Sociopath Vs. Psychopath: There is a Difference

September 15, 2008

15 Sep – When someone hears the words psychopath or sociopath they automatically start thinking of some awful, derange, serial killer.  That might have been true years ago, however the difference in the two have finally been revealed. Before understanding the two personality disorders, you first must understand what exactly each disorder consists of.

by Jeanne Marie Kerns

Jerry Sandusky: sociopath or psychopath?

A sociopath is one who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior. A psychopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.  The two might sound the same to some, however the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths are very real.

David Lykken a behavioral geneticist for the University of Minnesota has come to an interesting conclusion regarding the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. Lykken studies revealed that psychopaths are born with temperamental differences that lead them to being risk seekers, impulsive, fearless as well as not being able to socialize normally. Sociopaths have normal temperaments, and their personality disorder tends to effect their lives regarding parenting, peers, and their intelligence.

Bernie Madoff - sociopath or psychopath?

Sociopaths can be anyone from your mother, father, best friend, neighbor or even your co-worker, and you would not even realize that they are dealing with this disorder that affects everything in their daily life. Sociopaths go above and beyond themselves to make sure that other people around them have no idea that their life is something other than what it is.  More than likely you have met one or two sociopaths in your life and not even realize it.

Psychopaths on the other hand are very flamboyant with how they deal with their disorder. Some famous psychopaths that you might know about are Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Theodore Bundy and David Berkowitz. These four men are famous for being some of the most notorious and manipulative serial killers in history. Not all psychopaths are as out there as these four men, however their rage is almost always as intense, it just depends on how they channel it.

Characteristics of a sociopath are as followed :

1. Sociopaths are very charming.
2. Sociopaths can be extremely manipulative and will try to con you whenever possible.
3. Sociopaths feel that they are entitled to everything.
4. Sociopaths will lie continuously to get what they want. They can even sometimes manipulate a lie detector.
5. Sociopaths have no remorse, shame or guilt.
6. Sociopaths will show love and happiness only when it serves their purpose. None of the feelings are genuine.
7. Sociopaths have no room for love in their life.
8. Sociopaths need to have excitement in their lives or live on the edge.
9. Sociopaths have lack of empathy hen their victims suffer pain that they have caused.
10. Sociopaths believe that they are all mightier than tho, there is no concern on how their behavior impacts others.
11. Sociopaths usually have a long history of juvenile delinquency as well as behavior problems.
12. Sociopaths will never take blame for anything they have done to anyone no matter if it is family or friend.
13. Sociopaths have many sexual partners and tend to act out many sexual acts.
14. Sociopaths rarely stay in one place for a long time (home/work).
15. Sociopaths will change themselves if they know it will keep them from being found out.

Characteristics of a psychopath are as followed:

1. Psychopaths use superficial charm to lure their victims.
2. Psychopaths are extremely self-centered.
3. Psychopaths must always do something to keep themselves from boredom.
4. Psychopaths are very deceptive and tend to lie continuously.
5. Psychopaths show no remorse of guilt towards their victims.
6. Psychopaths are very predatory and usually will live off other people.
7. Psychopaths have many sexual partners in their lifetime.
8. Psychopaths are very impulsive with their lifestyle.
9. Psychopaths are always blaming other people for their actions.
10. Psychopaths never have a realistic view of their lives. (king of the world or from another planet)
11. Psychopaths always want psychological gratification in sexual and criminal activities.
12. Psychopaths tend to try suicide, rarely succeeding.

If you are interested in learning more about the difference of psychopaths and sociopaths I would definitely recommend you reading two specific books.  The first book is Violent Attachments by J. Reid Meloy.  The second book I recommend reading is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout.  Both books will bring you into the minds of both personality disorders which will allow you to understand even greater the difference in the two.