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Sociopaths or Psychopaths - A Genetic Link

Updated on July 7, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

I'm interested in social issues, good relationships, problems of daily living, jobs, exercise and fiction and safer living conditions.

Can You Identify a Psychopath?

Personality Disorders

There are numerous types of personality disorders. The symptoms of the various disorders vary, but in general, these disorders involve thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that do not allow these afflicted individuals to adapt to work or social settings.

The symptoms of becoming a psychopath seem to appear during adolescence, but they cannot be diagnosed until the age of 18. An MRI can determine if a person is a psychopath. Approximately one percent of all people are psychopaths, but four percent of them are business leaders.

These are a few of the better-known personality disorders:

  • Antisocial personality disorder – Sociopath
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder

As you can see there are a variety of types of mental disorder, and they are not always easy to treat, Some patients don't tolerate the medications, or they won't stay on them when they start to feel better, assuming they don't need them anymore. They will ar to be uncaring, and irresponsible. They blame others for things that are their fault.

Definition for Sociopath

Antisocial personality disorder (sociopath/psychopath) has specific behavioral features. The features include lack of impulse control, fearlessness, and their interpersonal skills are made up of aggressive social relations, rebelliousness, self-centeredness and manipulation.

They tend to externalize blame for their actions. Most researchers believe sociopathy and psychopathy are the same disorders, but not everyone agrees.

Psychopath vs Sociopath - What's The Difference?

Sociopathic Symptoms

There are several personality tests that were designed to diagnose this type of antisocial personality. A person with sociopathic personality will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Frequently angry, arrogant and violent
  • Impatient
  • Has the ability to be charming and act witty
  • Be very good using flattery to manipulating people’s emotions
  • Easily agitated
  • Repeatedly breaks the law
  • Disregards the safety of themselves and other people
  • Often have substance abuse problems
  • Lies, cheats and steals
  • Never shows guilt or remorse
  • Typically does not have close friends
  • Usually not capable of maintaining a romantic relationship

Psychopathic Brain


Genetic Component Versus Environment

Mental Health professionals have studied this disorder to determine whether it is a genetic disorder or due to the environment. A twin study was completed where the twins were raised in separated homes. The result showed that if one twin had a personality disorder; then, the other twin often has a similar condition.

Obviously, identical twins are the same genetically. The study concluded that there were two classifications: the people with a genetic influence are also callus, and those people that were not callous acquired their personality disorder from the environment.

Researchers have also noted a specific gene expression in individuals with antisocial personalities (ASP). Researchers use gene mapping to try to understand the cause of many mental disorders. These are genes that regulate neurotransmitters in the body that regulate thinking, the mood and behavior.

Two neurotransmitters, monoamine oxidase, and serotonin, which are involved in behavior and mood, are lower than normal in people with ASP.

In addition, individuals with ASP, when tested, showed impairment in stimulus-punishment and stimulus-reward learning. This strongly implies that the amygdala of the brain is impaired, which controls fear and anxiety levels. There is a great deal of evidence that there is a strong genetic link, therefore, a biological disorder in most cases.

Some people with this disorder have experienced child abuse, had two alcoholic parents or parents that were also psychotic. Many of these children end up on the foster care system. Not all children that are raised in these types of environmental situations develop any type of personality disorders, so the researchers conclude that there is a biological disorder. In addition, children that have been adopted, who have a psychopathic parent often inherit psychopathic tendencies. This occurs even when the child is reared in an otherwise normal environment. In a recent study, these individuals had an abnormal level of brain chemicals.

What is Sociopathy

Sociopathy is a syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms. Sociopaths are difficult to diagnose as they exhibit a wider variety of symptoms. They are typically diagnosed when they exhibit several of the common symptoms. Any individual who is living with a sociopath usually has a difficult life.

The best advice is to get away from any individual that exhibits these symptoms. Their lack of empathy and their manipulative mannerisms make it impossible to have a rewarding relationship when this individual does not have the capacity to love.

Psychopaths are not Usually Treatable


Treatment for Sociopaths

While there is no known cure and the effectiveness of most treatments is controversial, mental health professionals are looking for answers. One of the difficulties lies in the belief of the psychopath that there is nothing wrong with them.

