The Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad

In The Sociopath at the Breakfast Table, the authors describe an incident or exchange involving a sociopath as a sociopathic transaction. Here’s the typical arrangement:

  • Sociopath — the one with the personality disorder.
  • Empath — an individual who is highly perceptive, insightful and sensitive to another’s emotions.
  • Apath — someone who is apathetic and likely to do the sociopath’s bidding.

This threesome is required for a sociopathic transaction to be effective and it usually unfolds something like this: On seeing the sociopath say or do something underhanded, the empath is forced to make a stand. The empath challenges the sociopath, who throws others off the scent by shifting the blame to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath’s perspective. Ultimately, the situation usually ends badly for the empath, and sometimes also for the apath (if his conscience comes back to haunt him or subsequently he becomes an object of abuse himself). The sociopath often gets off scot-free and can continue to abuse with impunity.


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