Psychopath and sociopath are popular psychology terms to describe violent monsters born of our worst nightmares. Think Hannibal Lecterin in the movie, Silence of the Lambs (1991), Norman Bates in the movie, Psycho(1960) and Annie Wilkes in the movie Misery (1990). In making these characters famous, popular culture has also burned the words used to describe them into our collective consciousness.
Most of us, fortunately, will never meet a Hannibal Lecter, but psychopaths and sociopaths certainly do exist in our society. And they hide among us. Sometimes as the most successful people in society because they’re often cruel, insensitive and have no soft feelings from inside and superficially ( in front of the others ) they are very charming while having little or no regard for needs of others. If they want their work done, they would be the sweetest and most charming person but as soon as their work is done, they lose their interest in you.
These are known as “successful” psychopaths, as they have a tendency to perform premeditated (pre planned) crimes with calculated risk. Or they may manipulate someone else into breaking the law while keeping them safely at a distance. They’re master manipulators of other peoples’ feelings but are unable to experience emotions themselves.
Sound like someone you know? Your boyfriend? Your husband? You’re in laws and for that matter your very own government. Well, heads up. You do know one; at least one. In the western societies, they may come in somewhere between 0.2% and 3.3% of the population. However in Pakistan, just look around yourself and you will get an answer.
If you’re worried about yourself, you can take an informal online quiz to find out, but before you click on that quiz let me tell you that you’re not a psychopath or sociopath. If you were, you probably wouldn’t be interested in taking that test.
Let’s say you have a personality flaw, you just wouldn’t be that self-aware or concerned about it that you have character flaws. And even if you would know about your personality flaw, you would be least interested in correcting it. At times both psychopathy and sociopathy are interchangeable names however the term is known as “antisocial personality disorders” stands more for psychopaths, which are long-term mental and personal health conditions.
1- 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 conventions, and an inclination to violence. A core feature of both is a deceitful( being a fraud) and manipulative nature. But how can we tell them apart?
Sociopaths are normally less emotionally stable and highly impulsive ( they just jump into getting things they want)– their behavior tends to be more erratic( not well planned) 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. If they get caught, they will make another plan and avoid the mistakes that they did this time so in the future they don’t get caught.
2-Both act on a continuum of behaviours, 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 behaviours that are the result of something lacking in nurturing a child, lack of teaching what is right or what is wrong, abuse and/or neglect in childhood.
Psychopaths are born and sociopaths are made. In essence, their difference reflects the nature versus nurture debate.
There’s a particularly interesting link between serial killers and psychopaths or sociopaths – although, of course, not all psychopaths and sociopaths become serial killers. And not all serial killers are psychopaths or sociopaths.
Extensive investigation and studied were conducted by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and it has been noted that certain traits shared between known serial killers and these anti-social personality disorders. These include predatory behaviour(for instance, Ivan Milat, who hunted and murdered his seven victims); also sensation-seeking (think hedonistic killers who murder for excitement or arousal, such as 21-year-old Thomas Hemming who, in 2014, murdered two people just to know what it felt like to kill); lack of remorse; impulsivity; and the need for control or power over others (such as Dennis Rader, an American serial killer who murdered ten people between 1974 and 1991, and became known as the “BTK (bind, torture, kill) killer”).
3-A textbook psychopath, ( that is the ones described in books) would, If a psychopath gets caught or if their plan is sabotaged, will go on to kill again or continue their crime again unless they are in prison or in jail from which they cannot get out. Whereas if sociopaths are caught, they might have remorse, they can be treated with medication and psychotherapy and they will learn that perhaps what they did was wrong. But, would u like to trust such a person again? I leave this question to you to answer it.
In my opinion – sociopaths are much more common in our society. They might not necessarily take lives( unless they r caught in action like motorbike guys who shoot if what they want is not given).
In the end, does the distinction between a psychopath and sociopath matter? They can both be dangerous and even deadly, the worst wreaking havoc with people’s lives. Or they can spend their lives among people who are none the wiser for it.
What I want you to understand from this article is that in today’s Pakistan, not everyone can be trusted. Your boy friend, your husband, your boss or your in laws might come across very charming but who they actually are, you might find later. It is always better to get to know the people before you join ties with them.