Tony Soprano the Sociopath

I thought this was a great comment to my original post asking whether or not Tony Soprano is a sociopath:

Psychopath was the initial label for people with no conscience, morality, etc etc. That title was then changed to sociopath as the word "psycho" was being misunderstood. Then it became Anti Social Personality Disorder. So being a psychopath/sociopath or having Anti Social Personality Disorder are all the same thing.

I loved Tony as much as the next person, and am trying hard to think back on times where he felt things for OTHERS and not himself. Yes Tony had many feelings, but many sociopaths have deep emotions for themselves but cannot relay those emotions into empathy for others. Was there ever a time he actually felt guilty for someone else, where his honour or pride was not on the line?! It was always about Tony. And this is why David Chase is a genius. Sociopaths are so charming that you become addicted to them. They are always surrounded by people. So as viewers, as much as we loved Tony, we know he does bad things. Is he a bad man that is evil? or a good man who does bad things? We all wished and were brainwashed that he was a fundamentally good family man that did bad things.

Let me tell you, after being involved with a sociopath that the human condition of a person with a conscience; like us, fundamentally cannot understand that people without morality exist, and it is our own brainwashing that makes us want to believe that Tony was a good man. This is the biggest trick in the guidebook to sociopathy, they feign feeling, they know what they should be saying and say it.

I believe David Chase's genius is this: after 7 years of therapy, a group of psychiatrists anecdotally telling melfi (and us) the truth, the evidence is in front of us...and we, normal, feeling people, still want to see the good in Tony S. We are so brainwashed by this series that Tony was a good man when he was not. HE was not a good man and although all evidence points that way, we, the viewer choose not to see it because he is so charismatic we think he can be healed. We want so badly for him to be healed, this is normal for people with morality to think and feel. This is exactly why it takes victims of sociopaths years to get out, they think sociopaths can change, this is also the reason why we are still addicted to Tony. Shutting the door on a sociopath is hard, because, for one, we are addicted to their personality, their charm, their drama, although we hate it, its exactly as melfi says it is "its a train wreck that i cant look away from" and secondly the normal human condition believes all people are fundamentally good. This is not true, some people are not fundamentally good and this is a psychologoical fact.

This is what it feels to be addicted to a sociopath...from experience.

In contrast, Al Swearengen was clearly not a sociopath. And I liked him better.

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There was an episode Tony

There was an episode Tony cried because he had failed to save A.J. from the same kind of life he had. And, as I recall, the entire reason Tony was so affected by the geese was because they--so Melfi said--represented his family.

Not to say he was a good man--but he obviously loved his family, however poorly.

Family love vs. Self-Love

It is hard for me to see how Tony's love for his family can be seen as separate from his love for himself.

Tony destroys his family, utterly. Over the course of season five, Tony destroys Carmela in order to restore her to his side. He (with Carmela's help) destroys Meadow and AJ, intentionally thwarting their desires to redeem themselves from his sin and turning each of them into shadow versions of himself.

Remember the point made with Livia. It is unlikely in the extreme that Tony has any sense of the value of his family beyond their value to him. Tony loves Tony, and the show is explicit in the end in trying to make the audience come to terms with the fact that they love Tony too.

Yes, but what of that scene

Yes, but what of that scene I mentioned? He wanted to save A.J., save him from the life Tony had. He cried because he couldn't do that.

I also remember the episode

I also remember the episode where a 20 year old "whore" was beaten to death. Tony felt terrible, but visibly squashed it to all but his therapist. It's fairly obvious that Tony increasingly saw his own daughter as potentially one of these whores in a less fair, parrallel world, and that bothered him.

Essentially, isn't a sociopath someone that wouldn't care a whit for a baby's death, no matter the context? Tony doesn't seem quite that bad. He's got stereotypical gangster ethics.

No more or less terrible than Al Swearengen. Now, that guy who worked for Hearst and killed the prostitutes. That's sociopathic.

I think Al is more entertaining. Only reason I regret missing Death Race in the theaters.

