Understanding the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?

As I work with Survivors, a key component of their healing comes with being able to see the truth about their abusers. Given the extent to which most abusers are masters of manipulation, that can be extremely difficult for Survivors to ferret out by themselves. And, all the more difficult if their abuser was a sophisticated Predator, as that is the kind of perpetrator who is a master at manipulation.  

Since people in general, and virtually all Survivors in particular, have come to believe that psychopaths are like Hollywood likes to portray them... 

the creepy kind, who is impulsive and fairly erratic (instead of the controlled and contained white collar psychopath), it is far too easy for such manipulators to play people for fools, unless you know the primary characteristics. 
That is essential for Survivors, as they are already prone to assuming responsibility for the abuse perpetrated upon them. Thus, to be able to move through the stages of healing, a Survivor must come to understand the nature of the kind of person who abused them, so they can finally place responsibility back where it belongs.

Simply put, a psychopath is someone without a conscience. 
There are two types of psychopaths: the bloody and the white collar. The former eventually ends up in prison with a few victims, 
while the latter usually ends up being promoted, having gotten their position in the firm, organization, or position by creating hundreds of victims (usually by stepping on and over them on their way “to the top”), 
who are either simply too afraid or too exhausted to ever come forward to shed light upon the perpetrator’s behavior… or they are too scared of the inevitable retaliation that would occur.

In answer to another question recently asked re. “What is the primary difference between a narcissist, a sociopath, and a psychopath?”, in a nutshell, from my 11+ years doing independent research while serving on the psychology staff in a state prison (6 years of those were primarily spent providing therapy to men within a long-term solitary confinement environment), the narcissist, is all about self. He or she will put up a dramatic display of disapproval at not being the center of attention, and then will “take his/her marbles and go home.”
The sociopath operates on the cost-benefit principle: if the cons outweigh the pros, it will be time to stop. The sociopath is the classic used-car salesman. He will do or say anything to make the sale; however, if he cannot make the sale, he moves on. He is the classic sweet talking guy that knows how to say anything to win the girl over, and will stay around only as long as it does not cost him anything in terms of effort. When he leaves (or she finally has had enough of him), he will simply move on. He will part company, never looking back at the promises made and broken by him. But, when it is over, it is over.

However, the psychopath will take it to a completely different level, for he/she will never sever the relationship, and will never allow the relationship to be severed… 
at least not without making the other person pay a heavy price for the nerve of cutting off what they've worked for (i.e. manipulated his way into). 

That is what separates the sociopaths from the psychopaths… the sadistic desire to make the other person pay in a way that creates profound pain upon the person who dares to counter them or stand up to them.

For the psychopath, power and control are of primary concern and interest. Money and sex are nice, but that is not the high that motivates the true psychopath. 

It is gaining as much territory as possible, and ensuring that it remains secure and unchanging into the future… for he uses those “accomplishments” as a platform from which to pitch his next PR move, as he positions himself for the next upward move (whatever that may mean to him/her in context). 

The truly profound psychopaths (the most intelligent and artful of the lot of psychopaths) have even one greater degree of difference… they will ensure that they either win, or they will make anyone pay who tries to stop them.
These are the most sadistic of all psychopaths. The fundamental issue for the psychopath is pure ego… they fancy themselves as the master chess player. And, if they are thwarted from their objective due to someone standing up for principle, then it is “game on.” 

They will stop at nothing to ensure the person experiences as much pain as possible, and the psychopath is able to have the last word and the final say.

So, an easy way to discern the nature of who you are dealing with is to consider the matter of: to what extent does the person stop when they are really gaining nothing from continuing to try to retaliate against you for establishing reasonable and healthy boundaries against them, or from actually thwarting them from oppressing or perpetrating against others? A sociopath will drop the matter and move on when the pain outweighs the benefits, or when there is nothing to gain by continuing the fight. 

For the psychopath, it is all about being allowed to continue getting what they want at others’ expense, having people recognize their position, giving them what they want, and/or “bowing down” to them. If that does not happen, then they will be characterized by becoming punitive and sadistic. 

Know in advance that, with the psychopath, if you prevent them from continuing to use you or others, or if they view you as someone who is attempting to stop them or prevent them from continuing to make progress in their plans (which inherently are at the expense of others, especially in terms of devaluing and disrespecting others less capable or more vulnerable), they will ensure that:
 (1) they will “have the last word,” for you dared to stand up to them, 
(2) they will make you pay to an extreme extent for having ever challenged them, and 
(3) they will make it their primary mission in life to make you pay and pay dearly in the most painful way possible (regardless of the price or extent of time that goes by), until they are able to stand over your body as the conquerer, with their boot on your neck… as a trophy to their mastery, and as a warning to anyone else who might dare to come against them.


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