In light of the passing of James Gandolfini, I thought I might address this difference as it relates to the Sopranos’ character, Tony Soprano.
Psychopathy and sociopathy are both understood to be on the spectrum of antisocial personality disorder. Like most psychiatric conditions, both are the result of an interaction between biological predispositions and environmental stressors. Psychopathy is a severe form of the condition whereas sociopathy tends to be a milder version of the maladaptive personality traits.
Biological predispositions include; the child’s temperament, cortical under-arousal, and impulsivity that may lead to risk-taking behaviors as well as an inability to conform to social norms. Some negative environmental factors include; parental neglect or abuse, poverty, and the absence of a paternal figure in the household.
Although a person may behave despicably at times, it is the patterns of behaviors that are focused upon for diagnostic purposes