If you’ve had the sinking suspicion that your boyfriend is a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath, a quick Google search will probably convince you in 10 minutes that not only is he one, he’s likely the Antichrist himself.
Manipulation, being abusive or hostile, lying and cheating are all valid reasons to seriously consider whether your partner is relationship material. However, there is a whole universe of difference between having a full-blown mental disorder and simply being a jerk.
This article will explain why trying to “spot” a psychopath, narcissist or sociopath from among your friends or exes is usually a bad idea.
Psychopaths, narcissists and sociopaths oh my!
First, a word on terminology. From the established psychiatric community’s point of view, and from what is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the term “sociopath” has not existed since 1980 and is now considered an outdated concept. These days, the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder is closest, but still quite different from what most people think of when they hear the word “sociopath”.
On the other hand, “psychopath” is not an official diagnosis at all; in fact “psychopathy” describes in very general terms any mental disorder, from anxiety to depression, and is a word used more in the media and public imagination than by mental health professionals.