crazy.

They will act totally the opposite with other people, as they behave with you.

To other people they display their charming personality, going out of their way to help others. With other people around, they will even treat you special. They will be very sweet, and other people may exlaim how lucky you are to be with this person!

They will use your own family against you in devious ways – ways in which your family will think YOU are the one being unreasonable.

If you leave a sociopath, they may write letters using kind and forgiving language. They will share these letters with close friends, so that everyone knows how wonderful and willing they are to work on the relationship. You will be perceived as the one who is unreasonable and unwilling to preserve the relationship.

They love to play the martyr, and will portray themselves as the victim! They are persuasive and convincing actors. They make weak women swoon with their fake passionate devotion to you. They are already prospecting for their next victim, long before you realize it.

Even good people will appear to understand why the "martyr" must move on! You are "dead weight" to this marvelous human being.

You know the truth – that what they do and say is all for show. And a good show it is. Sometimes you believe them, even when you know better. The illusion is that good – I mean, it's really, really good!

At this point, with all the evidence against you and the sway of popular opinion, you may doubt your own sanity. In reality, your frontal lobe is increasingly being damaged. Your thinking is foggy and it's growing harder to make decisions.

Neuroscience helps to explain the physical aspects of why in the world we stay with these sociopaths! Your brain is addicted to the incredible high of being in their presence. Their toxic "love" is like heroine and you crave it.

You never felt so loved as in the beginning of your relationship with the sociopath. If only you could do or say something that would bring back the love! But it never was love. It was a sickness.

Sociopaths play "The Game" well. Like a cat toying with a mouse, they will toss you a tidbit of Hope. They will give you a "fix" of that love you so desire. It may last a week or even a few months! It will feel like a honeymoon! But then they revert to torturing your mind again.

Verbal assualts and emotional grendades that shred your soul until you are nothing but a shell of your former self.

After a few cycles like this you may feel shattered, as if you are dead inside. You sit amidst the jagged shards of your brokenness, a bleeding mess. You have no one to talk to, because no one understands.

Sociopaths are sick people. Their brains are physically different than yours. They cannot feel the harm they are doing – it does not affect them. They can only pretend to feel. They can only mimick being a true human.

One sign of this is "parroting". Their voice is like an echo of what others have said. They often don't have any original ideas or thoughts of their own. My ex-husband used to "harvest" my soul by pretending to be interested in what God was teaching me. Later, I would hear him using my own words in a sermon or in counseling someone, but giving me no credit. It's not the credit I wanted… it's just that year after year, you realize he has no interest in you except to prey on your soul… to harvest every bit of life out of you. Sometimes you just want to die, because it feels hopeless. No one around you understands!

"The Perfect Prey" is the story of one such relationship, that ended in death.

Sociopaths are sub-humans or what I call demon-possessed or extremely oppressed. It is possible for them to change, but very rare. It takes a crucifixion – they must choose to die to themselves. Their hearts must soften, at some point, to let Love and Truth – like Light – penetrate the darkness of all the lies. Just know, that you cannot possibly love them enough… you must get away, if you can. It's their opportunity to see the Truth. Our "love" too often shadows the doorway of their escape from hell.

Here are "10 Red Flags You May Be Marrying A Sociopath" if want to help yourself or someone you know be safe. If you're already married, and you question if the relationship is pathological, in "Did You Marry the Wrong Mr. Right?" I have listed some diagnostic questions you can ask yourself. If you believe you've been duped into a pathological relationship, I've written "Create Your Own Jailbreak" to give you some tips on what to expect in breaking free.

When children are involved, that's the most painful:

One small example (trigger warning): A sociopath often used to leave candy on my bed – my favorite kind. My children would see this as "love". Dad "loves" mom – they see the tangible evidence. They see Dad hugging mom, and mom squirming at his touch. What they don't see or hear, is that just prior to leaving candy on the bed for me, he has been describing my death in gory detail, and how enjoyable it would be put a bullet in the back of my head and watch my my body drop into a nearby rock quarry.

