How to Identify a Psychopath

We are used through movies to identify some characters as psychopaths. Typically, we call the serial killer in the movie a psychopath who, at first, appears devoid of emotion or empathy. The only emotion he seems to feel is the pleasure of seeing others suffer.

So is this really a psycho? How could we identify a psychopath in real life? Are there different degrees of psychopathy so that it does not reach the levels of the movies? How is a psychopath different from a sociopath? How should I treat a psychopath and what would happen if I reject him? What is an integrated psychopath?

We must know that there is no clear consensus on the characteristics of a psychopath but in general there is a consensus between the main factors that would make up a psychopath. Read on Psychology to see the answers to all these questions and to know how to identify a psychopath.

Next we will see the main characteristics of a psychopath.

They have charm

If you wonder how to recognize a psychopath, you should know that it is not easy and that it is not something that is seen with the naked eye. A psychopath is a person who knows how to dazzle others and "take them to their ground. " They seem at first very kind and pleasant people with whom it is easy to establish a relationship.

They know how they should act to even get someone to fall in love with them or appreciate them, so they initially have good social skills.

However, all this charm is superficial and is a form of strategy, that is, they are not like that in a natural way but rather it is imposed in order to obtain a certain benefit from a person.

They have no empathy

One of the characteristics of the psychopathic personality is a lack of empathy. These people are not able to understand how others may feel. Several studies have shown that they could become empathetic, but that they are so voluntarily, that is, that, in general, they choose not to be and have the ability to "numb" these feelings.

Other theories indicate that they have a more cognitive but not emotional empathy, that is, they are not able to empathize with the suffering of others but they can understand that certain actions can harm the other person at the level, for example, at work. Also, they know how to fake it.

They are narcissistic

It is quite common for narcissists to have an excess of self-love and believe they have qualities that they do not have. This makes them have a self-concept of being superior to others. This also means that, in general, they do not admit their mistakes or understand that there are other points of view or that perhaps there is a better method to do things, so they take criticism very badly.

They believe that they have a level of importance much higher than the real one so they can have problems at the level of relationships by rejecting some people for not having "the same level". In this article you will find more information about what it is to be a narcissist.

They are little emotional

Psychopaths have a hard time feeling emotions. This not only happens with the positive ones, but also with the negative ones. This is a big problem since in a dangerous situation, for example, they do not feel fear so they can arrive inappropriately in such a situation exposing themselves even more to danger. In this article we explain the role of fear in psychology .

Some theories support that they do have the ability to feel positive emotions although, regardless, they are perceived as cold people. On many occasions, in the case that they express emotions, they may be faking it, as we mentioned in point 1.

They present crime

It is quite common for a person with psychopathy to commit various types of crimes. This can range from robberies, street fights, substance use to more serious situations such as gender violence, pedophilia, crimes and torture of people or animals. Therefore, we would have two types of psychopaths:

  • Subclinical or integrated psychopath : it would be the typical cold, manipulative person with a lack of feelings, emotions and empathy. However, he does not commit serious crimes. It is what we would colloquially say "bad person" is.
  • Criminal psychopath: it would be the highest level of psychopathy in which the aforementioned crimes would be committed. They can be cruel and are completely oblivious to the problem of the acts they commit.

When the person is a child or adolescent, it is quite common for them to be the "typical troublemaker" who picks on classmates, annoys animals, steals small items from stores or uses substances. These behaviors could escalate over time.

They don't admit mistakes and they don't learn

Related to their inability to recognize mistakes, another trait of a psychopath is that these people do not learn from experience. That is, they do not admit errors, not due to a problem of self-esteem, but to a lack of self-criticism and self -analysis.

For this reason, it is quite common for them to try to achieve a goal in the same way over and over again despite consistently failing. This problem is due to a connection problem of the prefrontal cortex with the amygdala.

They are impulsive

Another characteristic of people with psychopathy is impulsivity. Although they seem very cold people, another characteristic of psychopaths is a broad impulsivity, due to a decrease in activity in the prefrontal area of the brain.

That is, they act without premeditation, so they do not anticipate the long-term consequences of their behaviors, but rather for the immediate benefit. That is, they manipulate a person in order to obtain a certain objective, however, they do not analyze the consequences that having used others may have in the long term. This, in addition, would explain the habitual thing in these people that is the consumption of drugs, etc.

They manipulate and lie

As we mentioned, psychopaths often see others as a means to an end. Therefore, it is quite common for them to use various tricks to achieve this end. In people with a more moderate level of psychopathy, although many of the other characteristics are not usually reflected, it is common for there to be manipulations and lies.

In addition, the charm we mentioned would be part of these manipulations. This is easy for them to do due to the lack of empathy that we have discussed previously. In this article we talk about manipulative people.

They get tired and bored easily

It is quite common for them to tire quickly. This can be carried over to all planes. Therefore, another trait of a psychopath is that they have many brief relationships and seek constant stimulation that they achieve through substance use, constant sexual relations, addiction to gambling... Therefore, this boredom would also be related to impulsiveness they may have.

They have no regrets

Lack of empathy causes them to lack remorse and guilt. They can understand that what they have done is not right or does not fit within the law or social norms, however, this does not imply that they are sorry or that they feel bad for having hurt other people.

That is why, if we return to point 8, they can manipulate and obtain the benefit of others constantly. The lack of remorse is also one of his problems to obtain a learning of the different scores.

Take advantage of others

As we mentioned, the main trait of a psychopath is to take advantage of others. Why would they want to do it? One of the reasons is to get money or other benefits. For example, it is quite common for them to take advantage of their partner or their parents to do everything for them, that is, to have an economic dependence on others, as well as to make them food, wash clothes, etc.

This depends on the situation, but it is quite common that they delegate their responsibilities to third parties and through manipulations they achieve that others always accept.

As we see, the traits of a psychopath are based on their behavior, emotions and feelings. Psychopaths do not have specific physical characteristics, nor can a psychopath be recognized by their face.

They are born with these personality traits

The differences between the two are quite limited, being common for a person to suffer from both types of disorders. Psychopathy would define, above all, the most problematic characteristics of the personality of the person and sociopathy would focus on those that focus on harm to third parties.

One of the main differences is that sociopaths develop the disorder while psychopaths are born with it. Sociopaths have greater impulsivity than psychopaths and it is not common for them to engineer manipulations but all their inappropriate acts are the result of a lack of self-control. Here you can see the differences between psychopath and sociopath.

They do not admit rejection

They are experts in manipulating, in taking situations where they want. Therefore, do not try to do it yourself. In the same way, think that they will be constantly trying to manipulate you. To detect if they are doing it or not, look more than their words, their actions and check if they are consistent or if they are getting benefits from what they have done or said.

Also, if you have the same group of friends or work in the same place, it is usual that, if he has a problem with you, he tries to turn everyone against you. Therefore try to have social relationships with people who are not in common, so that, if something happens, you are not alone.

On the other hand, it is logical that on many occasions you decide to end the relationship and continue on your way. You must anticipate his movements and hope that he tries to play the victim role in order to dazzle you and "recover" again. They will try to make you feel guilty and can reach the point of bullying when trying to contact you. However, it is common that, when they find another person, they quickly forget about you.