Psychopath, Sociopath, What Kinda Path Is He/She?

One thing for sure; they are a “path” you don’t want to take. 😉 (play on words, get it?)

Anyway, after that feeble attempt at humor I thought I would clear up the definition of narcissist, psychopath, sociopath and antisocial.

I will try to clear up the confusion in layman terms.

Depending on what article you read some people call these disordered individuals a narcissist, or psychopath, some swear they are sociopaths, so how do you know what your ex was? Here is a bit of history.

In the early 1800 doctors working with mental patients discovered there were people who had no moral compass, no guilt, outwardly they looked normal and acted normal except they were “morally insane”.

In the early 1900’s the term Psychopath was assigned to these people.

Then around the 1930’s they changed the term used to Sociopath to reflect the destruction they caused in society.

Since then some researchers started using Psychopath to describe the more dangerous genetically disordered patients and Sociopath to describe the patients thought to be products of their environment.

Both Sociopaths and Psychopaths were narcissistic but some studies claimed narcissists were not as dangerous and were not necessarily psychopaths, but all psychopaths were narcissistic.

Recently the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has come up with a new category that they named “Antisocial Personality Disorder” and the World Health Organization came up with a different heading and used “Dissocial Personality Disorder”  under which they have put all these disorders. 

I don’t know why they keep changing what they call it but they are all the same disorder. So depending what article you read, when it was written and what terms that person chose to use.

What we do know for certain is that whether you call them a Psychopath, a Sociopath, Narcissist or a Antisocial they are dangerous, they can not be cured and if you are involved with one, RUN! do not look back and do not have contact with them again. 

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19 thoughts on “Psychopath, Sociopath, What Kinda Path Is He/She?

  1. Tifa

    Thanks for bringing forth some clarity on this Carrie. I have certainly wondered what the differences were, if any. But yes, whatever terminology used, as you say, RUN if ever faced with such people.
    I’m still hoping something more legal could be done against those who abuse others in such a way. I can’t bring myself still to hate my N, and fine with that. But what I do hate is how they pick themselves up and carry on as normal. Fine, maybe a criminal conviction would mean nothing to them anyway, but still. The audacity to which they have to just dust themselves down and carry on like no bad shit ever permeated from their being on to another really gets me growling! I am still a broken mess, and yes suspect to be for some time. Not because I miss him.. I’ve lost who I once was and thought I could be.. for now at least. I have days when I’m fine then others when tears just run down my cheeks for no apparent reason. I don’t sleep, I don’t eat well some days.. Yet they get to carry on the same as before, probably forever. I don’t wish ill on people, but it is totally unjustified and cruel, that those who experience such devastating abuse, still have pieces to pick up afterwards, yet the “paths” go about their lives like some demon possessed Cheshire Cat; grinning both inside and out against another’s personal turmoil.
    While no cure for them, we each as survivors and/or those living with such abuse, deserve our “cure” .. To be respected for what we endured, in so much that no person should have to not only experience that but to have to also watch from where the dust has settled; trying to view life more clearly.
    I won’t be laying in the dust forever I know. I too shall brush myself down and lay it all to rest one day.
    Love and hugs from across the puddle. X x x x x X

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Tifa, I know it is hard to see them move on so easily but that is what makes them disordered. A normal person can’t move on that quickly. It is like the telltale sign of a relationship with one of them. You know how they always try to blame the ex?and they think by getting involved with someone right away and professing that they have found their true soul mate and they are changed people because of this new victim’s love they are proving it was the victim’s fault all along. But in honesty they are just proving they are a narcissist.
      Had I known James was dating someone when we met I never would have believed he could fall in love with me that fast. But I had no idea he was seeing someone, he told me he had been single like a year or more.
      It’s hard to trust someone loves you when they were just telling someone else they loved them yesterday. There is something wrong if a person can fall in love that easily time after time with no break between relationships.
      The very things that break our hearts are the things that prove they are disordered.
      and that in itself breaks our hearts. Anyway you look at it, someone is getting their heart broken and it ain’t the narcissist. Hugs back at ya across the puddle!

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  2. theabilitytolove

    Hi Carrie!

    Great to see you posting! I agree with the path part as an expression of humor in a very humorless situation!

    You’re very close to accurate in how the definitions came to be. Uh hem (i’ve studied this to the point of needing several “TUMS” to endure it, hehe).

