Differences In Psychopathy, Sociopathy, And Narcissistic Disorders

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This paper will be discussing two mental disorders that many people don’t know the difference between are feel are interchangeable among one another: Phycopaths and sociopaths. This will be my reaction to facts and different ideas of the two disorders. Multiple readings will be used to identify the differences as well as the similarities between them. Narcissism is also a disorder people often confuse with just being self-centered but its more than just that.


As many are aware a psychopathy and sociopathy are mental disorders that many serial killers and school shooters were diagnosed with. The two disorders have significant differences and shouldn’t be confused with one another. Sociopaths are often called psychopaths and vice versa. Psychopaths, for example, are far more likely to get in trouble with the law while sociopaths are much more likely to blend in with society. And while sociopaths and psychopaths do share some traits, sociopathy or ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) is generally considered less severe than psychopathy(Tracyn, 2015). The term “psychopath” was first applied to these people around 1900. The term was changed to “sociopath” in the 1930s to emphasize the destructive impact they have on society. Currently researchers have returned to using the term “psychopath” to refer to a more serious disorder, linked to genetic traits, which produces more dangerous individuals, while continuing to use “sociopath” to refer to less dangerous people who are seen more as products of their environment, including their upbringing (Hirstein,2013).

What is Psychopathy

Psychopathy is one of the most difficult disorders to spot since whoever has it often appears normal or even charming. Deep down they often lack empathy and they are often manipulative, violent and possibly a criminal. Psychopathic traits are more inborn, however a chaotic or violent childhood may tip the scales for those already susceptible to behave psychopathically. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to impersonate emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspicious people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.

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Examples of Psychopaths

Psychopaths commit some of the most extreme and inhuman crimes. Due to their lack of feeling emotions they are able to do it without hesitation or realizing the nature of what they are doing. The most known serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer had this disorder. Ted Bundy had a future in politics and was a pretty well respected man that nobody could have assumed could be a killer and same goes for Dahmer. This is what makes psychopaths so dangerous; you just never know who is one until they finally get caught. They often find it a game or amusing to commit crimes and be on the news or get their picture in the paper. The ones that do commit crimes do it for fun rather than rage or anger. This means they plan everything they do and often only get caught when something goes wrong.


As was stated earlier, sociopaths are common and suffer from an antisocial disorder. This disorder is usually a result of how they were raised or life experiences. Many people are sociopaths but they mean no harm to the people around them. They can be seen as just cold or dark people that don’t respond well with a lot of interaction which is the opposite to psychopaths which are often in need of attention and try to get it in and way possible. Some psychopaths are also sociopaths but not all sociopaths are psychopaths. Sociopaths often have a conscience and moral standards. They know right from wrong even if they choose to do the wrong thing. Sociopaths are usually nervous and easily disturbed. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts like rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the bounds of society, unable to keep a job or stay in one place for a long time. It is difficult for sociopaths to have emotional attachments with others. Many sociopaths are able to form an attachment to a particular individual or group, but they have no regard for society in general or its rules. In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned. (phycology today,n.d)


Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD is a disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance. This disorder is unique since many people may have it but just goes ignored or people assume its not a disorder and just their personality. Those who are psychopaths and those who are sociopaths can both be narcissist. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, whose self-importance soars to such heights that they are easily angered when they don't receive the attention and admiration that they consider their birthright. Many people are self-centered but narcissism takes that to a whole new level. It’s easy to put the “narcissist” label on someone who spends too much time talking about their career, achievements or just how they are better than others, but pathologically narcissistic personalities are pretty rare. It is estimated that only 1 percent of the population have this disorder. Narcissism is more complicated than it may seem. It’s different from a surplus of self-esteem. Its about a need for appreciation, a sense of specialness, and a lack of empathy, along with other attributes that can prove damaging in relationships. ('Narcissism | Psychology Today,' n.d.)

Personal Reaction

Psychopathy is the most dangerous of the since these people are more unstable and able to blend in easily. Due to them having no emotions or guilt, they can be sereal killers pretty easily and effortlessly for years and even decades before getting caught. This is also a result of them planning out everything they do meticulously. They are very intelligent and avoid making mistakes. With that being said it is rarer than just sociopathy so the average person probably won’t come in contact with them unless they are in a field that people with mental disorders are common like a hospital or as a phycologist. I feel like this mental disorder is hard to really understand since some people feel like you are born with it and others feel like everyone is born pure and then are molded into what they become.

This argument is often called nature vs nurtured. I side with nature because I feel that people can be born with these disorders and there is nothing anyone can do to change them. It is just part of who they are and who they were meant to be. However, a sociopath is common and they are generally less dangerous since they are just antisocial in most cases. They never really want to harm people but if the right event or person triggers them it’s a different story. For example, Ted Kazinski or the Unabomber was antisocial but when he was in college and was part of a class that was doing phycological tests on the students, he began changing into the person he would later become. As I was doing research on this topic, I found multiple sites say that they are the same which is why many people think they are the same. One site even said the two disorders are exactly the same and are interchangeable with one other which is very debatable. I feel they can be the same but many people are be individually diagnosed with either or. Narcissism is very detrimental to relationships, work life, as well as personal life. I don’t often hear a lot about the disorder other than people calling others who are self-centered a narcissist.

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