Psychosis Vs. Psychopathy

There is a very simple understanding to which I have been building for some time.

The understanding is this: when people say ‘psycho’, they mean ‘psychopath’.

A psychopath is quite different from a person who suffers or has suffered psychosis.

Now, we need to be compassionate to psychopaths. It’s a condition. They need compassionate care. But I am not on a crusade to improve treatment of psychopaths.

And you might ask me, and it would be a fair question – What’s the matter, Uttley? Has someone been calling you a psycho or saying that psychosis equals psychopathy?

No. Nope. It’s just that I’ve read that the gross mainstream misconception is that schizophrenic = psycho = violent behavior. And I fear, I guess, that I may be feared.

More driving than the fear though, probably, is the sense of implicit false accusation.

Even that sense of injustice, though, is not why I am in the proverbial closet about Sz at work.

I don’t tell my manager or coworkers about my mental illness because I know it will make them doubt my reliability. That’s another can of worms, stigma-wise.

But for now, I’ll just rest assured that I’ve sort of put my finger on the knot of the main kind of stigma I’m personally endeavoring to counteract…

The thrust of which is again that the psychosis suffered by those with schizophrenia is not the psychopathy which correlates with violence.




    • If psychosis may be said to induce unpredictable behavior, which I think is fair, then how is that behavior any more likely to be violent or harmful than any other unpredictable behavior, as that caused by, say, panic, or alcohol?


  1. It really is a gross failure of language that these two terms are so easily mixed up. “Psycho” refers to an external relationship, a value judgment if you will, while “psychosis” is an internal condition. Psycho = psychopath = sociopath (mostly?), which relates to an individual’s failure to acclimate in a way that is healthy for other social beings. This applies to people not suffering from psychosis such as con men, criminals, and others with marked deficits of empathy. Their lack of integration in our society is the primary symptom, and altogether very different from psychosis, which reflects internal challenges to normal cognitive modes. Psychosis is a symptom of internal turbulence and is not defined by one’s social relationship to others (although it can certainly make these relationships more challenging).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so important that we come to understand the difference between psychosis and psychopathy. I have just published an article about schizophrenia – perhaps you’d like to have a read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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