Psychopath and sociopath: what is the difference?

They both ignore the rights and feelings of others, and do not see beyond a fault, causing someone harm. They are both liars and manipulators. Between them a lot in common. Is there a difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? Yes, in principle.

Psychopath and sociopath: what is the difference?

A psychopath and a sociopath - two terms which are in popular psychology is used to describe people with antisocial personality disorder. there are differences between them. First, that unites them. Common - ignoring the safety of others, their feelings and rights, a penchant for deception and manipulation.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not always hot-tempered and inclined to violence. Traits of the psychopath and sociopath, and, more specifically, people with antisocial personality disorder are defined in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The diagnosis can be established if a person, in addition to the general criteria of personality disorder, there is at least three of the following symptoms:

  1. regularly violates the laws and disregards social norms.
  2. Always lying and deceiving others.
  3. impulsive, is not able to plan ahead.
  4. irritants and aggressive, prone to frequent fights.
  5. Not only cares about the safety of others.
  6. irresponsible, is not able to meet its financial obligations.
  7. Do not feel remorse or repentance, causing harm to others.

These symptoms begin to appear at the age of 15 years, and ten years later the man halfway to personality disorders. What is the difference between them? Opinion clinical psychologist John Grohol.

Features psychopath

Psychopathy - congenital disorder, to the emergence of personality traits have a genetic predisposition (unlike sociopathy, which is likely a product of social factors, environment). It may be associated with abnormalities in brain development. In psychopaths are not sufficiently developed those parts of the brain responsible for emotion regulation and impulse control.

As a rule, it is difficult to create a reliable emotional attachment in relationships. Instead, they build artificial, superficial relationship to manipulate relatives with the greatest benefit for themselves. People for them - just pawns designed to pursue their personal goals. And what would be the harm they have caused to others, rarely feel remorse about their actions.

In the eyes of others they look charming, reliable, decent people with normal, stable operation. Some of them even have a family, and a strong relationship with a partner. Quite often, they are well educated, many can learn on their own. Once involved in a criminal history, the psychopath will do everything to minimize the risk of punishment. He carefully plan the business and provide for all possible scenarios.

Examples of psychopaths in modern culture:

  • Dexter (hero of the American TV series "Dexter, 2006-2013);
  • Anton Chigurh (the hero of the novel by Cormac McCarthy, "Old Men", 2005, and the hero Javier Bardem in the film the Coen brothers, 2007);
  • Henry in the film by John McNaughton "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" (1986);
  • Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho", Mary Herron (2000).
Psychopath and sociopath: what is the difference?

Features sociopath

Sociopathy - the result of the influence of certain environmental factors, such as destroying a family atmosphere in which the growth of a child, physical or emotional abuse, or some other childhood trauma. Behave more eccentric and unpredictable.

With the same problems with the formation of attachments, some of them, however, can support to someone or personal connection to feel its like-minded group. But they are incapable of long stay on the same job or to show the world a semblance of normal family life.

Committing a crime, they act rashly and impulsively. They are easy to anger, ruffle, which is fraught with the outbreak of violence. Because of these features dangerous act sociopathic easier to provide.

Examples of a film:

  • The Joker in "The Dark Knight" Christopher Nolan (2008)
  • JD in "Heathers" Michael Lehmann (1988)
  • Alex in "A Clockwork Orange" by Stanley Kubrick (1971).

Which of these is more dangerous?

Both represent a danger to the public, at least as long until you try to cope with his disorder. Psychopaths are more dangerous because they do not feel the slightest guilt over his actions. They are able to emotionally pull away from the committed actions. And for a man devoid of empathy, suffering of others simply make no sense. Many well-known serial killers are psychopaths. But not all psychopaths and sociopaths or to be killers.

Psihpatiya and sociopathy - two different sides of antisocial personality disorder, which is diagnosed in approximately 1-3% of the population. It is more common in men and predominantly in people suffering from alcoholism, drug and substance abuse. Psychopaths are more manipulative and charming, it is easier to create the appearance of a normal life and to minimize their involvement in illegal activities.

Sociopaths more eccentric, easy to fall into a rage and unable to carry on any normal life. They do evil foolishly and without considering the consequences.

About the Author

John Grohol - a clinical psychologist and popularizer of science, the founder and director of the American online community Psych Central. Founded in 1995, the site has entered in the top 50 best sites according to the magazine The Times in 2008.