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Differentiating Antisocial Personality Disorder, Psychopathy, and Sociopathy: Evolutionary, Genetic, Neurological, and Sociological Considerations

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2008 Pages: 135-152
Anthony Walsh; Huei-Hsia Wu
Date Published
June 2008
18 pages
This paper examines the separate but overlapping constructs of psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorder from evolutionary, genetic, neurological, and sociological perspectives.
Evidence was found that psychopathy, sociopathy, and antisocial personality disorders (ASPD) are three different but overlapping constructs. There is an emerging consensus that psychopathy is a stable trait with a constant prevalence across time, culture, and socioeconomic status. Sociopathy appears to be a condition less strongly tied to genotype than psychopathy and more tied to development in extremely adverse environments rife with abuse, neglect, and violence. Antisocial personality disorder is a legal/clinical label that may be applied to both psychopaths and sociopaths. Depending on who is asked, psychopathy, sociopathy, and ASPD are synonymous terms describing the same constellation of traits, or they are separate concepts with unclear boundaries. This paper surveyed evidence to examine the separate but overlapping constructs of psychopathy, sociopathy, and ASPD. Table, figure, and references