Hopefully not for you, but some of us have faced the loss of our childrenI was the silent accomplice to his deception, as I tried to shield the worst from the children, becoming the "shock absorber".

A sociopath paints his own self-portrait on you, projecting the image for all to see and agree that you are evil…. or crazy… or a heretic, if you don't keep silent and play the game. Likewise, we also project our self-portrait onto our sociopath spouses: We falsely assume they that if we can somehow manage to convey enough love, enough "reason" that they will begin to understand how we feel and stop the abuse. Nope, it never works!

The best thing you can do is to cut ties with someone like this, as cleanly and permanently as possible. The problem is, you likely have a "trauma bond" and your mind is chemically addicted. You're going to need some help!

The sociopaths in our lives may seem to get away with the rape and murder of our souls, but God is very angry with what is happening. Though it may seemed delayed, this is what is promised you:

If you look at God's justice system, which is based on righteousness, there is no doubt that your reward is coming to you.

Listen to David in 2 Samuel 22:

"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the Lord upheld me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he compensated me because of my innocence."

I don't have time or space in just one blog post to share with you all the Hope there is for you, but I can tell you with confidence that you can be totally FREE! It's the storytellers who are helping to create the quickest escape route. Even doctors and therapists are learning from the survivors of sociopathic abuse today.

I will share you with a few of the same resources that helped me to recover my life:

If you've read this page all the way down to here, thank you. It's not easy talking about pathological relationships, but the more this darkness is explosed, the greater our power to release the captives.

We have enough victims; the world needs more champions, and that is why I write… because it's the right thing to do… because you never know what change-maker your story will ignite. I hope that catalyst for change will be you!

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  

Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2016 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

– See more at: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/books/#sthash.20kKUznO.dpuf

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

– See more at: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/books/#sthash.20kKUznO.dpuf

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Antwis November 27, 2018 at 5:15 pm

I need help . I was married to a man who lied to me financially , we had no joint accounts and had affairs throughout our marriage .

I loved him and stayed with him for 31 years . 

He is now with a girl age 31 he is 60 and we are 2 years it the divorce. 

He set me up for divorce transferring assets to my name in 2015 , I have spent a fortune on divorce lawyers everything is going horribly wrong as he lies and manipulates the truth , I feel I am losing my mind as he is making me look the abuser and him the Victem . I am afraid of my future 


White Dove November 27, 2018 at 8:06 pm

31 years is such a long time… and then to realize it was all part of lies…. there are no adequate words to describe that type of pain. You loved him… I know that kind of pain, too. 

Patricia, I wish I could sum up all I’ve learned in a single paragraph here, but it’s impossible, because it’s all part of the journey we’re each on. All I know is that moment-by-moment and day-by-day, if we choose Love, our path forward is lit up with Hope. Hope does not disappoint. 

What I can tell you, as one who is on the other side, is that Love never fails and Truth always prevails. I have lived by these truths all these years and they have never failed me. 

You have a wonderful future, because God is already there, ahead of you. 

Don’t look back to Sodom…

No matter how ugly divorce is, especially to someone as manipulative as this, truth and love always win. The best revenge is a well-lived life. We don’t always get vindication on this side, we don’t always get understanding or empathy from others, but with Truth and Love, we have joy, peace and God’s favor on us.

Doors will open for you. You will have a new life, a better life.

Don’t look for answers or help in man, woman or any external opportunity.

Everything you need is inside you. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. 

In Christ, all things are possible and nothing is impossible.

All I know is that if I can come out of this, anyone can. And that is why I share my story, to offer hope and encouragement.

I wish I could sweep away the pain, but if being with you in this little corner of the internet helps, I hope that some of the pain is lifted….



Lynn Esjew November 30, 2017 at 11:26 pm

I just discovered I have been married to a sociopath that just died! Had he not died I would still be ensnared in his web of lies, I found out he was talking to his ex for years & had stopped for the last 2 years! I cannot tell you of the betrayal the isolation the financial rapping!! I have never met anyone so callous & so destructive! He wanted me destroyed! I am slowly coming to grips w/ my 17 yr old waste of a marriage!! I'm in debt I couldn't even bury him! I hope this doesn't happen to anyone else!! I loved him was my only crime!! Thanks for reading!!!


