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Is my dad a sociopath?

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I am at a turning point in my life where I am unsure of whether or not to remain in contact with my father. I am currently in recovery and I catch myself wondering if I should sever all ties with him. Growing up with him was an exercise in torture. He is constantly seeking entertainment, even at the expense of others. Several times, he tortured or killed animals in front of us when we were very small. Although we would cry and beg him to stop, he would only throw his head back and laugh. He loved to frighten us by pretending to break in the house with a butcher knife in the middle of the night. All these things were strictly for entertainment. Other times he would become possessed with this insane rage that was usually taken out on my brother. Dad would pin my brother’s arms over his head with his knees, pinch his nose closed, and place his hand over my brother’s mouth until my brother turned blue. My mother caught him once and kicked him in the face. He fell off my brother, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and just laughed. These are just a few tidbits about my father, but I assure you it was almost constant. He has mellowed out a bit in his older age, but his cruel humor is still very much alive. I have tried to confront him several times about the way he treated us, but he only denies it and laughs at me. Is there any point??? I would love to hear him take responsibility so that I can let it all go, but it seems pointless. Does my father sound antisocial or could he just be a jerk???? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Is my dad a sociopath?

Answered by on -


You’re right. There’s no point in confronting him any more. Although I can’t fairly diagnose someone on the basis of a letter, from what you describe, your father is a very, very sick man. You aren’t going to make him take responsibility now. He never did.

If his behavior had been reported to authorities when you were young, there would have been consequences. In many states, he would have been separated from the family. In most states, his treatment of your brother would have been considered attempted murder. I’m only sorry that no one knew enough about what was going on to put a stop to it. You and your siblings deserved protection. My guess is that your mother was as terrified of him as you were so she couldn’t help you either.

All you can do at this point is to refuse to stick around whenever your father allows his cruel side to come out. You can’t make him take responsibility but you can inform him that you aren’t going to put up with it any more. At the first inkling of this stuff, simply leave. There’s no point in talking. Actions speak much louder than words in situations like this. If he still persists, then you may well decide that there’s no point in being around him.

I hope you can find some older male friends to give you better role models for what it means to be a decent man and a loving father. As a young man, you need to find ways to be a real man without adopting any of the brutality of your dad. It’s really fine to go looking for people to fill that role in your life as long as there is reciprocity of some kind on your part.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is my dad a sociopath?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is my dad a sociopath?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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