Is Someone In Your Life A Psychopath?... Would You Know?

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 04/24/2012 - 1:04pm.



Psychopathy is a mental health disorder. The major characteristics of a psychopath, are violation of others, such as stealing or violence, and lack of empathy and remorse. Psychopaths often appear healthy, and some are charming. Unfortunately, no treatment is currently available for this disorder.[1] ~ See related article

You've met a man who seems too good to be true: he's charming, confident and you have endless things in common. But you soon realise things aren't quite as they seem. He vanishes for days on end and has a string of exes. You should move on, but it's hard to put him out of your mind.

Or perhaps it's your boss who dominates your thoughts. She takes too many big risks at work and treats you like a pawn in her game. Or a friend who's always asking favours of you and borrowing your clothes, then moves into your spare room - and next moves in on your man.

What have they got in common? The tell-tale symptoms of being a psychopath. Most of us have referred to a 'psycho ex' or a 'psycho boss' at one time or another, but few really understand what the term means.

Fundamentally, the word psychopath describes people who are utterly selfish, with no concern for others. Life to them is a game, and all that matters is they win.

As a forensic psychologist, I have been working with criminal psychopaths for 20 years - people who have ended up in jail for murder, violence and fraud. But I have become increasingly fascinated by how these traits manifest themselves in people who might never become criminals.

Between 1 and 3 per cent of the population exhibits psycho tendencies - so if you've got 100 Facebook friends, the chances are one of them is a psychopath. They might not be a criminal, but they are emotionally dangerous. Here's how to spot one . . .

Is your man a psychopath?

Love can be blind, and psychopaths are incredibly skilled at mimicking loving behaviour. But it means nothing to them, and they do it only to get what they want.

One client of mine gave a good insight into the way his mind worked when he said of a woman he was dating: 'I would call her a regular associate, not a girlfriend. I like the fact she provides me with convenient sex, she does things for me and gives me company.'

A psychopathic partner declares love one minute, then threatens to leave you the next, until your self-esteem is so low you're incapable of escape.

He will disappear for days, take money from your wallet, cheat on you - but make you feel you are over-reacting when you confront him. He will twist the situation so it's you who ends up apologising.

What to do

  • Accept you are never going to change a psychopathic partner - and they'll never be capable of loving you.

  • If you decide to leave, get legal advice if necessary and surround yourself with friends.

  • If you can't leave straightaway, at least ensure you have a separate bank account.

  • Practise being assertive. Speak in a calm, low tone. Stay sure of your own mind and do not collude in your partner's distorted version of events. If you are not a pushover, your partner will do you the inadvertent kindness of leaving you instead.

Is your best friend a psychopath?

This kind of friend will appear from nowhere but quickly infiltrate every area of your life. They are out to get what they can, but because they are great fun to be around, it's hard not to get sucked in. They are the first to say 'let's party!' because they rarely worry about the future.

They will create intimacy by supposedly telling you their innermost secrets (which will be completely made up) in order to encourage you to do the same.

It's even been shown that psychopaths are accomplished mimics, imitating your speech patterns and body language to create a rapport.

That's when they start asking for favours. They might want to stay with you, or to borrow money.

When PR manager Vanessa met the shy new girl in the office, she took Heather under her wing. Within weeks they were going for lunch every day. Then Heather said her landlord was evicting her and asked if she could stay at Vanessa's for a while.

Heather never offered to pay rent and was soon taking Vanessa's clothes and food - but Vanessa felt she was being unkind in getting annoyed. Until one day, Heather vanished.

It transpired she had contacted Vanessa's parents, telling them their daughter was struggling to pay her mortgage and was too embarrassed to ask for a loan. Her parents gave the money to Heather. She was never seen again.

What to do

  • Ask yourself: is this friend asking for bigger and bigger favours without doing anything in return? Do they encourage you to cut off other friendships, or use your contacts to benefit themselves? Do they seem to have no other friends?

  • A psychopath will find it hard to lure you in if you avoid giving them intimate information, if you do not call them and if you are not supportive of their plans. They have no sense of loyalty and will move on to the next gift horse as soon as you stop playing ball.

Is your boss a psychopath?

