They are funny, charming, and charismatic. When you first meet, they like all the things you like and want to go to all the places you go. You have so much in common! You think. They thrive on your every word and tell you all the things you want to here. They are your family members, friends, co-workers your significant other, and maybe even your children. They will manipulate you, take what they want from you and eventually hurt you, leave you, or worse. They are psychopaths and even if they have not physically harmed anyone, they are dangerous and the damage they cause you and others in their lives is devastating. Learn about The Psychopath Near You….
What is a psychopath?
Realizing you are dealing with a psychopath is a scary thought. They do not feel empathy nor do they show remorse, but they can fake these emotions to manipulate you into believing they are normal with normal human emotions, just like you. They pretend to love you to manipulate you into giving them what they want. They fake remorse to get you to forgive them for doing something wrong. They fake remorse when they are caught doing something wrong, not because they feel bad for what they did, but because they are angry they were caught.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of a psychopath is a person who is very ill, who does not care about other people and who is usually dangerous or violent. Dictionary.com’s psychopath definition is a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, and failure to learn from experience.
“People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get what they want. The symptoms of psychopathy include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others,” says Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and president of Darkstone Research Group, a forensic research and consulting firm.
In his book, Without Conscience, Hare states, “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.” People with psychopathic tendencies have been around forever, he says, and they exist in all races, cultures and societies.
Those with psychopathic personality disorder lack a conscience and always put themselves first. They selfishly pretend to be something they are not in order to gain your trust, love and acceptance, even if they cannot return that love, trust and acceptance.
Eventually, they will show their true self as you get to know them, love them or live with them. However, when a psychopath enters your life, you might not know you have been deceived right away. Knowing how to spot a psychopath is the first step in protecting yourself from the danger and damage they can inflict upon you and your loved ones.
Characteristics of a Psychopath
When you think of a psychopath one famous psychopath might come to mind. From the movie that spawned eight sequels and two remakes, Michael Myers is an escaped insane asylum patient who returns to his old neighborhood to kill the one remaining survivor from his family’s slaughter fifteen years prior. While this is a dramatic fictional story, many real life psychopaths emulate fictional characters like Michael Myers. Some even live full, seemingly normal lives with marriage and kids while acting out their psychopathic behaviors unbeknownst to the people around them. Their ability to hide who they are and manipulate you is one of their most dangerous weapons.
What are the key traits of a psychopath?
According to Hare, the characteristics of a psychopath are:
- Superficial Narcissistic and Self-centered
Psychopaths are articulate and witty. They weave stories that always paint them in the best light, even when those stories are false or over-inflated. They always put themselves above all else. A psychopath’s sense of entitlement intensifies their overstated self-worth.
- Lacking Remorse and Guilt
Psychopaths do not show remorse for their actions, even when their actions negatively affect someone else. They do not feel guilt for hurting others or any wrongdoing and will justify their behavior with excuses or denial.
- Lacking Empathy and emotions
The inability to create an emotional connection with others means they do not empathize with them. Cold hearted and detached from others feelings, psychopaths do not relate to other people and often see them as possessions, discarding them when they no longer have a use for them.
- Deceitful and Manipulative
You will second-guess yourself while they ramble one lie after another, rather than second-guess what they psychopath is actually telling you. They weave stories and change facts to make the pieces of the story fit together. They will tell you what they think you want to hear to get you to believe them.
- Impulsive, Easily Provoked and Antisocial Behavior
Psychopaths do not take time to consider consequences to their actions and are likely to act on impulsive rather than logic. Impulsive behavior creates immediate gratification and pleasure for the psychopath. They tend to be short-tempered and prone to sudden bursts of violence. However, they can easily move on from these outbursts as if nothing has happened.
With a disregard for the rights of others constant recklessness and deceitfulness they do not adhere to social norms. They may have trouble keeping a job or getting along with co-workers and following the rules at their place of employment. They also are likely to participate in criminal behavior and end up in prison.
- Excitement and Lacking Responsibility
The need for excitement and living on the edge is strong with psychopaths. They bore easily and often break the law. They live by their own set of rules and look for enjoyment in danger. They break promises, do not honor commitments, and are not trustworthy individuals. They do not have any concern for others, even when their actions are likely to cause harm to others.
Hare created the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy. His psychopathy checklist of twenty traits questions these specific characteristics and assesses a scored value to determine if psychopathy exists. The questions extend to early behavioral patterns, juvenile delinquency and promiscuity.
Are All Psychopaths Murderers?
Thinking someone is a psychopath brings some murderous names from history to mind. Famous psychopaths like Ted Bundy, who confessed to murdering thirty women and slept with their corpses, and Jeffrey Dahmer, who brutalized and killed young men for his own disturbing desires and saved body parts as trophy’s are at the top of the list. But are all Psychopaths violent murderers? “An individual doesn’t necessarily need to be physically violent or a common street criminal to have psychopathic traits,” says Jennifer Skeem, UCI professor of psychology & social behavior. Many ruthless executives have psychopathic tendencies, like Bernie Madoff who lacked any remorse after he managed a Ponzi scheme to steal money from unsuspecting investors.
Not all psychopaths are murders. In fact, not all psychopaths are adults either. “The environmental factors are as ill-defined as the genetic factors, although antisocial behavior mixed with a history of punitive discipline, abuse and neglect seems to apply in many cases,” says Skeem.
