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Writing Psychopaths vs Sociopaths

To develop a powerful antagonist use these lists for the personality traits of both psychopaths and sociopaths and how they differ.

  • Pretend to care about others.
  • Fail to recognise other people’s distress.
  • Have relationships that are shallow and fake and used to manipulate.
  • Maintain a normal life to cover criminal activities.
  • Cannot form genuine emotional attachments.
Psychopaths are:
  • Great liars.
  • Arrogant and vain.
  • Charismatic.Methodical.
  • Lacking in guilt or remorse.
  • Goal-orientated.
  • Insensitive to punishment.
  • Express they don’t care how other’s feel.
  • Hot-headed and compulsive.
  • Prone to fits of anger and range.
  • Recognise but try to rationalise their behaviour.
  • Cannot maintain a regular work or family life.
  • Can form attachments but find it difficult.
Sociopaths are:
  • Impulsive.
  • Erratic.
  • Chaotic.
  • Reckless.
Sociopaths have:
  • A limited ability to feel remorse.
  • No regard for risk.
  • No regard for consequences.
Commonalities and early warning signs
  • Aggression to people.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Destruction of property.
  • Deceitfulness.
  • Theft.
  • Disregard for rules.
  • Violation of laws.

Readers remember characters not plots. Make sure yours are fully-rounded both in personality and motivations. Make them vivid and authentic and readers will come back for more.