Psychopath or Sociopath – how to make your antagonist real.
A good writer does the best to make characters believable. Antagonists need to be round characters, too, not stereotypes or flat. One way to put depth into a villain is to decide whether or not the person has a “problem,” perhaps one that’s pathological or traumatic, that motivates behavior.
I’ve researched psychopath and sociopath. Most information stated that they are one and the same, and the terms have been considered interchangeable for at least twenty years. However, some of the newer decisions by the psychiatric community has been to show a slight difference between the two conditions.
Let’s look at the traits found in a psychopath and then look at the slight difference between psychopath and a sociopath. The first eight are absolutely associated with a psychopath. Nine through fifteen aren’t always noticeable, but are found to some extent. The final four are not as common as the first fifteen, but many psychopaths have the traits or history of such traits.
1. Glibness/superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
3. Pathological lying
5. Lack of remorse or guilt
6. Emotionally shallow
7. Callous/lack of empathy
8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
9. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
10. Parasitic lifestyle
11. Poor behavioral control
12. Promiscuous sexual behavior
13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
1. Juvenile delinquency
2. Early behavior problems
3. Revocation of conditional release
4. Many short-term marital relationships
5. Criminal versatility
The one difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is a sociopath can, and sometimes does, feel guilt or remorse. A psychopath never does, and if he shows such emotion, he is acting.
Does that mean that every psychopath and sociopath is a criminal? No, because the same traits can be found in politicians, CEOs, and other people in positions of power. However, those people don’t believe that anything they do is wrong, that if others are hurt, it doesn’t matter.
So using the traits to make the antagonist more believable makes our writing better, gives motivation for our villain.
Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap