While many psychologists believe that psychopaths “wear out” as they age, new research questions this notion and finds that abuse and manipulation are intensifying. A study published inInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology questions the scientific consensus that the antisocial behavior of psychopaths it declines after middle age and suggests that manipulation and abuse worsen after age 50.
Study author Donna Andersen says she married a man diagnosed as a psychopath and founded the Lovefraud.com website to warn others of warning signs. Although research has suggested that psychopaths “calm down” with age, this was not Donna’s experience. To dispel the question of whether her husband was an isolated case or part of a general trend, the author recruited 1,215 participants who completed a 90-question online survey of antisocial individuals she knew who were at least 50 years old. Most of the respondents replied that the individual in question was a current or former romantic partner. The survey found that 935 of the subjects continued to show indicative levels of psychopathy. 99% were manipulative, 94% had antisocial behavior, 93% were emotionally violent, 89% were psychologically abusive, 58% were financially abusive, and 47% were physically abusive.
What were the results?
Regarding the impact psychopaths had on respondents, 88% confessed to being anxious or depressed, 76% said stress made them sick, 70% said they suffered from stress disorder post-traumatic and 31% have thought or attempted suicide. 68% also suffered financially and lost money due to the relationship with the psychopath.
The researchers also asked the sample if they noticed any differences in behavior after age 50, but only 1% of respondents noted a significant decline in the psychopath’s antisocial behavior after age 50, and only 5% reported a small decline. . On the other hand, 36% did not notice any differences and 57% said the psychopath got worse after age 50.
“If someone you believe has a personality disorder he’s over 50 and still making you miserable, it’s not worth waiting for him to change. Older psychopaths neither stabilize nor mature. Therapy doesn’t work. The best thing you can do is get away from the person“, Andersen advises.
The study also has some limitations, as the participants were mostly middle-aged straight women who were recruited through the Lovefraud website, which creates a prejudice for being people already interested in finding information about psychopaths on the Internet.