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Can You Be Born Psychopathic?

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From a teen in the U.S.: I’m aware that psychopathic tendencies can be taught and heightened, something an educated sociopath would out seek, and I’m aware that a sociopath tends to be a product of mental weathering and/or environment, and I’m aware that they are both under the ASPD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) umbrella — my question is: Can a psychopath be heavily outweighed by a sociopathic development but still be considered psychopathic if things like anxiety and procrastination prevail? When and where is the line drawn to determine if you’re a natural-born psychopath developed into sociopath, or a sociopath slowly strengthening them-self and becoming psychopathic?

Can You Be Born Psychopathic?

Answered by on -


You asked a complicated question so there is no simple answer. Personally, I don’t think people are born sociopathic. People are social animals by nature — more like dogs than cats. We’re pack animals. Unless something happens to make us distrust others, we know that our survival depends on the survival of the pack.

I think it is likely that what we call sociopathy is an unfortunate response to a toxic environment that left a person feeling hurt and alone. Adopting it as an identity is a painful way for a discouraged and very hurt person to still belong. (Even a sociopath needs other people in order to be sociopathic.)

My guess is that you are dealing with something like social anxiety. At 18, you are at a perfect age to initiate and work on making some major changes. From now until about age 25, your brain is making significant changes that will impact the rest of your life. I strongly urge you to see a counselor to help you be the architect of those changes.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Can You Be Born Psychopathic?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Can You Be Born Psychopathic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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