It seems there has been debate about the difference between sociopath vs psychopath from the time the terms were coined. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists psychopathy and sociology under antisocial personality. Indeed, they share more similarities than there are differences.
Even lots of professionals use the terms psychopath, sociopath and antisocial personality disorder interchangeably.
But what about the differences? Some professionals believe there is no difference, and even among those who do except there is a difference, there is debate over what those differences are!
A quick scan of the Internet can be confusing because one page that has the characteristics of a sociopath is contradicted by another page that claims that those characteristics are actually those of a psychopath!
Basically the differences between sociopath vs psychopath fall into three categories, differences in characteristics, nurture versus nature and personal preference.
The lists of the characteristics of a psychopath and the psychopath symptoms apply to both groups and the differences are said to be as follows:
Adding to the difficulty of distinguishing is that a particular psychopath may have one or more characteristics of the sociopath, and vice versa!
The difference here is that basically some people think that psychopaths are born and sociopaths are the result of poor social conditions in childhood. Such things as parental neglect, delinquent peers, childhood trauma or abuse may cause difficulties in relating to others but does allow the sociopath to have some empathy with those close to him.
Psychopaths, who are completely incapable of empathy, are believed to be born with a defect in the brain in the part that controls impulses and emotions.
Sociologists and criminologists, for example, who believe in the nurture aspect will use the term sociopath, while other clinicians prefer psychopath.
Do sociopaths know right from wrong?
Some people prefer one term to another for a variety of reasons.
Robert Hare gives this amusing example in his book "Without Conscience".
A psychologist (P) is interviewing an offender (O) who is a psychopath:
P: "Did you get any feedback from the prison psychiatrist who assessed you?"
O: "She told me I was a… not a sociopath… a psychopath. This was comical. She said not to worry about it because you can have a doctor or lawyer who is a psychopath. I said, 'Yeah, I understand that. If you were sitting on a plane that was hijacked would you rather be sitting next to me or some sociopath or neurotic who shits his pants and gets us all killed?' She just about fell off her chair. If someone wants to diagnose me I'd rather be a psychopath than a sociopath."
P: "Aren't they the same thing?"
O: "No, they're not. You see, a sociopath misbehaves because he's been brought up wrong. Maybe he's got a beef with society. I'm not harboring hostility. It's just the way I am. Yeah, I guess I'd be a psychopath."
So one professional can diagnose a person as a sociopath and another may diagnose him as a psychopath.
Regardless of whether you think your friend or wife or controlling mother is a sociopath vs psychopath, these parasites cause a huge amount of damage in society and the most important thing is to be aware that they exist and to begin to recognize the characteristics and to learn how they create relationships and use mind control, so you don't fall victim to these social predators, or, if it's too late, that you can get yourself out of their clutches...
More about how the symptoms show up in real life, emotional abuse, life after dating a psychopath, and recovery after a psychopathic relationship.
Return from Sociopath Vs Psychopath to Definition Of Psychopath
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