Psychopath vs sociopath: Spotting the differences

Gil Cadiz

We’re quick to call someone who acts abominably a psychopath or a sociopath, but we’re actually using these terms interchangeably.

In one of her recently published video interviews, American clinical psychologist, author and professor Dr. Ramani Durvasula fleshes out the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath.

According to her, the key difference is that psychopaths are born while sociopaths are made.

She shares that psychopaths are all things narcissists are except they have no guilt or shame. They don’t feel remorse when they do something bad. They make great serial killers, hired assassins, and people who’d literally gut a business and don’t care who gets hurt in the process.

For one to be diagnosed as a psychopath, they must have shown a pattern, prior to the age of fifteen, of things like truancy, violence towards other kids, stealing and setting fires.

The names Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Aileen Wuornos are etched in history as some of the most notorious psychopathic killers.

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Ted Bundy – the man behind the deaths and abductions of around 35 females over a period of five years. He was executed with the use of the electric chair in 1989.

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Aileen Wuornos – a prostitute who killed seven men in Florida for their money, claiming that they had either raped or attempted to rape her. She died of lethal injection in 1992. Charlize Theron won an Oscar for portraying her in the 2003 film ‘Monster.’

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Charles Manson – the leader of a cult known as the “Manson Family” that carried out several murders including that of actress Sharon Tate. He died in prison in 2017.

Sociopaths, Dr. Ramani says, look a lot like psychopaths, but they are made – the kid who grew up in a rough neighborhood and learns criminality to get by or learns to be a bully and gets involved with the wrong kids and uses a lot of muscle for survival, or the kid who grew up with a father who teaches him the business of breaking the rules. They’re not always comfortable with it but they just learn it.

Psychopaths and sociopaths, to some degree, don’t think about consequences. They have the tendency to lie, cheat and steal, and they tend to have very inconsistent work histories.

Watch the entirety of Dr. Ramani’s interview here:

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