Sociopathy is a colloquial term that refers to behaviors associated with antisocial personality disorder. Sociopathy best resembles Antisocial Personality Disorder in the DSM-V. The term Sociopath is often used in place of psychopath, but they are actually two different things. A sociopath is someone who is antisocial in nature and has tremendous difficulty relating to other human beings. They don’t understand emotions and can often have narcissistic traits. Sociopaths have behaviors that have been influenced by their environments. Sociopaths are often influenced by a traumatic violent childhood. Psychopaths, on the other hand, have behaviors that are determined by their brain function and their disorder can be traced to genetics. The articles here will examine how to know if you’ve interacted with a sociopath and what to do if that happens. Sociopathy is complex in nature and often misunderstood. These articles are designed to give you insight into the mind of this fascinating but disturbed personality type.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Sociopathy is an informal term for Antisocial Personality Disorder or ASPD. People with this diagnosis are sometimes called “sociopaths.” Sociopaths lack empathy and often have trouble caring for others. They have little regard for right or wrong, and some are highly manipulative individuals. They can be harsh when antagonizing other individuals and may use other people to get what they want. However, sociopathy is a spectrum. Not everyone with ASPD is violent, and in fact, most are not. On the other side of the spectrum however, people with ASPD can be abusive and relentless.
Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Adults with Antisocial Personality Disorder typically show signs of conduct disorder as teenagers, which are:
People with Antisocial Personality Disorder often have trouble maintaining relationships, and many abuse drugs and alcohol.
It’s imperative to seek treatment if you believe that you may have Antisocial Personality Disorder to address your symptoms. You want to prevent yourself from getting in trouble or destroying relationships. You want to be able to live with a high quality of life. If you don’t know that you're hurting other people, you may make choices that alienate you from the people you care about. If you have ASPD, you may not even realize that you’re hurting others. You may be engaging in behaviors due to ASPD that could be impacting others unintentionally, so seeking help is crucial. People that have Antisocial Personality Disorder tend to be depressed and isolate themselves. They may feel that they don’t need to be around other people.
Loneliness and Antisocial Personality Disorder
Individuals who have Antisocial Personality Disorder tend to self-isolate, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t lonely sometimes. They don’t understand the feelings of others, and this can make them feel like outcasts from society. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder do notice the absence of other human beings. They might move toward a criminal lifestyle to get away from those lonely feelings, so they’re connecting with society in some way.
Getting the Right Diagnosis
To get diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, a person needs to have a psychosocial evaluation. Both a psychological and a social history will be considered during that evaluation. The professional diagnosing that individual will examine criteria from the DSM 5. Typically Antisocial Personality Disorder isn’t diagnosed before the age of 18.
What Causes Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Unlike psychopathy, Antisocial Personality Disorder is often caused by childhood neglect or abuse. The person develops this condition because they weren't shown how to interact with others, but it doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Treatment is available, and you can get help. If you’ve been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder, your life isn’t over. You can get help, and find out how to cope with your mental illness. When you find a mental health provider who understands your diagnosis, they can guide you through ways to cope. There are so many misconceptions about people with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Yes, they can be manipulative, but it’s not always intentional. Working with a seasoned mental health provider will help you understand your illness, and judge yourself less.
Online therapy is an excellent place to find out whether or not you have Antisocial Personality Disorder. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is a sociopath, it’s important to get that help as well. Search the network of therapists at BetterHelp and find out what you need. You will find a provider who works for you and gives you the support you need. Living with Antisocial Personality Disorder isn’t easy, but knowing your diagnosis is better than living in the dark. Once you know what you’re dealing with, a mental health professional is there to guide you so you can live a healthy life.