Can a Person be Both a Psychopath and a Sociopath? (A complete guide)

In this brief guide, we will try to answer the question “Can a person be both a psychopath and a sociopath?”, and look at some other concepts related to psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder.

Can a Person be Both a Psychopath and a Sociopath?

Yes a person can be both a psychopath and a sociopath but, it is important to know the definition of both, and also clarify that psychopath and sociopath are not exactly clinical definitions of a personality type or any sort of antisocial personality disorder, but actually, concepts that have been popularized in pop psychology.

Sociopathy is what is generally the common name for Antisocial personality disorder, which is discussed below, and it is characterized by the inability of a person to keep in line with social norms and convention and an utter and complete disregard for interpersonal relationships or the people around them.

Psychopathy on the other hand may be considered a more criminal and dangerous version of sociopathy, which means that these individuals may display sadistic tendencies and acting out against society for pleasure.

It is a common but mistaken belief that a person can be both a psychopath and a sociopath, and these terms are therefore often used interchangeably, however, this is not the case, and while sociopaths, or people with an antisocial personality disorder, are just individuals who have no regard for norms or rules and do what helps them, while psychopaths are intentionally sadistic.

Furthermore, Psychopaths are seen more in fiction, and in reality, people who do sadistic things, like criminals, are a much, much smaller part of the population, and even among those individuals, there is usually motive or some other underlying psychological pathology, while sociopathy may be found more commonly, but even that tends to be a small part of the population.

Lastly, someone may think that they or someone else are both a psychopath and a sociopath, but for one thing, it is not possible for a person with an antisocial personality of any kind to realize that they have an issue which is pathological in some way because by definition these people will lack insight.

The other thing is that a sociopath may show tendencies of sadism or criminal behavior like a psychopath theoretically should, but chances are they will do it if it helps them in some way and not because they are deriving pleasure from it, which should be present from someone to be considered a psychopath.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

According to MayoClinic, the definition of Antisocial Personality disorder goes something like this:

“Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a mental disorder in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate, or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.”

This makes a clear distinction that these individuals violate the law or engage in otherwise antisocial activities because they have no regard for it, and not because they want to gain pleasure from it the way a Psychopath might want to.

Additionally, the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder according to the same website are as follows:

  • “Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical, and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority, and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression, or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations”

In addition to these symptoms, it is an almost certain thing that someone with antisocial personality disorder in their adulthood will have had symptoms of conduct disorder in their childhood, and conversely, a child with conduct disorder is far more likely to sho sociopathic traits than any other child.

These three traits during childhood or adolescence indicate the possibility of developing an antisocial personality in adulthood:

  • Pyromania or tendency of firesetting
  • Hurting animals or younger individuals
  • Destructiveness of property or lack of rule-following

Now that we know exactly what symptoms constitute sociopathy, we can make more accurate judgments about sociopathy vs psychopathy, and according to Britannica, these are some similarities between psychopathy and sociopathy:

an abiding pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, as manifested through three or more of the following habitual or continual behaviors: 

  • serious violations of criminal laws; 
  • deceitfulness for personal gain or pleasure, including lying, swindling, or trickery; 
  • irritability and aggressiveness often resulting in physical assaults; 
  • reckless disregard for the safety of oneself or others; 
  • failure to meet important adult responsibilities, including job- and family-related duties and financial obligations; 
  • lack of meaningful remorse or guilt—to the point of complete indifference—regarding the serious harm or distress one’s actions cause other people.”

Psychopathy Test

There are measures that may be used clinically as psychopathy tests, and they may help in determining if someone has traits of antisocial personality disorder.

One of these may be found online, here, and it is known as the Levenson Self-report Psychopathy rating scale, but as the name suggests, it needs to be taken by the person who is supposed to have psychopathy, and they will never be honest on such a test because they are open to lying as much as needed to get what they want, and self-report measures don’t work in individuals like that.

The commonly used rating scale which is filled out by a clinician with the help of a diagnostic interview or talking to people who know the suspected psychopath, is called the Psychopathy Checklist, by the psychologist Hare, and it is considered to be a very reliable measure of psychopathy and therefore makes for a good psychopathy test.

Additionally, MCMI, or Million’s Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, has also been proven to be a good measure of antisocial personality traits or psychopathy traits, and the results of these studies have been checked against the psychopathy checklist mentioned above.

Definition of a Narcissistic Sociopath

The definition of a narcissistic sociopath, as seen on the VeryWellMind site, is as follows:

“While there is no official diagnosis of “narcissistic sociopath,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes two disorders that may be present to form this constellation of traits: narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and antisocial personality disorder (APD). People who have aspects of both of these personality disorders could be considered narcissistic sociopaths.”

This would suggest about the same thing as the distinction between sociopathy and psychopathy, pop psychology and internet psychology has given rise to a number of confusing terms that tend to confuse disorders that are defined differently in classification systems lie ICD and DSM.

In the case of the narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder, there may be the presence of both, and there is in fact something known as the Dark Triad of Personality, which consists of Narcissism, Psychopathy/Sociopathy, and Machiavellianism, and this concept is still being researched extensively, but it has been seen that these traits may be found fairly often in people of high echelons and politicians.

Types of Psychopaths

According to Professor Renata Schoeman, who is a psychiatrist and associate professor in leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), the 5 types of psychopaths are as follows:

Primary Psychopath

Primary psychopaths may be characterized as unemotional, callous, manipulative, and they may not be inclined to taking risks.

This type may also not have much use for feelings like fear and anxiety, and they never feel guilt or remorse.

Secondary Psychopath

This type of psychopath is considered to be emotionally unstable, and their traits may be more in the criminal behavior category than normal, and they tend to be rash, impulsive, emotional, anxious, hostile, aggressive, and self-destructive.

This type of psychopath may also engage in a lot of risky behavior.

Distempered Psychopath

This type of psychopath may be characterized by their craving for excitement and a relatively low tolerance for boredom, which is why they may like to engage in dangerous sports and activities.

This type of psychopath may also be considered “hotheads” and their rage is likely to be very dangerous to those around.

Charismatic Psychopath

This type of psychopath is likely to get their work done through aggressive lying and making themselves look good, and they are very likely to have highly narcissitic traits as well.

They may be charming and irresistible pathological liars, and they can be very manipulative as well.

Egocentrically-Impulsive Psychopath

This type of psychopath may often break and bend the rules thee may be manipulative and the may also show Machiavellian egocentricity.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we tried to answer the question “Can a person be both a psychopath and a sociopath?”, and looked at some other concepts related to psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can a Person be Both a Psychopath and a Sociopath?

Can someone be a narcissist and a psychopath?

Yes, someone can be a narcissist and a psychopath, in fact, there is a term to describe this sort of individual, which is called a “malignant narcissist”.

Usually, there is little difference between a true and complete narcissist and a psychopath, and they are both completely and only concerned with themselves and no one else, and if Machiavellianism is added to the mix it also makes up a concept of personality traits known as the Dark Triad.

Can you be a psychopath with feelings?

Psychopaths can have some capacity for feelings, and they may feel certain feelings but they are more likely to be positive feelings like happiness, satisfaction, or contentment, all of which is usually related to their plans coming to life, and other things that are related to them and are good for them.

A psychopath will likely never have feelings of empathy or sadness, and they might sometimes have feelings of anxiety or fear but that is also rare.

Is Villanelle a sociopath or psychopath?

Villanelle may sometimes be described as a sociopath due to what she dies, and sometimes she may display traits that may make her a psychopath, but these quotes of hers show that she is not a sociopath or a psychopath because she reports to feeling things, some of which are interpersonal in nature, and that is not something that may often be seen in sociopaths or psychopaths.

Villanelle has been seen to say that, “I feel things when I’m with you.” Villanelle has also been described as “a manic pixie dream assassin who’s as charming as she is psychopathic”, and a  “chillingly relatable monster” who takes “fulsome pleasure in a murder well performed”.

Citations

https://www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-a-psychopath-and-a-sociopath-and-how-do-both-differ-from-narcissists#:~:text=To%20put%20the%20matter%20simplistically,by%20persons%20commonly%20called%20narcissists.

https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-the-narcissistic-sociopath-4587611

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662#:~:text=Narcissistic%20personality%20disorder%20%E2%80%94%20one%20of,lack%20of%20empathy%20for%20others.

https://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Healthy-workplace/Employee-wellbeing/5-common-types-of-psychopaths-you-might-find-in-the-workplace-and-how-you-can-avoid-becoming-a-victim-of-their-mind-games-20190708

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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