“The eyes of a psychopath will deceive you, they will destroy you. They will take from you, your innocence, your pride and eventually your soul. These eyes do not see what you and I can see. Behind these eyes, one finds only blackness, the absence of light. These are of a psychopath.” ― Dr. Samuel Loomis
They are glib, often charming, grandiose in their view of themselves, but also emotionally shallow, callous, and lacking in empathy and remorse. They are a special kind of sociopath, born not bred, they are the psychopaths.
Psychopaths can be entrepreneurs, politicians, and other successful individuals who may never see the inside of a prison and who never commit a violent crime. However, they do exploit people and leave them depleted and much the worse for the encounter.
As employees, they are treacherous, as businessmen they are conniving, and are ruthless and immoral as entrepreneurs and politicians.
It is estimated that psychopaths represent around 1% of the population. That means that there are over 3 million psychopaths in the United States alone. Moreover, the vast majority are not behind bars although studies suggest that as many as 25% of incarcerated criminals may be psychopaths.
Psychopathy is essentially a personality disorder, although not clinically. The term currently used by the psychiatric community for individuals lacking in remorse, who lie pathologically, and manipulate others for their own gain is “antisocial” or Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).
In the 1980s, the term “psychopath” was replaced with the term, “antisocial”. The essential element of this personality type is, “an absence of remorse or conscious.”
The following is a list of items based on the research of Robert Hare, Ph.D., which is derived from the “The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised”, 1991. These are the most highly researched and recognized characteristics of psychopathic personality and behavior to date, more research is being done to enhance our information and understanding.
Common characteristics of Psychopaths:
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Grandiose sense of self worth
- Need for stimulation/prone to boredom
- Pathological lying
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Shallow emotional response
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavioral controls
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Early behavioral problems
- Lack of realistic long-term goals
- Failure to accept responsibility for their own actions
- Many short-term relationships
- History of juvenile delinquency
It is believed that psychopaths do not have the same amount of grey matter in certain areas of the brain particularly the amygdala. This part of the brain is associated with learning and emotional response. Some have described this as, a physiological inability to grow a conscience.
Therefore, a psychopath is not the result of “bad parenting” nor is he the result of growing up in a harsh environment. This may be true for a sociopath but a psychopath was born to be a psychopath and even the most ideal environment and the ideal parenting could not have changed that.
A psychopath can have high cognitive intelligence, but they typically lack what we call “emotional intelligence”. They can be an expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. However, they lack any emotional depth of their own. A psychopath can “say the words, but not feel the feelings.”
“Psychopaths are found in every segment of society, and there is a good chance that eventually you will have a painful or humiliating encounter with one. Your best defense is to understand the nature of these human predators.” ― Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.
For violent psychopaths the type of violence in which they engage is different from that of non-psychopathic offenders in that it is likely to be more predatory, motivated by identifiable goals, and carried out in a calculated manner “without an emotional context.”
There is no cure, effective treatment, or medication to treat psychopathy. However, there are support groups for family members and victims of psychopaths. The following link will take you to an online Psychopath Family and Survivors Support Forum.
Source material: APA 2000, DSM-IV, Hare.org, Wikipedia, Robert Hare, Ph.D; Goodreads