When we talk about either a “psychopath” or “sociopath” we often picture some violent monster or criminal, but what do these terms really mean? What makes a person a psychopath or a sociopath and how can we tell? Despite how common these two terms are, neither of them are actually used in the medical profession. No one is ever officially diagnosed as a psychopath or a sociopath. They don’t exist in the mental health official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In fact, both conditions are actually clinically perceived as an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).
While they are both diagnosed under the umbrella of ASPD, there are some key differences between these disorders. To get better informed on the subject, we’ve created an article to compare psychopaths to sociopaths outlining all the differences, and even some similarities.
1. What is a Psychopath?
The term psychopath is often used by the general public to describe someone who doesn’t fit into society. This could be someone who suffers from a mental illness or is a violent criminal, but the real true definition of a psychopath is antisocial personality disorder. Healthline talked to Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist and the founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence who describes ASPD as someone who shows patterns of manipulation and violation to others.
Healthline provides a list of the common signs of a psychopath which include, “socially irresponsible behavior, disregarding or violating the rights of others, inability to distinguish between right and wrong, difficulty with showing remorse or empathy, tendency to lie often, manipulating and hurting others, recurring problems with the law,” as well as a general disregard for safety and responsibility.