Can a person diagnosed as sociopath or psychopath legally become a pilot?


Mildred's people

Yes, although it's more likely a psychopath could successfully become a pilot and go "undetected" than a sociopath would. I'll discuss this further later, but the short answer is that, as far as the FAA is concerned, a pilot is ineligible for a medical certificate if they have "A personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts" (FAR 67.107). So some people with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (which includes psychopaths and sociopaths) would therefore be disqualified, but some would not. The core personality traits of people with ASPD are lack of empathy, lack of remorse, lack of emotion, boldness, aggressiveness, manipulating and cunning behavior, seductive and superficially charming, and having poor impulse control. It's that last one...poor impulse control, along with being aggressive that can get an ASPD into trouble. If you're inclined to commit robberies, rape, assaults, or murder... those are definitely "overt acts", and you'll eventually wind up in prison. No airline is going to hire someone with a criminal rap sheet, even if FAR 67.107 didn't exist. HIGH functioning ASPDs however have impulse controls and temperaments that are far less impaired than low-functioning ones. They are able to function in society and generally play by the rules. (In fact, they tend to command some pretty impressive jobs). They aren't exactly teddy bears to be around on a personal day to day basis, but they aren't at all dangerous people. If they manage to stay clean of legal trouble and can otherwise meet all the criteria for becoming a pilot, a diagnosis of ASPD by itself isn't necessarily disqualifying. The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, at least according to most psychiatric professionals, is that a psychopath is born with an impaired amygdala and limbic system, which in turn impairs emapthy and emotions. People who earn the label "sociopath" on the other hand appear to be born with normal limbic brain structures, but they experience severe trauma in childhood, such as neglect or abuse. These people are more likely to grow up angry, violent, vindictive, and "unhinged", which would spell trouble for a pilot career. Psychopaths are cold and calculating. Sociopaths tend to be hot headed and impulsive. You can see why the sociopath would be a hazard in the cockpit, while a psychopath might actually be a benefit. It might surprise you to know that the following careers are the most likely to have the greatest concentration of people with ASPD, psychopaths in particular: CEOs, attorneys, politicians, firefighters, cops; snipers, bomb disposal, and other high-risk military professions; salespeople, journalists, stunt performers. Psychopaths in particular are cunning and bold, sometimes called "fearless dominance" among psychiatrists. They are well suited for dangerous jobs, or jobs that require the use of manipulation, because they aren't afraid of the risks, or of other people. I would guess that in the early days of aviation, it might have once attracted people with psychopathic traits... Howard Hughes is as fine of an example as I can think of. Nowadays with commercial air transportation being as safe as it is, it's not a career that would top the list for thrill seekers. Still, in an emergency, I certainly wouldn't mind a psychopathic pilot in the cockpit with me (a high functioning one of course), as they would perform calmly and objectively under pressure. Up to 3% of people in Western nations are estimated to be psychopaths. I would assume that there are some pilots who qualify for that label.


Of course. JetDoc and Pilsner Man are proof of that.

duck you sucker!

Yes. If someone with S.D. that is controlled by medication can fly, so can a S. Or P. that is on prescription meds, if taking them does not interfere with cognizance.


If they can become President then theres no keeping them from anything else. And there was an airliner crash in Europe years ago where they proved the Co-Pilot deliberately dove it into the ground while the Pilot was going to the restroom.




Yep. There is no psychological or sociological testing required to take pilot training. The sociopaths who hijacked the airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center on 9/11 were student pilots.


You won’t find the definitions in mental health’s official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Doctors don’t officially diagnose people as psychopaths or sociopaths. They use a different term instead: antisocial personality disorder. Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) cases must be deferred to FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division. APD is a chronic disease without effective treatments, likely to result in medical certificate denial.


No they cannot