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Confusion about sociopaths, psychopaths and antisocials

The Lovefraud website and blog describe people who have no heart, no conscience and no remorse. This personality disorder is shrouded in confusion. What exactly are these people? And what do you call them?

Lovefraud calls them “sociopaths.”

However, the description Lovefraud uses of their traits and behaviors is based upon the work of Dr. Robert Hare, author of Without Conscience. He calls them “psychopaths,” and has requested that the term be used in reference to his work.

The confusion about the terms—another is antisocial personality disorder—makes it difficult for people to learn about the condition. Consequently, there are millions of unaware potential victims walking the planet, ripe for targeting by these predators.

Terminology confusion

The condition was once called “insanity without delirium” and “moral insanity.” The term “psychopath” dates to the late 1800s. In 1930, G. E. Partridge introduced the term “sociopath.”

One of the classic books about this disorder is The Mask of Sanity, first published by Hervey Cleckley in 1941. He uses the term “psychopath.”

In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association adopted the term “sociopath.” Then the third edition of the association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), published in 1980, used the term “antisocial personality disorder.” The most current version of the manual, DSM-IV, still uses that term.

Dr. Hare, however, feels that the definition of antisocial personality disorder in the manual is too broad to accurately describe the personality disorder, and he sticks with “psychopath.” His diagnostic tool, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, is considered the most accurate for identifying the condition.

Dr. Hare wants the term “sociopath” to refer to people who are socialized into an antisocial culture, such as a gang. However, “sociopath” is still used by many sociologists and criminologists to describe the criminal personality.

In summary, the professionals are all over the map on terminology and definitions.

Popular usage

In the meantime, thanks to movies and media hype, the general population tends to associate the term “psychopath” with raving serial killers. There is so much baggage associated with this term that most people can’t comprehend that the personality disorder may describe their spouse or significant other.

That’s why Lovefraud uses “sociopath.” The goal is to help people get past the initial revulsion to the term “psychopath” and examine the traits, which may hold the answers they seek.

Still, the situation is a mess, and makes it difficult to educate people about the danger that may be lurking next door, appearing to be a normal, engaging neighbor or co-worker.

Lovefraud urges the psychiatric profession to settle on an accurate term and definition. Then maybe the rest of us would have a chance to learn it and avoid becoming victims.



9 Comments on "Confusion about sociopaths, psychopaths and antisocials"

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  1. Liane Leedom, M.D. says:

    Just this week I have been thinking about what we psychiatrists should call this disorder. I believe that psychiatrists have let the public down because we do so little to educate people and the names for disorders are so misleading. Take for example, the term antisocial personality. Those with antisocial personality disorder are NOT antisocial in the way that most people understand this word. Those with antisocial personality LOVE to be around the people they exploit!

    I am going to start a campaign to call the disorder social aggression disorder. This term captures the true essence of what these people are–social and aggressive. The aggression can be physical or take the form of manipulative control of another. Anyone else like this name?

  2. aishi says:

    I am not sure if I was dealing with a sociopath or not.I was in love with my housemate who never seemed to have loved me back but used me whenever he got a chance.I loved him madly and now that I am away from him I realise how he was dominating me.He would bring this girl home and spent nights with her in his room knowing how much it hurt me.Everytime whatever he said about his relationship with this girl would differ.Like sometime he would say,the girl has noone to look after her so he is taking care of her or he actually sees her like a sister{even though whenever I would go to his room,I would see her thongs and bras all over the floor}.One night I got drunk and I was just desperate to have him.I took him to my bed and obviously we were intimate.He admitted to me that night he was intimate to this girl also and several times she tried to seduce him.Well now I think he must have given her the chance to seduce him,if he didn’t like her why would he even bring her home!I wanted him to be with me but he said that would affect our careers and distract us.I let him go away respecting his career that night but two weeks later he said he was involved with the other girl.It left me devastated.Three weeks later he broke up with the girl.He sent me abusive emails stating it was my fault that we were never together,that I always failed to explain my feelings for him and that he hates me.I don’t know what I have done,I never got answers to any of my questions,I don’t know why he hates me so much.There are some questions in life to which nobody has any answers and I have learnt to live with those questions that were never answered.I don’t know if I am making any sense now,its just that everytime I speak about my past,I still get tears in my eyes and I still cry every night in confusion.It is extremely important to identfy what kind of people we are dealing with because later I came across this psychological website and discovered most of his characteristic traits match sociopath’s traits.I was shocked I have to say.I think I got answer to a very important question and that is I was living in the world of a sociopath and I was blaming myself for things that happened to me but the truth is nothing was ever my fault!I am trying my best to move on with my life now and bury the past.I am sure I deserve better and I am happy that he is not present in my life any longer.

  3. nobodysfool says:

    I’m confused as to whether the person I dealt with is a psychopath or a narcissist. He has absolutely no empathy whatsoever, is very manipulative-and-I’ve never been lovers with this person, but I don’t think he has a very active sex life. He is 50 and lives with his mother. I don’t think he has any friends. He is only interested in woman who are much younger than himself. In fact, the reason he gave me for not wanting to get involved (thank g-d) was that he wanted to marry and have children- I am around his age, so no chance there. He has infrequent relationships-the last one was for about 9 months, they were in couples therapy after three. The relationships are few far between, and very short-lived, although he professes to want something long term. He exhibits other traits of a psychopath-quiet, but aggressive and hostile at the same time. When he senses sensitivity or vulnerability in people, he attacks-becomes verbally and psychologically abusive. If he can get people in trouble, he will. At work, I sent a letter to his boss one time when he was being verbally abusive, and he retaliated with a charge of sexual harassment, using the fact that we had gone out once the year before. He said I was trying to “get back at him” for rejecting me.