Long term studies are difficult if you cannot get the cooperated from the patients. Psychiatrists try to get sociopaths to quit drinking or using drugs.

There are some anti-psychotic medications being used in cases when the patient is willing to cooperate. These drugs include Lithium for mania, anticonvulsants and antipsychotic drugs, which have shown to be effective in reducing aggressive behavior and having fewer arrests.

There is no drug that can make a sociopath empathetic or loving. The purpose of the drugs is to eliminate the danger.

Famous Sociopaths

Ted Bundy is a well-known psychopath as he raped and bludgeoned to death at least 30 women. Bernie Madoff and Michael Milkin were not violent, but they stole millions of dollars from unsuspecting people. Most killers are sociopaths. Anthony Hopkins was very convincing in his role of Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs." Some people say OJ Simpson and John Edwards are sociopaths. There so many different symptoms that it is difficult to say if someone is a sociopath unless they are tested.

What Are the Signs That You Are a Psychopath?

In Summary

It is really quite sad that most psychopaths cannot control themselves due to the genetic component. Of course, when you hear of a serial murderer or someone stealing all the retirement money from hard-working people, it is difficult to feel much compassion. It is quite possible that researches will determine some way of treating these people through their research of the brain. The brain is really the last frontier.

Sociopaths and Psychopaths

Do you personally know anyone that you suspect is a psychopath?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    I think you are probably right criminals. I always learn things when I write also as most of the topics need research.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    5 months ago from Houston, Texas

    I did not know that an MRI could be diagnostic concerning this. You always present such interesting medical topics. Those who commit horrific crimes undoubtedly all fit the bill of one type of personality disorder or another.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jackie, I don't think scientist really know enough about personality disorders. I don't know if they can be cured as it does seem like they may have sold their souls. I appreciate your comments.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    6 years ago from the beautiful south

    Many Christians do not believe a sociopath cannot be healed but I think they must have already sold their soul. This is really some sad facts and very complicated. I don't particularly think it has anything to do with drug or alcohol; I have not noticed that and I never read that Bundy had either of those problems but I guess it could be with some. Great article.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    epbooks, I never read that book but maybe he got away with so many murders because he appreared to be so normal. I'm glad you liked the hub. Thanks for your comments.

  • epbooks profile image

    Elizabeth Parker 

    7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    Pamela99- very interesting hub. I'm always into reading about sociopaths and psychopaths. It is very sad, scary and fascinating. I didn't know an MRI could spot that. I think I've probably met a sociopath in my lifetime and a psychopath as well. I just read the Ted Bundy book and it was inconceivable that he actually worked suicide hotline and saved lives and then went and killed so many innocent girls. His last interview was something I won't forget. He seemed so normal...and that was part of his "charm" but yet, he was as far from normal as you can get!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jeannie, I think there are a lot os sociopaths out there, and some are worse than others. I am not surprised you have met a couple. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I love reading about psychological disorders. (I don't know what that says about me!) I really enjoyed this. I am convinced I know a couple of sociopaths and even had the misfortune of working with one. Great hub!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Midget, I agree. It is difficult to spot in many people, at least initially. Treatment is also a problem as the narcissistic personality lives in denial. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 

    7 years ago from Singapore

    I have run into those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Personally, I think it is sad because it is one that is difficult to acknowledge or treat. Thanks for sharing, Pamela!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    DDE, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and haven't run across any psychopaths. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    A very interesting lot of information on Sociopaths or Psychopaths A Genetic Link. I am glad I didn't come across such kinds of people in the past I wouldn't have known much at that time. Voted up and interesting.

  • torrilynn profile image


    7 years ago


    You are more than welcome

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    torrilynn, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    James, I think the five people situations were just being used to illustrate the brain changes that occur when we are face with an bad, but impersonal choice compared to a difficult personal choice. Normal people have brain changes versus no brain change in the psychopath when dealing with the personal violent act. Thanks for your comments.

