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  • Sociopath vs. Psychopath, Differences Between Psychopathic & Sociopathic Personality Disorders


    The differences between sociopathy & psychopathy are still debated, however they are primarily differentiated by the origin of the disorder. In general sociopath and psychopath are very often used to describe the same thing. In the mental health sphere the general opinion is that psychopathy is actually much more of an inborn phenomenon whilst sociopathy, which displays clinical presentation alike to psychopathy, is the consequence of environmental stressors. Clinicians which feel that the syndrome is brought by solely by social forces & early experiences favor the term sociopath; while those that believe that psychological, biological and genetic components too contribute to the development of the condition usually use the name psychopath.

    David T. Lykken believed that psychopaths are born having temperamental distinctions that cause the behavior of risk seeking, impulsiveness, fearlessness as well as inability to socialize in an ordinary manner. On the other hand sociopaths are born having normal temperaments, and their condition is a consequence of the negative environmental experiences that influence autonomic nervous system and neurological growth which may result in physiological responses like those which psychopaths present. Usual factors are poverty, permissive or neglectful parenting, direct exposure to violence, peers, other environmental factors and their intelligence level. Certain studies confirm that those high in psychopathy don’t find cooperation pleasant, when individuals high on sociopathy traits cooperate if it’s in their interest. Antisocial personality disorder (APD) is a clinical diagnosis that includes both psychopaths and sociopaths as antisocial personality types. In 1941 the psychopathic personality was described as having superficial charm, unreliability, poor judgment, and a lack of social responsibility, guilt, anxiety or remorse. The term was replaced by sociopath to reflect the social origins of the disorder.

    Other differences other than origins have been mentioned between psychopathy and sociopathy. Psychopaths can be from every segment of society, they are forged by natural selection and devoid of social emotions, which serves as a mechanism for psychopaths to act without feeling any guilt or remorse. They don’t have capacity to feel attachment, empathy or shame. The psychopath is very aware that he or she is doing something wrong, but doesn’t care.
    Sociopaths, however, can feel emotional attachment to other individuals. The sociopath will still lack empathy & attachment for society and won’t feel guilt harming a stranger or breaking the law in any form, but won’t lack empathy for those to whom he feels attached. To summarize, both psychopaths and sociopaths are capable of committing horrible crimes; difference being that the psychopath would commit crimes against family members or friends just as well as he/she would do it to anybody else. The sociopath will lie, manipulate & hurt others as well, but will more likely avoid hurting the select few he/she cares about/feels attached to, and he/she is likely to feel guilty if he/she ends up hurting somebody they feel attached to.

    Another distinguishing element between psychopathy and sociopathy is the presentation. He/she will con and manipulate with charm and intimidation, has the ability to present himself/herself as normal to society. The psychopath is organized in his/her thoughts and behavior, he/she maintains good physical and emotional control while committing a crime, displaying little to no emotional even under situations of an overt pressure or that are threatening to his/her existence. On the other hand, the sociopath is less organized, he/she might be quick to display rage, nervousness, agitation. A sociopath is likely to spontaneously act out in inappropriate manner, snap out in rage, without thinking about the consequences.




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