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Psychopaths: 10 myths about the psychopathic personality

Psychopaths: 10 myths about the psychopathic personality

January 25, 2022

Penetrating gaze, serious attitude, superb intelligence, neat clothes, perverse thoughts and bloodthirsty aims. This is how we always paint the movies and series to the psychopaths .

Before continuing reading this post, I invite you to know thoroughly the topic of psychopathy. I leave a link below:

"Psychopathy: what happens in the mind of the psychopath?"

Stereotypes and false ideas about psychopathy

But, How real is this stereotype that Hollywood sells us with those in real life? In this article that you are reading we propose to challenge ten of the most popular and widespread myths about psychopaths.

Myth 1: They lack empathy

The empathy It is the ability of human beings to understand the emotions, feelings and moods of other people. It is usually associated with psychopathy lack of empathy. In this sense, we have to clarify something.

Empathy comprises two areas: the cognitive area and the emotional area. The first consists of the ability to understand the feelings of others, to know what emotion the other person experiences; the second one includes being able to live, feel or experience what the other person feels when he expresses it to us.

The psychopaths are able to understand emotions (when someone feels anger, love or fear for example) and even imitate the expected behavior of those emotions. However, they can not feel such emotions for themselves. This is probably due to the fact that, as numerous neurological studies support,Psychopaths have alterations at the brain level in specific areas related to this capacity .

Myth 2: They can not feel fear

To understand fear we could say that there is a real fear and a unreal fear. The first is the fear that we commonly know, the one that has real consequences, for example, to suffer an accident when we go in a car speeding.

On the other hand, the unreal fear what could well be called psychotic fear , goes hand in hand with a psychotic disorder where there is a fracture of the reality of the psyche of the individual, the subject listens to voices that want to kill him or feels threatened by persecutory images.

The first fear is unknown to them, however they could experience unreal fear . It should be noted that not all psychopaths present psychotic pictures, nor do psychotics have features of psychopathy, but we will talk about that later.

Myth 3: Cold look, serious gestures, superior intelligence

This profile already it has become a cliché for movies and series . We know that there is a correlation between our mood and facial expressions that we gesticulate, but as we saw in the previous point, psychopaths are perfectly capable of imitating behaviors related to emotions, even some psychopaths are usually charismatic and kind to go unnoticed and get what they want.

As for intelligence, we could say that not experiencing emotions is a point in their favor, since this favors their actions to be carried out with greater coldness and meticulousness , besides considering instinctive and intellectual objectives. However, there is no direct correlation between psychopathy and the person's IQ.

Myth 4: They are the product of a dysfunctional family

Completely false We will not argue that there is an important correlation between the family environment and the tendency to commit a crime. Abuse, abuse, abandonment, bad examples as a model to follow are undoubtedly very important criminogenic factors to be taken into account when explaining the criminogenesis of a criminal.

Despite this, there are no conclusive data linking the dysfunctional family as the cause of psychopathic behavior of an individual, because there are multiple examples of psychopaths who have committed terrible crimes but when analyzing their family environment, we found that this nucleus was perfectly functional and integral.

Myth 5: One sixth of people are psychopaths

Some experts estimate that the world number of psychopaths corresponds to 6% of the world population. Robert Hare, a psychologist recognized for his studies on psychopathy, estimated that it is 1% of the world population and 25% corresponding to inmates .

The DSM-5 indicates its prevalence between 0.2% and 3.3% of the world population. However, all these data collect only the number of psychopaths that transgress the norm and cause damage, but as we will see in the second part of this article, not all psychopaths have transgressed the law .

Some simply go through life using their skills of seduction and deception to meet their needs or are successful entrepreneurs who have climbed to the top using their skills, so all figures are essentially inaccurate.

Myth 6: Your crimes are wild, bloody and sadistic

There is no denying that their lack of emotions sometimes leads them to experience the limit of the human when they commit their violent crimes. But take into account that the media (both television and movies and series) live on how many spectators always see them and describe a scoop as bloodthirsty always monopolizes attention, describing their perpetrators as psychopaths, a vision that is often distorted from reality .

Relating psychopaths to violent crimes is often distant from what actually happens. do not always incur crimes related to physical violence , murders, genocides, or violations. There are psychopaths who are adapted to society and the upper class committing financial crimes, theft of arts, fraud among other white collar crimes.

Myth 7: They are unstable and feel uncontrollable needs

We must not confuse the impulsiveness with the demand for gratification of a need.

The concept of impulsivity refers to the tendency to perform an action without thinking about its consequences, while in the second case and in relation to psychopathy, we could say that by not adapting to the rules, when a need requires gratification the psychopath will go to the act of satisfying it without morally debating whether the way to obtain such gratification is right or wrong. The psychopaths have a "cold" mind, They know the consequences of their actions, impulsivity rarely see them as they tend to execute their acts with much premeditation .

Myth 8: Psychopaths are crazy

This could depend on the conception that each one has about the term crazy, but if we take the word crazy as someone who has disconnection with reality (without end of stigmatizing, say for example a schizophrenic) the answer to this question of madness, in most cases it corresponds to a resounding no, because they execute their actions with full awareness and idol .

Although it could be the case of a psychopath who besides suffering from psychopathy suffer from serious psychotic episodes or even schizophrenia itself. The punctual study of the subject will yield the pertinent results.

Myth 9: Psychopaths never integrate or reintegrate into society

Let us bear in mind something: s If a psychopath adapts or does not adapt to society, it is because it has been completely his decision , and if most of them transgress the law has been because they have learned that it is the best way to meet their needs.

There are psychopaths who learn to accept some norms if they feel that it suits them or as a guideline to achieve a greater goal. Regarding reintegration, although it is true that efforts to reintegrate psychopaths into society have yielded practically no results, criminology is learning more and more about them and the alterations that characterize the psychopathic personality, something that lets act to propose more effective treatments looking to the future .

Myth 10: All psychopaths are criminals

We close this article with the most popular myth about psychopaths . Let us clarify that the crime as defined by the law is the action or omission sanctioned by the criminal laws. Understanding this concept, it is easy to understand that not all behaviors that seem bad to us are crimes if the law does not sanction it.

So, for example, if one day a friend asks us to stay in our house, alleging that life has treated him unjustly and that after a week he will help us with the rent and the duties, but after several months he will not be able to He eats all our reserves from our pantry, and even takes our borrowed things, taking advantage of our kindness to the point where the situation seems unfair, Does this deserve to be called a crime? Not at all, well We have been the ones who have let our psychopath friend take advantage . There are thousands of cases where psychopaths like this are spent, leading a parasitic lifestyle but without necessarily transgressing what is dictated by law.


In conclusion, there are many myths that surround the enigmatic psychopaths , many of which have been fed by the morbid urban legends, the media and of course the entertainment industry, which often present us as perverse, twisted and bloodthirsty beings.

However, criminological sciences collaborate together to reveal hidden motivations of these beings with the hope that one day they will be given an adequate treatment that allows them to be reintegrated into society.

10 Myths About Psychopaths Debunked (January 2022).

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