Delving into the murky waters of Psychopaths and Sociopaths
For those working in the mental health field… and others interested in this fascinating area of psychology.
Do you know the difference between a Psychopath and a Sociopath?
One of the most common misconceptions, even in the mental health field, is that they are one and the same…with essentially the same diagnosis.
Unless you are specialised in researching or working in this area, it can be a murky place to delve into. While both share some distinctly similar features, the behavioural patterns and lifestyle choices are often separate and strikingly different.
So what is the difference?? Well, the first clue is in the name of each:
sociopath and psychopath.
A sense of entitlement and criminal behaviour
Assessment of risk offending behaviour - Part 1
A very common theme that arises whenever I speak of crime and the factors that might influence criminal behaviour, is
a ‘sense of entitlement’.
There seems to be a commonly held belief that much crime these days results from the presence of a:
‘you owe me’ attitude.
Which, many suggest, is frequently found in our younger generation.
So, is a sense of entitlement really a factor influencing criminal behaviour?
Before answering this question directly, it’s important to examine a few issues related to the prediction of crime...
In our long hot dry summers of Australia, we seem to be seeing an increasing number of destructive and terrifying bushfires, with many deliberately lit.
Recent research tells us that there has been an increase of nearly 40% in the number of bushfires in Australia, increasing from around 3200 in 2007 to nearly 5000 in 2013.
And it has been estimated that about 13% of these are deliberately set, with 37% more being ‘suspicious’, with costs to our economy of about $1.6 billion a year.
Psychologists now refer to deliberately lit fires as the act of Firesetting, which includes Pyromania and Arson. Pyromania is an impulse-control psychological disorder in which the individual gets intense pleasure or gratification from the fire. Arson is the criminal act of setting a fire usually for a specific purpose such as to obtain insurance money.
In a previous newsletter I talked about the ongoing confusion around the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath.
Often, even mental health professionals use these terms interchangeably – as though they are talking about the same thing. However, to add to the confusion, many people also believe that Psychopathy is the same thing as Antisocial Personality Disorder, one of the most common psychological issues found in the residents of our prisons!
So let’s have a look at Antisocial Personality Disorder or ASPD and how how we get to this point of confusion…after all, we as mental health professionals should be adequately trained to know our ‘paths’ when we encounter one.