Here's a comment from a reader about the value of professional psychological diagnoses:
As you have diagnosed yourself as such I am not too worried however much your attempts at diagnoses you should have already figured out diagnoses are there for the pathetic people who cant understand what these things are. So they make up these diagnoses and things that should be corrected but if you think about it there is a DSM but no manual for whats normal no manual to counter it. Normalcy is what is socially acceptable and what is "Right" to these people. However there is no real right and no real wrong the only right there is is what us as an individual decide is best for ourselves. There maybe sociopaths in psychology but in reality its just another type of person their is no real disorder its a way of being.I agree. Some people comment on this blog saying things like "sociopaths would never do/say x," which i figure are probably just arguments over semantics. For instance, one writer described the confusion over the terms sociopath and psychopath thusly:
Without getting into the politics surrounding the different diagnostic systems, people who were unaware of the need for precision and accuracy for research and assessment adopted a preference for using either ‘psychopath’ or ‘sociopath’ and came up with their own workable definitions. In other words, things got a little sloppy. I’ve even seen professionals use the term 'sociopath' but rely on the criteria specific to the concept of a psychopath. However, for researchers in psychopathy, ‘sociopath’ has a different connotation.If these distinctions are accurate then maybe I am more sociopath, not psychopath. Or maybe we follow the DSM and say i have APD. Or maybe I'm a malignant narcissist? The labels are fuzzy, and ultimately they don't matter. I am who I am. I think what I think, feel what I feel, do what I do. I know I'm not typical. I don't care to debate the nuances of particular definitions or diagnoses, I just want people to know that they live in a world with people like me.
Which brings me back to the original question: the difference between a psychopath and sociopath. If you subscribe to the Hare criteria for a psychopath, then you see the conning, manipulative narcissistic liar and user as a psychopath, as long as he or she is completely lacking in remorse or empathy. The sociopath, however, is capable of guilt, caring, building relationships, etc., but only within a certain context. He or she will have loyalties to a specific group but not to society at large. They care nothing for social norms and will break them with impunity if it serves their purpose. So, on the surface, they may resemble psychopaths. However, they might genuinely feel remorse over harming someone within their group or family. They will have a moral code specific to that context: they might not lie, exploit, or manipulate within the group. Thus, they exhibit psychopathic behaviors in certain contexts but not all.