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How to detect a psychopath? 10 characteristics

How to detect a psychopath? 10 characteristics

April 28, 2024

It happens constantly.

How many times have we not heard on the news: a man apparently normal, who had a good reputation and who had never raised suspicions, one day he is taken to court to testify for a series of crimes that even his closest ones would not suspect would be capable of commit. Someone totally integrated into the community becomes, overnight, a criminal .

This kind of thing can lead us to ask a question something macabre:

Would I be able to recognize a psychopath?

And is that, although psychopaths do not have to commit criminal acts or crimes, it is true that by their characteristics are able to act to break the rules of coexistence as it would someone isolated, desperate and without resources. However, psychopaths do have social resources: they are charismatic and know how to make a good impression. That is why, many times, identifying a psychopath who is prepared to perform an illegality is complicated.


Detect a psychopath

So, is it possible to identify the psychopaths? Of course, "from the saying to the fact there is a stretch" and is that, regardless of the characteristics listed in the diagnostic manuals or the number of experts who claim that the unequivocal features of psychopathy are "X" or "Y", the truth is that every psychopath has a different way of living in society . And, of course, it seems that psychopaths willing to commit crimes every day learn to pass unnoticed.

How are the psychopaths? 10 characteristic features

But nevertheless, yes there are certain tendencies and patterns of behavior that, based on statistics, make it somewhat more possible to detect a psychopath . Here you can find 10 keys that are often useful to experts.


1. No long-term goals are set

The psychopaths tend to lead a lifestyle based on immediacy , so that tomorrow they worry relatively little compared to closer objectives in time (especially if these are very primary and impulse-based). They tend to satisfy their most basic needs (hunger, sex, shelter, etc.) so they do not tend to plan their future with meticulousness.

They can organize themselves to pursue an end they consider important, but generally these goals always pursue short-term results. For example, a psychopath with a propensity to crime could steal a fancy car to impress a girl and get her to climb on it to sexually abuse her later.

2. Mythomania

Let's make something very clear: everybody lies . Some more, others less. Now, a "small" or "white" lie is not the same as telling lies in a pathological way.


Psychopaths have a great facility to lie, and sometimes they do it to get what they want even if it means harming other people since they do not foresee the nature of the consequences of such lies. In addition, they always tend to justify and rationalize their actions.

3. Irresponsibility

The classic description of psychopaths characterizes them as people who do not feel bound to "contracts" or "pacts" with the rest of humanity .

This means that they have difficulty in suppressing certain behaviors so as not to harm the rest. It is for this reason that they have the peculiarity of being sporadic in the jobs they perform, as well as the constant change of residence. In the life story of a psychopath it is common to find that the jobs he performed were performed for brief periods of time.

4. Surface charm and false adaptation

Psychopaths usually function in everyday life with relative adaptability because they have ingeniously learned to earn the trust of others with their false charm .

These attitudes are simply stratagems used to hide their true intentions. Such is the case of John Wayne Gacy "the killer clown" in which the police were amazed after hearing the neighbors refer to Gacy as a kind and courteous man. Or that successful businessman who shakes hands kindly while doing money laundering in his company.

5. They do not establish long-term affective bonds

This point is intuited in the previous ones. The sentimental instability it is an almost unanimous characteristic in people who have been diagnosed with psychopathy.

6. They are problematic

The DSM-IV states that people with antisocial personality disorder are characterized by their inability to understand the norms and rules of society, as well as a general pattern of contempt and violation of the rights of others.

The psychopaths They tend to be conflicting and in their history it is not surprising to find that they have been sentenced for some crime on more than one occasion . They often get into trouble and whose punishments and consequences seem not to matter at all.

7. Tend to parasitic life

Things that have to do with routine and responsibility (such as legal and stable work, for example) are boring, so prefer to lead a parasitic lifestyle . That is, live at the expense of others.

8. They are manipulators

Psychopaths have an incredible almost innate ability for persuasion and for seduction, tools that they often use to manipulate others and achieve their perverse ends.

They do not skimp on treating others as objects that can use this charisma to get what they want, even if it leads to harm or harm to other people. It is because of that they like to "relate" with submissive and dependent people to be able to take advantage of or abuse them.

9. They lack empathy

It is probably the almost unmistakable characteristic of a psychopathic disorder in the person. The psychopaths they do not have the capacity to "put themselves in each other's shoes" , to feel what the other person feels. However, psychopaths can understand other people's emotions, identify what physiological changes a mood brings and even imitate it.

For example, a psychopath will know that someone smiling is probably happy, or someone who cries is sad, however these emotions are unintelligible to them beyond their understanding of them at a theoretical level. They can not understand the joy or pain that the other experiences.

10. They do not feel fear, guilt or shame

The psychopaths they do not regret their actions, because they lack moral conscience since they live under their own scheme of values, doing what they consider necessary to satisfy their needs. However, they know how to use guilt against other "good" people and in favor of them with an impressive mastery to manipulate.

On the other hand, psychopaths often look for actions that are exciting, reasons why routine tends to bore them. This leads to the search for flashy and even reckless activities, as they do not experience fear or feel intimidated by anything or anyone.

Who to trust?

It is currently estimated that the number of psychopaths (their prevalence) could be found in the range between 1% and 3% of the population total world However, and although only experts can diagnose and identify cases of psychopathy, there are lessons we can learn from all this. Among them, the fact that some human beings (although not numerous) can go very far harming others, and not all of us have immovable moral restraints.

Dr. Ana Beatriz Barbosa Silva, for example, recommends that when we must decide who to trust, we must keep in mind that the coherent combination of evil actions with frequent scenic games that appeal to piety are like "A luminous signal planted on the forehead of a person without conscience". And the combination between emotional manipulation and lack of impulse control can be very dangerous.

Despite this, of course, people who meet these characteristics are not necessarily serial killers and, maybe not even violent. However, they are individuals with whom it can be very difficult to form affective bonds and to consolidate a healthy and symmetrical relationship in which we can entrust our assets to the other, leave our children in care, do business with them or share secrets. After all, not all psychopaths are criminals, nor are all criminals psychopaths .

Bibliographic references:

  • Barbosa Silva, A. B. (2011): Dangerous minds. Madrid: Aguilar Fontanar.
  • Marchiori, H. (2002): Criminal psychology. Mexico City: Porrúa.

10 Signs A Psychopath is Targeting You (April 2024).


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