Related Psychological Disorders and Diagnoses
Psychological Disorder or Clinical Diagnosis?
Psychopathy is a scientifically recognized disorder. However, it is not a clinical diagnosis. This is because it is not listed by that name in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 (DSM-5)) or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), which are the manuals that mental health professionals use to classify and diagnose mental illnesses.
However, psychopathy overlaps with symptoms of recognized clinical disorders. Thus, people with psychopathy can benefit from an assessment from a mental health professional. Many people with psychopathy will also have one or more of the following conditions:
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) (applicable to adults 18 and older). A consistent pattern of aggression, criminal behavior, deceit, rule-breaking, impulsiveness, and/or lack of remorse. Only a minority of those who qualify for ASPD also have psychopathy. And many people with psychopathy do not meet criteria for ASPD.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). A consistent pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. People with psychopathy are typically narcissistic. Thus many people with psychopathy also meet the criteria for NPD. However, not all people with NPD are psychopathic.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A consistent pattern of inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement) and impulsivity. ADHD is relatively common, and most people with ADHD are not antisocial. However, ADHD is closely linked to an increased risk for antisociality over the lifespan. And a majority of people with psychopathy or related disorders of antisociality also meet criteria for ADHD.
Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Compulsive use of alcohol or drugs despite their harmful consequences. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) focus on using one or more substances to the point it takes over their lives. Many people with psychopathy also have substance use disorders. Note that substance use can mimic many symptoms of psychopathy. In this case, treatment for substance use alone may improve behavior.
Conduct Disorder (CD, applicable to children under 18). A consistent pattern of aggression, destructiveness, deceit, and/or rule-breaking. Most children with CD do not have psychopathy. But children with CD who also qualify for the Limited Prosocial Emotions specifier (low empathy and remorse, an uncaring nature, and shallow emotion) are at very high risk for psychopathy.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD, applicable to children under 18). A consistent pattern of irritability, argumentativeness, and defiant and/or spiteful behavior. ODD is a developmental precursor to CD. This means a child with ODD is at higher risk for developing CD.