A recent report by the National Institute of Mental Health and other researchers finds that, among Americans, “a large number of individuals” have “an intense desire to inflict harm on others” and that the “dangerous impulse to be cruel and cruel-minded” is “part and parcel of sociopathy.”
The report notes that “some individuals are psychopaths who have developed the sociopathic traits to cope with their antisocial personality disorder.”
While we don’t know if this trait was present before the onset of mental illness in the mid-1990s, it is clearly there now.
But, it doesn’t mean that sociopaths are all sociopaths.
In fact, they’re not.
In a recent article for the New York Times, “Psychopaths are Not Sociopaths,” former President George H.W. Bush described a psychopath as “a person who does not understand the concept of interpersonal relationships” and “a man who behaves irrationally, without empathy.”
“Psychopathic people have difficulty making sense of others, have no empathy for others and, when confronted with a conflict, do not have the capacity to learn from it,” the former president added.
In other words, sociopaths often don’t understand how to make decisions, how to be empathetic, or how to think about others.
They don’t have the ability to learn, and, even if they do, they often have no idea how to act in an emotional and social situation.
As a result, sociopathics often act out in the world, such as when they commit crimes, or when they seek out and abuse others.
In this article, I’ll look at some of the common traits that lead sociopaths to be sociopaths and explain why they’re less likely to be psychopaths than people who don’t develop sociopathy, including their lack of empathy and impulsivity.