White Dove December 2, 2017 at 4:22 pm

The grace that he is gone will one day help, but right now the grief is intense. The grief of betrayal, deception, and worse is beyond the human mind to comprehend. I’m sorry, Lynn, for your 17 years of suffering. Your love was real… now let that love come home to your own heart… you will be amazed at all that God will do on your behalf, to right the wrongs. In the meantime, it’s a tough road, when you first realize the depth of deception. 


NTCP8 March 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm


I think I just ended my relationship with a sociophat, actually she ended it. 

It all started in 2015 when a girl that I’ve met briefly the year before contacted me over Whatsapp. She asked to meet up, and I obviously said yes.

We met up for the first time in a bar, and the first thing I noticed which was a bit weird was that she kept looking into my eyes me non-stop. When there was a silence, she kept on looking into my eyes. When I talk to someone I usually look into peoples eyes, which is normal. Back then I didn't pay too much attention to it.

I met her a few times more before I asked her to be my girlfriend. I usually don't ask it, that seeing it happens naturally, but I had no idea what her intentions were. I was not really to commited either seeing my life was perfect, travel a lot for work to exotic locations, great friends, single etc. I felt also that there was something dodgy going on. I asked her if she had a boyfriend, because I had a strong feeling she had one. She said no. One year later I found out that she was still dating another guy while she was with me. The other guy was living in a different country (relocated), but still. I had this feeling from the beginning, I’m in Sales so I can read people relatively easy. She couldn't break up with the guy, seeing he was crying. 

She became my girlfriend, and from that moment everything went downhill. I will sum up some of the situations where she has put me in:

She invited me to the opening of bar from a guy where she had a crush on. She only invited me to make that guy jealous;

He former best friend told she slept with another guy. I’m still not sure if it is true, but I assume it is seeing her friend gave me a lot of detailed information. My ex always denied it;

She is a professional, but she had to take an exam for work. She failed, and blamed it on me and broke up with me;

She does volunteering during the weekend. Something really bad happened (the organization where she worked for had to cover it up). She had hired a lawyer to defend her case. She never showed any remorse, and again she blamed it on me. I had nothing to do with, I don't do any charity work;

She encouraged some of her friends to ignore their boyfriends;

She applied for a new job, and asked me if I could introduce her to one of the Directors (of course she was super friendly). I couldn’t do that, seeing my friend knows how she is to me and they would never hire a person like that. She was so angry when I told her that I couldn’t help her, she ran out of the taxi to the police and saying I was stalking her. They after she came back with an “apology”;

She applied for another at a company where I know people, and they said to me that they will not hire her seeing she doesn't fit in the team. She had 5 interviews and none of the people liked her, she was too arrogant;

We had plans to spend Christmas Eve together, she picked up a fight which resulted that I spend my Christmas Eve alone. During the fight I said to her ‘I’m done with you, good luck with your life’. After one hour she was calling and texting me, I ignored her for a week. In the end I gave in, and gave it another chance. I know, stupid of me;

None of my friends or family liked her from day 1;

She disappeared for hours, with the excuse that she was studying, sleeping, or her phone was not working (I know that her phone has problems, so don't think that was a lie).

She was always saying that she was the best in everything; she has a better job, etc. Example, she told me she could ski, so we planned a skiing trip. She sucked in skiing, I don't think she ever had done it before. Same with her job, she is very mediocre in what she is doing. She is intelligent, but in a different way;

She never invited me to her flat, only when she moved to a new location;

Telling me I have to ‘excel’ myself with work;

Telling me her future husband has to be a politician with a lot of power;

Last week she broke up for because I triggered her. She blocked my number for two week, and she video called me yesterday for my bday. I picked up, yep once more I acted like a weak guy. I told that I’m at the office and I cant call. I called het back after my bday drinking bash party, she didn’t pick up.


