What Are the Significant Differences Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?


Quick Answer

Sociopaths possess a conscience, albeit weak, and feel guilt after committing wrongdoings, whereas psychopaths lack a clear conscience, act without feeling regret and sometimes fake remorse, explains WebMD. Sociopaths are hotheaded and impulsive, while psychopaths are cold and calculating.

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Sociopaths usually show clear dislike of people, make excuses and blame others for their own wrongdoings, and act impulsively without considering the effects of their actions on others, states WebMD. In comparison, psychopaths are expert actors who control people and demonstrate intellectual and charismatic personas. While they may fake enthusiasm, psychopaths often do not care about others. They scheme devious tactics and act aggressively to obtain what they want.

Both sociopaths and psychopaths cannot empathize or understand the emotions of others, but psychopaths are more detached, as they view people as objects they can use to achieve their goals, notes WebMD. Sociopaths and psychopaths are mostly not violent. They manipulate others for their own desires. For example, they aim for higher positions in the corporate world at the cost of jobs or reputation of colleagues.

Research reveals that the brain of a psychopath has physical differences affecting his response to other people's suffering, reports WebMD. While normal people experience faster heartbeats, sweaty palms and faster breathing when seeing blood or violence in movies, psychopaths feel calmer, a reaction that prompts them to become fearless and engage in risky actions.

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