The Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath

[wp_ad_camp_1] When people hear the words ‘sociopath’ and ‘psychopath,’ they usually conjure up images of a deranged killer. Thankfully, the recent discoveries in psychiatry have helped delineate the differences between these two anti-social personality disorders.

If you remain confused about the different of sociopaths and psychopaths, then read on to learn more about how you can distinguish one from the other.


Psychopaths are individuals who demonstrate risky behavior, as well as the inability to follow social norms. They exhibit extreme temperaments, ranging from fearlessness to impulsivity. Apart from suffering from anti-social personality disorder, psychopaths are known to be delusional. Conscience and empathy are some of the common traits they lack.

Nature (genetics) is said to be one of the strongest predisposing factors of psychopathy. According to David Lykken, a behavioral geneticist, psychopaths feature brains with physiological defects. Based on his studies, the part responsible for emotion and impulse control is underdeveloped in psychopaths.

On the other hand, additional research also shows that psychopaths demonstrate low-state autonomic nervous systems. As such, they are unable to show emotion, and they are incapable of feeling what other individuals feel.

There are four types of psychopaths. They are:

  • Primary Psychopaths

These are individuals who are immune to disapproval, punishment, stress or apprehension. Incapable of experiencing any emotion, primary psychopaths do not have a clear plan in life.

  • Secondary Psychopaths

Known to be risk-takers, secondary psychopaths do react to stress. They often worry and waddle in guilt. Despite this, they thrive in living a life of temptation and adventure.

  • Distempered Psychopaths

These individuals often burst into a fit more easily than other psychopaths. They have strong sexual urges, apparent in their habits of pedophilia, illegal indulgence and drug addiction, among many others. They love the ‘high’ associated with risky activities.

  • Charismatic Psychopaths

True to its name, these psychopaths are very appealing and attractive. Somehow gifted, they use their talents to manipulate other individuals. Viewed as irresistible, charismatic psychopaths often take the form of dangerous cult leaders.


[wp_ad_camp_2] Sociopaths, on the other hand, feature relatively normal temperaments. They are easily agitated, and oftentimes nervous. While such individuals can be attached to an individual or a collective, they disregard the concept of society as a whole.

The symptoms of sociopaths arise from sociological aspects that have affected them negatively when they were young. These factors include poverty, aberrant peers, parental neglect, to name a few. To wit, nurture or environment contributes to a person’s sociopathic behavior.

High intelligence is often seen in sociopaths, although those with low IQs can be sociopathic as well.

Sociopaths are pathological liars who have no problems telling false claims. In fact, most sociopaths can pass their way out of a lie detector test. To wit, it is impossible to get the truth out of a sociopath.

Sociopaths have dominant personalities, meaning that they do not like to lose in any competition – big or small. They hate losing in an argument, and they will lie their way through even if their claims make no sense at all. And when it is proven that they are wrong, they will never apologize.

They are charming speakers who can deliver seemingly-hypnotic speeches. They can deliver masterful stories that will leave the audience in awe.

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Mechanisms and Symptoms

Generally, both disorders exhibit the following signs:

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Violent behaviors
  • Disregard for laws and rules
  • Disregard for the rights of other individuals

Almost 5% of the population demonstrates psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies. While other symptoms for both disorders differ, the similarity between psychopathy and sociopathy is that they manifest during adolescence, approximately at age 15. In most cases, the violent rage continues until a certain age, 50 at average, before it diminishes.

First symptoms usually include cruelty to animals, and a lack of remorse after offending or hurting a fellow individual. While some individuals understand that what they did is wrong, they do not show appropriate responses even after being reprimanded by others.

Social Relationships

Psychopaths and sociopaths approach social relationships differently as well. Sociopaths find it difficult to maintain normal relationships, given their disorganized natures. And when they do foster bonds, they only maintain relationships that can benefit to them. More often than not, sociopaths tend to be ‘social predators,’ forming parasitic relationships off their companions

As for Psychopaths, they have the ability to maintain normal relationships, since they appear charming to most of their families and friends. The harmony of the relationships, however, is oftentimes superficial.


[wp_ad_camp_3] Psychopaths, most of the time, enjoy prosperous careers. They fully understand the mechanics of human emotion, although they are not able to feel them on their own. Talented in manipulating humans, sociopaths work hard in order for their co-workers to like them.

A famous example of a psychopath assassin is Dennis Rader, known to many as the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) killer. He worked for the US Air Force, as well as a home security company. Truly charismatic, he went on to become the president of the Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita.

Although many high-paying careers attract and bring out the best in sociopaths (politicians, lawyers, CEOs, etc),  many are unable to last in a job or a home because of their inability to function normally in a social and occupational environment.

Criminal Tendencies

With regards to criminal activities, psychopaths and sociopaths tend to operate in different ways.

