Most scholars in the areas of psychology, psychiatry and criminology conceive that Antisocial Personality Disorder is a heterogeneous category, although the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) considers it to be a set with a unique identity.

In his book, David Lykken (1994) argues that the subjects in this group “are characterized by a persistent predisposition towards antisocial behavior” (p. 45).

Antisocial Personality Disorder, Psychopathy and Sociopathy

In order to establish the differences between psychopathy and sociopathy , we will proceed to examine both cases. It could be said, despite not having official recognition, that these are two of the three major categories into which this disorder divides:


Psychopathy is expressed by innate antisocial tendencies due to both biological, quantitative temperament or qualitative differences in the brain function of those who suffer from it, which make it difficult for them to socialize when they are growing up.

  • To deepen the analysis of psychopathy, we invite you to read the article: “Psychopathy: what goes on in the psychopath’s mind?”


These are individuals with a normal temperament, but who have not acquired the socializing attributes as a result of negligent and incompetent upbringing by the main agents of socialization: the parents.

Parenting is crucial in sociopathy

The dynamics of the negligent educational style on the part of the parents results, in the future, in wild children who are unable to socialize properly and who commit crimes. If, in addition, the parents of these young people were also brought up under irresponsible and indifferent supervision, being immature in this respect it is very difficult for them to know how to straighten out their offspring, if at all.David Lykken suggests that recent cultural changes in the United States have contributed to the growing incidence of this inept upbringing of children.

As the author himself says: “the anti-social personalities responsible for most of the crimes in the United States are not psychopaths. They are sociopaths” (p.10). Therefore, sociopathic personalities are more numerous and represent a greater social problem due to the increase in crime and violence rates. They are very present in western society, and more in the cities than in the rural populations.

The typical profile of the sociopath

Sociopathy is the broadest subgenre of Antisocial Personality Disorder. In it we find individuals (usually young men although the presence of women is increasing) who did not socialize well in childhood and adolescence. These deficiencies in their moral and affective development are the necessary basis for a case of sociopathy to arise.

“Sociopaths … possess impulsive characteristics or patterns of behavior that can be attributed to deviant learning that interacts, perhaps, with deviant genetic tendencies” (p. 47).

This should not mislead us, since a sociopath’s temperament is often normal despite parental clumsiness; while others may be nervous or constant seekers of stimuli. The majority of the prison population meets the diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder that identifies more than half of the men we consider “common criminals”.

In short, the sociopath is the failed product of a negligent and undisciplined education . It can be said, however, that having received a poor education is not the only factor that explains sociopathy. It is not rare to find people who, despite the many difficulties they experienced during their childhood, have been able to seek their place in the world and be individuals with whom we can relate in a completely normal way.

Bibliographic references:

  • Lykken, D. (1994). Antisocial personalities. Barcelona: Herder.
  • Pozueco, J. M. (2010). Integrated psychopaths: Psychological profile and personality. Madrid: EOS Psicología Jurídica.
  • Werlinder, H. (1978). Psychopathy: A history of the concepts. Analysis of the origin and development of a family of concepts in psychopathology. Uppsla, Stockolm: Almqvist&Wiskell International.