"I'm not a Psychopath, I'm a High Functioning Sociopath! Do you research." - Sherlock Holmes
The debate has been going on forever and countless psychologists and psychiatrists still haven't reached a verdict whether there is a difference between Sociopathy and Psychopathy or if they are the same thing after all. If you've read the first chapter of this series, you are already acquainted with my position to where I stand on this topic.
Recall that Anti-Social Personality Disorder (And tendencies) make up a small amount of our society (Prevalence 2 to 5%)
So, what's a Sociopath? Most of what you'd read when you google Sociopath would be 'Psychopath (Or Sociopath) is so - so - so. However, with the meticulous research on the topic, new results are showing a difference in how we label such personalities. The main differences are due to neurological deficits but I'll eXplain as much as I can - the personality differences.
Remember when I mentioned there are different types of Anti Social Traits? The Narcissistic Type, The Malicious Type, etc. Each time is eXtremely important to understanding a sociopath which I'll come to in a minute. Also, my personal opinion (It wouldn't be a blog if it wasn't personal opinion) is that IQ (E-IQ, IQ, etc) play a big role in personality formation. Like I mentioned previously, if two men - one of them a shop lifter and the other one a corporate manager are both diagnosed ASPDs, why is there a difference? It all falls down to Intelligence. The shop lifter is most likely to be ASPD of the Malicious type using violence to get what he/she wants whereas the corporate manager could be charming and manipulative, using these tactics to climb the ladder.
So now you make ask, a psychopath can also have those traits. Very true. So what differentiates them?
A Sociopath, like it or not, does possess a form of empathy. No matter how small, empathy is empathy. The area of the brain which is the major control center for emotions, especially fear - happens to be the Amygdala. Numerous studies have shown that abnormalities in the amygdala lead patients to lose all forms of fear. They also happened to be less empathetic. In fact, they weren't able to comprehend fear even when presented with a snake face to face. They could understand different pictures of people's emotions but not fear. Not to get into so much detail but it is imperative I eXplain these brain functions.
As you know or may not know, no single part of the brain is responsible for one activity. Surely some areas of the brain do the majority of the work but the brain works as a unified system. The Prefrontal CorteX located in the frontal lobe is what gives us humans the ability to plan, solve and eXecute primary functions. The amygdala works in pair with this area of the brain. Messages are both received and relayed to one another. For eXample, if you're scared of a lion, you perceive this lion through the use of your occipital lobe which sends neural messages to your amygdala and prefrontal corteX basically telling you that is a threat and the fight or flight system will be activated through the use of neurotransmitters. So, people who have a 'shrunken' or 'abnormal' amygdala may perceive it differently. Now not everyone is afraid of lions, crocodiles, snakes etc. That is true considering some tribes in Africa would Crocodiles as 'Food' while a Teenage girl from California would see Crocodiles as hell. Does that mean tribesmen in Africa all have abnormal amgydalas? Certainly NOT. It all falls into conditioning since we're all taught to fear this and avoid that when growing up. There are some evolutionary factors that were stuck with us and passed down as fear elements. Sour foods taste nasty because poisons in the wild tended to have a 'sour' like taste so we naturally despise them. That's your brain looking out for you. Nice one, brain. Anyways, not to digress, a sociopath's brain works similar to ours. However, with a slight few differences. Since they have a shrunken amgydala, they perceive and make choices differently than the relative population.
Here's a question:
You're an observer on the hill top and a train is racing down the tracks and if left alone, would kill a group of people, say five people but you have the choice of pulling a switch that would alter the train's direction and kill one person instead. What would you do here?
Here's another one with an added cherry on top:
Same scenario with a train speeding down the tracks en route to kill five people (Christ, what kind of train is this?) but instead of a switch, there's an obese man standing above the train tracks. If you push this innocent bystander, his weight will somehow miraculously stop the train en route to kill these five people.This one happens to be more complicated because you are actually using your physical body to push this person to his death.
As I've given this eXample before, my answer in class raised concerns. Yes, I am indeed a terrible person.
So a non fictional character of a sociopath? Can you name any? If you're thinking on the lines of Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy or any other serial killer - I'd disagree. I'm not saying a sociopath wouldn't commit murder; anyone is capable of committing murder. Threaten to kill a baby and the mother would put a bullet through your head if you give her a gun. She'd put more than one bullet if I had to bet on it. Remember the Milgram eXperiment? If not, research it.
"Madness, you see, is like gravity - all you need is a little push" - The Joker 'The Dark Knight'
My favorite non fictional characters of Sociopaths would be Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia. If you have read Machiavelli's 'The Prince'; he's basically labelling the ideal sociopath.
Fictional characters? Hannibal Lecter is a Psychopath while Will Graham is a Sociopath.
More fictional characters? Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. If I had to do a case study on Sherly, it would be imperative to mention his high intellect. That doesn't mean average intelligence can't 'deduce' things but Sherlock has higher cognitive functions (memory, attention, etc) indicating higher intelligence since they're both positively correlated. The fact he labelled himself 'High Functioning Sociopath' isn't found in any Psychological literature but it does make sense to an eXtent. That is to say, Sherlock is conscious of his nature. Though he stops bad guys and such, he doesn't do it because he's Jesus Christ; he does it to fuel his ego, to be right, to know and leave no stone unturned. Yet Sherlock does have one friend - Dr. Watson.
As for Dr. Watson, recall in my last blog I did mention that Doctors have similar neurological make up to 'psychopaths' because they're able to disect and cut through you like nothing - only difference is that the action is sublimated. Remember Dr. Watson was suffering from somatoform disorders after returning from skirmish but soon regained his 'health' upon meeting Sherlock because Watson enjoys the thrill and danger - a common trait for sociopaths and psychopaths. They love the rush. Psychopaths love it too - that's why they tend to taunt police officers after every crime.
Statistics show that 1 in 20 people happen to be 'Sociopaths' which means that anyone could, if pushed, go over the edge. Remember, there's absolutely nothing wrong with sociopaths, for what they are biologically, it all falls down to the environment determining who they are.
There you have it, a brief piece on Sociopathic Literature. My apologies for not posting any brain images - I wanted this piece to be purely literature since there are no key researches as of yet. Maybe in future, I'll conduct an eXperiment (Hopefully). As for Psychopathy, I'll be writing in great detail followed with pictures of brain scans and case studies of serial killers. The topic on Psychopaths would make the Anti-Social Personality Disorder and Sociopathy topics easier to comprehend because, as mentioned above, it may be difficult to comprehend at first. Please take note that even psychologists have a hard time differentiating the differences.
[If you have any questions, private message me on Facebook 'Joey 'Kaiser' Elie Dib' or email me at Kaiserr06@gmail.com]