Sociopath vs Psychopath: Characteristics, Differences


The terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” are often used interchangeably, and may be used incorrectly, to describe someone with anger issues.

Psychopath and sociopath are not diagnosable conditions. People who are sociopaths or psychopaths show symptoms of recognized antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) personality disorders a Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Fifth edition ” (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 is a guide used by physicians and psychiatrists to evaluate and diagnose mental health disorders. In it, ASPD is characterized by neglecting the consequences and rights of other people.

ASPD symptoms often begin in childhood, although this condition is often not diagnosed until later in age.

This article discusses the differences between mental disorders, psychopathy, and sociopathy.

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Differences between Sociopaths and Psychopaths

While psychopaths are classified as people with little or no awareness (feeling good or bad), sociopaths have some ability to experience remorse. Both sociopaths and psychopaths have a constant tendency to neglect the safety and rights of others. Deception and manipulation are central features of both types of personality disorder.


  • Lack of empathy

  • Has volatile behavior patterns and is prone to anger

  • Use intelligence, charm, or charisma to manipulate others

  • Shows impulsive behavior

  • Cannot maintain permanent work and family life


  • Pretend you care

  • Cold and calculator

  • Unable to recognize other people’s suffering

  • Has a superficial relationship

  • Rarely feel guilty about the behavior

Sociopaths understand that what they are doing is technically wrong, but they have rationalized their behavior in their own mind. Studies have shown that psychopaths understand the difference between right and wrong, but do not care about the consequences of their morally unacceptable behavior.


When most people think of psychopaths, they think of serial killers or violent criminals. Outbreaks of violence can affect a small proportion of people with ADHD, but it is a myth that all people with psychopathy are prone to violence.


It is not known why some people develop antisocial personality disorder, but both genetics and traumatic childhood experiences, such as child abuse or lack of care, can play a role.


It is believed that nature plays a more important role in the creation of a psychopath than a sociopath. This is supported in part by a 2014 research review in which up to a third of people diagnosed with sociopathy essentially “give up” their antisocial behavior later in life and develop well-established relationships.


Psychopathy is believed to have genetic components. A well-researched study suggests that psychopaths often have a history of unstable family life and/or have grown up in disadvantaged areas prone to violence. Many grew up with substance abusing parents who did not provide parental guidance or care.

Brain studies have also shown that the structures responsible for empathy are dysfunctional in people with psychopathic character traits.

Prevalence of antisocial personality disorder

According to the DSM-5, 0.2% -3.3% of American adults have antisocial personality disorder, and this condition tends to affect men more than women.


Psychopathy and sociopathy are not diagnosable conditions in DSM-5, but there are diagnostic criteria for ASPD.

Although this disease can begin in childhood, it cannot be officially diagnosed until age 18. To be diagnosed with ASPD, a person must show at least three of the following seven signs:

  1. Does not respect social norms or laws and constantly violates laws or crosses social boundaries
  2. Lies, deceives others, uses false names or pseudonyms, and uses others for personal gain
  3. He does not build long-term plans and often behaves without thinking about the consequences
  4. Displays aggressive or aggravated behavior, constantly engaging in fights or causing physical harm to others
  5. Does not take into account personal safety or the safety of others
  6. Does not perform personal or professional tasks, even arriving late to work repeatedly or not paying bills on time
  7. Do not feel guilty or sorry for hurting or mistreating others

People with ASPD may not realize they have this behavior. They can live their whole lives without a diagnosis.

Psychopathy test

Although the term “psychopath” is not an official diagnosis, there are many tests online that claim to diagnose psychopathy. There is a test used for clinical, legal, or research purposes called the Revised psychopathy checklist (PCL-R).

This is a 20-item inventory used to assess whether a person exhibits certain traits and behaviors that may indicate psychopathy. It is designed to be completed by a mental health professional during a semi-structured interview and view available records, such as police reports or medical information.

Narcissus vs Sociopath

The words “narcissistic” and “sociopath” are often used interchangeably, but narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a completely different diagnosis than ASPD. According to DSM-5, narcissists have an excessively high sense of importance, a strong need to be admired or the right to special treatment.

While there is some overlap between ASPD and NPD, and a person can be diagnosed with BOTH, there are some fundamental differences between these diagnoses.


There is no established treatment or treatment for ASPD, and this condition can be difficult to treat for several reasons.

People with aspd rarely seek treatment on their own. Those who do can only get help after some legal problems. Treatment depends on each person’s specific situation, willingness to start treatment, and severity of symptoms.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful in helping people better understand their behavior and change harmful thought patterns. To be effective, CBT must be practiced over the long term.

Group therapy and family therapy, as well as mentalization-based therapy that focuses on the ability to recognize and understand the mental state of oneself and others, have also been studied for ASPD. All show promising results.


There are no medications specifically approved by the food and drug administration to treat aspd. However, medications may be prescribed to treat some of the symptoms experienced, including:

  • Soothing medications
  • Depressant
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizers

Coexisting Conditions

People with ASPD may have other comorbidities, such as:

They may also have features that meet diagnostic criteria border narcissistic and theatrical personality disorders.

Frequently asked questions

What is antisocial personality disorder? 

Antisocial personality disorder (aspd) is a condition characterized by a lack of empathy and respect for other people. People who have ASPD have problems with their consciousness (feeling good or bad). They often act insensitively or insensitively. People with this disorder may lie, behave aggressively or violently, and engage in criminal activity.

What are the traits of sociopathic and psychopathic behavior? 

A person with sociopathic and psychopathic behavior may:

  • Exploit, manipulate or violate the rights of others
  • Lack of concern, regret, or remorse for other people’s suffering
  • Act irresponsibly and show contempt for normal social behavior
  • Having difficulty maintaining a long-term relationship
  • Being unable to control your anger
  • Don’t feel guilty or learn from your mistakes
  • Blaming others for problems in their lives
  • Repeatedly violating the law

Is narcissism a symptom of sociopathy? 

No, narcissism is not a symptom of sociopathy. A person may be a narcissistic sociopath, but must be diagnosed with aspects of both narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

Is there a test for sociopathy?

No, there’s no test to determine if someone has the characteristics of a sociopath. To diagnose sociopathy, a health care professional uses the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder in the DSM-5.

A Few Words From Get Meds Info

Many people with ASPD do not seek help on their own, and intervention can only occur when they face legal problems. There is no cure for aspd, but treatment can help control the disease.

And fortunately, resources are available to anyone who suffers from this disorder. If you have a loved one who has ADHD, it may be helpful to talk to a mental health professional yourself. A trained therapist can offer you coping skills that will help you set boundaries to protect yourself from harm. Group therapy and support groups can also be helpful sources of support and information.

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