A commenter wrote such a good description of a sociopath after the previous post that it deserves a post of its own:
My mother was, very probably, a sociopath. She, like most sociopaths, never (so far as I know) ever killed anyone, but she ruined the lives of everyone in her family and several of her co-workers in a 35 year corporate career.
Of her three children, I am the only one without a felony record, and admittedly that is because I just never got caught more than once. My father finally divorced her at 58, but he was a wreck and died four years later. Her own mother refused to see her for the last fifteen years of her life, and had specific instructions that she was not allowed at the funeral in her will.
In a concocted "sexual harassment" case in the early nineties, Mother got a large six figure settlement from the company. Later, her former boss said that it was the best money the company ever paid because it was the only way to get rid of her. She had had several good workers fired over the years by skillfully implicating them in her own embezzlements, diversions of business and corporate espionage.
She also had engaged in sexual relations with several of her company's key personnel on a quid pro quo basis. The full extent of her destructive, deviant behavior will probably never be known.
But the most confusing part of the entire story, for most people, is that people outside her family and co-workers all thought she was the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful woman they had ever known. Even in her final few months, in assisted care, she managed to have her caretakers think she was an exceptionally wonderful old lady.
Looking back, the company should have figured where such smoke erupted time after time there had to be a smoldering fire and separated her from their employment. And my father should have dumped her twenty years before he did. But none of them had ever heard of sociopathy or if they had associated it soley with murderers and the like. The problem is that even though she never killed anyone, she did so much damage to so many people that a simple murderer could hardly have been worse.
There's no question your mother was a sociopath. As you say, most sociopaths never kill anyone, though they are, psychologically speaking, really not that different from serial killers, in that they put the value of other peoples' lives at zero. A lot of sociopaths go into business and leave a trail of destruction in their wake which only becomes apparent to coworkers after its pattern becomes too obvious to ignore.
False rape charges and false sexual harassment charges, like hoaxed hate crimes, DO occur, and when they do, they're almost always concocted by sociopaths, as those are the only kind of people who would lie so blithely in order to ruin others' lives. And screwing your way up the company ladder -- which is what it sounds like you're saying your mother did -- is another time tested sociopathic technique for advancement.
The fact that she was able to convince people who did not know her well that she was an incredibly nice, sweet woman is actually not out of character at all. That's another sociopathic specialty: making a wonderful first impression. Sociopaths are forever putting on false emotional fronts, and are consummate actors. Convincing people that you're something you're not is another sociopathic hallmark.
You also captured the way sociopaths get away with their shenanigans perfectly: because others are unfamiliar with sociopathy, so don't recognize the behavior for what it is. If all those other people had been wise to her types of tricks, she would never have gotten away with them.
The anonymous commenter captured a few things most people don't realize about sociopaths perfectly:
Even though she didn't murder, she did manage to bring a large amount of harm to numerous peoples' lives.
False sexual harassment charges, just like false rape charges and hate crimes hoaxes, work because they are so unfathomably despicable to most people that they don't even suspect their falsity, at least at first.
In a similar vein, all of her victims were naive about sociopathy before they met her, which is how she got away with it.
This is why the world needs to be educated more about these monsters.