How Sociopaths Are Different from Psychopaths

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“Sociopath” is a term people use, often arbitrarily, to describe someone who seems to have no conscience. In most cases, it’s a description bluffly thrown around to label a person as hateful or detestable. The same applies to the term “psychopath” where many consider a simple social killer to be more dangerous, like a serial killer.

While features of sociopathy and psychopathy may overlap, sociopathy is the informal term for antisocial personality disorder (APD). Psychopathy is not an official diagnosis and is not considered APD.

While the terms “sociology” and “psychopath” are often used interchangeably, each term has clear distinctions that can be broadly described.

Click Play to learn the difference between a psychopath and a socialist killer

Difference Between Sociopath and Psychopath

While psychopaths are classified as people with little or no conscience, psychopaths have a limited, though very weak, ability to feel empathy and remorse. Psychopaths can and do follow social conventions when it suits their needs. Sociopaths are more likely to fly off the handle and react violently whenever they are faced with the consequences of their actions.


  • Make it clear that they don’t care how others feel

  • Behave in a hot-tempered and impulsive manner

  • Easily angered and raged

  • Be aware of what they are doing but rationalize their behavior

  • Unable to maintain a regular work and home life

  • It is possible to form an emotional attachment, but it is very difficult

Mentally ill people

  • Pretend to care

  • Shows cold behavior

  • Not realizing the suffering of others

  • There are shallow and fake relationships

  • Maintaining a normal life as a cover for criminal activity

  • Unable to form sincere emotional bonds

  • Being able to love people in their own way

Willem HJ Martens argues in his famous article “The Hidden Suffering of Psychopaths” that psychopaths sometimes suffer from emotional pain and loneliness. Most lead hurtful lives and are incapable of trusting people, but like every human on the planet, they also want to be loved and accepted.

However, it is their behavior that makes this extremely difficult, if not impossible, and most are aware of this. Some feel sad about actions they cannot control because they know it further isolates them from others.

Approach to Violence

While it’s common to think of social killers and psychopaths as inherently dangerous, this is more of a drama construct than a true reflection of the disorder. . Violence, while certainly possible, is not an inherent feature of sociopathy or psychopathy.

With that said, people with APD will often take extraordinary actions to manipulate others, whether it is to seduce, disarm or frighten them, to get what they want. When psychopaths become violent, as was the case with Jeffrey Dahmer, they are just as likely to hurt themselves as other people.

Martens notes that the more socially isolated, sad, and lonely a psychopath feels, the higher their risk of violence and impulsive and/or reckless behavior.

Origin and development

There are some who say that “social killers are made and psychopaths are born,” but this trait may be too broad. While it is true that psychopathy is thought to have genetic components (perhaps due to underdevelopment of the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and impulsivity), it is clear that there are other factors that contribute to this. part of the behavior disorder.

A highly regarded study of psychopathy found that psychopaths often have a history of unstable family lives and/or grew up in poorer neighborhoods prone to violence. Many people have had parents who were substance abusers and who did not provide parental guidance or attention.

This often leads to unstable and failed relationships in adulthood and a fixed feeling that you have been robbed of opportunities and advantages available to others. Sociopathy also tends to be associated with harmful experiences in childhood, including sexual abuse, physical violence or parental instability.

Sociopaths have a conscience, though weak, and will often justify something they know is wrong. In contrast, psychopaths will believe their actions are justified and feel no remorse for any harm done.

This difference may suggest that nature plays some role in creating a psychopath rather than a social killer. This is supported in part by a 2014 review of studies in which up to a third of people diagnosed with sociopathy essentially “give up” on their antisocial behavior within a year. later life and develop well-adjusted relationships.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classifies APD according to a series of personality and behavioral characteristics that describe how a person functions, how they relate to others, and how beliefs that manifests itself in action.

Autonomous feature

Self-functioning traits are those that reflect what a person is like and how he or she perceives his or her actions or goals. To be diagnosed with APD, you must have all of the following:

  • Gain self-esteem from power, personal gain or pleasure
  • Concentration or self-centeredness
  • Set goals based on personal satisfaction without regard to law or ethics

Interpersonal characteristics

Interpersonal characteristics are those that describe how a person interacts with others in general. You must also exhibit the following characteristics to be diagnosed with APD:

  • Lack of empathy for the suffering or hurt of others or in the face of the hurt or anger of those they have manipulated
  • Inability to have a truly emotionally intimate relationship because of an instinct to control (by domination or intimidation), coercion, or deception

Behavioral characteristics

Behavioral characteristics Complete a clinical diagnosis by describing the route a person would take to control, coerce, or deceive, such as:

  • Tendency to disregard commitments, promises and agreements, including financial ones
  • Difficulty in planning, preferring to believe that you can quickly navigate problems as they arise
  • It is not uncommon for someone with APD to constantly fight or assault.
  • Lying as a means of gaining an advantage or entering society, such as calling yourself a decorated war hero when you have never served
  • Make decisions from time to time without regard to the consequences if the immediate goal is to be achieved
  • Frequent anger or irritability, even over small things, as well as malicious, bitter behavior
  • React with callousness, aggression, no remorse, or even masochism in the face of the failure of your actions
  • Risk-taking, easily boredom, and the ability to ignore personal boundaries and justify the most outrageous actions
  • Manipulating other people’s emotions — for example, pretending to care about someone just to achieve a goal

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