You won’t find the definitions in mental health’s official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Doctors don’t officially diagnose people as psychopaths or sociopaths. They use a different term instead: antisocial personality disorder.
Most experts believe psychopaths and sociopaths share a similar set of traits. People like this have a poor inner sense of right and wrong. They also can’t seem to understand or share another person’s feelings. But there are some differences, too.
Which is worse a psychopath or a sociopath?-Sociopath vs. Psychopath
Characteristics of a Psychopath
- Pretends to Care
- Cold and Calculating
- May Mimic Emotions
- Does Not Recognize Others’ Distress
- Maintains Shallow Relationships
- Cannot Form Emotional Attachments
- A psychopath doesn’t have a conscience
Signs That Prove You Might Be A Psychopath
- Narcissists Of Another Level. Psychopaths take self-love very seriously. …
- No Empathetic Feeling. …
- Perennial Absence Of Regret. …
- Superficial And Shallow. …
- Dishonesty Is Their Nature. …
- High Level Of Intelligence. …
- Inclination To Get Violent. …
- Extremely Reckless.
Characteristics of a Sociopath
- Clearly Does Not Care About Others
- Acts Impulsively
- Prone to Fits of Rage
- Rationalizes Their Behavior
- Sometimes Forms Emotional Attachments
- A sociopath typically has a conscience, but it’s weak.
Do They Have a Conscience?
A key difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is whether he has a conscience, the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong, says L. Michael Tompkins, EdD. He’s a psychologist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center.
Sociopath vs. Psychopath
A psychopath doesn’t have a conscience. If he lies to you so he can steal your money, he won’t feel any moral qualms, though he may pretend to. He may observe others and then act the way they do so he’s not “found out,” Tompkins says.
To put the matter simplistically, psychopaths are born, and sociopaths are made. Both psychopathy and sociopathy, and APD generally, share features with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the condition exhibited by persons commonly called narcissists.
They’re Not Always Violent
In movies and TV shows, psychopaths and sociopaths are usually the villains who kill or torture innocent people. In real life, some people with antisocial personality disorder can be violent, but most are not. Instead they use manipulation and reckless behavior to get what they want.
“At worst, they’re cold, calculating killers,” Kipnis says. Others, he says, are skilled at climbing their way up the corporate ladder, even if they have to hurt someone to get there.
If you recognize some of these traits in a family member or coworker, you may be tempted to think you’re living or working with a psychopath or sociopath. But just because a person is mean or selfish, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder.
“They’re skilled actors whose sole mission is to manipulate people for personal gain,” Tompkins says.
Sociopaths are less able to play along. They make it plain that they’re not interested in anyone but themselves. They often blame others and have excuses for their behavior.
Some experts see sociopaths as “hot-headed.” They act without thinking how others will be affected.
Psychopaths are more “cold-hearted” and calculating. They carefully plot their moves, and use aggression in a planned-out way to get what they want. If they’re after more money or status in the office, for example, they’ll make a plan to take out any barriers that stand in the way, even if it’s another person’s job or reputation.
Causes of Psychopathy
Poor parenting, parenting that focuses on punishment (rather than rewards) and inconsistent parenting appear to help cause psychopathy. Additional risk factors for psychopathy include: Substance abuse by the parents. Separation from a parent or lack of parental involvement.
Brain Differences-Sociopath vs. Psychopath
Recent research suggests a psychopath’s brain is not like other people’s. It may have physical differences that make it hard for the person to identify with someone else’s distress.
A psychopath has the opposite reaction. He gets calmer. Kipnis says that quality helps psychopaths be fearless and engage in risky behavior.
“They don’t fear the consequences of their actions,” he says.
References-Sociopath vs. Psychopath
Black, D. W. (2015). The natural history of antisocial personality disorder. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 60(7), 309-314. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500180
Robinson, K. M. (2014, August 24). Sociopath vs. psychopath: What’s the difference? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/sociopath-psychopath-difference#1