Will there ever be a Google Answers

First, it should be understood that under the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychopathy and sociopathy fall under the umbrella of Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), meaning no one gets diagnosed as a psychopath or sociopath, and those terms aren’t very useful in a clinical sense. They are not well defined and not completely agreed upon among psychologists. However, researchers who do find value in distinguishing between the two tend to believe that psychopaths are born while sociopaths are made—meaning psychopathy is a genetic predisposition and sociopathy is more closely linked with childhood trauma, including emotional or physical abuse. Psychopaths have actual physiological brain differences relating to emotional regulation and impulse control. They can struggle to form real attachments, and they tend to manipulate people to achieve their own goals. They rarely feel any guilt in doing so, primarily because they have no conscience. However, they also have a self-preservation instinct that helps minimize any risk to themselves while engaging in criminal behavior. They can seem outwardly normal, even charming, and they can usually hold down steady jobs and even have families. Sociopaths, who also struggle to bond emotionally with others, are much more erratic and impulsive with far less regard to their personal safety than psychopaths. They do have a conscience, but it is weak. They tend to have a more difficult time blending in with others due to their inability to hold down a real job or maintain a “normal” family life. Although it can be interesting to analyze these two terms and compare their characteristics to TV villains, keep in mind that most people with APD aren’t violent criminals.