Do Sociopaths Cry or Even Have Feelings?

Do sociopaths cry or have feelings at all? Sure they do, when it suits them. Faking feelings is a skill the sociopath excels at. Read and you’ll understand.

The answer to the question, "do sociopaths cry or have feelings?" is perhaps best expressed in song. Lesley Gore's 1963 song It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To answers the question quite nicely, if not thoroughly.

Sociopaths Don't Have Feelings

A sociopath, by definition, views the entire world as his party. It's his shin-dig, and he'll cry if he wants to. Indeed, crying or any other emotion is nothing more than a choice. If an emotion serves to gain him something, he'll use it. Otherwise, he's unemotional.

There's a difference between having feelings and expressing feelings. Do sociopaths have feelings? With few exceptions, no they do not. They do, however, express feelings.

High-functioning sociopaths are extremely skilled at faking emotion. Depending on the party and attendees, he manipulates by expressing a range of human emotion: happiness, joy, excitement, incredulity, shock, disappointment, sadness, and grief. If he wants to, a sociopath can cry. These false feelings are purely superficial. Non-sociopaths feel things on an emotional level as well as on a physical level. No butterflies flutter in a sociopath's stomach. He never feels his heart race in anticipation or pound in fear.

The shallow and insincere expressions of feeling are mere tools used by a sociopath to entrap people. This makes it effortless for her to take advantage of people, to use them for her own personal gain, and to hurt them physically, emotionally, or both. A sociopath is incapable of feelings such as empathy, regret, and remorse. She doesn't experience emotional pain herself; thus, she can't understand the expression of those feelings in others.

Sociopaths don't have feelings or emotions, nor do sociopaths cry genuinely. However, they do experience proto-emotions, primitive emotions that rear their ugly heads in moments of perceived need. The sociopath is quite capable of intense anger, frustration, and rage.

  • Sociopath M.E. Thomas (2013) describes suddenly experiencing a flash of anger that then leaves as quickly as it arrives. She doesn't forget what angered her; instead, her rage morphs into "a sense of calm purpose" (How Abusers Gain Control By Appearing To Lose It). A sense of purpose for a sociopath means that some unsuspecting person has a target on his back.
  • James Fallon is a neurobiologist who studies the sociopathic brain. He also happens to be a sociopath (he uses the term psychopath). In discussing his own anger, he says, "...and when I pop it's fierce, and frightening [to others]" (2013).

Why Don't Sociopaths Cry or Even Have Feelings?

One of the causes of antisocial personality disorder (the clinical diagnostic term for sociopathy) is biological in nature. There are issues in the brain that affect processing and responses to stimuli. This could answer the question, "Can a sociopath change?" with an unfortunate "no." However, these organic sociopathic causes provide at least a partial explanation for why sociopaths don't have feelings.

Brain scans and imaging such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests show that the sociopathic brain doesn't register emotional words and pictures the way a "normal" brain does.

  • The brain of a sociopath is unable to grasp abstract concepts such as love.
  • All words and concepts like emotions are merely words. This makes thinking concrete. A word is nothing but a word whether that word is "dog" or "grief."
  • Sociopaths aren't stupid, and high-functioning sociopaths are highly intelligent. They know the meaning of the words for feelings like love, glee, anxiety, etc. However, they know these abstract concepts only on a concrete level, and this makes it impossible to fully experience them.

Do sociopaths cry? They cry if they want to. Do sociopaths have feelings? Beyond primitive emotions like anger and rage, sociopaths don't have feelings. Remarkably, their social skills are so honed, so highly developed, that no one can tell. Everyone else at a sociopath's party feels emotion. What the sociopath cannot feel in himself, he elicits in others.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, December 17). Do Sociopaths Cry or Even Have Feelings?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: January 28, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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