Tell the Difference Between PSYCHOPATH and SOCIOPATH

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One term that often appears in a person is a psychopath. In addition, there are other names that may also appear, namely sociopath. Both are titles that might be given to someone with certain psychiatric conditions.

Although often used, reported by WebMD, basically, these two things are not used by doctors as a health diagnosis. Medically speaking, the term used to describe this problem is antisocial personality disorder.

Let’s learn more about the difference between Psychopath and Sociopath from the review below.


Tell the Difference Between Psychopath and Sociopath

Tell the difference between psychopath and sociopath

“Psychopaths” and “sociopaths” are one of the most popular psychological terms that are often used casually to describe common mental disorders, as a pronoun for the more contemporary “crazy”. This shift in meaning due to the influence of modern culture makes the characteristic difference between “crazy”, “psychopathic”, and “sociopath” considered too trivial and often mixes with one another.

Mental disorder is an umbrella of a very broad medical term. Unfortunately, many people still misunderstand in interpreting or using certain terms to obscure their true meaning.

We use these charged words with ease, throwing casual ridicule that is not only full of insults but also very out-of-date when viewed from the perspective of medical and cultural literature.

It must be understood that mental disorders arise due to various factors, before further recognizing the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath.


Criminal tendencies

According to the 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), sociopaths and psychopaths are two types of mental disorders that are under the auspices of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD). One key feature that places these two groups of mental disorders in a specific category is the deceptive and manipulative nature. Individuals with psychopathy or sociopathy generally behave rudely (inclined towards crime), but tend to act using deception to get what they want.

In various films and TV shows, psychopaths and sociopaths are usually criminals who like to torture and kill their victims. This stereotype is not very wrong.

Two different individuals with sociopathy and psychopathy both have minimal regret and empathy for others, almost zero guilt, and responsibility, and ignore the law and social norms.


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In order to find the most realistic psychopathic character in the film, Belgian psychiatrist Professor Samuel Leistedt and 10 colleagues conducted research by watching films released between 1915-2010. After watching 400 films, 126 psychopaths (21 women and 105 men) collected who met their research standards.

No Country For Old Men_A movie about a psychopathic killer

Then who is the champion? Anton Chigurh, a hitman from the film No Country for Old Men (NCFOM), a monumental film by Coen Brothers in 2007.

The research entitled “Psychopathy and the Cinema: Fact or Fiction?” and published in the Journal of Forensic and Sciences Volume 59, Issue 1 (January 2014) is basically an attempt to investigate how traces of psychopathic characters are in the context of popular films. One hundred twenty-six selected characters were then grouped based on realistic action and clinical accuracy of their profile. In addition to senior forensic psychiatrists, this research also involved many film critics.

Chigurh outperformed several other psychopathic characters such as Hans Beckert (M) and Henry Lee Lucas (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). “He is an example of a classic psychopath (a psychopath who can kill without guilt). He looks immune to all kinds of emotions and humanity, “said the statement in the study, as quoted by Business Insider.

Everything that appears from the character played by Javier Bardem and won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award at the 2008 Academy Award is an oddity: bobby-style geeky hair, blank eyes when laughing, and always carrying a bolt gun (Air-Injection Stunning): a device commonly used in slaughterhouses to kill livestock such as sheep or cattle.

The horror of Chigurh is seen throughout the scene when he hunts down Llewelyn Moss (played by Josh Brolin). The audience will be shuddered to wonder how lightly it is to kill (and not kill) random people at the same time. For example, when he killed a father he stopped on the street or how he failed to kill the life of a cashier and shop owner just because that person won in a coin lottery by Chigurh.