    It was Phillipe Pinnel, the founding father of psychiatry who first described the traits of the psychopath. He described these patients as mania sans delire, meaning ‘insanity without delirium.
    But it was German psychiatrist, J.L.A. Koch, who first coined the term psychopastiche, or psychopath in 1888. In 1909, it was Birnbaum, who suggested that the term sociopath was more appropriate, as he didn’t believe the disorder arose from a character flaw, but was more or less through ‘nurture’ that one becomes disordered (I do not agree, but hey), so anyway, the ‘modern’ version of psychopath came to be through Hervey Cleckley and his brilliant work with the book the “Mask of Sanity”, outlining psychopaths through clinical work and case studies of the disordered he worked with in the community and in institutions. It is a work of brilliance and I love it and have read it many, many times. And of course, there is Dr. Robert Hare, extraordinaire! who invented the PCL-R list of psychopathic traits. His book, “Without Conscience” is another I’ve read over and over. And along with a colleague, Dr . Paul Babiak, they were both interviewed for a documentary called “FISHEAD”, about corporate psychopathy. This film is one that I own and it absolutely fabulous Producer Misha Votruba did a fantastic job and i wish it had a wider audience.

    Anyway, the new DSM-V has done away completely with 2 of the 4 Cluster B disorders: Histrionic and narcissistic. The following article from Psychology Today, helps explains the rest
    “I visited the APA’s website to try to understand their rationale for reformulating the personality disorders, but it was the usual mental masturbation that is meaningful only to their planning committees and unfathomable to most practitioners and non-clinical individuals and professions. Currently, the DSM-IV-R recognizes 10 personality disorders plus Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified:

    Paranoid Personality Disorder
    Schizoid Personality Disorder
    Schizotypal Personality Disorder
    Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
    Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
    Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)
    Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
    Avoidant Personality Disorder
    Dependent Personality Disorder
    Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

    They plan to collapse these 10 into the following 5 buckets:

    Antisocial/Psychopathic Type
    Avoidant Type
    Borderline Type
    Obsessive-Compulsive Type
    Schizotypal Type

    The APA seems to be folding NPD and HPD into the Antisocial/Psychopathic Type; while the Borderline Type shares 2 of the 3 traits I view as being the most sociopathic with the Antisocial/Psychopathic Type: Antagonism: Aggression and Antagonism: Hostility. Aggression is defined as “being mean, cruel, or cold-hearted; verbally, relationally, or physically abusive; humiliating and demeaning of others; willingly and willfully engaging in acts of violence against persons and objects; active and open belligerence or vengefulness; using dominance and intimidation to control others.”

    I was ecstatic to see that psychopathic is the term that is to be used right along with Antisocial and I believe this is appropriate, as psychopath has been a termed used for many years, and goes way back (as I’ve outlined), many years to earliest years of psychiatry. What I am very upset about it, is the NPD was completely removed. It is my opinion that ALL are psychopaths (those without empathy or conscience), and ALL sit on the narcissism spectrum. For example, those higher in narcissistic traits, are those who are successful psychopaths, those on the lower end, are the violent psychopaths, they are unconcerned with image or success. While all psychopaths are parasitic, those on the lower end of narcissism tend to be more obvious in psychopathic traits, then those that are higher, concerned more with image but also have a higher level of intelligence which allows them to move within our communities, government and other entities undetected for a very long time.

    I’m very upset to see borderline still exists and would prefer that had been dropped, while narcissism remained. There are simply too many borderline personalities that exhibit empathy and the ability to heal, then those that are not. They are either predominantly empathic and therefore self destructive, or predominanlty narcissistic and OTHER destructive, which, in my opinion, moves them to the psychopath category and not borderline.

    Anyway, so glad you posted this, Very interesting stuff that will be debated for a long time to come!

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    1. safirefalcon

      Kelli- Where do you think the BPDs with empathy fit? I have a personal interest since I was dx’d recently with BPD and wonder, with so much reading on the subject, if BPDs who have empathy aren’t really simply people with Complex PTSD.

      I am questioning the issue that maybe many of us dx’d with BPD are just dealing with trauma, even though the reactions to triggers is intense. But then sometimes, it’s so much easier to numb emotions to escape the intensity. I do it more now than ever and most of the time it is completely involuntary. But although I’m feeling numb I still feel a certain amount of empathy. Like I don’t wish harm on others, nor do I have an interest in using people, manipulating them to get what I think I want.

      I also notice that the denial was strong as well as the unawareness when I was younger. But the denial in some aspects continues especially when I read the experiences of others. Or there’s this sort of realization of a history of denial.

      I know I lived with emotional abuse so maybe that’s part of the problem. Since it was emotional, that means for the most part I was not physically touched, although that happened early on. But the verbal stuff definitely effected me so deeply. I remember as a kid I’d cry at the drop of a hat. The kids in Kindergarten called me cry baby.

      But now at almost 50 I’m finding that crying is next to impossible.

      It’s confusing now more than ever because the numbing is becoming more and more prominent.

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      1. Carrie Reimer Post author

        Safirefalcon, I know you asked Kelli but you got me thinking. I have only ever known one diagnosed BPD person and she was a very empathetic person, very caring and not manipulative at all, not with her friends anyway. She was always very helpful and didn’t take advantage of people. She was into self harm more than hurting anyone else. Of course when she self harmed it hurt those who love her.
        Unfortunately she tried suicide many times and she lost many family and friends because they just could not take it any more. She also has addiction issues that she has battled for years, getting clean for long periods of time and then binging. She has been in one abusive relationship after another and when the fighting is going on she will get as violent as the guy. She was told by her therapist that she has an unhealthy lack of fear and very poor impulse control. She’s terrible with money.
        But she does not act at all like a narcissist, she is the opposite as far as I can tell. She told me that she self harms because she will be hurting so badly inside and no one can see it and she can’t release it so when she self harms it is a release and it brings the pain out where its visible.
        She said she can be dressed up and thinking she doesn’t look too bad and all it takes is for a pretty woman to walk past and she feels ugly and is miserable, Her partner doesn’t even have to look at the other woman, she just does it to herself.
        Her self esteem is horribly low.
        I know the final year with James I didn’t cry or get angry hardly at all, I had shut down completely. He wouldn’t come home all night and I could go to bed and sleep and act like nothing was wrong the next day. I think out of self preservation I just shut down.
        When I was a kid my dad didn’t allow any emotions that he didn’t approve of. I was an emotional child, very sensitive but was not allowed to cry so I shut down my feelings. I wouldn’t show any emotions. It used to piss my parents off to no end because I didn’t get excited about birthdays, Christmas nothing. I withdrew into my shell and listened to music and wrote a lot in my bedroom. I spent many years being very controlled of my emotions. Then I went for counseling and omg all of a sudden I was feeling everything so intensely!! It took me quite a few years before I leveled out.
        I definitely feel people can shut their feelings off but they can get them back again also. It is a coping mechanism but at some point those emotions have to come out.
        Have you discussed it with a therapist? Did you get medication. The friend i know who has BPD got meds and was a lot better.

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    2. Carrie Reimer Post author

      kelli, nice to see you! thanks for dropping by and giving your input. It seems everyone has their own definition of these soul suckers and you helped clarify the issue. like they say, rose by any other name is still a rose and the same holds true for a bottom feeding soul sucker, it doesn’t matter what you call them they are still toxic and really bad for a person’s health.
      What have you been up to?

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      1. theabilitytolove

        Absolute truth. They ALL do the same thing.

        Ugh. You’d have to read my blog LOL…I’ve been writing up a storm lately, trying to catch up. What about you? Were you able to secure a computer? It’s been such a long time, Carrie. Here’s hoping things are FABULOUS for you

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        1. Carrie Reimer Post author

          abilitytolove, I will have to stop by, last I heard you had shut it down I thought? Yes I did solve my computer problem, Paula sent me a nice little laptop of her son’s that he wasn’t using, what a sweetheart that lady is!! and then a few months ago I was able to buy a used one cheap that had more memory and has Word etc on it. After my 2nd heart attack I was unable to work and not able to keep up with my mortgage payments on my little cabin and thought I might have to move because the owners (who were carrying the mortgage) put it on the market but it didn’t sell and summer is over so it is unlikely to sell in winter seeing as it is in a summer resort area and they don’t want to bottom dollar it. So I am here for another year hopefully and they have been kind enough to reduce my monthly payments to $500 a month. I only get $600 a month on welfare per month but somehow I always get by, I have a neighbor that brings me fruits and veg every week, more than I can possibly eat myself so I give some away to another friend. My son has moved closer so that is great!! I have my new puppy after having to put my dogs down last year and she is such a sweet sweet loving friendly BIG dog with a heart to match. I love her to death and the neighbors all love her so that is so nice for a change to not have a vicious dog. She is part Lab, Mastiff and 1/2 pitbull but her personality is all Lab and she loves the lake and swimming. My son sent her to me for Xmas and his dog is her momma.
          I have been working on a package to apply for funding from the government to go back to school to train to be a Life Skills Coach so hopefully I will get that. They pay for your education and living expenses while you are in school, a lot more money than I get now and I would love to go back to school. Health has been good, life just keeps getting better and better. I just have to be patient and know that life will unfold as it should when it should. I will pop by and see what you have been up to.
          So good to see you are back!!
          xxxoo Carrie

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          1. theabilitytolove

            Carrie,

            This is beautiful….absolutely beautiful…I’m so happy for you and most especially that you are feeling well…the new dog is great too. Aren’t they fabulous?

            I have a question and I hope it’s not too personal..how is it that you’re able to get welfare if you don’t have a child at home? Are you filing for disability or did you get disability?

            I’m still waiting for a hearing and it’s been two and a half years. My blog goes into that hell, but anyway, just curious…

            I don’t want to assume for you, but if school is what you want to do, you’ll have a BLAST!

            I miss school the most. I was in for a bachelor’s/Master’s in psychology when I got sick. I have a one semester left for my bachelor’s and then wanted to apply to the MS program here at one of the Universities. I can’t say the dream is totally gone, but it’s unlikely that I will be able to get into or finish my master’s but would even love to have my bachelor’s.

            I wish you TONS of blessings and good luck on your journey, Carrie. It’s much deserved. 🙂

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            1. Carrie Reimer Post author

              Abilitytolove, I love school!!I went back for a year of full time study in 2003 and didn’t want it to end! and that was business management, not my first pick. THIS was my first pick and the government wouldn’t fund me for anything but where my experience had been so if I get the funding now I will be thrilled. It will open a bunch of new doors for me work wise plus help me here and it is a starting point and I can keep expanding on it with more education down the road.
              In Canada almost everyone can get welfare, $610 a month is you are single and a lot more if you have children. If you are young and able bodied I am not sure how long you are allowed to collect it, a couple of years I think and once the children are in school you have to be looking for work. everyone is expected to be looking for work. UNLESS you are a drug addict. This is the part that really pisses me off. Not that I judge anyone with addictions because I have had them myself and members of my family but in Canada if you are a drug addict you are not expected to be looking for work and you automatically get disability. There isn’t as long a waiting period, you get significantly more money and if you do make money you can make up to $800 before they deduct any money off your monthly allotment, whereas I am only allowed to make $200 a month, after that they deduct dollar for dollar. Which I think is totally unfair. I applied for disability in May, handed in all the doctors reports etc and not heard a word since. I have had two mini strokes since and handed that info into them and still was told I probably won’t get it.
              BUT if I was a heroin addict or a drunk who can’t work I would have gotten it long ago. If I was a criminal I would get free training for a job and a support network to help me re-enter society but if you are a victim of domestic abuse you are on your own unless you go to a shelter and then it is not the government helping you it is the organization.
              I never mind answering questions 🙂 I am pretty well an open book on here. LOL
              Someone was warning me that a person here in the park where I live is a gossip and to watch what I tell her. I thought, there’s nothing I don’t plaster all over the internet, what could she possibly say that I haven’t already said to thousands of people?

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              1. theabilitytolove

                LOLOLOL TRUE DAT! Me too!

                Anyway, interesting! In the US, it’s purdy twisted, but here drug addicts and alcoholics CANT get it if they’re active in their addiction at all! We have ‘rules’ that change as you get older, called ‘grid’ rules’ I just hit the first one at 50.

                Welfare? Hahahahaha. NOPE, only if you have a kid here. I lost mine when my son turned 18. Then I was in free fall. Here, unless you are ‘legally’ disabled you are limited on services. Social services especially. If I had welfare until my SS kickedin, I wouldn’t be in this place right now. But we have some psychopathic deprivation gong on here in our government too. I called to see when my case my be heard after my attorney told me mid october for a hearing. NOPE, Not even CLOSE…so, that’s it for me. I can’t pay my bills, can’t keep this up, so its homelessness for me now.

                I have til the end of the month, and during that time, I have to find a place to put my things and rehome my pets.

                IN that way, up there, you’re really lucky carrie. I wouldn’t wish this living hell here on anyway…wishing you MUCH peace and that you get it.

