Sociopaths are smooth and charming. In fact, if "charming" is the first word that comes to my mind when I meet someone I am immediately on guard. What is all that charm covering up? Sociopaths are glib and very, very likable. They know just what to say to reel you in. They can read you like a book. The mind games they play are amazing. Intelligent, independently minded people suddenly become putty in their hands. This makes the ordinary mine field of family dynamics even more treacherous to navigate.
Sociopaths have their own agenda. They do what is best for themselves without regard for the effects on others. A mentor of mine once said that the sociopaths in our culture can be found in two places depending on their socioeconomic background. Poor sociopaths are in jails or prisons. The rich would be in boardrooms, as CEOs of companies. The jail-type sociopath may rob you with a gun or hit you over the head for what they want, but the more educated and "civilized" sociopaths use entirely different methods that make them less obvious - and more treacherous.
They don't usually make bold, head-on attacks. They are smooth in their words, their deeds and their moves. They slide through the background, button holing people and converting them to their way of thinking before the "victim" even knows what has happened. Sociopaths are mesmerizing and intoxicating. They flatter and finagle. They bribe and manipulate. They never declare all out war, but negotiate elaborate diplomatic maneuvers behind the scenes.
This can make negotiating difficult family situations a nightmare. I will be talking to a family member who is extremely intelligent and normally quite an independent thinker and suddenly realize that the sociopath in the family has "gotten" to her. I hear his words coming through her mouth, like a puppet or a ventriloquist. It's amazing. A feminist may start spewing a misogynistic harangue about a female family member. A liberal may suddenly go off on a tangent about people on welfare. It's amazing to watch. It's as if they have been possessed. I keep waiting for their heads to start spinning around and green vomit to fly out.
I'm just grateful we only have one in the family. Imagine two of them working against each other, lining up family members on their respective "sides". It would look like a battlefield.