Sociopath or Psychopath Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Sociopath or Psychopath

Psychology - Disorders

Personality disorders have been the interest of psychologists since long time. There are many personality disorders identified by the psychologists, and this paper sheds light on the most important among those disorders i.e. Psychopath and Sociopath. In general, these people use these two terms interchangeably but the fact is that these two conditions may be interrelated, but the symptoms and the behaviors of the individuals suffering from these disorders, along with the background of this disorder may be entirely different. This paper this shed light on the difference of these disorders along with pin pointing the social factors that may be involved in making or enforcing these disorders.

Sociopath or Psychopath

The issue of identifying and differentiating the difference and similarity between a sociopath and psychopath has been a debated topic since long time. Many schools of thoughts have different opinion when it comes to classifying these two terms. The DSM-IV, which is the reference guide for all psychiatrists, psychologists, and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), the bible, if you will, use to diagnose all mental disorders has a very comprehensive explanation of these disorders. According to it, Sociopath and Psychopath are Personality Disorders, fall under the umbrella of Anti-Social Personality Disorders, and it is defined as, 1 -- Etiology: This disorder was previously known as both psychopathic and Sociopathic personality disorder. Like most personality disorders, many factors may contribute to the development of symptoms. Because the symptoms are long lasting, the idea that symptoms begin to emerge in childhood or at least adolescence is well accepted. The negative consequences of such symptoms, however, may not show themselves until adulthood. 2- Symptoms include a longstanding pattern of disregard for the rights of others. There is a failure to conform to society's norms and expectations that often results in numerous arrests or legal involvement as well as a history of deceitfulness where the individual attempts to con people or use trickery for personal profit. Impulsiveness is often present, including angry outbursts, failure to consider consequences of behaviors, irritability, and psychical confrontations.

Difference between a psychopath and a sociopath

There is no denying the fact the sociopath and psychopath often overlap with one another, but the fact is that upon careful consideration, these two terms are quite different from one another. There are sociologists who have categorized these two conditions in different categories. For them, a sociopath is much to do the social variable while a psychopath is more of a combination of several factors such as genetic factors, the environmental condition, which a person is part of, and most importantly, the psychological factors that results in this disorder. From the argument of the sociologists, one can realize that social factors are present in making these individuals.

Psychopath is 'individual in whom the natural processes of socialization have failed to produce the mechanisms of conscience and habit of law-abidingness that normally constrain anti-social impulses. On the other hand, a can be explained as 'refer to persons whose unsocialized character is due primarily to parental failures rather than to inherit peculiarities of temperament. The psychopath and the sociopath can be regarded as opposite endpoints on a common dimension with difficult temperament maximized at the psychopathic end and inadequate parenting maximized at the sociopathic end (Lykken, 1995).

Personality traits of a Sociopath

The terms 'psychopathy' and 'sociopathy' are used interchangeably with the latter often being used to avoid confusion with psychoticism and insanity, though the choice of term also often reflects the user's views on whether the determinants of the condition are psychological, biological, and genetic on the one hand or social forces and early experience on the other (Hare, 1993).

As pointed out earlier, a sociopath is a product of the difficult social conditions whereas a psychopath has much to with many factors. The background of a sociopath can be understood by reading this definition. Sociopaths are made by some sort of social conditions while psychopaths are born with predisposition of some sort not uncommon among researchers (Pescosolido, Martin, McLeod & Rogers, 2011).

There are many traits or characteristics identified by psychologists that clearly differentiate between a sociopath and a psychopath. Shedding light upon the sociopath, some of the obvious traits that are found in them that differentiates them form a psychopath are that sociopaths are they possess a very charming personality. This charm may be used to attract other people and serves as a mask to hide the disorder and disturbance that they are going through. Another very important and strong behavioral trait that a sociopath possesses is that they have the ability to tell white lies. Sociopaths can lie in front of you without being noticed. There are extreme cases where a sociopath has easily passed the lie detector. This amazing ability makes them smarter and they can clear their mess by lying bluntly. Their ability to tell a lie is so strong that there are no changes in their gestures or postures, making the opposite person believing them easily.

In addition to this, a sociopath has no strong emotions present in them. A sociopath can make a false promise or a commitment very easily. For them, there is no regard for feeling of others, and eventually this results in them breaking promises and commitment easily. Emotions are not present in a sociopath. Things that can easily move a common person may have no effect on a sociopath. The reason for it may be their lacking of emotions such as sympathy, compassion, love, guilt and so on.

One very important characteristic that can help psychologists to easily identify a sociopath is that this disorder can be visible during the early stages of life. Sociopath develops difficult behaviors in very early age. A sociopath's ability to mingle up with others and their awkward behaviors such as aggressiveness and cruel behaviors starts to develop at a very early age.

Sociopaths are very clever liars and have the ability to clean their own mess. That is the reason why they can easily hide themselves in different disguises in order to stay away from the grip of law.

