Psychosis is a sweeping term including a wide range of disorders. The common denominator of all these disorders is the lack of sense of reality. People with psychosis suffer from delusions or illusions, even hallucinations. They believe that there are other people who want to hurt them or they listen or see unreal situations (in case of schizophrenia). However, these symptoms do not make them immoral or capable of murder. On the contrary, they are so disorganized that it is difficult enough for them to carry out such acts. It is most possible they harm themselves. In addition, they have the sense of empathy, they apprehend what other people feel and care about them, in contrast with psychopaths.
On the other hand, psychopathy, is characterized with lack of empathy. It is a personality disorder, and more specifically a type of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Some basic characteristics are irresponsible behavior without any feeling of guilt, disregard for stable relationships and feelings of others, inability of understanding the meaning of remorse and the value of human life. Indeed, psychopaths are satisfied when torturing or even claiming human or animal lives. It is noteworthy that they know full well what they do. Even though they understand what right or wrong is, it would not prevent them from following antisocial and violent tendencies.
The fact that psychosis and psychopathy belong to a wider range of mental disorders, does not allow us to identify it as the same one. It can happens a psychopath to experience a psychotic episode, but not as usually as media present, especially in television series and movies (e.g. serial killer). It is wrong we confuse these two cases.
Psychotic people need proper medication and psychotherapy in order to become operational again and reintegrate into society. It is not the same for psychopaths, as the majority of psychiatrists point out that psychopathy is an incurable disease and it is rarely get controlled with early intervention in childhood. As a result, the only way medical community controls and prevents negative situations is dedicated prisons.
It is time we stopped being afraid and avoiding interaction with people suffering from a "severe" mental illness such as schizophrenia. They are people just like us, with feelings, willingness to be socialized, dreams and plans for their life which were confounded because they became ill. As many of us have become ill from other lifelong diseases such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc., the same applies to the mental illness.
- American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
- Ann Rule. The Stranger Beside Me. New York: W. W. Norton. 1980. 350pp. An updated edition released in 2000.
- Stephen G. Michaud; Hugh Farnsworth. Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer. Irving, TX: Author link Press. 2000. 298pp.
- www.klinikilyrakou.gr – Lyrakos Dimitrios