However, the character of the Chigurh psychopath is most clearly seen from his above-average level of focus and composure when hunting for Moss. That the goal is Moss, then he will get rid of any disturbances, including the offer of large amounts of money given by Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), another assassin assigned to kill Chigurh and track the whereabouts of the suitcase Moss brought. Chigurh finally turns to hunt down Wells and manages to kill him in a hotel room.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle from Killing Eve

One of the fictional psychopathic characters who can match Chigurh is Villanelle (played extraordinarily by Jodie Comer): a hitman – in the novel, he actually becomes the protagonist – in the Killing Eve series. Villanelle could be “beyond” the horror of Chigurh because besides being full of deception, he was able to package the scene of a murder as something that is really funny and should be a mere daily activity.

The problem is, many refer to psychopaths as sociopaths and vice versa, although there are some fundamental differences between these two types of characters.


Also read: Recognizing Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Sociopath definition

Sociopath is a term used to describe someone who has Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Someone with this disorder is difficult to understand the feelings of others.

Sociopaths often break rules and make impulsive decisions without feeling guilty for the harm caused. They use the ‘mind game’ to control other people, both those close to them and strangers they just know because they can be seen as charming or charismatic.

Although the nature of sociopaths and psychopaths have in common both have various differences. If sociopaths tend to do things that are dangerous but are still in the mild category, while psychopaths can make other people really in a dangerous position.

Recognize characteristics and sociopath signs

Signs of a person have sociopath symptoms include:

  • Not respecting social norms or laws, they will violate laws or exceed social boundaries consistently
  • Committing lies, deceiving, using fake identities, and pretending to be someone else for personal gain
  • Do not make long-term plans and often behave impulsively without thinking about the consequences
  • Demonstrate aggressive, quarrelsome, or physically harmful behavior to others and be carried out consistently
  • Do not consider the safety of yourself or others
  • Not doing personal or professional responsibilities repeatedly, such as being late for work or not paying bills on time
  • Not feeling guilty or sorry after hurting or hurting others

Other sociopath symptoms include:

  • Be ‘cold’ by not showing emotion or caring about other people
  • Using humor, intelligence or charisma they have to manipulate others
  • Have a strong sense of superiority and opinion
  • Do not learn from mistakes
  • Not able to maintain a positive relationship with others
  • Trying to control others by intimidating or threatening them
  • Often experiencing legal problems or committing a crime
  • Take risks at the expense of yourself or others
  • Threatening to commit suicide without ever doing it
  • Are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances


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Prevention of Sociopaths

There is no way to prevent antisocial personality disorder that can cause a person to become a sociopath. But ideally, the family has an important role in shaping children’s behavior.

One way is to create an atmosphere of love, avoid all forms of violence, foster pleasant conditions so that it is good for children’s mental health. This can reduce someone’s risk of being exposed to sociopaths from genetic factors.

How to deal with a sociopath – Sociopathic Treatment

Generally, a sociopath with an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) does not think that they have a problem with his personality, but if a person experiences symptoms or shows signs of a sociopath, it is advisable to immediately consult a doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Basically, sociopaths cannot be cured but can be treated through therapy that focuses on limiting destructive behavior by turning it into constructive behavior. The therapy is also a form of long-term care.

Some sociopath treatments that can be done include:

1) Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is intended to talk to a counselor or therapist about thoughts and feelings that can worsen ASPD behavior. This includes providing therapy in dealing with anger, violent behavior, and drug and alcohol addiction.

2) Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This therapy can help a sociopath to think more carefully about his actions and responses to a person or situation. CBT cannot cure ASPD but can help develop positive but harmless behavior. This therapy can also help a sociopath to accept the circumstances and abnormalities they have and encourage them to be proactive in dealing with the behavior that occurs in him.

3) Drug

There is no specific medication to treat this disorder but it is possible that you receive drugs for mental disorders that are related to such medications as anxiety, depression, or aggressive behavior. The clozapine (Clozaril) drug has shown benefits in the treatment of ASPD for men.

For those of you who have sociopath partners, if they hurt or hurt you, one of the healthiest ways to deal with this is to erase and forget them in your life. Unless you want to keep in touch with him, marriage counseling or partner therapy can be done so that you can develop a positive relationship between them.