Personality traits of Psychopath

One of the most prominent characteristic of a psychopath is their tendency inability to abide to the norms of the society. They think of themselves as somebody beyond common person and thus make him or she behaves in an anti-social behavior. One other very important characteristic of a psychotic individual is their tendency towards violence. Frequent and sudden violent attacks are some very common symptoms that a psychopath can suffer from. Psychopaths can be very violent and can react quite aggressively toward unfavorable conditions. They are not as controlled as a sociopath is. A sociopath is more opportunistic when it comes to expressing his feelings while a psychopath may have trouble controlling his anger. Other than that, a psychopath has difficulty in maintaining a normal relationship, which is totally in contrast with a sociopath. A sociopath is also called a social predator, due to its ability to maintain an artificial relationship while a psychopath can be totally opposite when it comes to relationships.

A psychopath lacks an understanding of human behaviors and the result of their behaviors while sociopath has the ability to understand the emotions of others, making them successful both personally and professionally. The violent episodes of a psychotic person are abrupt and can help others in identifying it at once; on the other hand, a sociopath can plan his or her violent attack on the victim for years, and can easily get away with it.

A psychopath lacks steadiness in his or her life. They have difficulty to maintain consistency in their life, making them unsuccessful in all occupations.

Role of Social Forces in Personality Disorders

Now I will be shedding light on the second viewpoint of this paper i.e. The role of social variable in making a sociopath and a psychopath. On this, my argument is that social environment plays a vital role in making these people. I am not denying the fact that this disorder has deep roots in the nature. Psychopath can inherit these problematic personality traits from their parents, or may suffer this problem due to any neurological damage, but one should also realize the social forces that play a vital role in making these individuals. Many social forces may help in making this disordered personality. Starting our discussion from home, one must realize that the way these individuals are brought up plays a vital role in enforcing their problems. Children, who are born in homes where abuse and violence is frequent, are much likely to suffer from this problem. I am not suggesting that all children belonging to such disturbed family environments can become psychopath or sociopath, but my argument is that the upbringing of these children plays a vital role. / Even the family environment is not responsible in making of these individuals; it can definitely play its role in making matters worse. For example, a psychopath born…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Sociopath Or Psychopath" (2012, October 21) Retrieved December 2, 2016, from

"Sociopath Or Psychopath" 21 October 2012. Web.2 December. 2016. <>

"Sociopath Or Psychopath", 21 October 2012, Accessed.2 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Women Stay With Sociopaths Finding Out That

    Women Stay with Sociopaths Finding out that one's husband does not care about anybody but themselves and is a psychopath, could be among the worse things for a wife to hear, but it has happened, and it continues to happen in hundreds of relationship. The question to answer, however, is not why is this guy a sociopath, but instead, why is this woman staying with this man who is clearly

  • Iceman Confessions A Social History

    His convictions are believed to represent only a small portion of his actual crimes; he is believed to have committed upwards of 100 murders. Mental Status and Behavior Observation (must have subheading): Appearance, Attitude, and Activity Kuklinski was a tall, physically imposing man. He was over 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds. He seemed physically fit, despite his immense size. He had several tattoos on his body at the time of

  • Criminal Behavior

    Criminal Behavior Approaches to Understand Criminal Behavior Psychological Approaches Sociological Approaches Biological Approaches Psychosurgery Chemical Methods of Control Imagine yourself having a walk in the premises of your house and a stone come flying through the boundary wall and hits you. As a layman, one might face difficulty in defining this incident. It can be termed as an assault, an act of violence or a criminal offence. This is a layman's term to define this act but

  • United States Has the Highest Rate of

    United States has the highest rate of confinement of prisoners per 100,000 population than any other Western country. Analyze this phenomena and discuss actions that you feel are necessary to combat this problem. The United States currently has the highest incarceration rate of any nation worldwide. For example, greater than 60% of nations have incarceration rates below 150 per 100,000 people (Walmsley, 2003). The United States makes up just about

  • Social Psychology Bringing it All Together

    Social psychology is a very broad field that takes in the many varieties of group dynamics, perceptions and interactions. Its origins date back to the late-19th Century, but it really became a major field during and after the Second World War, in order to explain phenomena like aggression, obedience, stereotypes, mass propaganda, conformity, and attribution of positive or negative characteristics to other groups. Among the most famous social psychological studies

  • Psychology Honesty

    Psychopath The research by Mazar, Amir & Ariely (2008) shows that ordinary people often find ways they can cheat and still believe themselves to be honest. People do this by rationalizing their actions, and preserving a self-concept of honesty and integrity. Most people are willing to stretch or manipulate their moral codes under certain circumstances, particularly when they can find ways of maintaining a self-concept or project the image of being

  • Theatre Art

    Dee: The Shape of Things, a play by Neil LaBute, (A) expands on the central themes of society's distortional emphasis on appearances, and art as a potentially limitless and human-sculpting instrument. Linearly structured in three acts, the plot closely follows the problematic evolution of a student couple from a Midwest university. Starting as a discrepant match, Evelyn and Adam develop an oddly unequal relationship, as the former increasingly impacts major changes

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved