What Is Sociopathy?
Sociopathy is an informal term that refers to a pattern of antisocial behavior and attitudes. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), sociopathy is most closely represented by Antisocial Personality Disorder. Outwardly, those described as sociopaths may appear disturbed but can also show signs of caring, sincerity, and trustworthiness. In fact, they are manipulative, often lie, lack empathy, and have a weak conscience that allows them to act recklessly or aggressively, even when they know their behavior is wrong.
Although often used interchangeably, the terms “sociopath” and “psychopath” have somewhat different meanings. Though both describe someone who lacks a moral compass, a psychopath has no sense of right and wrong and is generally bolder, more manipulative and more self-centered than a sociopath. Research indicates that while sociopathy and psychopathy share common traits, the cause of psychopathy is more likely to be innate or genetic, and physiological in nature, while sociopathy is more likely the result of an environmental influence, such as childhood trauma or abuse.