A commenter recently suggested:
John, you should write an article on female sociopaths as a category, how it presents in them, etc. I think there's this myth flying around that most are male, and I know your experience belies this.
My reply (in edited form):
Actually, most of the literature on sociopathy states that it's more common among males than females. The figure most commonly cited in some of the textbooks from 15 or 20 years ago was that 3% of the male population is sociopathic, but only 1% of the female population is. The explanation given was that males, due to their hormonal mix, are more aggressive and fearless, and thus by nature harder to socialize.
I'm not sure I buy that. If a young female has no close bond with an adult in the first couple years of her life, she is going to have that same lack of capacity for positive emotions that male sociopaths do. The only difference is that she'll express her sociopathy in less overtly aggressive ways: she won't beat people up, physically bully them, shoot them, etc. But that doesn't mean these women aren't just as poisonous on the inside.
I understand why the textbooks said what they said, though. The ultimate crime -- sociopathic or otherwise -- is murder, and men commit roughly ten times as many murders as do women. So, male sociopaths are simply more visible. A female sociopath like the one described here is more likely to go through life flying under the radar, undiagnosed. She spread dissension, brought false sexual harassment charges, got others at her company fired, was a lousy mother and wife, and in general left a small trail of destruction in her wake. None of it was quite dramatic enough to land her on the front pages, or even get her tossed in jail; but her behavior was all insidiously destructive in its own way.
Anyway, yes, female sociopaths are more common than thought by many. Not sure if there are exactly as many as there are male sociopaths; but the ratio is more than one to three.