BPD VS Sociopathy – Differences & Similarities

This article is for informative purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified mental health professional or healthcare provider if you are struggling.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) are two highly stigmatized conditions. Being that they are both cluster B personality disorders, their symptoms and life effects can be confused for one another. To better understand these two conditions, in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the differences and similarities between BPD and ASPD.

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

People who are diagnosed with ASPD are commonly characterized by disregarding other people’s feelings and have little care in what’s right or wrong (Mayo Clinic 2019b). Commonly known as sociopathy, people with this condition are generally known for manipulative and harmful behavior to themselves and others. Other signs of ASPD include:

  • Criminal behavior
  • Aggression
  • Lack of empathy
  • Dishonesty 
  • Exploitative of others

(Source: Mayo Clinic 2019b)

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

BPD is commonly characterized by instability in relationships, sense of self, and in emotions (Mayo Clinic 2019a). Generally, those diagnosed with BPD have an intense fear of abandonment and thus have chaotic and stormy relationships. Other signs of BPD include:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Self-injurious behavior 
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Rapid shifting in ideas and values
  • Intense anger

(Source: Mayo Clinic 2019a)

How Are They Similar?

While BPD and ASPD are completely different conditions with problems unique from one another, they do overlap in many ways. Both are considered cluster B personality disorders meaning that their symptoms interfere with emotional regulation and behavior (Smith 2020). Some of the ways they overlap are:

  • Both people with ASPD and BPD can engage in impulsive behaviors
  • Both can be easily angered and lash out quickly
  • Both can have similar causes rooted in childhood trauma
  • Symptoms for both conditions have a tendency to decline in severity later in life

(Sources: Salters 2020 and Grande 2018)

Additionally, it is possible for these conditions to be co-morbid with one another and with other disorders like depression, anxiety, or other personality disorders (Grande 2018).

How Are They Different?

While there are overlaps between the two conditions, one of the biggest differences relates to how the symptoms express themselves (Grande 2018). For instance, someone with ASPD may act impulsively in order to gain power in a situation, whereas someone with BPD may act impulsively as a defensive mechanism. This is often true for many of their other overlaps. Some other differences include:

  • Harmful behavior may be directed more towards other parties in ASPD whereas BPD self-directs their behavior
  • People with ASPD tend to have higher cognitive empathy, putting oneseslf in other’s shoes, than those with BPD. However, those with BPD tend to show better affective empathy, the ability to have an emotional response to someone’s situation.
  • BPD tends to showcase itself in extreme emotions, while those with ASPD may struggle with feeling emotions
  • Treatment tends to work more effectively for BPD than ASPD, latter of which needs a more specialized approach

(Sources: Grande 2018, Salters 2020, and Clarke 2020)

Overall, the differences between the two conditions separate themselves quite drastically meaning that treatment will look dramatically different in treating either condition (Salters 2020).

While BPD and ASPD have their overlaps, they are still very different from one another and have challenges unique to one another. Treatment for either condition, or both at the same time, is possible and takes getting in contact with the right mental health professional to get on the right track. Let us know your thoughts on this article down below. Can you think of any more differences or similarities?

References:

  • Clarke, J. (2020, April 7). How Empathy Can Improve Your Relationships. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/cognitive-and-emotional-empathy-4582389
  • Dr. Todd Grande. (2018, November 10). Antisocial Personality Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnA9LzKXQJA
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019a, July 17). Borderline personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019b, December 10). Antisocial personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353928
  • Salters, K. (2020, July 13). Antisocial Personality Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/antisocial-personality-disorder-p2-425417
  • Smith, A. (2020, September 30). What to know about cluster B personality disorders. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320508#symptoms

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