When we think of a psychopath, most of us get an image of a violent killer or an over the top villain. What most people don’t realize is that we are probably dealing with someone or more than one person who demonstrates the criteria for this disorder several times a week.
Psychopaths demonstrate a wide variety of deviant behaviors, the most important being the absence of any sense of conscience, remorse or guilt. The psychopath’s world is a strikingly skewed one in which the normal laws of human emotion and interaction do not apply. They are impulsive and destructive. They have no regard for the feelings and welfare of others.
They lie compulsively and feel absolutely no remorse. Apart from the tendency to follow foolish and irresponsible impulses that sometimes get them into trouble; they are coldly rational and usually highly intelligent. They do not need to repress feelings of anxiety and guilt, because they have no such feelings in the first place.
- Superficially charming; “silver tongued”
- Self-absorbed and egocentric
- Easily bored, in need of constant stimulation
- Habitual liar
- Shows no remorse; rationalizes wrongdoings, says people deserve it
- Shallow emotions
- Lacks empathy
- Exploits the goodwill of others especially financially
- Sexually promiscuous
- Behaves recklessly
- Accepts no responsibility for actions
- Had behavior problems as a child
- Lacks inhibitions
- Has no long term goals
- Has many short term relationships
- No respect for authority, including the law
- Thinks they are never wrong
- May be highly intelligent, but has no conscience
The psychopath does not merely repress feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame or fail to experience them appropriately; he or she lacks understanding of what these things are. Despite the emotional deficiency, most psychopaths learn to mimic the appearance of normal emotion well emotion well enough to fit into society. It usually works for them because most of us think that others have similar feelings to the ones we have.
The majority of these people are not violent criminals. The ones that are those who fail to blend into society. It is a fact that they have a clear advantage in fields such as law, business and politics. They have higher IQs on average than the general population. They take risks and are not fazed by failures. They know how to charm and manipulate. They are ruthless. Some of the criteria used by large corporations actually select candidates that demonstrate some psychopathic characteristics: characteristics such as charisma, self-centeredness, confidence and dominance are highly correlated with the psychopathic personality, yet highly sought after as potential leaders.
A lack of empathy does not necessarily mean intent to do harm. Just be aware that psychopaths are interested only in their own gain, and trouble is inevitable when their interests conflict with those of the company.
This is also frequently the cause of marital dissolution and conflicts in other relationships as well. They may be charming and affectionate just long enough to establish intimacy and then suddenly become abusive, unfaithful and manipulative. Unfortunately the abused partner often blame themselves and come out of the relationship emotionally destroyed.