Sociopath Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

One of the most important kinds of people to understand in the modern world is sociopaths. Learn what sociopath means and how to identify them.

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In the modern world, it’s common to find people who seem to lack empathy for others. Especially since the dawn of the internet, it’s become more and more normal to interact with people who seem to lack a conscience or care for the rights of others. 

While a lot of that can be chalked up to the fact that the internet can bring out the worst in people, in some cases, those behaviors can be the result of an actual conduct disorder called sociopathy

Sociopathy can be a scary-sounding disorder, but learning what a sociopath is can help you deal with them much more effectively. Personality disorders are a part of life for all kinds of people, and learning how to interact with them empathetically is beneficial for everyone. This is what a sociopath is, the root of their condition, and how to effectively communicate with them. 

What Is a Sociopath? 

According to the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a sociopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and mental health condition. This condition results in antisocial behavior, neglect, and characteristics that result in a tendency to act outside of social norms. In many cases, a sociopath will have increased aggression and impulsiveness, with a disregard for rules and laws. They often feel little to no guilt or regard for the deceit or harm they cause others. 

According to technical and medical definitions, there is no difference between sociopathy and psychopathy. They have essentially the same diagnosis, and most psychologists will say that a sociopath has the same symptoms as a psychopath. 

Other psychologists believe that psychopaths plan their destructive behaviors more often than sociopaths, but the two conditions are typically recognized as the same. 

What Does Sociopathy Act Like? 

One of the main symptoms of someone being a sociopath is a lack of remorse for bad things they have done and increased irritability around things they find harmful. They are typically not afraid to act out of a desire for personal gain, even if it goes against social norms. 

The easiest way to identify a sociopath is a generalized lack of concern for other people and a general lack of attachment to other people. This often leads to a lack of ability to carry out many traditional adult responsibilities, including financial obligations and job responsibilities. Sociopaths will often struggle with substance use, primarily due to their lack of concern for most people or things. 

Sociopaths can also share symptoms with people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Both sociopaths and narcissists can be charismatic, even if their root motivations are different. 

While there is no cure for sociopathy, it is common for an American psychologist to diagnose mood stabilizers to sociopaths. These often help sociopaths deal with their stronger negative emotions in a new way. Getting these medications will usually require a diagnosis from a psychologist, which can be essential for a healthy life. 

What Causes Sociopathy? 

The primary cause of sociopathy is still being studied, but there are two main theories. 

The first possible cause is a problematic childhood, toxic family life, or history of child abuse. This creates neural pathways that result in symptoms typically associated with sociopathy. While these problems can be helped through a therapist or counselor, the problem is almost always best dealt with in the early stages and gets harder to treat as time passes. 

Another common belief about the cause of sociopathy stems from an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry and makeup. Genetic impacts on the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex can result in symptoms associated with sociopathy. While there aren’t any proven treatments for this root cause, drugs for anxiety and depression and therapy can help people manage sociopathy symptoms. 

How to Interact With Sociopaths

When interacting with a sociopath, it is essential to establish clear boundaries to protect your physical and mental health. It can be difficult communicating with someone who doesn’t have empathy. That’s why making sure that you are aware of their condition and know how to effectively communicate your thoughts is essential. It can be complicated to deal with people who don’t understand how their actions affect others, so having patience is important. 

Therapy can help provide strategies for dealing with difficult people and challenging situations. If someone close to you is a sociopath, it can be helpful to seek out a therapist for both yourself and them. If this person is taking a significant toll on your life, going to therapy can help you deal with the situation effectively. 


Understanding what words mean can be incredibly helpful when learning how to manage complex problems. At the end of the day, effective communication is one of the best ways to make your life and others’ lives easier. 

If you want to increase your ability to communicate powerfully and effectively, feel free to take a look around our blog at The Word Counter! We’re here to help people use the English Language to their benefit in as many ways as possible and develop their ability to speak with people worldwide. If you want to be better at communicating, take a few minutes to browse our blog — we’re sure that you’ll learn something that will tangibly help you!


  1. The DSM-5: Classification and Criteria Changes | NCBI 
  2. Sociopathy | Psychology Today
  3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Traits, Tests, Treatment | Cleveland Clinic