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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5313
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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What is the debate about a person having antisocial personality

Resolved Question:

What is the debate about a person having antisocial personality disorder and an individual being a sociopath? What is the difference or are they the same?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

On the surface your question is very easy. However, I want to make sure you are getting everything you need from my answer.

Are you really interested only in the technical definitions in terms of the Diagnostic Manual?

Or are you perhaps interested because there is a situation you are involved in? If so, would you like to describe that situation?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Let's go forward from the answers to these questions.

I'm going to be going into session with therapy clients soon, so if I can't answer before that, would later in the evening or tomorrow be okay for me to respond?

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What kind of research has been done on antisocial personality disorder and sociopath? Are these the same or are they different? What are the characterics?<br/>
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for the added information. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

First, let me say that Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) and sociopathy are the same thing. APD is the clinical term for being a sociopath. In regular society, saying someone is sociopathic is the same as saying that they have APD. So the terms can be used interchangeably.

The characteristics of APD are best described by giving you the diagnostic criteria for the disorder in the Diagnostical an Statistical Manual (DSM-IV).


A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

(1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
(2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
(3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
(4) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
(5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others
(6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
(7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

B. The individual is at least age 18 years.

C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15 years.

D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.


In regular society it is feature #7 together with #2 that are most identified with sociopathy and sociopaths. To give you a sense of what APD is like, let me share a conversation I once had with a prison psychologist to give you an idea of what it means to be a sociopath:

We got to what he does in the federal prison. He said he works with the hardest hard-core prisoners there are. I asked who those were. He said those are the prisoners who are sociopaths. I asked him if they were truly sociopath because that's not an easy diagnosis to get. He said that I'm right. That to get such a diagnosis and have it be accurate the person has to be truly someone who has no conscience. They will lie to you without an ounce of feeling about it. They will show an emotion but only if it gets them something they want. In the prison, he says, he cannot go into their cell alone. There always has to be at least one guard there because otherwise they might jump him when he turns his back.


Okay. I wish you the very best!

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