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A Thorough Look At The Psychological Disorder Of Sociopathy, With Links Made To Charles Dickens' Novel "Great Expectations", Using Estella As An Example Of A Sociopath.

3161 words - 13 pages

"He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with his wit and plans. He will show you a good time, but you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will scare you with his eyes. And when he is through with you, and he will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your innocence and your pride. You will be left much sadder but not a lot wiser, and for a long time you will wonder what happened, and what you did wrong. And if another of his kind comes knocking at the door, you will open it."-From an essay signed "A sociopath in prison."The character of Estella from Charles Dickens novel "Great Expectations" is a sociopath. Identical to 3% of our population, Estella has no conscience, or any true emotional attachment to another human being. Dickens adds fuel to the 'nature versus nurture' debate on sociopaths, as Estella's sociopathy is apparently taught to her by Miss. Havisham. The identification of sociopaths is difficult, and great care must be taken not to make erroneous diagnosis. The positive identification of sociopaths in our society could prove extremely useful to both law enforcement officers and to general members of society, in determining who they should lock away from society, and who they should trust.Estella exhibits many of the traits of a sociopath, which will all be looked at in detail.Estella is not unique, sociopathy is the most prevalent psychiatric disorder in Australia and the world, but is given far less publicity than other disorders. Schizophrenia, which occurs in less than 1% of our population, receives far more media coverage than sociopathy, which occurs in a staggering 3% of our population. The eating disorder anorexia occurs in 3.43% of our population, a similar proportion to sociopathy, yet anorexia is classified as an epidemic, whereas sociopathy is almost unheard of by most people.Sociopathy is a personality disorder classified under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), and is generally considered to be the same as antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. The DSM-IV defines sociopathy as pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. Sociopathy is characterised by a lack of emotion, especially emotional attachment to others, and the absence of a 'conscience'. These two key characteristics result in the other characteristics often displayed by sociopaths.Sociopaths generally display three (or more) of the following characteristics: callous unconcern for the feelings of others; gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules and obligations; incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them; very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly...

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