Personal Health

Psychopath or sociopath: What’s the difference?

Sherlock Holmes is arrogant, rude, often cold-hearted, and, to put it mildly, awkward in dealing with others. To a psychopath makes him the but not, as the Detective in the popular BBC series several times annoyed clarifies: “I’m not a Psychopath. I’m a high-functioning sociopath!”

That hardly knows the difference, is no wonder: In everyday life and in the media, the two terms are often used interchangeably. And who is someone as a “psychopath” referred to, means the in of the rule not as a diagnosis, but as a dirty word because of the cold hearted, cruel, ruthless or otherwise antisocial behavior. It is by no means alone in this behavior, the psychopaths, as such characterized, but their essence. But one after the other:

What is a sociopath?

Sociopathy is another term for the so-called antisocial or anti-social personality disorder. The Affected

  • have a conspicuous lack of empathy (empathy),
  • disregard for social rules and obligations,
  • are not capable of long-term relationships and maintain
  • are irritable, easily upset and quickly become aggressive,
  • prone to violence,
  • debt have little awareness and learning, not punishment.

Usually this disorder shows itself in Childhood or early youth. Why and how exactly they developed, is not clear. Researchers suggest that different influences play a role, including hereditary predisposition, the education and dysfunction in specific areas of the brain.

How do you recognize a psychopath?

Psychopathy is a severe Form of anti-social personality disorder, which, according to the book “Dual row of psychiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy,” with substantial or complete Absence of empathy, social responsibility and orientation to social norms.

To psychopaths to recognize, is used by psychologists and psychiatrists, the so-called psychopathy check list, which the canadian forensic psychologist Robert D. Hare in the 1970s that has developed. According to this checklist (or, to be precise: according to an updated version of this check list) to be a Psychopath as follows:

  • He uses others and is calculating.
  • He is articulate and others can win through a superficial charm.
  • He has a greatly inflated sense of self-worth and a tendency for self-overestimation.
  • He lied, cheated and manipulated.
  • He is feeling cold, only to superficial feelings capable of and feels little or no empathy.
  • She lacks the bite of guilt or conscience.
  • He is not ready and able to take responsibility for his Actions.
  • He is impulsive and can’t control his behavior enough.
  • He is constantly bored and he has a permanent the need for exciting experiences.
  • He has no realistic, long-term life goals.
  • Its partnerships are of short duration and he has several partners at the same time.

Also, people without personality disorder may exhibit some of these properties. Of psychopathy experts to speak only when most of these characteristics are in a certain characteristic is present.

What is the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths is so?

According to the currently valid definitions of Sociopathy and psychopathy one might say that psychopaths are Hard-Core baby-socio. Certain symptoms of personality disorder are more pronounced in you. While sociopaths usually a certain degree of empathy to be observed is, to have a psychopath sometimes no empathy.

Also, the Austrian psychologist Werner Stangl differentiates psychopaths and sociopaths in the first place to feel on the basis of their ability and their relationship to others. Psychopaths were feeling cold, but charming and manipulative enough to have superficial relationships. You are, therefore, often well-integrated in society and success in the profession.

Sociopaths , by contrast, had feelings, but they were not able to control. Because of their impulsiveness and aggressiveness is not successful, you bonds to build or maintain. Sociopaths lived, therefore, often “on the fringes of society,” says Stangl.

By the way: What exactly is it a “highly functional sociopath” makes, explained Sherlock in the series. (Instead, he demands To be on, the time to investigate.) Why he can’t be a Psychopath, is clear: He is obviously to deep feelings and even capable of empathy. With “highly functional,” he says, perhaps, that his social skills enough to not be on the edge of society, as it according to Werner Stangl for sociopaths is typical.


Online information of the Pschyrembel: (retrieval date: 23.10.2019)

Online information from the Online dictionary of psychology and education of the psychologist Werner Stangl: (retrieval date: 23.10.2019)

Möller, H., et al.: Dual Series. Psychiatry, psychosomatics, and psychotherapy. Thieme, Stuttgart, 2015

*The contribution of “Psychopath or sociopath: What’s the difference?” is published by Onmeda. Contact with the executives here.