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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Psychopath vs. Sociopath

We often hear the terms psychopath and sociopath when trying to describe someone who has committed a brutal act or someone who has deceived someone else. But what do those terms really mean? Here is a quick description of the major differences and similarities between a sociopath and a psychopath.

When it comes to Social Relationships, sociopaths often live at the fringes of society. They often tend to be extremely disorganized and are unable to maintain normal relationships with family, friends or co-workers. Unlike sociopaths, psychopaths can be almost obsessively organized and are normal in their social relationships. They can be very caring towards their parents. A psychopath would likely live an outwardly normal life in a regular neighborhood and appear to blend in well with society.

As far as Employment is concerned, sociopaths find it hard to hold a steady job and house. Psychopaths often have very successful careers and they try and make others like and trust them. This is because they understand human emotions quite well but are unable to experience them. This allows them to be master manipulators of human emotions.

Both can be Violent but in very different ways. A sociopath's outbreaks of violence are erratic and unplanned. After an erratic act, sociopaths can be easily identified as they generally leave behind a large trail of clues. It takes psychopaths years to plan acts of violence and revenge and that is why it is very difficult to catch them. Their each step is carefully planned so that their crime goes undetected.

There are some similarities between Psychopaths and Sociopaths. Sociopaths and psychopaths both face disorders that can be treated or alleviated if properly diagnosed. Treatment involves therapies and proper medication.

The symptoms in both cases begin to establish and surface at approximately fifteen years of age. The initial symptom can be excessive cruelty to animals followed by lack of conscience, remorse or guilt for hurtful actions to others at a later stage. There may be an intellectual understanding of appropriate social behavior but no emotional response to the actions of others. Psychopaths may also face an inability to form genuine relationships, and may show inappropriate or out of proportion reaction to perceived negligence.

Pierluigi Mancini, Ph.D., is the CEO of CETPA, Inc. Georgia’s only Latino Behavioral Health agency to earn a license in Georgia and to be nationally accredited by CARF for integrated outpatient behavioral health services in English and in Spanish. 6020 Dawson Blvd, Suite I, Norcross, GA 30093 * 770-662-0249 * www.cetpa.org