I always thought she was a good person, just young and wild. Yesterday a recruiter told me that they couldn’t place her seeing she has ‘sociopathic’ behavior. After I got back home, I was reading some article about sociopathic behavior, and she does seem to have some characteristics of a sociopath.

My friends were telling for more than a year to leave her, I always told them that I know her better, and she has a good hearth. I’ve been always a very (over) confident person, I know I’m not ugly, good job, etc. but she made me feel bad about myself. Friends were telling me since last year, that I don't look happy, less energetic, etc. If I was still confident, I wouldn’t haven come to this website.

I deleted her number, all conversations, etc. I can’t go back to her under any circumstances. Its diffcult not to contact her, although I know she will not reply. 



Susan Schiller March 15, 2017 at 10:09 pm

It sounds like you will have a clean break and you know what you need to do… best wishes to you….


Cecile Coin January 5, 2017 at 5:39 am


I would like to leave a comment. I am French and live in the south of France. I wondered if maybe we can communicate as you communicate to others.

When I read others' experiences, and these experiences can be really horrendous, I feel lucky that my experiences did not go as far as these experiences.

I would like to say that I nearly broke up my whole life with the strangest experience I have ever had in my life, with an affair with somebody that had traits of a sociopath. I find strange that sociopaths, or whatever they are called because there are a lot of nuances in somebody's profile and with people like this, we know so little that it is, I think impossible to really name the profile of these types of people, are not really known in the public. why is it that we are not aware of these people at school even so nobody would fall into their trap?

I started giving English classes to this person and this person seemed normal and I was very strangely extremelly attracted to him and I forgot about my life and the consequences that a relationship with this person would have on my marriage and my family. I actually dont know why I fell into this trap.

I dont know if I am lucky but I finished this relationship and I told my husband about it. They were friends so the situation was very complicated. I could not avoid telling my husband about it for the simple fact that he might have got to know about it. I thought I could trust this person but I gathered in the end that I did not know this person at all and that he could not be trusted. so I told my husband about it and at the moment we are still together but personnally I feel I have lost my identity in some ways but I cannot put my finger on it. Obviuosly I feel very guilty about this and I want to get my relationship with my husband back so I am putting a lot of my personal dreams on the side which in turns mean that I am now the little woman at home doing everything right.

So it is painful because not only I have deeply hurt my husband but also I have jeoperdized my profesionnal life and aspirations. Maybe it is only temporal. I dont know. I feel quite lost.

this relationship with this person was very strange. It was like living on another planet. What I still dont understand is that I felt like this person was part of my family even before we had the affair. I still do not undertand. I have tried to see therapists but none of them have really clarified things. I dont know if the person did something particular to make me feel he was part of my familly or if there was something in him that made me feel this. I wish I knew what happened but I dont know. Was it an unconscious thing? in this case, who am I really to have been attracted to this? what made me do this? Was I manipulated? I feel quite unarmed really. I wish somebody could tell me what happened to me.

I hope you can help me with your knowledge on the subject.

many thanks for your help!



Susan Schiller January 9, 2017 at 8:47 pm


It is good to hear from you. I don’t understand all of evil’s facets, not even a little… but one thing stands out is your feeling of helplessness to withstand his advances. You felt like you knew him from a long time ago, even… that he was “family”. 

What I do know is that people involved in the occult can and do manipulate energy to make you feel familiar with them. They change the energy in and around them to be compatible with your energy… so you feel like “home” with them. 

It’s a deception that is nearly impossible for us to detect until it’s too late.

That is why I, myself, felt so “safe” with one of my abusers. It’s not easy to understand and I don’t pretend to understand…. but one who was involved in the occult explained this much to me, that he manipulates reality by shifting energy to match the energy of his prey.

It makes sense….

When you explain how you felt like you were living on another planet…. how it was so strange… how you felt helpless against the tide of his personality….

I don’t think many therapists – or people in general – understand the true nature and methodolgy of pure evil. 

So we often don’t get answers….

I don’t know if this has helped but my heart certainly goes out to you!



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