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The difference between a sociopath and a psychopath

Two faces of Antisocial Behavior Disorder
Two faces of Antisocial Behavior Disorder

It is important to understand the differences between sociopath and psychopath. The media often uses these terms interchangeably, but there are actual differences between a sociopath and a psychopath. While both of these mental illnesses are classified as antisocial behavioral disorder (ASPD), sociopaths are less inclined towards violence, less impulsive, and able to control their behavior.


  • Predisposition to violence is high;
  • Impulsivity is high;
  • Behavior is erratic;
  • Criminal behavior: has a tendency to leave clues and act on impulse.
  • Criminal Predispositions: has a tendency for impulsive or opportunistic criminal behavior, excessive risk taking, impulsive or opportunistic violence.
  • Social relationships: unable to maintain normal relationships. Values relationships that benefit themselves.
  • Suffers from Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD); lack of empathy or conscience, delusional.


  • Predisposition to violence is varied;
  • Impulsivity varies;
  • Behavior is controlled
  • Criminal behavior: tendency to participate in schemes and take calculated risks to minimize evidence or exposure.
  • Criminal Predispositions: tendency for premeditated crimes with controllable risks, criminal opportunism, fraud, calculated or opportunistic violence.
  • Social relationships: Has the ability to appear superficially normal in social relationships, often social predators.
  • Suffers from Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

WebMD states that “While diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder generally is not done before age 18, children at risk may have symptoms of conduct disorder, especially behavior that involves violence or aggression toward others, such as:


  • Conflicts with peers, family members and authority figures
  • Stealing
  • Cruelty to people and animals
  • Fire starting and vandalism
  • Use of weapons
  • Sexual assault
  • Repeated lying
  • Problem behaviors in school and poor academic performance
  • Gang involvement
  • Running away from home

Because antisocial behavior is thought to have its roots in childhood, parents, teachers and pediatricians may be able to spot early warning signs. Early, effective and appropriate discipline, lessons in behavioral skills, family therapy, and psychotherapy may help reduce the chance that at-risk children go on to become adults with antisocial personality disorder”

If you are concerned your teenager displays these behaviors, contact your primary physician to find the best diagnostic psychiatrist or program in your area. For parents near St. Louis, the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Center at St. Louis Children’s hospital specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of child and adolescent mental illness.

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