Of the many features that characterize spiritual abusers, the traits of psychopathy and/or sociopathy often emerge and are worthy of examination and consideration. Many professionals use the terms synonymously, as many consider sociopathy as distinct and separate from psychopathy, based upon the focus of the affected person's behaviors and personality traits. A sociopath suggests prominent display of traits and behavior in a social setting.
Psychopathy describes a person who is self-oriented or self-absorbed, demonstrating various degrees of lack of empathy and consideration of others as a result.
This produces a tendency to disregard normal social convention in some circumstances as the psychopath tends to create and live by his or her own interpretation of social rules. Because of this self-oriented nature, the psychopath tends to demonstrate emotional detachment or at least a selective ability to emotionally detach from relationships or situations that would be expected to cause emotional conflict. These traits can be acquired through normal growth and development in response to environment, or these characteristics can sometimes be a primary effect of disease in the brain.
Magid and McKelvey (pg 21) simply describe a psychopath as "one who must have what he wants, no matter what the cost to those in his way."
Here is another description of a psychopath also cited in "Captive Hearts, Captive Minds," quoting Strausberger in "Unmasking the Psychopath" (pg 191):
These people are impulsive, unable to tolerate frustration and delay, and have problems with trusting. They take a paranoid position or externalize their emotional experience. They have little ability to form a working alliance and a poor capacity for self-observation. Their anger is frightening. Frequently they take flight. Their relations with others are highly problematic. When close to another person, they fear engulfment or fusion or loss of self. At the same time, paradoxically, they desire closeness; frustration of their entitled wishes are nourished, cared for, and assisted often leads to rage.