In the media, we hear words like “sociopath” or “psychopath” frequently. The trouble is that when these terms are used in the media or in discourse online, they’re often used incorrectly. As a result, the terms and other terms related to mental health disorders, conditions, and symptoms are highly stigmatized and misunderstood. So, where did the word “sociopath” come from, and what does it really mean?
Origins Of The Word “Sociopath”
The word “sociopath” has been around since roughly 1930. It was coined by a psychologist named George E. Partridge. The terms “psychopath” and “psychopathy” have been around for longer. However, those who may be referred to as psychopaths or sociopaths actually live with a very real mental health condition or disorder called antisocial personality disorder. The definition of the word “sociopathic” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or exhibiting antisocial personality disorder.”
About Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder, also referred to or abbreviated as ASPD, is a cluster B personality disorder. It is characterized by patterns of disregard or violation of the rights of other people and other traits or symptoms. It is common for people with ASPD to get in trouble with the law, and people with antisocial personality disorder tend to show the signs and symptoms of conduct disorder as a child. Signs of ASPD include but aren’t limited to:
- Lying or deceptiveness.
- Manipulative behavior.
- Impulsive or reckless behavior.
- Illegal actions or behavior such as stealing, fighting, and so on.
- Lack of regard for other people.
- The exploitation of other people.
- Irritability, agitation, aggression, or anger.
- Lack of regard for the safety of oneself and other people.
Someone with ASPD will typically feel a lack of remorse after doing something that is harmful to others. Substance use is commonly seen in those with an antisocial personality disorder. Someone with an antisocial personality disorder will typically be able to act in ways that are witty or charming to get what they want. Other diagnoses that may better explain a person’s symptoms will be ruled out for ASPD to be diagnosed, and it should be diagnosed carefully with a person’s history in mind.
How Do I Know If I Have ASPD?
The only way to know for sure if you have ASPD or any other personality disorder is to get a diagnosis from a licensed medical or mental health professional who is qualified to diagnose clients with mental health conditions. Most often, this will be a psychiatrist. The prevalence of antisocial personality disorder is said to range from about 2-4% of men and 0.5-1% of women. It is common for people with antisocial personality disorder to have a comorbid or co-occurring condition. These may include but aren’t limited to substance use disorders, depressive disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD), and so on. It is uncommon for people with ASPD to seek the help of a professional. If you believe that you may have a mental health condition or disorder of any kind, it is vital to reach out to a medical or mental health professional who can help.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re seeking support for challenges in interpersonal relationships, symptoms of a mental health condition, life stressors, or something else that’s on your mind, seeing a counselor or therapist can help. There are a variety of ways to find a therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or use a website that can help you find a provider who is licensed to practice in your area. Simply type your zip code into the search bar, and you’ll see a range of providers in your area with various specialties. Regardless of how you find a counselor or therapist, you deserve to get the support you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out.