Antisocial Personality Disorder vs Psychopathy: What’s the Difference?


Antisocial personality disorder (APD) and psychopathy are conditions of the mind. Both of the diseases are “personality disorders.” Meaning they affect personality, mood, and relationships with others.

So you might be asking, what’s the difference?

While both are medical conditions, they differ in the way they present symptoms. While these differences may be slight, it is essential to know what they are.

Antisocial personality disorder vs. psychopathy is a classic comparison made by clinical psychologists because they are so similar—with a few definite differences.

In this article, let’s discuss the two. We can make some distinctions between antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy ourselves.

What Is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association defines an antisocial personality disorder as a mental health problem. In which a person has a long-term history of controlling others. This behavior includes abusing or violating the rights of others. Often, such conduct is criminal.

A person’s behavior is seen to be a problem when the safety of other people is put in jeopardy. This behavior can easily put the life of someone else into danger with no regrets or feelings of remorse. You can easily spot a person with APD because they feel no guilt but they do not have the intention of harming other people.

APD is oftentimes less violent than with other forms of severe mental illness. For example, someone with psychopathy may perform their actions with the desire to cause pain to others.

An adult diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder must have an earlier history. This patient will have had another diagnosis of a mental disease called a behavioral disorder. Behavioral disorder, only diagnosed in children, generally early on in childhood.

Behavioral disorder displays many of the same trademark symptoms as APD. But in a much more muted presentation with much less complexity.

People classified with antisocial personality disorder must show symptoms in their regular life. This mania or an extreme psychotic illness like schizophrenia, where thoughts or experiences seem out of touch with reality.

A person diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder is less of an extrovert. They will appear to be confident and charming. Those with APD manipulate other people but with a lot less intentional harm.

What Is Psychopathy?

Psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by problematic interpersonal relationships. The sufferer lacks empathy and lacks control over their behavior and mood, leading to recurrent antisocial episodes or even criminal behavior.

Psychopathy is for the most part not what we seen in movies or on television. Oftentimes, psychopaths carry out their actions with the desire of hurting others but they may not engage in such exaggerated behavior.

What makes their behavior so dangerous is that they are extroverted people but not necessarily obvious about it.  Someone with psychopathy could be preying on you without your knowledge.

Psychopathic behavior is the more severe of the two disorders. Its tendencies are more arrogant, less rooted in reality, and much more hyperactive. 

Psychopathic behavior in popular media depicts a very heightened state of the disease. Psychopathy was first an umbrella term first coined in the late 1800s. The name has now seen more completed classification with fitting descriptions as the condition can be much more complicated than first perceived.

Complicated versions of this disorder are particularly complicated if someone has other mental illnesses occurring at the same time. If someone is psychopathic and schizophrenic they can have problems differentiating reality. 

Psychotic schizophrenics have problems associating with other people because it can become difficult for them to distinguish what is “real” and what their sensory perceptions are telling them is happening.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Vs. Psychopathy 

The signs of psychopathy are present in people diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder. For example, symptoms usually show up as neglect for other people’s welfare. These individuals show superficial confidence in social settings.

They display a lack of remorse or shame. They violate the law and deceive others. 

The key to understanding the difference between the two is to understand the severity of each. Psychopathy can cause a much larger disruption in someone’s life. Psychopaths can cause people to become violent and have the desire to see other people suffer. 

Psychopathy is different than APD because of the intensity of the disease. Think of a psychotic episode as a voice that is much more difficult to appease. APD mostly presents itself as insecurity or an obsessive trait. Psychopathy is much more physical and much more interested in caring out dishonorable behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder and Psychopathy

Antisocial personality disorder vs. psychopathy can be hard diseases to separate in terms of differences.  If you suspect someone you love may be suffering from you will need help deciding what treatment options are best for your situation.

You will need a team of doctors and nurses who specialize in mental health. The world already feels upside down and maybe even more difficult if you need help with antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy.  

SoCal Sunrise MH is prepared to do everything in our power to give you the best opportunity for a healthy happier life. To learn how you can get help for you or your loved one, visit our website and contact us today.  

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