What is a psychopath, exactly?
While it’s easy to label an awkward coworker or ex-adulterer as a psychopath, how can you tell the difference between a real psychopath and someone who’s just a jerk? A correct diagnosis can only be given by a medical professional. “Anything else is speculation,” warns Robert Schug, an associate professor of criminology, criminal justice, and forensic psychology at California State University, Long Beach.
Psychopaths get bored very easily.
A psychopath is not just unstimulated by a boring day at work or a weekend night at home. They have chronic boredom through all facets of their life.
A common hypothesis is that psychopaths are less likely to feel less emotional than other people. “A psychopath’s nervous system is wired so that they need to keep doing exciting things to feel normal and reach normal levels of arousal,” says Schug.
According to Randall Salekin, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, that means it’s also those in the group who tend to initiate fun-oriented activities, like suggesting after-work drinks.
they are very charming
Perhaps one of the most disarming aspects of interacting with psychopaths is their ability to seal their true selves in order to appear as likable as possible. Salekin says that they use their storytelling skills to draw others to them, whether at work or in jail.
“They are able to gather a crowd around them,” he says. However, while the stories of a psychopath might be interesting, that doesn’t mean they’re true.
Psychopaths lie a lot.
Unlike pathological liars, who lie without motivation and sometimes without need, the lies of a psychopath are more goal-directed. They tend to use fraud and manipulation for their own benefit.
“It’s more about getting something from someone else,” says Schug. He explains that they do this by tricking others or making people think there is an emotional connection. This could be used to receive a raise at work, build a relationship, or control a romantic partner.
They don’t have realistic long-term goals.
While psychopaths are driven by their goals, many take a carpe diem perspective when it comes to long-term plans. They think they have to live in the moment instead of planning for the future, even though the goals they have are often disconnected from any probable future.
They have an inability to center the understanding of their lives in reality. “If you talk to them in jail, they might tell you they want to be an astronaut, a ninja, or an FBI agent,” says Schug. “His goals are totally out of line with the situation.”
They think they are superior
psychopaths they consider themselves better than the people around them. This could help to take into account why they are not concerned about the negative impacts of their actions..
In your workplace, this can manifest as someone who “isn’t concerned about the team and doesn’t want to take advice from others until it helps immediately,” says Schug.
This could appear as trusting, dominant behavior, or it could be masking what the psychopath believes is beneficial to his or her success.as someone who is able to offer advice.
Psychopaths can turn their empathy on and off
A psychopath is not usually concerned with his impact on others, be it financial, social or personal. This is mainly because a psychopath has blunted emotions, both for himself and for others. In fact, a lack of ability to show emotion is part of the American Psychological Association’s definition of a psychopath.
The group notices that these people are superficially charming but have no empathy, anxiety, or any sense of guilt. Interestingly, while psychopaths don’t normally have empathy, they can willingly turn it on to seduce, charm, and manipulate someone else.
They have a bad behavior
A true psychopath is someone who shows excessive anger no matter who they are with or what they are doing. “In terms of domestic violence, you’re going to see physical or verbal aggression over and over again,” Schug says. “Outside of a relationship, they could have road rage or constantly get into arguments.”
Noticing this sign might be harder than it sounds: A psychopath’s charm usually hides his angry tendencies. “They can get angry, but only if they challenge you or if someone gets in the way of your goal“, says Salekin. Otherwise, everything is charm.”
They are sexually promiscuous
With his ability to charm his victims, psychopaths can get unsuspecting people into bed but aren’t interested in commitment, or anything beyond immediate excitement.
Sex for the psychopath is not about the other person, but more about the power play or boosting their own ego.
Psychopaths are impulsive or irresponsible
This impulsiveness or irresponsibility, either risking a relationship by cheating, being careless with your finances, or even breaking the law. “Psychopaths are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or not pay alimony,” Schug says.
They are troublesome as children
Look at a person’s childhood to get a better understanding of their personality. “These are the kids that really stand out in terms of being kicked out of school or having contact with law enforcement,” Schug says of psychopaths. Know the traits of a psychopath.
Engage in criminal behavior
watch movies like American Psycho or reading about the likes of John Wayne Gacy might suggest that all psychopaths have some literal skeletons in their closet. However, some may be involved in white collar crime as opposed to more violent acts. This means that they are more likely to rip you off than to cause you physical harm.
Many criminals commit crime because of drug addiction or as a result of a violent childhood. However, for psychopaths, the drive largely comes from social disconnection.
Psychopaths are unpredictable
“They really like the change in their atmosphere, which could include changing team members and jobs,” says Salekin. Also be wary of people who are conflicting in their relationships and opinions, as a psychopath may appear to change their personality entirely depending on the situation..
A psychopath can alter who they appear to be and what they seem to want depending on how well they believe the specific mask will benefit them in the moment.
Psychopathic behavior is a pattern
At one point or another, we’ve all gotten into a fit of rage or fantasized about becoming a famous actor. What sets most of us apart from being psychopaths is that this only happens once in a while.
With a psychopath, Schug explains that “these things happen over and over again.” He adds, “It’s a personality disorder. Personality manifests itself at work, at school, with family, with friends, when they are young, when they are adolescents, when they are an adult.”