In addition, there are a number of things you can do to maintain relationships with sociopaths:

  • Acknowledge that they cannot fully understand your emotions
  • Explain how his behavior can affect others and cause relationship damage
  • Make clear boundaries for yourself in dealing with them
  • Offer specific consequences for dangerous behavior

Famous sociopaths

Here is the list to top 5 famous sociopaths according to

1. Sherlock Holmes

2. Alex from A Clockwork Orange

3. Richard Kuklinski – The Ice Man

4. Will Cornick

5. Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada)

Also read: Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Options


At the beginning of 2020, the name of Reynhard Sinaga has often appeared as news in various mass media, both in Indonesia and abroad. His name was called a psychopath because he had raped more than 100 men in England. In carrying out the action, he mixed depressant drugs into alcoholic beverages consumed by his victims.

Although considered to have committed a criminal offense, but Reynhard Sinaga does not feel guilty for what he did. Therefore, he is considered to have a mental disorder even though it looks fine. For this reason, understanding is needed to determine the characteristics or symptoms of psychopaths that may be around us.

Often we hear the term psychopath or say someone has a psycho personality. But some terms in psychology, the word psychopath still raises questions because it is generally used to describe someone with mental illness, but the psychopath is actually not an official diagnosis.

What is a psychopath?

Psychopath is one of the antisocial personality disorder which is characterized by distinctive emotional characteristics, such as not having guilt, not empathizing with others, and not being able to socialize with the surrounding environment. This sometimes shows a pattern of manipulation and violence against others. In addition, psychopathic behavior itself can increase the risk of higher mortality.

In the medical world, doctors do not refer to someone by the term psychopath because usually to describe people with these characteristics the term antisocial personality disorder is used. But when talking about antisocial in personality disorder itself, it means someone has done things that are contrary to public behavior or rules that generally occur.

Based on several research results, men are more likely to experience psychopaths than women. Psychopathic diagnoses are generally notified after the age of 18, but indicators of early symptoms are generally known from the age of 11 years.

Psychopathic symptoms which are more quickly handled will improve the condition of sufferers because long-term psychopathic treatment also certainly requires quite a lot of costs.

Psychopathic causes

The cause of the occurrence of psychopaths is not known with certainty, but it is thought there is an influence from genetic, environmental, and interpersonal factors (the personality of each individual).

In addition, several factors that can be a cause of psychopaths include lack of parental love, mistakes in parenting, neglect of children, physical violence in children, to the factors of parental divorce.

Psychopath symptoms – psychopathic characteristics

Signs of someone experiencing psychopaths include:

  • Have no guilt or regret
  • Cannot be socially responsible
  • Often lying or dishonest
  • Not being able to distinguish right from wrong actions
  • Can not empathize and tend to violate the rights of others
  • Has a reckless, rash, and impulsive nature
  • Like to manipulate and tend to do something high risk

Patients with psychopaths sometimes look calm from the outside so it is not easy to diagnose someone as a psychopath. They also tend to appear as attractive and clever individuals when in reality they don’t care at all (have any empathy).

The researchers argue that the psychopathic brain structure is different from normal people. These brain structure differences that cause different behaviors and affect the physiological functions of the body when compared with normal people. For example, when seeing a horror scene normally normal people will palpitate or palms become wet but different in psychopaths who will still look normal and calm.

Psychopathic prevention

Until now there has been no method of preventing the occurrence of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) which can cause a person experiencing psychopaths. However, when symptoms appear that lead to signs of a person suffering from a psychopath, you should immediately consult a doctor or psychiatrist to get the right treatment.

Psychopathic treatment

To handle psychopaths, it should be done at an early age when the child has begun to be suspected of having signs as above. Although the therapy has not been proven to cure but at least can reduce symptoms and risk factors that are more severe in the future. Management of psychopathic patients can not be done only in one therapy but must be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Some examples of therapies that can be done to treat psychopaths include:

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Group therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Psychosurgery
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • Drugs


Also read: Signs and Symptoms of DISSOCIATIVE DISORDER

What’s the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath?

