If you want to study sociopathy, look at how serial killers behave when they're not indulging their deadly hobby. It's the perfect controlled experiment, since there's absolutely no doubt that they're sociopaths, and their sociopathy never leaves them. (Being a sociopath is a 24 hour occupation.) And their psychology is the basically same as other sociopaths, except for the little quirk that killing helps them get off sexually.
So how do such sociopaths act when they're not killing?
Look at Ted Bundy, working at that suicide hotline. If you heard about someone you knew nothing else about who worked at a suicide hotline, you might think, "Hmm, nice guy....nicer than me anyway; personally I wouldn't want to spend the time working at one of those places. I'd find it a little depressing to have to talk people out of committing suicide all the time."
But Ted, obviously, didn't feel sympathy for those people; that wasn't his nature. In fact, he probably would have enjoyed killing them himself, if he could have gotten away with it. He just wanted to savor their pain while posing as a do-gooder. Not much information ever came out about how he performed in that capacity, but it's hard not to suspect that he subtly encouraged some of them to go ahead and kill themselves.
Because of Bundy, we better understand the kind of emotional falsity that sociopaths engage in and the real motivations of some who do ostensibly noble work.
(Likewise, you'd think that those who adopt rescue dogs are good-hearted folk. But animal shelters evidently have to be on the lookout for people who come in too frequently looking for new pets. Certain people -- whose psychology is not dissimilar to Bundy's -- will adopt a pet, torture it and kill it, then come in to ask for a new one, claiming that the previous pet died of natural causes.)
Look at Dennis Rader, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer. He worked as, among other jobs, as a dogcatcher and compliance officer in park City, Kansas. He was married with two children, President of the church council of the local Lutheran Church, and a Cub Scout troop leader. And he had a degree from Wichita State University in justice administration.
Sounds like a pillar of the community. But sociopaths will often make more of an effort than most to appear as such, to disguise their true natures. And Rader was known in his community as a stickler for the rules, one who would his job to harass people. One neighbor said that he euthanized her dog for no reason. And he would impose penalties for infractions as minor as letting grass grow too long.
Meanwhile, Rader himself was the BTK serial killer, strangling and killing innocent women for his own sexual pleasure. But god forbid your grass was half an inch above regulation height. That's sociopathy for you: self-righteously condemning others for minor infractions while doing far, far worse themselves.
When you see extremely hypocrisy, beware.
John Wayne Gacy was another stalwart member of his community. He managed three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and was a vice president of the local Jaycees. Despite being primarily homosexual, Gacy got married and had two children. He even had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
In Gacy's case, the effort expended to appear "normal" was part of his sociopathic nature. He later characterized the period of his life when he was married and managing those KFC franchises as the "best part" of his life.
When you see someone for whom appearances are all, beware.
David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, provides the perfect case study of a sociopath who later "reforms." We know that sociopaths never stop being sociopaths, so Berkowitz's new pose, as a man of God, is illuminative. He is now a preacher who ministers to other prisoners and, when given the chance, talks about all the good works he does. It is a peculiarly sociopathic quirk to broadcast one's virtuousness, and as always with sociopaths, Berkowitz is a little heavy-handed about letting us know how good he now is.
It's also a sociopathic quirk to think that people will believe you when you claim to have turned over a new leaf.
So if you encounter a self-proclaimed man of God who admits that he was once a sinner, but is now redeemed, beware.
There's a whole field of study here. When serial killers act in certain ways when not plying their distinctive trade, if you meet someone else with those same behavior patterns, beware. Chances are he's not a serial killer, but he could well be a sociopath.