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Differences between psychopathy and sociopathy

Differences between psychopathy and sociopathy

February 26, 2024

Most experts in the areas of psychology, psychiatry and criminology conceives that the Antisocial Personality Disorder It is a heterogeneous category, although the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) considers it as a set with unique identity.

In his book, David Lykken (1994) argues that the subjects that make up this group "are characterized by a persistent predisposition toward antisocial behavior" (p.45).

Antisocial Personality Disorder, psychopathy and sociopathy

In order to establish the differences between psychopathy Y sociopathy , we will proceed to examine both cases. It could be said, despite not having official recognition, that these are two of the three major categories in which this disorder bifurcates:


Psychopathy is expressed by innate antisocial tendencies due to biological, quantitative or qualitative differences in the cerebral function of the sufferer, which make it difficult to socialize them when they are growing up.

  • To deepen the analysis of psychopathy, we invite you to read the article: "Psychopathy: what happens in the mind of the psychopath?"


These are individuals with a normal temperament, but who have not acquired the socializing attributes as a consequence of a negligent and incompetent upbringing by the main agents of socialization: the parents.

The upbringing of children is decisive in sociopathy

The dynamics of the negligent educational style on the part of the parents it results, in the future, of savage children unable to socialize properly and who commit crimes. If, in addition, the parents of these young people were also brought up under an irresponsible and indifferent supervision, being immature in this aspect it is very difficult for them to know how to straighten their offspring, if at all they worry them in the least. David Lykken suggests that the recent cultural changes that have occurred in the United States have contributed to the growing incidence of this inept education of children.

As the author himself says: "the antisocial personalities responsible for the majority of crimes in the United States are not psychopaths. They are sociopaths "(p.10). So that, the sociopathic personalities are more numerous and represent a greater social problem due to the increase in crime and violence rates. They are very present in Western society, and more in cities than in rural populations.

The typical profile of the sociopath

Sociopathy is the broader subgenre of Antisocial Personality Disorder. In it we find individuals (usually young men although the presence of women is increasing) who did not socialize well in childhood and adolescence. These deficiencies in their moral and affective development are the necessary basis for a case of sociopathy to arise.

"Sociopaths (...) have impulsive characteristics or habit patterns that can be attributed to a deviant learning that interacts, perhaps, with genetic tendencies that are also deviant" (p.47).

This should not mislead us, since the temperament of a sociopath is often normal despite the father's awkwardness; while others may be nervous or constant seekers of stimuli. The majority of the prison population satisfies the diagnostic criteria of the Antisocial Personality Disorder that identify more than half of the men we consider "common criminals".

In summary, the sociopath is the product of a negligent education and without discipline . It must be said, however, that having received a poor education is not the only factor that explains sociopathy. It is not uncommon to meet people who, despite the many difficulties that happened during their childhood, have been able to find their place in the world and be individuals with whom we can relate with total normality.

Bibliographic references:

  • Lykken, D. (1994). Antisocial personalities. Barcelona: Herder.
  • Pozueco, J. M. (2010). Integrated psychopaths: Psychological profile and personality. Madrid: EOS Legal Psychology.
  • Werlinder, H. (1978). Psychopathy: A history of the concepts. Analysis of the origin and development of a family of concepts in psychopathology. Uppsla, Stockolm: Almqvist & Wiskell International.

Sociopath vs Psychopath - What's The Difference? (February 2024).

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