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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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Dear Psychiatrist on-line, How does a psychiatrist diagnose

Resolved Question:

Dear Psychiatrist on-line,
How does a psychiatrist diagnose a patient as being sociopathic? What are the key symptons they are looking for? Given a person may not be aware (let alone acknowledge that they are sociopathic), and hence demonstrate or talk about those traits, how do they uncover them?
Thanks for your insights.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
Hi Andrew. Are you asking what the criteria are for diagnosing someone as a sociopath? Or how does a therapist discover those traits? Or both? Is there a larger context for this question that might help me answer it more accurately? Tamara
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Tamara,


The background is .... I am currently going thru the process of divorce. Due to the acrimony and intractability over the parenting of my daughter (10 YO) my wife's lawyers suggested that we see a psychiatrist as a family to determine the suitability of either of us as parents. The courts accepted her recommendation and have instructed us to visit a Psychiatrist. My ex wife went last week with my daughter and son (19YO).


I will be going next Monday with my daughter and son, for our turn.


I beleive (corroborated by friends and her family) that she is sociopathic. I am concerned that the Psychiatrist will not be prescriptive, preferring to make no decisions or sit on the fence.


I imagine the psych will ask me questions about our marriage, my upbringing, our relationship, our childrens upbringing, how we parent our children etc. I want to use this opportutnity to relate a few example of the sorts of behavior that my ex wife has demonstrated towards our family, friends, etc.


I do not wish to reel off the entire list of habits or attributes that she has demonstrated during our life together - rather focus on some of the most compelling attributes that the psych will focus on to determine any Mental Health disorder she has (which I beleive is ASD - Sociopathic), if she hasn't already picked it up from the volumious affidavits that have been submitted by both parties, comments from our son (who has also written an affidavit) and her interview with my ex wife last week.


Does this help clarify the situation and the nature of my question.



Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
Thanks Andrew, that helps. You say you have read The Sociopath Next Door, which I think is a great book for understanding sociopathy. I think the most telling aspects of a sociopath are probably 1) a sense of entitlement (grandiosity); 2) a lack of empathy - inability to understand and relate to the feelings of others; 3) a manipulative charm and 4) pathological lying. Other traits include lack of remorse, shallow emotions, need for stimulation, impulsivity, promiscuity, using others, and a criminal record.

If you truly feel that your wife is a sociopath, don't hesitate to relate this to the psychiatrist. I don't know that it would be a good idea to do that in front of your children, but it certainly would be reasonable for you let the psychiatrist know your concerns. Because sociopaths can be very charming and convincing, it can take awhile for someone to catch on and realize that that is what they are dealing with.

There is no way for me to say how your psychiatrist will handle his/her job in terms of evaluating your situation and making recommendations. However, I do trust that they have the best interests of the children in mind, and will take any information into consideration in order to provide the court with an accurate assessment of the situation.

Let the psychiatrist know your concerns; don't hesitate to be direct. Ask for an individual appointment if need be - again, this is not information to disclose in front of your children, and I would think that would be a point in your favor

Please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Good luck. Tamara

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