Reading an article about how sociopaths manipulate apathetic people and hurt empathetic people made me realize that sociopaths and empaths (empathetic people) are not very different from each other.
Empaths are people who are able to understand how the other person feels and takes that into account when interacting with the person. This often makes them seem very easy to manipulate (and they are more often than others) because they quickly latch on to the emotional state that is made apparent to them. What do they do after latching on to the emotions? They use them to not hurt or cause harm to that person or anyone else in the manner they learn.
Sociopaths are people who understand how the other person feels and takes that into account when interacting with the person. This often makes it very easy for them to manipulate others (and they do so more often than others) because they quickly read the emotions that are made apparent to them. What do they do after understanding the emotions? They redirect or deflect the emotions of their target.
Sociopaths and empaths have the same set of skills (or thought process[es]) that enables them to understand the emotions and thinking of another person. The only difference lies in their actions AFTER observation.
And that difference in actions is most likely the influence of the person’s ego. The more inflated the sense of superiority, the more inflated the self-worth, the more manipulative the person will be in day-to-day interactions.
In between are the ones who are apathetic to the situation. Their apathy is often turned against the empaths by the sociopaths; they are easy to manipulate precisely because they are apathetic.
If the difference between the two is just in how they express themselves, is it possible for an empath to turn into a sociopath and vice versa? I would bet yes, history should throw up interesting examples for both, although empath to sociopath could be a very unnoticed (hence rarer) example.
How does a sociopath control apathetic people? I skimmed the topic in my earlier post, Human Networks. Simply by manipulating the flow of information to the necessary targets. This is the reason why U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Shining a light on all the information and having the sources back them up is the definitive solution to such a mess, whether such an event comes about is different beast all together.