The basic difference between psychopaths and sociopaths:

The difference between psychopaths and sociopaths

A person with psychopathy has all the above characteristics, but they can blend in and place themselves in the surrounding community very well; as someone who is charming and very smart. The social ability of a psychopath is a camouflage of calculated manipulative qualities.

According to L. Michael Tompkins, EdD., a psychologist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center, a psychopath does not have the right frame of mind to develop ethical and moral values due to genetic imbalances and reactions of chemical compounds in the brain. Recent research shows that the brain of a psychopath has a different arrangement (maybe even physically) from ordinary people in general; so it will be very difficult to be able to detect a psychopath.

Tompkins continued, brain differences can also affect the basic functions of the body. For example, when confronted with a sadistic scene full of blood in the film, the heartbeat of the layperson will beat faster and harder, breathing in a hurry, and cold sweat. But all of this does not apply to a psychopath. He will even calmer.

The basic difference between psychopath and sociopath

Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., author of The Midas Complex, believes that the lack of fear and regret of a psychopath is influenced by lesions in the part of the brain responsible for fear and judgment, known as the amygdala.

Psychopaths commit crimes in cold blood. They crave control and impulsiveness, have predatory instincts, and attack proactively, not as a reaction to confrontation. A 2002 study found that 93.3 percent of psychopathic murder cases occur naturally (meaning, more or less the set of crimes had been planned and calculated beforehand).

Another case with a sociopath. Sociopathy can arise due to congenital brain defect factors like a psychopath. However, parental care may have a deeper role in the development of these mental disorders. Sociopathy is equally cunning and manipulative, he is also usually a pathological liar, regardless of personality that may look sincere. The difference is, their moral compass is heavily damaged.

Individuals with sociopathy will prefer to stay at home and isolate themselves from the surrounding environment. Individuals with sociopathy have unstable emotions and are very impulsive – their behavior looks more reckless than a psychopath. When committing a crime – gross or not – a sociopath will act on coercion. A sociopath is impatient, more easily succumbed to impulsivity and spontaneity, and lacks detailed preparation.

Psychopath vs sociopath chart:

Psychopath vs Sociopath


Although these two mental disorders are caused by the ‘shorting’ of the brain which affects cognitive function, the area of damage is completely different.

In the end, psychopaths have a better advantage than sociopaths in planning crime. Psychopaths are fearless; sociopaths still have fear. Psychopaths do not know fear, have no empathy, and are not able to distinguish between right and wrong. Whereas sociopaths tend to still have everything.

Both psychopaths and sociopaths are equally capable of damage. It’s just that, at some point, they also tend to not care about it.

If you have questions and need more information, please contact a professional therapist near you.

Stay safe, happy, and healthy!




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Thank you for reading today’s topic: Tell the Difference Between Psychopath and Sociopath

20 thoughts on “Tell the Difference Between PSYCHOPATH and SOCIOPATH

  1. I truly enjoyed this article. This has come up in discussion on FB re: Trump. I am convinced the man is a Sociopath. Given what you describe here and knowing he is a Malignant Narcissist, this makes him a Sociopath. I’m not sure why Sherlock Holmes is on the list, however. I’m only remembering the Basil Rathbone Holmes. Excellent article!!

    1. Hi Roz,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful and enjoyable read.

      Today I read news about Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, who is trying to launch a book Mary Tell-All. She also said that her uncle is a narcissist.
      I do believe Sherlock Holmes is a narcissist. The two movies I saw played by both Robert Downy Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch showed it.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  2. Wow! Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Ferra! I never fully understood the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths before reading your article, but it makes so much more sense to me now! Psychopaths are more calm, collected, clever, and calculating in their crimes, whereas sociopaths are more impulsive, reckless, spontaneous, and fearful of their crimes (though both psychopaths and sociopaths eventually disregard others’ feelings/safety/well-being and just nonchalantly commit violent crimes). With so many people developing mental disorders amidst this lock-down, knowing the early warning signs of these conditions (and being able to treat them) is critical. Great read! God bless you!