Psychopathy in children
Some experts, such as Dan Waschbusch, Psychology researcher at Florida International University, School of Integrated Science and Humanity and Paul J. Frick, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor Department Chair at The University of New Orleans, think that psychopathic tendencies and antisocial personality disorders are seen in teens and children as young as Kindergarten age. However, not all experts agree that children can be diagnosed at such young ages. If you are wondering whether psychopathic tendencies are a part of your child’s personality, it is possible, but is difficult to diagnose in children.
Many factors go into determining conduct or behavioral disorders in children, including genetics, social and environmental factors. Poor behavioral tendencies can include the following, though this list is not all inclusive of the symptoms a child can possess:
- Cruelty to animals and other children.
- Obsession with Fire.
- Not showing guilt for wrongdoing (not feeling bad for hurting another child).
- Disregard for the feelings of others (not feeling sad when another child cries).
- Showing manipulative behavior and lacking emotion.
- Never taking responsibility for their own actions. It’s always someone else’s fault.
- Punishment and discipline does not deter their behavior.
If you are concerned that your child is showing many of the psychopathic symptoms, especially those that are harmful and cruel, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional right away. Only a qualified professional can diagnose your child and work with correcting your child’s behavior. Many children may exhibit some of the above behavioral problems, but that does not necessarily make them a psychopath.
More often, your child exhibits symptoms linked with behavioral or conduct disorders. However, it is a possibility, with proper diagnosis and therapy, to correct these symptoms and change the children’s understanding of his or her behavior before they turn into true psychopathic tendencies, as they grow older.
Loving a Psychopath
Why is it so easy to fall in love with a psychopath who will never love you back? Psychopaths are incapable of love, but they can fake love. They are charming and charismatic, piquing your interest. However, not just the psychopath’s charming ways make you fall in love. According to Sandra L. Brown, CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education and award winning author says many women who fall in love with psychopaths possess some of the same ‘super traits’ or characteristics that attract these hazardous men. These traits turn you from an independent to co-dependent woman:
- Extraversion and Excitement seekers
- Ultimately leading to you become dependent on the psychopath
- Relationship Investment
- Including emotional, spiritual, and financial investment
- Deep Bonding capabilities and sentimentality
- Low Harm Avoidanceand Hyper Empathy
- Cooperation, Resourcefulness and Responsibility
“You get fabulous women who love deeply, who have a big heart, who get much out of their relationships and who tend to trust openly because they believe that everyone on the planet is as good and decent and loving as they are. What’s more, their super-traits make them able to hold to that belief in the face of some of the most horrifying evidence to the contrary imaginable,” Sandra writes in The Unexamined Victim: Women Who Love Psychopath.
Are you one of the many women who carry these traits? If so, Sandra Browns Book Woman Who Love Psychopaths is a great resource for learning how to overcome the psychopath in your life and understand how you attract them in the first place.
Am I a Psychopath?
There is a quiz making its rounds on Facebook, The Psychopath Quiz, delighting everyone who takes it. Writers find it especially intriguing since understanding a psychopath’s mind would make a great book. However, if you find yourself asking the question, am I a psychopath, then it is time to find out. While many online quizzes will provide you with some information based on calculating your answers to simple questions, it is best to seek help of a qualified professional such as your own doctor or a psychologist determine if you do have psychopathic tendencies and characteristics. If you are unsure where to start, take a psychopath test to get you thinking and bring it with you to your evaluation.
Can Psychopaths Change if They Get Help?
The most important question to ask first is does a psychopath want to get help? The only way for a psychopath to change is if they actively and honestly participate in therapy. However, since psychopaths do not see themselves as having a mental disorder that requires changing, they do not seek therapy.
Robert Hare says, “Successful therapy also requires that the patient actively participate, along with the therapist, in the search for relief of his or her symptoms. In short, the patient must recognize there is a problem and must want to do something about it. But here is the crux: Psychopaths don’t feel they have psychological or emotional problems, and they see no reason to change their behavior to conform with societal standards they do not agree with.”
While many experts agree, psychopaths cannot change, Jennifer Skeem believes that for some psychopathic tendencies will reduce with intensive treatment, mental health counselling and drug rehabilitation.
What Do You Do if you Are One of the Many Women Who Love Psychopaths?
While the psychopath in your life will try to make you feel bad for them, you are the victim. The most important thing to do is consult a professional. Psychopaths can harm you physically, mentally and emotionally. Dealing with them on your own is difficult and sometimes dangerous. Seeking the help of a professional provides you with a solid foundation for getting away from a psychopath and moving forward.
Check out support groups in your area. You are not alone and many women are victims of psychopaths every day. Emotional support will help you on your journey of rediscovery and awareness.
Read Up On the Subject!
Other than Sandra Brown’s Woman Who Love Psychopaths, there are some interesting and detailed books on the topic of psychopaths, if you would like to learn more. Gain an in-depth understanding about the nature of psychopaths, know if you or someone you love is a psychopath and get away from them with these non-fiction titles.
Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People, by Peace is a recovery handbook that helps you navigate the psychopathic relationships in your life.
Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among us, by Robert D. Hare is an in-depth look into the mind of a psychopath, how you can recognize the characteristics and how you can protect yourself from their dangers.
Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?, by Ronald Schouten, MD, JD, and James Silver, JD. is a look at interventions and resources for assessing and changing your behavior.
For an indulging fictional read, pick up Gone Girl. Now a major motion picture starring Ben Affleck, Gone Girl is a New York Times Bestselling novel and a truly disturbing look into a toxic, deceitful and scary relationship with a psychopath.