Differences between a psychopath and a sociopath

Differences between a psychopath and a sociopath

Some of the pop psychology terms like psychopath and sociopath have been popularized through innumerable television shows and Hollywood thriller movies among the masses. As a result, the mere mention of these terms now sends shivers down the spine of all. In the absence of appropriate delineation of the above-mentioned terms, an array of misconceptions is circulating worldwide that have fueled a number of confusions around it.

Both sociopathy and psychopathy fall under antisocial personality disorders (ASPD) according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2013. Since both these disorders share many common behavioral traits, they are commonly used interchangeably. However, there are a number of differences between both the personality types. The key traits common among both sociopaths and psychopaths include disregard for the laws and social mores, insensitivity toward the rights of others, failure to feel remorse or guilt, and a tendency to display violent behavior.

Moreover, deceit and manipulation are some of the central characteristics among people with the above disorders. Unlike the popular portrayal of psychopaths and sociopaths as violent, they are not interestingly likely to be so in nature. Despite difference, both the disorders are diagnosed based on the key warning signals of ASPD, such as breaks the law regularly, impulsive and not well-planned by nature, consistently lies, etc. To curb the worsening of the disorders, some of the primary differences between sociopaths and psychopaths are discussed below:

Sociopathic personality disorder: Impulsive and sloppy

Due to the adverse external and environmental factors, such as emotional and sexual abuse, dysfunctional family, etc., sociopaths are more prone to nervousness, impulsiveness and erratic behavior.  They are volatile and easily get agitated. They are unlikely to be well educated and are unable to hold on to a steady job or stay in one place for very long.

They are seen as troubled or disturbed people living on the fringes of the society as “drifters.” With some difficulty, they may form emotional attachment to an individual or group. However, they have no regard for the society or for its rules in general. Crimes committed by a sociopath are usually sloppy in nature.

Psychopathic personality disorder: Manipulative and remorseless

Due to the physiological brain differences, psychopaths are unable to feel real empathy and are unable to form real emotional attachments with others despite having a charming and trustworthy personality. They are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. Bereft of guilt, they don’t hesitate in hurting others.

Unlike sociopaths, psychopaths usually hold steady jobs, are well educated and may also have a family like others. Despite their inability to truly feel emotions, they learn to mimic them and often appear normal to unsuspecting people. Before committing a crime, psychopaths plan very meticulously and often have contingency plans in place. They are highly organized and do not leave many clues for the authorities to pursue.

Though both genetic and environmental factors play a crucial role in inciting a disorder, psychopaths tend to have a genetic predisposition while sociopathic characteristics are influenced by environmental factors. Some components of the brain that are thought to be responsible for regulating emotions and controlling impulse remain underdeveloped in psychopaths.

Among the both disorders, psychopathic personality disorder is more dangerous due to a psychopath’s complete emotional dissociation from his or her actions, regardless of the extent of cruelty meted out to the victims. Psychopaths view their victims as inhuman objects that are meant to be tormented and exterminated for their own amusement or even for sexual gratification without any remorse.

Seek professional help

Since it appears that environmental factors may influence the risk for psychopathy, all parents of at-risk children should seek the advice of mental health professionals if children show the signs of poor impulse control or antisocial behavior.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health issue, contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline to know more about the rehab facilities in Florida. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online to get more information on the treatments for mental health disorders in Florida.

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