Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths

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Homepage: APD, Sociopath, or Psychopath?

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Currently these three disorders fall under the diagnosis of APD in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).  In the ICD-10, the diagnostic reference book developed by the World Health Organization, and accepted throughout Europe, these disorders fall under the diagnostic category of Dissocial PD.

The “psychopath” was the first disorder formally recognized by psychiatry.  In 1952 the word “psychopath” was officially replaced with “sociopath PD”, however, both words were often used interchangeably.  In 1968 “sociopath PD” was replaced with “personality disorder antisocial type”.  But the word “psychopath” is used extensively in the companion volume, Treatment Psychiatric Disorders, published in 1995 by the American Psychiatric Press.  The PCL-R (psychopathy checklist) is considered an integral part of forensic psychiatry. (Cook, 1997).

For researchers, due to the need for accuracy and precision, the terms “sociopath”, “psychopath”, and “APD” have different meanings.   Although most psychopaths meet the diagnostic criteria for APD, most people with APD do not meet the criteria for the psychopath.  APD is a condition commonly found in criminal populations.  The diagnosis is focused more on behavioral aspects, rather than personality traits.

On the surface, the sociopath may resemble the psychopath, but the sociopath can have a capacity to build relationships and to feel some degree of guilt or remorse over harming someone they care about.  They may feel loyalties to certain groups, such as gangs or the mafia, and will refrain from lying and exploiting within that group.  But they care nothing for social norms, have no loyalties to society at large, and will break the rules of society.  So, the sociopath will exhibit psychopathic type behavior in some contexts, but not in others.

The psychopath does not feel guilt or remorse, and must meet the criteria of the PCL-R psychopathy checklist.  Dr. Hare compared the “sociopath” and the “psychopath” as having a “cold” versus having “pneumonia”

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Written by victimsofpsychopaths

January 28, 2009 at 11:39 am