    1. Hi C.N.,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful and highly informative.

      I find it important to address different kinds of mental disorders since many people are not fully aware of them and how to treat them.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  3. You did a great job ! I believe that this is the information that can’t be find on the web easily and you decided to share it with others for free, that’s really great!

    I didn’t know much about differences between psychopath and sociopath but I’ve been always interested to know more about this topic and your comprehensive guide helped me a lot. I don’t know if you wrote this post 100% by yourself or got help from other sources as well, anyway, it has really brilliant information which convinced me to share it with my friends on social networks.

    I think, the Internet needs more quality posts like yours these days, especially when we see a lot of crappy ads and scams about this topic. You can’t read a post easily on a website without seeing tons popups but your site and post is an ideal example of a quality article which is not covered by annoying ads, has very useful information and lets readers enjoy reading every piece of it.

    Thank you again and I wish you continue providing such that quality information in the future which turn the Internet and blogs into a better place to surf!


    1. Hi Ali,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  4. WOW very comprehensive and while not my fav subject you have definitely dealt with it in a very comprehensive manner.
    Hope it attracts plenty of interest and best wishes

    1. Hi Trevor,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  5. This is a pretty thought provoking article. I need to reconsider some of the terms that I use, since from time to time I describe somebody who annoys me as a “Psycho” – which I can now understand is childish and insensitive.

    1. Hi Simon,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful.

      Yes, there are many people who are using the word “psycho” so casually these days. Therefore, I find it important to raise awareness of what it actually means.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  6. Thank you for this eye opening and thorough explanation of two very serious and misunderstood mental disorders. As someone who has worked closely with a man diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, I can tell you that the reality is much different than people perceive. People throw the words “psychopath” and “sociopath” around so recklessly that they tend to have no real meaning, which does a great disservice to the people who are actually mentally ill. I wish we could see more articles like this.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful.

      Yes, you’re right. People use the two words interchangeably and or use it in a very casual manner as if it’s just a joke. So, that’s why I would like to explain the difference so we can all aware of the meaning.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  7. Hi,

    Thanks for putting this article together.

    I always thought that psychopath and sociopath were two words for the same condition.

    I found it really interesting to discover that they are two different conditions even thought they both have a lot in commmon.

    I can see that the psychopath is more dangerous, although neither would I want to meet.

    Thanks again for explaining all about this anti social condition.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post useful and interesting.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  8. Wow! This is really interesting read, as I have a keen interest in psychology, I was completed hooked onto this article. After reading this I can see the difference between psychopath and sociopath. There are some famous personalities in the world currently that definitely fall under the psycopath. Thank you for educating us all.

    1. Hi Habib,

      Thank you for your kind comment. So glad to know you found this post interesting read.

      I appreciate your visit to my website, sharing, and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  9. Very interesting read you have here! I had no idea about the differences between psychopath and a sociopath, I just knew they were different things. TV shows really give these mental disorders an unrealistic depiction but nevertheless this was a great post! I’m glad that i’m more informed on this subject now and who knows it may come in handy someday!

    Also I love the fact that you used my favorite movie as an example, i love no country for old men! 

    thank you  

    1. Hi Lucas,

      Thank you for stopping by my website, reading the post, and leaving a kind comment.

      So glad to hear you like that I use your fave movie in this post. 🙂

      I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


  10. Hello Ferra, thank you for sharing this information. I have always know the 2 terms of psychopath and sociopath, but was never quite sure about the exact difference. You have explained the difference really well. It is a bit unsettling that these types of mental illnesses are out there and what harm people suffering from the disfunction can do. It is also good to know, though that only a small percentage of the population is affected by it. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Hi Drea,

      Thank you for stopping by my website, reading the post, and leaving a kind comment.

      I appreciate you for sharing your thoughts and support.

      Stay safe, happy, and healthy!


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