Psychopathy is a great topic because it captures the imagination as well as the vast majority of psychopaths are male. But of course women do have psychopathic personalities too, and whilst I talk more about psychopathic personality in my Personality Psychology and Individual Differences, I wanted to tell you about the signs of psychopathy. And all of them are extremely interesting.
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5 Signs Of Psychopathy
This is what everything thinks of when they think of psychopaths because they are charming to get their own way. Since unlike you and me, we tend to be transactional in our relationships because that’s fair and the right thing to do. Whereas psychopaths will charm their way without self-restraint to get what they want.
You might notice a person with psychopathic personality as being too slick and overly nice to work their way towards their goal.
But going back to us being transactional, the psychopathic personality is not.
Instead they are instrumental and only use people for what they are good for. Then without a clear reason or cause, they can turn cruel, cunning and even dangerous. Meaning you might realise a person with the psychopathic personality’s style is to belittle and seduce others to get what they want. And not the normal style of bonding with others and helping them as much as they help you.
As psychopaths always feel the need to be on top and their lack of ability to bond with others as well as they have distorted self-esteem. Psychopaths will lie, cheat, rationalise their actions and twist the truth to such extreme degrees that reality is unrecognised to any objective people.
And this is what I want to stress. Because it is natural for people to lie, cheat and do what psychopaths do to a lesser extent. But psychopaths will always go an extra ten miles in their deceptions because they have to do it for themselves due to their distorted self-esteem, their inability to bond with others and always be on top.
Boredom and A Need For Simulation:
This point connects to the one below and psychopaths have shallow emotions as well as a high stimulation-seeking drive (Personality Psychology) that means they get bored quickly.
Resulting in, when combined with their need to constantly seek out stimulation, psychopaths being quick to take chances and take part in risky behaviours.
Again if we compare the “normal” person to psychopaths, we all engage in risky behaviours from time to time, but if we’re sensible we at least think about it first. Psychopaths don’t weigh up the risks and think about it logically. They just go for it because it’s fun and thrilling and they need the stimulation.
What makes this next characteristic so strange is how charming psychopaths can appear. Since psychopaths can have “good” conversations with people about their lives and they can appear to be present and engaging in the emotional conversation.
Then the psychopath can just change the conversation in an instant and that’s when people start to realise how shallow their emotions are and how much they don’t care. For example, you might be talking to a psychopath about a family member that you loved dearly dying last month. Then the next second the psychopath could change the conversation completely.
Of course, even if we didn’t want to be in the conversation because we didn’t know this person and the person telling us is a stranger. We’ve all been in these sorts of conversations forced on us by others. We know to let the other person finish, say supportive words then maybe change the conversations.
Psychopaths don’t understand that because of their inability to bond with others
A History of Shady Conduct
To wrap up this look at characteristics of the psychopathic personality, we need to acknowledge that with psychopaths having no moral centre and a high stimulation-seeking drive. It is hardly surprising to hear that sometimes their behaviour can catch up with them but sadly it is normally far too late for their victims by this time.
For example, in the book Decoding Madness, the author describes a case where a psychopath was admired by their supervisors because of his effectiveness in sales. But then the risky behaviour of their fraud and killing got revealed.
All in all, psychopaths will engage in risky behaviours and take chances to commit crimes because it’s thrilling, exciting and it feeds into their stimulation seeking needs.
Overall, I hope you enjoyed this personality psychology episode as much as I did. Psychopathy it isn’t a good topic to experience first hand, but I do enjoy looking at it from afar so I hope you enjoyed it.
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Personality Psychology and Individual Differences. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Personality Psychology References
Lettieri, R (2021). Decoding Madness: A forensic psychologist explores the criminal mind. Prometheus Press. Chapters 6 and 11
Workman, Lance. “Interview: The memory worrior.” The psychologist; The British Psychological Society 25. (2012): 526-529.
Kiehl, K (2014). Psychopath Whisperer: The science of those without conscience. Broadway Books.
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