Thomas Ramey Watson

How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath

Many forensic psychologists and criminologists use the terms sociopathy and psychopathy interchangeably. Leading experts disagree on whether there are meaningful differences between the two conditions. I contend that there are significant distinctions between them.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, lists both sociopathy and psychopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD). These disorders share many common behavioral traits which lead to the confusion between them. Key traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include:

A disregard for laws and social mores
A disregard for the rights of others
A failure to feel remorse or guilt
A tendency to display violent behavior
In addition to their commonalities, sociopaths and psychopaths also have their own unique behavioral characteristics as well.

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