Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from a woman who asked whether her biological daughter could be a sociopath. Could you please list the characteristics of a sociopath in your column?
Our adult daughter is involved with someone we feel is not good for her. She seems to be oblivious to what is going on and probably will not recognize the signs, but if you could raise awareness, maybe it will prevent someone else from having to go through what our family is going through now. — Learning Experience
Dear Learning: According to material from the National Institutes of Health: Sociopathology, also known as antisocial personality disorder, is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting or violating the rights of others. Genetic factors and environmental factors, such as child abuse, are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. People with an antisocial or alcoholic parent are at increased risk. Fire-setting and cruelty to animals during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality.
Symptoms include: being able to act witty and charming; being good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions; breaking the law repeatedly; disregarding the safety of self and others; having problems with substance abuse; lying, stealing and fighting often; not showing guilt or remorse; often being angry or arrogant.
Dear Annie: With the holidays approaching, how can a host encourage interaction with guests without being rude about cellphones?
I recently attended a party where I knew few people. I spoke with the hostess when she wasn't busy and later found another woman with whom I had some common interests. I tried to engage some of the younger children in a game, but they were glued to their iPods. Other female guests were on their cellphones. I finally found two men in the garage who were not on their cellphones.
If I were the host, I'd get the impression that my guests think I'm dull and only came to eat the food I worked hard to prepare. People put up no-smoking signs in their homes. Is it out of line to ask guests to check their phones at the door or put them away in their purses or coat pockets until they leave? Am I the only one who is offended by this behavior? — In a Fog in Kentucky
Dear Fog: Hardly. People are addicted to their cellphones. The constant beeping and vibrations encourage them to check the screen every few seconds. It is perfectly OK for you to announce politely that you'd appreciate it if guests would turn off their phones or set them on silent and leave them in their purses or pockets. Some may even comply.
Dear Annie: Grieving in Iowa said he lost his life partner of 33 years and his partner's sister lashed out at him. It's amazing to me how these stressful situations bring out the worst in people.
My husband and I had been together for five years when I found out how much his family disliked me. I was always a little uncomfortable around them, but after a sudden illness, I was cornered in a hospital room and accused of being a "gold digger," and if the family had their way, I would be kicked to the curb. Fortunately, my husband and I are committed to each other despite what his family says or thinks.
I tried to get along with those who were the most hurtful, but it became too difficult to walk on eggshells, always watching what I said so it couldn't be misconstrued. I went to counseling and learned that it's OK to give up on toxic people who make it their life's mission to find fault with others. My husband and I have thrived without them. — Happier Now
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.