As a guide for writers, I figured I’d delineate the differences between a Sociopath and a Psychopath. These are two very similar character traits, so they are easily transposed, though they shouldn’t be because they have important differences.

The two personality disorders have many similarities. They can both be intelligent, though illogical. They both have a general disregard for life. Both can have symptoms of other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenic episodes.

To define the major differences between them, we could look at what an outline of the day would look like for each of them.

Itinerary of a Sociopath:

  1. Trample flowers
  2. Eat lunch alone (hopefully)
  3. Divulge every feeling, whether they want to hear it or not
  4. Wash hands (of everyone)
  5. Cough in sleeve to give the germs a luxury ride
  6. Boost own ego

Itinerary of a Psychopath:

  1. Plant flowers
  2. Schmooze everyone
  3. Keep feelings inside
  4. Offer someone a ride
  5. Exercise and eat right
  6. Dream of the night…


To write a character with sociopathic traits, remember they will be belligerent toward all life forms, even their own. A sociopathic human will care nothing for other humans or other humans’ feelings.

To write a character with psychopathic traits, remember they will be rather smooth and likable. They might not care for human life, but they will put on the best possible face for everyone and make it appear as if they do care.

More importantly, perhaps, are the intentions behind the actions.

A sociopathic character will be truthful to the point of being hurtful. They don’t consider others at all, so unlike legitimately sane humans who tell the truth to maintain integrity and to help others, the sociopathic personality wields truth like a weapon.

A psychopathic character will lie about everything as long as the story remains in their favor. If things start to play out against them, the psychopathic personality will change their words to manipulate circumstances.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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