Tony Soprano the Sociopath

The stuff ya wrote is true about psychopaths or sociopaths or whatever but that doesn't fit with tony cuz tony wasnt always thinkin about himself. He felt guilty about bein horrible to janice but didnt wanna admit it, he felt guilty over killin pussy, his cousin tony blundetto and many others but never showed it, he felt for artie when he tried to comit suicide and helped him with the cash problem he had through kindness, he felt for gloria when he heard she comitted suicide and he felt guilt over that, he felt guilty about sleepin with irina when janice brought it up hence why he dumped her, he bought the house off johnny sack for janice as a kind gesture, he always makes it up to his wife for not bein there and for cheatin on her by buyin her gifts and lovin her, he tries his hardest to make sure his kids get the best and not follow his footsteps, he has cried a number of times, hes had his gentle moments, he only ever flipped when hes angry [which is normal] or hurt cuz he has trouble showin his feelins, if he was a sociopath he wouldnt feel remorse which he always does and he loves animals and would kill anyone who hurt them, he protects his family and i could go on forever listin the good things hes done just becuz a psychatrist says hes a sociopath doesnt mean he is cuz melfi was tryin to load meadow on pills thats their answer to everything really shrinks know shit. elliot just said that shit cuz he didnt want melfi to see tony anymore he was jealous in a way... he didnt like it at all. so yeah that what ya wrote is actually bullshit ya obviously didnt observe properly ya took the word of a shrink whos answer to everything is pills and talkin which neither of those solve real problems

But ya right about Tony bein

But ya right about Tony bein addictive but not cuz hes a psycho but cuz hes a good man at heart, hes funny and his personality is fuckin fantastic he cracks me up everytime lol

But ya right about Tony bein

But ya right about Tony bein addictive but not cuz hes a psycho but cuz hes a good man at heart, hes funny and his personality is fuckin fantastic he cracks me up everytime lol

Tony also possesses a few

Tony also possesses a few qualities that John Gotti had, their stories are very similar ya know

Sociopaths are shells of

Sociopaths are shells of humans, they cry and laugh like the rest of us. They have learnt what emotion goes with what event, but its just not real, not like you or I would experience it. Most killer sociopaths are failed sociopaths anyway because they get caught. The best sociopaths are the ones that know where to draw the line.

Anyway, this proves my original point that the genius in David Chase's work is that his viewers are STILL vouching for Tony's goodness even though it was explictly said in the series that he is a sociopath, as well as externally as a director. He is a bad man people. Accept it and MOVE ON!

Out of D. Chase's own mouth:

He is a sociopath. No doubt about it. But, a lot of people said, "You know, we thought that maybe there was a chance that Tony Soprano would turn his life around and in the end there would be some morality to it. And that in the end he would transcend his evilness." And this, to me, is amazing because you wonder, "Do people pay attention to the story?" In Season One, the guy's mother tried to murder him. So, he, of all people, is supposed to rise above that and be happier than he was before that happened? It doesn't make any sense at all. He never got over that.

I dont think Tony was a sociopath

I think Tony was screwed up, but not a complete sociopath. Remember when Artie lost all that money and Tony let it slide so long as no one found out? If people knew about that, Tony would lose his reputation, but he let it go because Artie was his friend. He also did not take the restaurant as he couldve. Sure he ate there for free, but Artie did owe him the money, and he could never eat the value of the restuarant. Tony also seemed to care about the Russian girl he was with, and had trouble just dumping her, whereas a true sociopath wouldve walked away without a second thought. Also, when he owed Hesch the money, Hesch was afraid he would kill him, but after Heschs girlfriend died, Tony paid all the money in full, our of respect for Hesch and his tradgedy. Also, at the end when he wanted to kill Paulie, he decided not to, even though it mightve been a good move to get rid of the eccentric aging mobster. Im not even sure Paulie is a sociopath, because he forgave his mother and tried to redevelop his relationship with her at the end. These people may all be bad people, but you must consider that if you live their lives where evil is a way of life, murder and other things theyve done dont affect them as much anymore and they become conditioned to it. I feel that during the series, the writers wernt sure if Tony was a sociopath or not and there is conflicting evidence


Tony really is not a sociopath. He's a criminal, sure. But only by modern legal standards. In older times and cultures he would have been a typical ruler. So much depends on how one is habituated to certain actions. Interestingly, Gandolfini discusses this in his small role in TRUE ROMANCE. He says the first time he murdered someone he threw up (or something like that). Then the more he killed, the better it got. And eventually he became simply bored with it.

If you want a primo example of a sociopath in film or television, try Nina Myers (portrayed by Sarah Clarke) on 24. I don't think I've seen a more dastardly, self-interested, conscienceless villian in my life.


You guys have all disrespected the Bing. You should be ashamed.