Home Discussion Forum How Come Psychiatrists Say That Sociopaths Are Not A Valid Mental Illness?

How Come Psychiatrists Say That Sociopaths Are Not A Valid Mental Illness?

For cases like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy, the many psychiatrists and psychologists that have studied them personally have said that:
“Their crimes were sickening but they are not sick people in the psychiatric and legal sense; certainly not insane. They are more “bad” than anything else and knew full well what they were doing. They know between right and wrong but they didn’t care.”
Now, isn’t that a mental illness in of itself, to know right from wrong but choose to do horrible crimes? Why did they say that Bundy and Dahmer were not crazy?


  1. because their not technically mentally ill or psychotic , they are psychopathic os sociopathic which comes under the heading of mental disorder or antisocial personality disorder.

  2. The answer is in your quote…”they knew full well what they were doing”. If I understand the term of “insanity” correctly, it is an inability to know right from wrong, therefore the offender is not held responsible. You would think that murder and cannibalism would be a form of mental illness, but apparently it is not–only the question of accountability seems to be the issue.
    The term ‘sociopath’ does indicate a mental illness, but does not indicate insanity. Many people whith mental illness would not be considered ‘insane’.

  3. I have studied serial killers a lot and very few of them are actually crazy. One of the definitions of “crazy” is that they don’t know right from wrong. Since many of them know what they are doing is wrong (but choose to do it anyway) they are not crazy. But they are considered morally inept. Its the same way that we all know that lieing ect(just a example not anything personal) is wrong but we do it anyway. Its just that people like that have more serious things that they do like torturing and killing people. And yes technically that is a mental illness in and of its self. Called psychopath. So it is a mental illness but not enough to plea Innocent by reason of insanity. But even depression is a mental illness. Would you say that all depressed people are crazy?

  4. I believe it’s because those people were not “ill” in the mental sense. There was nothing chemically or otherwise biologically wrong with them to take part of the responsibility of their actions off them.
    They knew right from wrong. They were coherent and congnitive, and they “chose” to commit those crimes willingly, without being swayed by difficulty interpreting the choices before them.
    Mental illness is when, bio-chemically, something is wrong in the brain, usually making it hard for a person to function normally. This wasn’t present.
    Insanity is when a person is quite out of touch with the terms of reality, but usually due to bio-chemical factors.
    Certainly their behaviour can be considered “insane” in laymans terms, but the consequences they received for their actions needed to be based on how much control they actually had over their actions. As far as we understand, they had complete control.

  5. Actually, I just saw a program on the History Channel where scientists claimed that the amygdala was significantly smaller in sociopaths than in “normal” people. So technically, it IS physical and it IS a mental illness. They actually don’t really KNOW right from wrong. They are TOLD that something is right or wrong but they physically have no ability to “feel” right or wrong so they are disabled and insane even though they look “normal” on the outside and can function in society often times.

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