Sociopaths, since they act on impulse, largely leave clues when they commit crimes. Because of their lack of relationships, dominance and control are said to be some of the main reasons why they get violent.

With their fondness in risk-taking, sociopaths are predisposed to commit opportunistic and impulsive criminal behavior. As a result, grandiose-thinking sociopaths often lean towards sadism. They carry out crimes as if they are entitled to, resulting to a lust for blood.

Psychopaths, the other hand, often participate in schemes. Usually driven by revenge or greed, they often commit premeditated crimes with manageable risk. They usually calculate the risks in order to avoid exposure and incriminating evidence. Sociopaths often commit opportunistic crimes, calculated yet violent offenses, as well as fraud.

While both are pressing mental conditions, there are several facets that set psychopaths apart from sociopaths. By knowing these signs and symptoms, you can be able to diagnose yourself – as well as others.

About the author


Stalker - December 13, 2014

Nice informative article. Thanks!

seth roumpe - March 20, 2015

i see myself as a combination of both I have no regard for other humans or their rights and I wouldn’t care less if half of earth’s population died even if their were people i know among them, I would also kill somebody if I got a good chance like meet someone alone in a dark alley. I used to act charming and nice around people and everyone seemed to like me, I really had no enemies but I stopped doing that since I got tired of people (they annoyed me with their stupidity). I don’t really know which type I fit more.

    FJ - May 9, 2015

    This made me happy to read. Cheers,

    Valithier - August 28, 2016

    ha, oh you do so remind me of myself.

AndromP - March 29, 2015

Hahaha fucking hilarious, mate! You’re a real genius of a card, move over Les Dennis (another hilarious chap)

Robert Moore - April 20, 2015

i see myself as a combination of both I have no regard for other humans or their rights and I wouldn’t care about tothers feeligns, I contiuasly lie, I am a pathological liar I only have relationships to benefit myself and what I am goign to gain from it, I have nop remorse when i hurt others, I never like to loose wether the fight is big or small. and I also like to get revenge and also greed

Nick - May 1, 2015

Well Robert, you definitely don’t fit into the high IQ bracket. You are useless and probably make a crap sociopath anyway. I mean how do you seriously spell that badly when there is a spell checker? Rant over. I have recently realized that I have been faking my emotions for as long as I could remember, I actually had myself fooled. It was almost like I was being controlled by someone else in my own body, like on autopilot. I have only now starting to become one with my consciousness and suddenly I realize that I don’t really care about anything or anyone. I am starting to recall things that made me ‘sad’ or ‘happy’ and i now know that I never really cared about any of that. The only emotion I can say I am feeling now is envy. I am envious of those who don’t have to fake their way through life.

Michael - May 8, 2015

I, too, after reading this article can identify with both disorders….. when I’m around very stupid people who BELIEVE they’re actually NOT stupid, the idea of killing them with no emotion is there…..I am envious of those who are lazy and suck at the tits of the common, taxpaying worker, and wonder if we could have a 24 hour free for all, just one day where we could do whatever we want as far as doing away with them… I’m sick of people who blame others for their transgressions, those who never take responsibility, those who always believe they are entitled in any situation; you know, that guy at the airport on his cell phone with the Starbucks coffee and briefcase, who’s overfed and opinionated!!! No problem with that guy in my crosshairs

Christian - May 24, 2015

When I went to rehab I was told to be selfish in my recovery. Then I was told that only one in twenty people will actually recover. I took pleasure when people would relapse Or leave treatment early. I figured my odds just went up. I figured it was every man for himself. I also use the the words “we” and “you” in group treatments instead of the famous “i” statements. Is that being sociopathic? Anyone?

... - June 19, 2015

Hah! Everyone who read the article actually believed that they are sociopath or psychopath! Yeah right… Everytime when people are too stressed out or “mood swing” , or simply just craving for answers, they get this delusion to pay attention to every small detail that could happen to them. It actually happens to everyone! The reader often gets sucked into what they read and it’s normal!
But before you think that you’re a psychopath or sociopath, let me tell you straight: Both of this mental illness usually starts young! If you have the symptoms of those mental illness when you’re all grown up, it might just stress! Or you’ve even LEARN to ignore peoples feelings because that’s the way to live in the society, everything, everyone have to act to protect themselves, and so do you.
And before you say that you ARE a sociopath, think again about your past! Both sociopaths and psychopaths, from childhood, even 4 years old, have tortured their parents. Yes, tortured! They show no emotions towards their parents even though their parents love them so much and even sacrifises 2/3 part of their lives for them until it reaches their limit! These children shows violence, no remorse, lying, stealing, they even hurt themselves and blame their parents to get what they want, they fake cry, turning their “sweet” side on and of like a faucet,… Psychopaths and sociopaths have made their parents living like hell ! People only see the “angle” side of them and protect them, and blame the parents ! If you want to know more about sociopath children, read more from the link below. But first, don’t say or act like you’re one without knowing CLEARLY what it is! Mental illness is NOT something so simple !

