Tony Soprano is a sociopath. We know this because his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, diagnosed him as one.
In fact, at the end of the series, this is the main reason why Dr. Melfi decides to cut Tony loose.
Melfi does this right after she reads up on a study about how sociopaths take advantage of talk therapy by using it to “sharpen” their manipulation skills.
In other words, she discovers that her therapy sessions will not help Tony.
Instead, they will only make him worse.
Is Tony Soprano a sociopath?
If you read up on the traits of a sociopath, then you will find that there are seven key traits.
A person must have at least three of these traits in order to be diagnosed as a sociopath.
However, Tony Soprano matches pretty much all of them to some degree.
- Lack of respect for laws. Tony consistently breaks the law. He also has no qualms about overstepping social boundaries.
- Lying and deception. Tony Soprano lies, manipulates and uses others for his own personal gain.
- Impulsive and lack of future planning. He is a very impulsive person. In other words, he will often act without thinking about the consequences. His “impulse” issues are actually a key topic in his sessions with Dr Melfi. For example, in one episode, he turns up at the house of Assemblyman Ronald Zellman and hits him with a belt. In Season Six, he severely beats “Coco” before putting a gun in the face of Lupertazzi underboss Butch DeConcini.
- Aggressive behavior. Throughout the show, Tony assaults dozens of people. In some cases, he lashes out and uses physical force even when the other person does not deserve it. For example, he beats up his own driver just to make a point about his dominance and make himself feel more manly.
- Doesn’t consider their own safety or safety of others. On a number of occasions, he acts without thinking about his own safety. He also doesn’t really care about the safety of others.
- Fails to live up to responsibilities. Tony often fails to live up to his responsibilities and commitments. For example, he fails to show up for a scheduled appointment with Dr. Melfi and then becomes hostile when she says that she will be charging him for it. The fact that he missed an appointment without calling to cancel doesn’t even cross his mind as being a problem.
- Does not feel remorse. Tony lacks remorse. He cheats on Carmela multiple times without a second thought. He displays no visible signs of guilt after murdering his own nephew, Christopher Moltisanti. When Tony does express remorse, it usually comes across as forced and superficial.
He also shows other symptoms of ASPD.
- He finds it difficult to maintain a positive relationship with the people around him. For example, he is always falling out with his own family members.
- Tony is controlling and intimidating. He looms over his subordinates and threatens them. He even exhibits threatening behavior when arguing with family members.
- Tony is stubborn with his opinions. It is clear that he feels superior to everyone else and that he believes he is always in the right.
- His entire career revolves around committing criminal acts.
- He is charming and superficial.
As you can see, Tony Soprano is the quintessential sociopath.
However, this should not come as a surprise. It is extremely likely that the show’s writers researched the personality disorder and then modeled parts of Tony’s character on it.