Psychopathy, also known as sociopathy,* is a personality disorder afflicting approximately 1% of those in the United States (percentages vary slightly from one study to the next, and different rates of psychopathy have been recorded for various countries). Unlike psychotics, psychopaths don’t suffer from hallucinations or delusions and they understand the difference between right and wrong.
- What Is a Psychopath?
- What Causes Psychopathy?
- How to Protect Yourself from Psychopaths
- Media Glamorization of the Psychopath
- Psychopathy, Sociopathy, and Antisocial Personality Disorder: Quick Facts
- The Social Psychology of War and Genocide
- Animal Cruelty Linked to Violence Against People
For a full list of psychology articles, see the main Psychology page.
These articles are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended as psychiatric, medical, or diagnostic advice. While it’s tempting, I wouldn’t recommend diagnosing difficult people based on brief trait lists.
As with all personality afflictions, psychopathy is probably a continuum rather than a tidy “either-or” situation, so there will be many people who manifest some psychopathic traits or behaviours, particularly in response to certain stressors or due to substance abuse, who are not psychopathic.
- Without Conscience – Dr. Robert Hare’s website
- Reference List of Psychopathy Literature – Dr. Robert Hare
- “What Psychopath Means” – Scientific American online
- “The Origins of Violence – Is Psychopathy an Adaption?” by Ian Pitchford Ph.D. CBiol MIBiol
- The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD.
- “Why Altruisim Paid off for Our Ancestors” – Robert Fisher, NewScientist
- Kindness in a Cruel World: The Evolution of Altruism by Nigel Barber
- Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human by Matt Ridley
*Some experts assert that there is no meaningful difference between psychopaths and sociopaths as both manifest as the same constellation of personality traits and behaviours. Essentially, experts who prefer the term psychopath focus on the innate brain-based differences between psychopaths and non-psychopaths, whereas those who use the term sociopath are typically more interested in the effects of upbringing and social forces that may contribute to the disorder.