  4. Fighter says:

    Personally here’s my suggestions:

    RUN SCREAMING DISORDER

    AVOID AT ALL COSTS-ISM

    HOLLOW SYNDROME

    NO SOUL SYNDROME

    LOOKS NORMAL BUT IS ANYTHING BUT!-ITIS

    I know, those all sound like jokes but you know – then EVERYONE would understand.

  5. kitty_cat says:

    Well for me what happened is that I, a married woman, became seduced by a sociopath. I’m not sure if he was a sociopath or a narrcisist, but no matter. It’s still destructive and has made me severely depressed.

    I feel I have been brainwashed by him. I didn’t really have any feelings for him, but he somehow seduced me and made me love him, if that makes any sense. I wish I could go back to when I didn’t have any feelings for him so I could be in peace. The worst part about it is that he made me feel like I am the one that was causing him so much distress. He called off the relationship and yet he writes about me on his blog all the time, saying how we need to have courage and stuff like that. The thing is, I agree, I am married so I know I have work to do in my marriage. But the thing that confuses me is this guy makes me feel like it’s all ME that has caused this situation and that I am the one causing him so much pain.

    What I think might be going on…and I could be wrong, is that he is trying to change and control his behavior, but is having a hard time. He says he wants me and yet he controls me and pushes me away. He made me love him through skillful manipulation and then pushed me away ‘in the name of peace’ according to him. It is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced with a man. I don’t understand why he did it and why he acted the way he did. Sociopath? I’m not sure. At the same time, a lot of these characteristics sure sound like him.

    I hope I can get over this soon. It’s unbelievably painful and hard to ‘get back into’ my marriage, which I need to obviously take a good look at. I just wish I could get past this guy first.

    :( many tears…

    thnx for listening.

  6. Donna says:

    To Kitty Cat: The guy is blaming you for causing distress – this is typical sociopathic behavior. It is only a control device. The best thing you can do is have no contact with him.

  7. brndvctm says:

    Sociopath or psychopath? Both names are actually misleading in different ways. Sociopath made me think of someone that would only use another person. Psychopath make me think of murderers. I think it may depend on who the victim is, how bad they were taken in, and what education level they have, etc. I personally prefer psychopath, my personal experience with my psychopath ex husband leads me to use that particular term.

    I had no clue what a sociopath or psychopath actually was, not even during the time I was dealing with it head on. I thought the man was insane. Nothing he did made any sense, the multiple forms of abuse he used, the “gaslighting” and “projection”, the financial burdens he placed on my back to the point I had to file bankrupt…all made me think insanity. I mean why would a human being do such horrible things to another person he claimed he loved so much? I left him the day after my bankruptcy was final, and filed for divorce shortly thereafter.

    I thought I had put it all behind me and could start over. However, I was very wrong. What I didn’t anticipate was the PTSD. I knew something was wrong when I “didn’t bounce back” to my former self. All my self esteem was gone. There seemed to be nothing but a shadow of myself left. That was when I became aware that I had to repair the damage he had left behind…inside of me.

    That’s what lead me to this Lovefraud.com site. I was searching for information about how to “repair” my self esteem. One link lead to another, and all of a sudden I was here. Answers were staring me right in the face. Regardless of which name is used, sociopath or psychopath, Lovefraud explained to me what had happened.

    No longer did feel I alone. That feeling of being a “fool” was replaced with healthy anger for a change. I bought all the books mentioned on this site, and read them. This was the best thing that could have ever happened for me. The self pity was gone, I understood the “what” and “why” of what happened in my life. I was able to place the “fault” where it needed to go, to the psychopath. I spent (wasted) 2.5 years with him as his wife, and lost another 2 years afterward trying to figure out what went wrong. I have now reclaimed my life, and have the strength to move forward.

    Whatever term is used, this site NEEDS to be here. Sociopaths / psychopaths NEED to be exposed. This is not going to happen until we speak up LOUD enough to be heard. Good job Donna. I admire you for what you are doing with this. And I THANK YOU for giving me my self esteem and life back.

  8. LAMan says:

    The same thing that happened to KittyKat happened to me. Gay or straight — same thing. He is currently blaming me for our not being together, when he is the one who has pulled away, yet has not broken it off.

    Like KittyKat I want to believe he is on my team…but no way! Someone who really loves you does not pull away and blame you for the separation!

    I am in shock. I never knew these kinds of people existed in romantic non-financial ripoff forms. I thought I had seen it all. I have wasted 3 months trying to figure it all out (and I uncovered a prison sentence he did not reveal to me).

    I am smart and the research showed me what was what. But my heart is in pain. How could I love someone like that? His fault!! Not mine. I refuse to become cynical, but I’ll be more onguard.

  9. will be okay says:

    There is alot of confusion, which aids in other people thinking we’re the ‘psychos’ for daring to suggest our ex’s are a psychopath/sociopath. Most people are woefully uninformed about socialized/subcriminal psychopath’s, they have NO CLUE that these people are our next door neighbors, coworkers, or worst of all mates/lovers.

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