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                1. Carrie Reimer Post author

                  I am sorry you are facing homelessness again. It is so stressful to always be hanging on by your finger nails. I am very lucky! but mostly because I have such a sweet heart for a landlord. Up here you don’t get a one bedroom for less than $700 a month and then you have to pay hydro etc. But my landlady went back east for the summer and had my mow her lawn at her house and deducted $100 a month off my rent and let me do my laundry there and when I couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments she reduced the rent to $500 so all summer I have only had to pay $400/month. If she was not such a caring person I would have been out of here 6 months ago. I thought I was going to be homeless again myself but it seems something always comes through at the last minute. I live out where there aren’t any buses so I need my car and have to pay $100 a month to insure it but out here I would be lost without it. People in Vancouver have a lot more resources, they can get a hot meal for free every day, people hand out chocolate bars, toiletries, clothes etc all the time, there are tons of food banks, they get bus passes, free haircuts and free dentists, lots of charities working to help the homeless etc. Out here there is nothing but I don’t want to live in Vancouver, because if you aren’t on drugs you don’t get the cheap housing and if you do the drug addicts and prostitutes keep you awake all night. I am too old and too chicken to live down there unless I have a job. But I am blessed because I am right on the water and a bird sanctuary, it is so peaceful and beautiful; it has been my saving grace to be able to heal here.
                  How can you afford a lawyer? that is ridiculous you have to get a lawyer when you obviously have major health issues. There is no middle class any more, people are either rich or dirt poor, things sure have changed in the last 20 years. In 1996 I was making $16.50/hr, with $.75 an hour going into a retirement fund, full dental and medical, company shares, and 4 weeks holidays a year and I only had my grade 12. Now I have upgraded all my office admin skills etc and wouldn’t find a job where I would get benefits and everything.
                  I just pray I get my education and my health holds. I can sure empathize with your position, its very hard to stay positive. I will keep positive thoughts going your way. Something has to break for you soon or later!

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            2. Carrie Reimer Post author

              Abilitytolove, I forgot to say, thank you so much for the well wishes, it means a lot to me. Don’t ever give up on your dreams, you never know what is around the corner. Have you thought of trying Kickstarter? I am going to give it a try if my funding doesn’t come through. You are so close, it would be a shame to not at least get your bachelor’s. I believe you will and will send positive thoughts your way.
              and yes, dogs are fabulous!! Since losing kato and Laila last year I cherish Stella even more. No matter how busy I get I take time to go for a walk and throw a ball. Being part Lab she will NOT stay out of the lake, I was throwing her ball tonight, actually I was throwing 2 balls, as soon as she brought one back I threw the other one so she was kept really busy. All of a sudden she stuck her ball in a bush and ran off. I ran after her (dogs are supposed to be on a leash) and found her just in time to see her coming out of the lake. She had just stopped for a quick dip in the lake and was ready to play fetch again.
              Have you thought about getting another dog? I didn’t think I could love another dog like I loved Kato, I still cry over him and Laila but Stella is so different than either of them and she just gives so much love.

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  3. Army of Angels

    I often wondered about that. I saw signs from psychopath, sociopath, and narcissist. …didn’t these people get placed in psych hospitals in the past, so they couldn’t do the damage in society? Now they wander free among us…devouring all that they can.

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  4. anon

    OMG, yes! Why aren’t they locked up??? I just now got off the phone with my 16-year-old step-daughter (still call her that). She has seen that her father is evil and has stopped seeing him on ‘his’ weekends and she says she feels so much better now that he is out of her life. She worries for my 2-year-old daughter. I told her that I do, too, and that sadly the law allows my ex to see her and I can’t stop that. I can only be the strong, reliable, consistent one in my daughter’s life and show her what real love is until she sees the truth for herself when she, too, becomes a teen — or maybe before that. But, how I wish I did NOT have to allow him the visitations… that the courts would acknowledge these PDs are destructive to the children and therefore would prohibit these people from any “rights” to seeing these kids. (BTW, one of the Narc/Soc’s favorite rants is to go on and on about his “rights!” yet God forbid he want any real “responsibility”.) This is a man who has said many times, “I want to be a priority in my daughter’s life.” Anyone notice how sick that is but how telling? Who says that sort of thing other than a narc. Every sane and healthy parent I know says that their KIDS are the priority in THEIR LIFE. Big difference but a Narc/Soc can’t see it or understand it.
    The saving grace in all of this is that I have become friends with my step-daughter’s Mom and we make sure that our kids get together regularly. They, like us, have been victims to his sickness and him breaking up families and moving on to the next victim…which he is on vacation with with my daughter as I type this…playing family guy and leaving out his other kids. Round and round they go, caring nothing about those whose lives they destroy. I pray that at least by us keeping our kids in contact we can repair a tiny bit of the damage he has caused. Let’s all hope and pray the courts will finally recognize this sickness for the evil it is and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I’ll be looking for that post, Carrie!

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