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A comparison of two types of serial killers psychopaths and psychotics

Plants and Animals Television serial killer Dexter may be more of a psychopath than a sociopath due to his methodically delivered kills.

In making these characters famous, popular culture has also burned the words used to describe them into our collective consciousness. Most of us, fortunately, will never meet a Hannibal Lecter, but psychopaths and sociopaths certainly do exist. And they hide among us.

Psychopaths Versus Sociopaths: What Is The Difference?

Or they may manipulate someone else into breaking the law, while keeping themselves safely at a distance. Sound like someone you know? You do know one; at least one.

Prevalence rates come in somewhere between 0. Although most of us will never meet someone like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, we all know at least one sociopath. Psychopaths and sociopaths share a number of characteristics, including a lack of remorse or empathy for others, a lack of guilt or ability to take responsibility for their actions, a disregard for laws or social conventions, and an inclination to violence.

A core feature of both is a deceitful and manipulative nature. But how can we tell them apart?

Sociopaths are normally less emotionally stable and highly impulsive — their behaviour tends to be more erratic than psychopaths. When committing crimes — either violent or non-violent — sociopaths will act more on compulsion. And they will lack patience, giving in much more easily to impulsiveness and lacking detailed planning.

Psychopaths, on the other hand, will plan their crimes down to the smallest detail, taking calculated risks to avoid detection. The smart ones will leave few clues that may lead to being caught. Both act on a continuum of behaviours, and many psychologists still debate whether the two should be differentiated at all. But for those who do differentiate between the two, one thing is largely agreed upon: Psychopaths are born and sociopaths are made.

In essence, their difference reflects the nature versus nurture debate. And not all serial killers are psychopaths or sociopaths. Thomas Hemming murdered two people in 2014 just to know what it felt like to kill. A Case Study The Sydney murder of Morgan Huxley by 22-year-old Jack Kelsall, who arguably shows all the hallmarks of a psychopath, highlights the differences between psychopaths and sociopaths.

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In 2013, Kelsall followed Huxley home where he indecently assaulted the 31-year-old before stabbing him 28 times. Kelsall showed no remorse for his crime, which was extremely violent and pre-meditated. Throughout his trial and sentencing, Kelsall showed no sign of remorse, no guilt, and gave no apology.

A textbook psychopath, he would, I believe, have gone on to kill again. In my opinion — and that of the police who arrested him — Kelsall was a serial killer in the making. In the end, does the distinction between a psychopath and sociopath matter? Or they can spend their life among people who are none the wiser for it.