The "Psychopathy" term that Hans Asperger used when he published his findings in 1944 to describe Aspergerís Syndrome must not be confused by the term "Psychopath", over sixty years later by the worldwide media. Though it is true that some similarities between the two conditions do exist, there are vast differences, many of which are listed on this page. The use of the term "Sociopath" is rapidly replacing psychopath in the 21st Century.
As well as the above, there is also the possibility of psychopathic and psychotic being confused in the public's mind, when in fact they are two totally different mental conditions.
The most prominent symptoms of a psychopath is antisocial behaviour, having no conscience, being highly manipulative, being a fluent and convincing liar and being superficially charming. Psychopaths are thrill seekers who view others as fodder for exploitation.
Amongst the first signs that someone is a psychopath is cruelty to animals in childhood but there are other warning signs, such as violence to other people, but to individuals in general, which often appears to be either motiveless, or with little motive behind it, along with damage to and/or theft of property.
Someone can't be diagnosed as a Psychopath before 18 years of age but there is usually evidence of Conduct Disorder before that age. Not all people with this become Psychopaths, but most do. However, I will focus primarily on adult Psychopaths on this page.
Despite being very good at manipulating others for their own ends and appearing to be superficially charming, a psychopath often runs into trouble with the law or some authority because of their impulsiveness and because they don't spend little if any time weighing up the pros and cons of the possible consequences of any action they may undertake. It appears that the psychopath has to do something bad or wrong to keep some demon inside them at bay.
Being caught often makes the psychopath believe they were justified to commit the offence in the first place, be it physical violence, murder, theft or fraud, and that the victim or victims had it coming and deserved it, as psychopath's have a right, so they believe, to do what they want, when they want do it, where they want do it and to who they want. If they go down the path of murder or violence, or even robbery or fraud, they dehumanise their victims, not seeing them as people with feelings, hopes and aspirations, but merely as objects.
Imagine feeling nothing towards anybody else, and never feeling bad about anything you've ever done. Only consider feeling deafened emotion when something directly impacts you. However, psychopaths do experience, and feel emotions, contrary to popular belief, but it is shallow and deafened. Due to being egocentric they don't see other people as having them, and it is their own feelings that they care about, no one else's.
Psychopaths are both cold and calculating, even if they have a bit of superficial charm.
Psychopaths are subject to the Nature v Nurture debate, like Schizophrenia and Bipolar is. Some people say Psychopaths are born. Other say they are made. People with AS are born with the condition. That is almost certain.
Some people have had horrific, terrible backgrounds and have been subject to the most appalling child abuse, but haven't grown up, evolved or developed into being psychopaths. Some people have been brought up in very loving, affectionate, pleasant and affluent upbringings and have become psychopaths. However, an individual raised in the former background is more likely to be a violent psychopath than the psychopath raised in the latter.
Psychological tests seemed to prove the nature hypothesis over the nurture arguement. Psychopaths don't have usually experience the same physiological responses to fear that constrain the behaviour of normal people, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, dry mouth, trembling and muscle tension. Psychopaths don't have physiological responses to emotionally charged words, such as "love", suggesting that they process emotional stimuli differently. Adoption studies indicate that children can inherit psychopathic traits from a psychopathic parent even when they are raised by different parents.
Researchers have found discrepancies in the hippocampus and the corpus callosum in the psychopathic brain. It is believed that the hippocampus of a psychopath is frequently disproportionate and that the right side of the hippocampus being much larger than the left. The corpus callosum of such individuals tends to be larger and longer than average. The speed in which a psychopath transfers information through their corpus callosum is much faster than usual. It is suspected that this leads to their general absence of remorse and overall emotions.