  • torrilynn profile image


    7 years ago

    Hi Pamela,

    thanks for sharing your insight on sociopaths and

    psychopaths and the amount of information that you

    have included in your hub about these disorders.

    thanks once again and voted up.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ruby, I spent some time working there as well. It is really sad unless you are a victim of one of them. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • SubRon7 profile image

    James W. Nelson 

    7 years ago from eastern North Dakota

    Interesting, Pamela. That video test was kind of difficult, as we weren't given the option of trying to stop the train, and why on earth were those five people on the tracks anyway? Interesting though.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ruchira, That is good news for you. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Martie, You certainly know first hand how manipulative they are, and it is a shame you had to get the police involved. That is often the only way. I found a lot of controversy in my research regarding sociopaths and psychopaths. The majority of the researches seemed to put them in the same category, but I always thought that psychopaths were more dangerous. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    POP, That is so true. Glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    kashmir, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    drbj, Yes, I thought the same thing. You described this disorder very well. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Eddy, Thank you so much for your comments and I look forward to sharing many more hubs.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    7 years ago from Southern Illinois

    Very interesting and informative. I worked in a mental ward for a short time and saw many people with different disorders, very sad, most were young. Voted up..

  • Ruchira profile image


    7 years ago from United States

    interesting concepts, Pamela. Luckily I have not across psychopaths (at least I think)

    voted up as interesting!

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    7 years ago from South Africa

    Awesome and very informative hub about sociopaths previously known as psychopaths. (According to my sources, the latter is no longer the correct description of the condition.)

    In 2010 I've met a sociopath and end up sharing my home with him for 53 days. The best actor I've ever seen in my life. A con-artist par excellence, pretended to be a gospel preacher. On the 53rd day I had him removed out of my home and life by the police.

    They are not at all able to realize their abnormality - You've given an excellent description.

    Thank you, Pam. I can but only say that nobody is clever enough to identify a sociopath on sight. We have to experience them 24/7 for quite a while before we will definitely know that they are not normal. GOOD to know that they can be diagnosed via MRI. But to convince them to go have one, is another story. Normally they are forced to do this by Law, after they've committed a horrible crime.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    7 years ago

    What's really amazing is that far too many sociopaths are hugely successful! Voted up and interesting.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    This was an interesting and fascinating article and a very informative read. Well done !

    Vote up and more !!!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    Excellent article, Pamela. The genetic link is a fairly new diagnosis although there are some superficial differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. But, in general, people suffering from either disorder can be charming ... can be manipulative ... are self-centered ... are willing to lie continuously if it suits them ... have little or no remorse or guilt ... need excitement in their lives ... lack empathy for others ... and refuse to take blame for their actions.

    Hmmmmm - sounds like some of our leaders!

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Very interesting indeed Pamela and you certainly know your stuff.

    A brilliant read here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here. have a wonderful day.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    moonlake, I have too. Thanks for your comments.

  • moonlake profile image


    7 years ago from America

    Very interesting. I've known a few people with personality disorders. Voted up.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    bdegiulio, Most scientist say there is no difference between the two. I appreciate your comments.

    Faith, I think they inject dye unto the vein for the MRI, but apparently different areas of the brain show up in an abnormal pattern. Thank you so much for your comments. They are always appreciated. God bless you also.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    7 years ago from southern USA

    Wow, Pamela, this is a very insightful hub here and frightening too! I did not realize and MRI can tell! How interesting about the business leaders. Yes, it is very sad. I never thought of the brain as the last frontier, but you are so right.

    Voted up +++ and sharing

    God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    Really interesting Pamela. Not sure I knew the difference between a Sociopath and a Psychopath. How sad that these mental disorders are not treatable. Sounds like researchers have their work cut out for them in searching for answers. Great job

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Billy, Yes, I hope so. I read an article about this personality disorder being genetic, so I just had to do the research. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Fascinating, Pamela. It is sad, especially since it is a mental disorder, but as you say, it is very hard to feel compassion for a serial killer. Hopefully medical science will find an answer.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Victoria Lynn, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub, and I found the research to be very interesting. Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 

    7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    Wow, that's interesting. I've never read about a genetic element for sociopaths. This is fascinating. Voted up and more!


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