Do you know a psychopath?

Posted: October 16, 2017 in Mental Illness, Psychology, Science
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Sure, we use the word all the time:

My all-time favorite psycho, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

“Joe went nuts at the game last night. Dude’s a psycho, man.”

Or maybe . . .

“That chick won’t quite texting me. What a psycho.”

You get the picture. Still, there’s actually a difference between a psychopath and your regular everyday asshole like me.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has various characteristics of sociopaths, but one of the most crucial things you see is the “superego lacuna,” which is a term for a gap in the superego. This basically means that sociopathic people have no conscience. The moral codes that guide the rest of us don’t apply to them.

To put it simply, psychopaths legitimately give zero damns. But not just about stuff like stealing that awesome parking spot that you clearly had seen first. Cheating? Stealing? Murder? A legit psychopath is capable of committing any of these things and legit move right on with their life without blinking an eye.

Psychopaths wreck their own lives as well. They take drugs, contract diseases, and just generally do not take care of their lives. They’re also usually burned out by 60 or in jail. There’s just a general disregard for their own health as well as that of other people.

And not all psychopaths are killers. Some are just con men of the highest order. They’ve learned how to mimic proper behavior even though they’re basically pretending. They feel no guilt. You know the type, they say the right things but you just know there’s nothing behind those soulless eyes. Am I thinking of a former colleague of mine? I am.

And you’re picturing someone you know in your head right now too, aren’t you? Hell yes you are.

Note: It’s also important to know that psychopaths or sociopaths are very different from being psychotic. Psychotic means you’ve lost touch with reality. You’re hearing voices, you have bizarre beliefs, delusions and paranoia. You’re thoughts are disjointed and unorganized. On the other hand, psychopaths know exactly what they’re doing, they just feel no guilt. Like I said, zero damns.

Some cat named Dr. Robert Hare, who is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, put together a checklist to see if someone is a psychopath. You rank the person 1-3 on each trait, with 3 being the highest. There are 20 traits, so a score of 60 means that particular person may be ready to go on a killing spree or something. Hey, I’m here for ya. Here’s Dr. Hare’s list:

Glib and superficial charm: The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

Grandiose self-worth: A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom: An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

Pathological lying: Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

Conning and manipulativeness: The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item four in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

Lack of remorse or guilt: A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, cold-hearted, and non-empathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

Shallow affect: Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

Callousness and lack of empathy: A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

Parasitic lifestyle: An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

Poor behavioral controls: Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily

Early behavior problems: A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

H-e-e-e-e-r-e’-s JOHNNY!!!

Lack of realistic, long-term goals: An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

Promiscuous sexual behavior: A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquest

Impulsivity: The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

Irresponsibility: Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions: A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

Many short-term marital relationships: A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

Juvenile delinquency: Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

Revocation of conditional release: A revocation of probation or other conditional releases due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

Criminal versatility: A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.

So there ya go. Rate each trait, add ’em up, and the higher the score the more likely you have a real, bona fide psychopath on your hands. On a related note, I graded myself and you do not want to know how it turned out.

Kidding. But am I?

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