The true crime community, once a small niche group on Reddit and Tumblr, has grown over the years with the Investigation Discovery channel churning out content and Netflix jumping on the bandwagon. You've probably heard of the Manson family tapes on Hulu, the Ted Bundy tapes on Netflix, or even more likely, the Ted Bundy movie starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins.
It doesn't stop at just television, however. Even YouTubers have grown keen on the trend, the most notable being Shane Dawson's docu-series revolving around Jake Paul, which dissected claims of him being a sociopath. Needless to say, the true crime craze has blossomed into something much bigger than anyone had ever dreamed of.
The only issue with this is that given the wide-spread popularity of true crime seeping into our lives, more and more people are using the term "sociopath" and other psychopathy-related terms to describe someone they just have an off-feeling about.
According to the DSM-5, the official diagnostic tool of therapists and psychiatrists alike, both sociopathy and psychopathy are clumped together under an Antisocial Personality Disorder. The two labels do share a few traits in common, such as a disregard for laws and the rights of others, a tendency for violence, and failure to feel remorse. However, one thing must be made clear.
Sociopaths are not psychopaths.
Go ahead, read that again.
The big defining feature of a sociopath is their lack of empathy and failure to feel remorse. It is difficult for sociopaths to form attachments with others and they tend to be nervous or easily agitated. Psychopaths, on the other hand, are those with disarmingly charming personalities that learn to mimic emotions they themselves cannot feel (due to their lack of empathy). Psychopaths are extremely manipulative and are usually cool, calm, and meticulous.
Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader were all psychopaths.
Stop adding even more stigma to the sociopathic label. The life of a sociopath is uneasy enough without popular media continuously and confusingly casting more dirt on them.