Malachai - June 25, 2015

I realized back when I was 13 that I was different. At first it started with the fantasies of killing people in many different ways, I recall that I mentioned how funny it would be to stick a vacuum bag over somebodies head and suck all the air out thereby suffocating someone to death. Needless to say my classmates thought I was a freak, that was also the last time I casually mentioned it to people. Lying came as easy to me as breathing. Since I was a child I would lie without hesitation to anyone I felt inclined to keep the truth from. As an adult I started selling drugs, first it was simply marijuana but after brutally assaulting a customer who owed me money I moved onto telling meth all the while attending university and ironically studying to be a lawyer. By the age of 23 I had been to prison for the first time for armed robbery, arson and fraud which actually was a rather interesting experience. Met a lot of interesting individuals in there, one of the funniest memories I have of my time In jail was of this old fella who had been in there for years. He was telling me a story of the time he had beaten a drug dealer for information but the guy was still unwilling to talk. So he then raped the mans wife and beat the guys children in front of him. Afterwards he threw the dealer off a bridge breaking his spine and paralyzing him for life. I was a great laugh, we became good friends after that.

For me I love my life, I know that I am a psychopath though I never tell people this. I lie, cheat, steal, hurt, and act without the slightest regard to the health and well-being of others. Few people would be able to guess this about me though, as I have an innocent face and act as an emotionally honest and caring individual. A word of warning to others though. Should you be unlucky enough in your life to ever encounter a psycho quickly eliminate them from your life. We become obsessed with people at times, I myself have turned extremely violent to those that I cant have. There is no good in us and to try and change us for the better will only make you out victim.

luke - July 17, 2015

I too show many of these traits I have an uncontrollable temper at times I would show no remorse for inflicting pain on others I hate losing I keep myself very close to my friends and do not pursue or desire other companions but my temper is only ever arisen by the iniquity of others and I do not show remorse for those whom don’t deserve it for example the pain inflicted on a doormen in order to release his hands from my brothers neck. I am content with my friends and don’t pursue others because I’m not insecure or greedy. I hate losing big or small because I know I have the potential for greatness and know I can do better. I look at society not with disgust but rather pity and hope, so many people are sheep and follow the majority out of fear of rejection or consequence not free to be them self’s and pursue there dreams. Rules, regulations, laws I have always hated the concept of following other people’s believes out of fear that they will steal my freedom if I disobey I agree there must be order tho I guess that because I hold my freedom in such high regard I disapprove of anything that challenges it. justice comes to he who claims it , I believe that every human has been gifted with a conscious and I use that as my guide for what is a man if he doesn’t follow his heart . My point is you can familiarise certain characteristics in my being with those who have cause atrocities but it doesn’t mean that I am the same I have love and hope in my heart

butch reed - October 4, 2015

I am a good person who would not want to live with emotional deficits. I have nothing missing. Plus, any true psychopath would never talk incriminating about themselves. This is a private disease and only an idiot would admit to it publicly. It can not endear you in any way that you would desire to be endeared. But I think bipolar was popular with me n mister Jones…90s. Now it is dexter…right…now it is popular not to care. I may not be a highly intelligent psychopath but I can see that is pathetic. What happened to ernie and burt? Haha

Pogo - November 3, 2015

Consider this – if the entire population or even a majority of it was psychopathic, the human race, including every psychopath, would cease to exist in a hurry! The one thing a psychopath hates is another psychopath that they cannot manipulate, so they would eventually turn on each other and kill each other off, each believing that he/she should be the only one left. Even if there is only one survivor, that person would eventually off themselves because their own self is the only enemy they have left, and the last person they have to despise. Lucky for them we “normals” comprise the 95% of the population that stands between them and their own extinction (not to mention the rest of humanity). Of course, they should probably thank us for that, but I’m not holding my breath. 🙂

Christ - December 28, 2015

You are right, most of the population is made up of sheep (and perhaps cockroaches).

Sociopaths arise from amongst the masses and prey on the weaker animals. They also occasionally harness the power of armies of weak people in order to achieve extraordinary things.

I believe I am a sociopath, but it does not mean I am evil. I am intelligent enough to know that there is a war going on for hearts and minds and I intend to be on the winning side of that battle. In the meantime, do I have any respect for man’s laws? No. Do I have any concern for the cockroaches I need to crush along the way? Not a chance.

    Martina - September 17, 2016

    Geez, that´s completely me.

Universal Playdough - January 7, 2016

If we all can admit to ourselves who we are, thats positive realizeation. A step in the right direction fo all of us.

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