Psychopath and sociopath

There are a large number of personality disorders called antisocial, including two very well known: the sociopath and the psychopath . Below we detail the differences of both pathologies and give some examples.

DefinitionPersonality disorder based on a genetic predisposition.Environment-based personality disorder, from a traumatic point of view.
ExamplesThe psychopathic subject is detailed, calculating and functional to society.He is a more impulsive subject, emotionally erratic and compulsive in his violence.

Perhaps the main difference between a psychopath and a sociopath lies in the nature of antisocial personality disorder: some classical psychiatry considers that the former is the consequence of a genetic predisposition; while the second refers to the environment as prone to disorders.

Definition of psychopath

We have already said that the psychopath has a genetic or hereditary predisposition to be the way they are , unlike the sociopath. However, the differences are not reduced to this since there are divergences in the personalities (although many scholars find a continuum between the two pathologies).

The psychopath can be an extremely successful person, that is, he responds from the surface to the usual mechanisms of society. However, this is related to his way of being calculating, detailed, ruthless and, above all, scarcely empathic with respect to third parties.

It is that the psychopath can hide his morbid predisposition very well, since he can be a functional citizen in society. A psychopath can do harm to a third party or perceive it in a gloomy reality without being overly affected, manipulate it so that it is affected in some way and be extremely violent. They do not always enjoy violence, no matter how much they generate it (in fact, this is why many need to feel “sensations”). Likewise, it must be said that there are psychopaths who are not violent at all. 

Here there is no feeling of guilt or remorse. The psychopath can understand a social convention as a child understands a basic arithmetic formula, but in the best cases he must simulate empathy: precisely because he does not feel it. What is the pain of others if it does not pass through the body as a reflex? Absolutely nothing.

Examples of psychopaths

The world of movies has left us many interesting psychopaths. Here are some of them.

  • Dexter from the homonymous series.
  • Patrick Bateman from the movie Americanpsycho.
  • Norman from the movie Psycho or psychosis.

Definition of sociopath

Sociopathy, for scholars, has a twofold origin: some speak merely of a brain injury in a strictly anatomical sense; Others, on the other hand, mention abuse or strong childhood trauma, that is, they take into account the social environment. 

Be that as it may, the sociopath has similar characteristics to the psychopath (hence the confusion of pathologies), but it also has elements of its own. Therefore, just as the psychopath will have no regrets, will abhor social agreements, will be very little empathic with third parties, will have impulsivities, desires for control towards others, attempts at manipulation, need for strong sensations (the extreme is murder) , among other features.

And the differences? In truth, the sociopath is somewhat more impulsive and emotionally erratic, at least than the psychopath . If you carry out details or plans to harm another, you will really fail or make many mistakes because the need to carry it out will drag you down. There is no excessive planning here, but a lot of compulsion.

Due to the latter, the sociopath has more difficulties with society, since their acts are more obvious and drastic many times. And that’s regardless of the violence: a psychopath can carefully detail a random murder and feel no guilt about it.

Examples of sociopaths

Movies and series of all kinds also give us good examples of sociopaths. Below are some of them.

  • The Joker or Joker: Batman’s arch enemy.
  • Dr Hannibal Lecter, although in truth he can also be understood as a psychopath regarding the refinement of his methods.
  • Alex DeLarge, star of “A Clockwork Orange”.

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