The Characteristics of a Psychopathic Personality

Psychopaths lie to and manipulate others.

"Psychopath" is often used as a synonym for "sociopath," a person with antisocial personality disorder. Some psychiatrists define both of these terms as synonyms, while others define them slightly differently or use one of these terms but not the other. Despite any ambiguity in the term, there is a set of characteristics that psychopaths have in common.

1 Empty Charm

Psychopaths tend to be charming at first, but this surface charm is purely manipulative. Under the surface, the psychopath's true attitude is one of hostility and an urge to control others. The psychopath sees himself as being larger than life and tends to make big plans that never become reality. Psychopaths lie compulsively, and because they feel no guilt about lying, their lies can be believable and they can occasionally pass a lie-detector test. The psychopath's uses his charming facade solely for personal gain.

2 Sees Others as Objects

Psychopaths do not see others as human beings with rights and feelings, but as objects to be used, manipulated and then discarded. Psychopaths tend to lead predatory or parasitic lives, finding ways to live off others while doing as little as possible. They often display criminal versatility, which means they can shift easily as needed from one scam or crime to another. Psychopaths often have a history of problems with delinquency as adolescents, which may include sadistic acts toward animals. However, as adults, psychopaths of high intelligence may enjoy success in business, while psychopaths of low intelligence are more likely to end up in prison.

3 Lack of Emotion

Psychopaths display a callous attitude toward others and an inability to empathize with their suffering. This is because the psychopath experiences only shallow emotions (with the exception of rage). The psychopath may display emotion as part of a manipulative strategy, but actually isn't concerned with anything but his own needs. Expressions of affection are used strategically where abuse and affection generates a dependent psychological state in the psychopath's victim. In reality, the psychopath is incapable of feeling love for others or any remorse for his own actions. When confronted, the psychopath always blames others.

4 Boredom

The psychopath's lack of emotion is accompanied by a profound sense of boredom and a constant need for stimulation. This can manifest itself by sexual promiscuity, cheating, rape, child abuse, sudden and impulsive acts or explosive behavior. Psychopaths can be indifferent in situations which would provoke a reaction in a normal person, yet they can be enraged by minor indignities. At this time, there is no effective treatment for this condition, and psychopaths who receive therapy can actually become more dangerous and destructive as a result.

Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.