Ten Facts about Psychopaths

Psychopathy is far more interesting than what we see in the movies.

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Don’t you just love James Bond? Hollywood has made the psychopath into a cult figure that knows how to get through life. They live it fully; they take risks; they live uninhibited lives. Films have though also contributed to the image of the psychopath as the crazy mass murderer.

But psychopathy is far more interesting than that and most psychopaths live among us and will never get caught, even if they commit many types of crimes.

1. Psychopaths do not blink as often as other people do and they have a staring gaze. This gives psychopaths a penetrating gaze that could be perceived as fascinating.

2. Many psychopaths are additionally narcissists also having a grandiose self-concept and a grandiose view of their abilities.

3. Psychopaths are difficult to detect because they are true chameleons and quickly turn their sails after the wind.

4. Many or most studies on psychopaths have been done in US prisons and this has given rise to the image of the psychopath as criminal. Hollywood movies are also responsible for spreading the image of the psychopathic mass murderer. In fact very few psychopaths are in prison and they live among us ready to exploit us in any way.

5. Psychopaths are taking the easy road in life and feel entitled to material rewards, success in life, or sexual pleasure, which they acquire through manipulation, lies and threats. They are therefore social predators.

6. They know the difference between right and wrong but they are benefit-oriented, do not think the rules are for them, and they have no feelings of guilt, shame, regret or empathy. Psychopaths lack in fact strong feelings of all kinds - they may for example pretend to be angrier than they actually are. Because they handle difficult situations in a good way, others may perceive the psychopath as a desirable socially competent and emotional stable person that doesn’t experience mood swings.

7. Studies have shown that non-criminal psychopaths can become police officers, lawyers, soldiers, politicians, priests, surgeons and businessmen. They seek out positions of power in society and can get out of trouble thanks to a social network of likeminded, if they violate laws and norms.

8. Psychopaths realize already as children that they are different, but they can form an opinion about others that is wrong. They can, for example, believe that everyone plays a role and they will therefore become very good at pretending.

9. A range of behaviors that are considered psychopathic have something to do with upbringing and not with psychopathy. These people behave like a psychopath but they’re not resistant to change in the same way a psychopath is. Most people ending up in prison have learned to live in a hostile environment, and learned the norms of their neighborhood too well.

10. The psychopath has a dark vision of the world and the people in it. They are convinced that other people are evil. Besides that, psychopaths lack a sense of humor and they have difficulties understanding abstract thinking. Even if the smartest of the psychopaths know how to recognize a joke, they’re not really funny and might even take your jokes seriously. Nonetheless they can become entertaining thanks to their personal charm and the strong feelings that they create in us ordinary people.

Last update: 2016-02-02


The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success Hardcover,  Kevin Dutton 

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, Robert D. Hare


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