When you think of a psychopath, you might picture someone along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or the Joker from Suicide Squad. But what if you were to find out that there could be a psychopath among your family, friends or colleagues?
The word ‘psycho’ is often thrown around quite loosely to describe someone that might be considered ‘crazy’ or to describe a ‘nut-job.’ But often I think people forget that there are actually people out there living with clinical psychopathy.
There are signs and symptoms of being a ‘psycho.’ The American Psychiatric Association’s definition of psychopathy can be summed up as ‘a pervasive pattern or disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.’
The manual also outlines traits that can define psychopathy and which ones are recurring since the age of 15. Professor Robert Hare, a career criminal psychologist said: ‘It stuns me that it is possible to have people who are so emotionally disconnected that they can function as if other people are [not objecting to being manipulated] and destroyed without any concern.’ Here are 11 frequent behaviors that psychopaths display.
1. Acts of Aggression: They will often lack a sense of impulse control combined with a lack of emotional awareness. This can often result in acts of violent aggression. Psychopaths might not always physically harm someone, but they’re usually emotionally and verbally abusive.
2. Constant Thrill Seeking: This goes a bit beyond the typical ‘adrenalin junkie’ type of behavior of going skydiving or bungee jumping. Psychopaths are often hooked on committing acts that stimulate their desire of danger. Even if this means putting themselves or others at risk of harm or doing something illegal.
3. Manipulation: This one might seem obvious, but psychopaths are known for their manipulative skills. Without the ‘inner compass’ to guide them, they might manipulate and deceive people just for entertainment.
4. Irresponsibility and Accusatory Behavior: Psychopaths often don’t take responsibility for their actions or behavior. Instead, they attempt to insist the victim is to blame.
5. Lack of Genuine Emotion: Typical psychopathic traits include jealousy, anger, rage, and frustration but they lack deeper emotions such as kindness, compassion, and empathy. That is, unless…
6. …They Want To Take Advantage Of Someone: They may use kindness and benevolence to get whatever they want. This can be money, power, fame, etc. Some psychopaths don’t see ‘personal gain’ the way others do and will just do this to get a thrill.
7. Lack of Empathy: Psychopaths often have strained relationships because they lack the important quality of empathy. Researchers examined the brain images of 121 inmates in a study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. They found that inmates who were classified as ‘highly-psychopathic’ failed to show results of empathetic concern.
8. Amplified Sense of Self-Worth: They are often arrogant, dominant, and show narcissistic tendencies. This causes them to have a heightened sense of self-importance and worth. They also may have a strongly distorted sense of self-entitlement.
9. Lack Real Friendships: For a friendship to work, it requires mutual and honest communication and sharing of emotions. Although psychopaths can fake responses to emotions, they cannot form honest positive emotions towards other humans making any friendship invalid.
10. Strangely Charming: When a psychopath wants something, it’s easy for them to turn on the charm and act funny, sweet, and genuine. They can fool almost anyone and this can lead to devastation after they get what they want.
11. They Are Habitual Criminals: 25 percent of all male offenders in federal prisons are psychopathic. Although they make up less than one percent of the overall population, a psychopath’s impulsivity, aggression, disregard for the law, and lack of empathy, contribute to the skewed numbers.
These are some of the signs and symptoms that can be considered ‘psychopathic behaviour.’ Do you think you know someone who might be showing any signs?