What is a High-functioning sociopath? (A definitive guide)

In this blog we will discuss the question ‘What is a high-functioning sociopath?’ 

Who is a Sociopath? 

Sociopaths are people with anti-social behaviour. They don’t regard others and their emotions because of a personality disorder that takes their behaviour to an extreme. A sociopath will hurt someone by his actions, without feeling guilty or sorry. To others they are rude and selfish because of their behaviour. One will manipulate you or lie to you, just for the sake of his own benefits. 

What is a High-functioning sociopath? 

Someone who finds lying easy and also gets along with it is called a High-functioning sociopath. Even though his behaviour hurts others, his charm and personality covers up the damage. It’s a term used to describe the behaviour of people with an antisocial personality disorder (APSD). ASPD is a part of the DSM-V. 

The word High-functioning basically refers to the severity of a sociopathic behaviour. More a person cheats and showcases anti-social behaviour, the higher he is on the spectrum of ASPD.

A high-functioning sociopath can go to great extents to fulfill his own needs. For example, show violence, put someone else into trouble and even unlawful killing or forcible violation. For them, hiding their sociopath tendencies is very easy which is why they hold respectable jobs, make relationships or do the daily activities normally. Without showing any signs of their personality disorder, one uses and manipulates his loved ones for his own use. 

Because a high-functioning sociopath harms the people around him (at home or workplace), they can’t stay in life long healthy relationships or environments. This is because sooner or later their behavior compromises others wellbeing. 

An additional information: The famous fiction character of Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes was also a High-functioning sociopath. Though this behaviour of his helped him in solving mysteries and crimes, his actions and words did hurt the feelings of his loved ones at times. 

He therefore did not have a lot of friends nor was he in any kind of relationship. 

How can one spot a High-functioning sociopath? 

Someone with a personality disorder like this will get angry are really small things to an extent which might physically cause damage to the other person. Coping with a high-functioning sociopath is extremely difficult and thus, people tend to isolate them in the long run. 

High-functioning sociopaths are very impulsive. They don’t take into account the long term side effects of a decision or act. One can be extremely reckless, such as beating other, raping or even killing. People with this personality disorder don’t give their family and friends the rights they deserve and this is the reason why one doesn’t stay in long term relationships. 

Sociopaths can act so charming and witty that they catch attention very easily. Because of this strong and manipulative personality of theirs, one uses people for their own use. 

How is a High-functioning sociopath diagnosed? 

This behaviour is linked to ASPD, which is a part of mental disorders in the DSM-V. 

Out of the seven symptoms mentioned below, one should suffer from at least 3 to be diagnosed with it. 

  • Repeated acts of lying for one’s own benefit 
  • Non conformity with the law or social norms. 
  • Impulsivity and getting aggressive very quickly 
  • Lack in the sense of responsibility 
  • Not being remorseful for ones own actions 
  • Disrespecting others and lack of empathy 
  • Not being able to hold on to a job or person for longer 

These symptoms and actions should affect one’s social and occupational functioning. Also, someone who is above the age of 18 years and has no history of substance abuse can be diagnosed with ASPD. 

Who can suffer from ASPD? 

Around 4% of the population suffers from this personality disorder, the majority of whom are men. Therefore, ASPD is more common than bipolar disorder. 

A genetic predisposition or environmental factors can be the reason why one suffers from ASPD. For example, if one has a family history of this disorder or has a high-functioning sociopath parent, he is very likely to suffer from it. However, the real cause for it is unknown. 

Is high-functioning sociopath behaviour/ASPD treatable? 

There is no specific treatment for sociopaths but psychotherapy is seen as one of the most effective ways for curing high-functioning sociopathic behaviour. Some forms of other treatments like clozapine do help in reducing the symptoms of high-functioning sociopath behavior. 

Though these people don’t really seek help. This is because they don’t see themselves as ill or in need of help. 

How is High-functioning sociopath different from Low-functioning sociopath? 

Unlike high-functioning sociopaths, low-functioning sociopaths don’t cover up their manipulative behaviours and lies by their charm and attractive personality. They are quite transparent when it comes to achieving their motive. 

A low-functioning sociopath will taunt you or disgrace you for his own benefit. He won’t change his attitude towards you to gain your trust like a high-functioning sociopath will. 

Low-functioning sociopaths, as assumed by many, lack interpersonal skills for manipulating others. They take the help of threats or intimidate others to gain what they desire. 

Above, we have answered the question ‘What is a high-functioning sociopath?’ and also discussed its relation with ASPD. 

Titles to read 

  • The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • The Vital Message, An Essay: “I’m not a psychopath, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.” by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny by Michael Tomasello
  • I’m Not Psychopath , I’m a High Functioning Sociopath: Funny Sayings on the cover Journal 104 Lined Pages for Writing and Drawing, Everyday Humorous, 365 … Year Long Journal / Daily Notebook / Diary by Day Writing Journals
  • The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M. Appel

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can psychopaths and sociopaths feel love?

According to a psychologist and therapist Perpetua Neo, the answer is no. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths have no sense of empathy so they can’t feel love.

What is the definition of a narcissistic sociopath?

A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition in which people have a magnified sense of importance, a deep need for extra attention or admiration, disturbed relationships, and a lack of empathy towards others.

What is the difference between a psychopath and sociopath?

Psychopaths are people with little or no conscience and do follow social conventions when it suits their needs. Whereas a sociopath has a limited and weak ability to feel empathy and remorse.

Is Joker a psychopath or sociopath?

The Joker is a loner, unemotional, shallow, and very violent so this makes him a psychopath. 


  • https://www.health.com/condition/antisocial-personality-disorder/high-functioning-sociopath
  • https://greatist.com/health/high-functioning-sociopath#how-common-is-it
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/high-functioning-sociopath#low-functioning