Experts estimate that, aside from the criminal population, psychopaths are most frequently found in the corporate world. Many qualities that make a successful business person - extreme self-confidence and ruthlessness - are classic psychopathic traits.

They might be exciting to work with when things are going well, but watch out when things go wrong: they will blame anyone but themselves and leave a mess behind.

But an office psychopath doesn't have to be a slick wheeler-dealer. Take middle-aged PA Judy. A mumsy, cosy character, she was the one who people turned to when they needed to offload their problems over a cup of tea.

She overhauled the company's accounting system, telling her bosses the old system was disorganised.

They trusted her, but eventually suppliers started saying they hadn't been paid. One said Judy had called them at home, asking for money. The partners checked their books and realised Judy had stolen tens of thousands of pounds.

What to do

  • Keep email records - this saves you from being made the scapegoat if something goes wrong.

  • Keep copies of any emails containing unreasonable demands or unprofessional conduct.

  • Don't be persuaded to do favours for colleagues that make you uncomfortable.

  • Maintain an amiable, professional relationship with the office psychopath, but do not give them any information they can use against you.


Jessica Fellowes - April 22, 2012 - posted at

[1] - Source


Psychopathic Behavior

See this interesting definition of psychopathic behavior. As you read this, keep in mind... there is no cure for this behavior...

A psychopath will use people for excitement, entertainment, to build their self-esteem and they invariably value people in terms of their material value (e.g. money, property, comfort, etc..).

They can involve and get other people into trouble quickly and they seem to have no regret for their actions.

To date there is no checklist of behavior and symptoms that will tell you with certainty whether or not a person is a psychopath.

There are warning signs. The following warning signs are based on my experience but primarily research conducted by Robert Hare, Ph.D - the leading expert on the Psychopathic Personality.


Characteristics of a Psychopath...

  • superficial charm

  • self-centered & self-important

  • need for stimulation & prone to boredom

  • deceptive behavior & lying

  • conning & manipulative

  • little remorse or guilt

  • shallow emotional response

  • callous with a lack of empathy

  • living off others or predatory attitude

  • poor self-control

  • promiscuous sexual behavior

  • early behavioral problems

  • lack of realistic long term goals

  • impulsive lifestyle

  • irresponsible behavior

  • blaming others for their actions

  • short term relationships

  • juvenile delinquency

  • breaking parole or probation

  • varied criminal activity

The idea that psychopaths eat people is a myth. In reality, a person with a psychopathic personality can lead what appears to be an ordinary life. They can have jobs, get married and they can break the law like anyone else.

Their jobs and marriages usually don't last and their life is usually on the verge of personal chaos. They are almost always in some kind of trouble or they are not far from it.

A psychopath is usually a subtle manipulator. They do this by playing to the emotions of others. They typically have high verbal intelligence, but they lack what is commonly referred to as "emotional intelligence". There is always a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories.

In particular they have difficulty describing how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may feel and why. In many cases you almost have to explain it to them.

Close friends and parents will often end up explaining to the psychopath how they feel and how others feel who have been hurt by him or her.

They can do this over and over with no significant change in the person's choices and behavior.

They don't understand or appreciate the impact that their behavior has on others.

They do appreciate what it means when they are caught breaking rules or the law even though they seem to end up in trouble again.

They desperately avoid incarceration and loss of freedom but continue to act as if they can get away with breaking the rules.

They don't learn from these consequences.

They seem to react with feelings and regret when they are caught. Their regret is not so much for other people as it is for the consequences that their behavior has had on them, their freedom, their resources and their so called "friends." 

They can be very sad for their self.

A psychopath is always in it for their self even when it seems like they are caring for and helping others.

The definition of their "friends" are people who support the psychopath and protect them from the consequence of their own antisocial behavior.

Shallow friendships, low emotional intelligence, using people, antisocial attitudes and  failure to learn from the repeated consequences of their choices and actions help identify the psychopath.

Psychopaths with low intelligence or a poor education seem to end up in jail more than ones with a higher education. The lack of emotional insight is the first good sign you may be involved with a psychopath.

The second best sign is a history of criminal behavior in which a person does not seem to learn from their experience, but merely thinks about ways to not get caught.

Michael G. Conner, Psy.D


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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 04/24/2012 - 1:04pm.