First let me get it clear that Sherlock is not a sociopath if you tend to go by criteria given out by DSM –IV. But he has always been referred to as a sociopath or even psychopath so often. This was again solidified by Cumberbatch in the popular BBC series ‘Sherlock’. He calls himself a sociopath when responding to a taunt from a police officer who calls him a psychopath. “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath, do your research!” retorts Sherlock. What is the connection between one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time and anti social, dangerous people known as sociopaths? There are some qualities attributed to sociopaths, which are evidently present in the character of Sherlock Holmes. Let us discuss 6 similarities that Sherlock shares with sociopaths.
Warning – the qualities possessed by Sherlock may have commonness with a traits present in a sociopath, but real sociopaths are dangerous people who can harm you both physically and emotionally, unlike Sherlock. Besides these traits, they do possess more dangerous traits as well and contribute negatively to the community in which they live. Do not take sociopaths lightly.
6. Exceptional Intelligence
Unfortunately, most of the sociopaths are exceptionally intelligent people who have strong mental acumen and with little effort can excel at academic level. Sherlock Holmes is one of the smartest characters you come across in literature, a smartness he uses well to catch criminals. However, typical sociopaths use their intelligence to manipulate and take advantage of other people. You may have seen how Sherlock is always one step ahead of the criminals. In the same way sociopaths are often one step ahead of law and their victims, in whatever they do. They are capable of covering their tracks so well, that it may be years before they are caught by the law.
5. Super Ego
Sherlock is extremely confident detective who has a sense of grandeur about self. What differentiates him from a dangerous sociopath is that his beliefs are often based on reality and facts he knows about himself. On the other hand, sociopaths who share the characteristic with Sherlock have an unrealistic view of their own abilities. They usually assume that they are better than everyone around them, even when in real sense they may not be. With Sherlock, we know this is true, he is in fact better than everyone around him.
4. Lack of Friends
Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have friends besides Watson and few other acquaintances with whom he shares close bond. This is one of the striking characteristics of sociopaths. They often fail to build good friendships due to their failure in creating meaningful connections with people. Like Sherlock, they do not share very close bonds with their family members, though we know in the case of Sherlock that he loves them.
3. Charming Personality
We do not know how much of a charming personality Sherlock from the book has, but the role portrayed by Cumberbatch is damn charming and there are few who could resist his charm in the series. Sociopaths are known to be great charming people, who tell you what you like to hear, but they have antisocial inclinations within them. They are amazing con artists with an agenda on their mind. Like many sociopaths Sherlock is charming and he often exudes raw sexuality that attracts people to him.
2. Lack of Empathy
Remember how Sherlock Holmes hurts people at times emotionally but doesn’t realize why they are pissed off? That is a striking characteristic Sherlock shares with sociopaths. Sociopaths say offensive and contemptible things about people around them and yet act as though that was not a big deal. They do not understand or do not bother to understand how others feel. When Sherlock makes deductions about people, he often shows off his skills without realizing certain revelations may hurt others. Sociopaths on the other hand do not care for the rights of other people and do not hesitate to cheat or deceive them.
1. Calm in the Storm
Sherlock has been able to solve many of the mysterious criminal cases by staying calm under all circumstances and not showing his emotions, even when he wanted to. Sociopaths are known to hide their emotions and respond to all news with cold blank stares which does not reveal anything about what they feel. They seldom show anxiousness, nervousness, anxiety, fear or sadness even in the face of extremely disturbing situations. Being calm in the storm is a hallmark characteristic of sociopaths shared by beloved Sherlock.