Hey! I have Antisocial Personality disorder. So am I a sociopath or a psychopath? Both?
How can a statement like this be true when these types of people differ from each other so greatly?
Psychologists test for this kind of disorder through an evaluation of their psyche often involving a discussion on thoughts, feelings, family, relationships, harmful behavior, when the behaviors started and how they have affected the individual. Prior to the discussion they also do several physical and health examinations to rule out any other underlying causes of the behavior. The final diagnostic will then come from the guidelines of the DSM-5.
The DSM-5 has recently stated that sociopathy and psychopathy are to be placed under the same disorder: Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). The only tests possible to take to determine this disorder are Likert tests, or tests involving discussions with the psychologists as stated above. These two personality disorders often get mixed up due to the fact they share many common behavioral traits such as: neglecting to abide to laws and social morals, neglecting to respect the rights of others, a failure to feel sorrow or guilt and often are likely to exhibit violent behavior. However, these two disorders also have key differences that distinguish them from the same category.
Sociopaths are often linked to people who are overly emotional to the point where they can’t control themselves. They are more likely to show outbursts of violence and rage, and are often extremely nervous and prone to breakdowns. Sociopaths have the hardest time connecting with people, having a lack of a social group due to not abiding to societal norms. They also are extremely disorganized and spontaneous in their actions. Psychopaths, in contrast, have a lack of emotions and often cannot feel any empathy towards others. They have the power to mimic other people’s emotions and can often blend into society through their manipulation and mimicry. They are also extremely organized, charismatic and calm.
So how can two groups of people who share the same disdain for societal rules but differ completely in their personality types be placed into one single disorder? According to psychologists it’s mainly due to the fact that they share another common behavior: the lack of a conscious. The only difference between the two being that, psychopaths have no conscious while sociopaths have one but it is very weak and very incorrect in its judgements. This is often found out through Likert tests that have to do with situations and how the subject would act in those situations. These tests, however, don’t distinguish between the two disorders. They will only tell you whether you have ASDP.
The main reason psychologists put these two disorders together is because there is very little research into the two disorders. After all finding subjects with the disorder, ranging from minor to severe, is a very hard task as it can put not only the examiner but also the subject at risk. Even if subjects are found with the disorder they often refuse to believe they are abnormal as they lack the means to distinguish wrong from right. Even testing for the disorder is complicated because the tests often involve thoughts and feelings, of which the subject can easily lie and manipulate the information being said to avoid being seen as abnormal. The only real way to even diagnose someone with the disorder is by following the guidelines of the DSM-5 which only gives a very broad and general view of the disorder; never any specifics.
In conclusion, there are no real tests to determine whether you are a psychopath or a sociopath. Often the tests are just self-evaluation Likert tests that have you tell the doctor about how you feel or act on a daily basis. The only diagnosis you will ever get out of these tests is whether you have antisocial personality disorder, not whether you are a sociopath or a psychopath. Currently in research it is too hard to distinguish between the two as they both have a lot of common behaviors. Most of which, lead to the same outcomes. So for now, you can never truly know whether you’re a psychopath or a sociopath. And even if you could know whether you were one of the two, would you really accept it?