Do you think your friend is a psychopath? Is he calm, cool and meticulous but has disturbing take on the world? Do you fear that your friend might secretly be planning to commit harm to someone and is perhaps more emotionally detached than normal? If you answered that question with a no, then rest assured, whatever he is, he is not a psychopath. He might still be sociopathic and still a danger to society though.
Psychopath and sociopath are both psychological terms for what psychiatry calls an antisocial personality disorder. Thanks to Hollywood, these terms are used so often, I bet 9 out of 10 users are not even aware of the proper meaning of the words. The general understanding of the terms psychopaths and sociopaths, they are violent criminals or someone who is bound to commit a crime. Granted, people with such kind of anti-social disorders are more likely to adapt the criminal ways, however, first thing readers must understand is that, these are simply the terms used for psychological disorders. And, not all criminals or madman/madwoman can be categorized as one of them. Therefore, I have taken the liberty to break down the general distinguishing characters between psychopaths and sociopaths (although there are some common characteristics which psychopaths and sociopaths share). Not only these two terms are dissimilar, but the things you know to be facts about sociopaths and psychopaths could be pure myths.
Characteristics That Define Psychopaths
- Psychopaths are usually calm and cool with charming personalities.
- They know how to manipulate others and form no emotional attachments or feel any sort of real feelings for anyone. Psychopaths are usually quite smart, although researchers are yet to find the root of it.
- They are often good actors and mimics, which allow them to easily fit in with rest of the surrounding. Although displaying the individuality of a loner, not all psychopaths tend to live that way. They take pride in their ability to appear disarming; this also allows them to maintain steady jobs and good reputation.
Patrick Bateman from movie American Psycho is a perfect example of how a psychopath could maintain his affairs, despite his mental instability. Dexter is one of the most notorious TV psychopaths. If you have watched the show, you don’t need telling how sophisticatedly he separates his normal life from his psychopathic ways. TV psychopaths generally portray most attributes supposed to be in a psychopath, and give us the good idea of how a psychopath behaves. They are calm, cool, organized and can read people well. Also, they rarely give anything away about themselves. Psychopath is probably the most dangerous sort of psychological disorder. Fascinating as it may be to understand about them, Hannibal lector ought to be enough to show how dangerous an intelligent psychopath set on his ways can be.
Characteristics That Define Sociopaths
While psychopathy is considered to be natural(genetics), researchers believe that sociopathy, on the contrary to psychopathy, develops over time. Children who faced physical abuse, emotional abuse, or some kind of trauma in early age are more likely to show traits of a sociopath.
- Sociopaths are usually impulsive and loud in their behavior, which could be a result of either social or neurological component.
- Sociopaths tend to be pathological liars and are manipulative.
- They too, like their psychopathic counterparts hold different sets of moral values in contrast to a normal person. In case of sociopaths, it’s not necessarily because they fail to judge the morality of the situation. The reason is in fact quite simple, one could say their moral compass is rather flexible, which does not always mean that they are dangerous.
Sherlock Holmes, for instance, when called a psychopath responded with “I am not a psychopath, I am a highly functioning sociopath”. So, in spite of the uncanny behaviors, sociopaths aren’t necessarily alarming to everyone around them.
Despite many similar traits between psychopath and sociopath, there are some day to day behaviors that differentiate psychopath from a sociopathic. Psychopathic tend to be calm and organized even in their wrong doings, while the sociopathic are loud and more prone to random vandalism.
Who is more likely to kill you psychopath or sociopath?
Which one of them is more prone to criminal activities? Which one of them possess most danger to the society?
Well, the answer might be tricky. Sociopaths are more likely to get caught, in case they should commit a crime, due to their tendency to act without planning of any sort. Psychopaths on the other hand are cool and calm, ready for almost every possible scenario with a contingency plan.
Many notorious serial killers throughout the history have been known to be psychopaths, and quite a few of them still unknown. Sociopaths are more likely to be apprehended due to their carelessness and erratic behavior, which might give the impression that sociopath are more likely to turn into criminals. However, the ability to pre-plan any sort of crime without the slightest remorse is far more dangerous.
Researchers have indicated that sociopathic behavior could be cured till some extent, depending up on the severity of the patient. An intelligent psychopathic patient on the other hand, could dupe even professional psychologists, for they prize their emotional detachment from the rest of the world. The complete lack of fear and remorse make them the greatest threat among any kind of psychological disorder there is.