Psychopaths vs Sociopaths

So this will be a different True Crime Tuesday blog than I normally do. I wanted to change it up some and honestly I could not think of any one killer, victim or crime I wanted to blog about. And with this new surge in people interested in killers I thought we should start at the beginning. The two words most people get mixed up, myself included. When I first started out reading and researching killers, which was over 20 years ago, I was the same. I didn’t know the difference between psychopath and sociopath. Hell for the longest time I didn’t even know sociopath existed.

What’s the difference?

Psychopaths and sociopaths share a number of characteristics, including a lack of remorse or empathy for others, a lack of guilt or ability to take responsibility for their actions, a disregard for laws or social norms, and fondness for violence. A core feature of both is a deceitful and manipulative nature. But how can we tell them apart?

Sociopaths are normally less emotionally stable and highly impulsive, their behavior tends to be more erratic than psychopaths. When committing crimes, either violent or non-violent, sociopaths will act more on compulsion. And they will lack patience, giving in much more easily to impulsiveness and lacking detailed planning.

Psychopaths, on the other hand, will plan their crimes down to the smallest detail, taking calculated risks to avoid detection. The smart ones will leave few clues that may lead to being caught. Psychopaths don’t get carried away in the moment and make fewer mistakes as a result.

Both act on a range of behaviors, and many psychologists still debate whether the two should be differentiated at all. But for those who do differentiate between the two, one thing is largely agreed upon: psychiatrists use the term psychopathy to illustrate that the cause of the anti-social personality disorder is hereditary. Sociopathy describes behaviors that are the result of a brain injury, or abuse and/or neglect in childhood.

Psychopaths are born and sociopaths are made. Their difference reflects the nature versus nurture debate.

There’s an interesting link between serial killers and psychopaths or sociopath. Of course, not all psychopaths and sociopaths become serial killers, and not all serial killers are psychopaths or sociopaths.

Over the next month or so I am going to pick a serial killers name out of a jar and blog about them. We will go over their childhood upbringing and crimes committed and discuss if they are a psychopath, sociopath or neither. I hope you stick around for True Crime Tuesday.

Next weeks blog topic:

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