Is Someone You Know a Psychopath? Here’s How to Tell

Not every criminal is a psychopath and not every psychopath is a criminal.

Psychopaths can be anyone from anywhere.

Here are some red flags that might help you identify a psychopath.

1. Going to bed late

A 2013 study conducted at the University of Western Sydney suggests that people who prefer to work and play later into the night are more likely to have the so-called “Dark Triad” of psychological traits- Psychopathy, narcissism, and manipulativeness.

The study argued that this correlation could result from criminal psychopaths from generations ago using darkness to cover their crimes.

The genetic predisposition to both psychopathy and late nights was then passed on to descendants today. 

2. Lack of Shame

Psychopaths blame others for their problems and their faults.

Psychologist Harvey Cleckley, the author of the “Mask of Sanity,” argued that this is a common symptom of psychopaths. They show a lack of shame for their actions. 

3. Impulsivity

Psychopaths exhibit impulsive behavior.

They can ignore potential damaging long-term consequences.

This is because the part of the brain that seeks immediate gratification of desires can overpower the section that sets long-term betterment.

Psychology has linked this impulsivity to many personal and social problems common for psychopaths. In particular, drug and alcohol addiction, obesity, and excessive spending.

4. Empathy

One of the basic traits of a psychopath is a reduction in the ability to feel empathy.

In 2013 the journal Psychology today teamed up with a Dutch forensic clinic to study what happens in the brain of those with and without psychopathy traits.

In a “normal brain,” the somatosensory cortex (the region involved in sensing touch) is activated when we see someone else being touched on their skin.

When we witness another person experiencing a specific emotion, the “emotions regions” in the brain are activated.

But, when the scientists looked at the brains of individuals who scored highly on the “psychopath test,” they observed those same regions in the brain didn’t activate with the same stimuli.

5. Self-worth

A grand sense of self-worth.

It is a big warning sign that someone might be a psychopath. It is associated with a narcissistic personality disorder.

6. Sense of smell

In 2012 research conducted at Macquarie University in Australia discovered an interesting link between psychopathy and an individual’s sense of smell.

The study showed that people who struggled to identify smells and tell the difference between scents were more likely to also score highly on psychopathic traits.

The explanation for this is that people with psychopathic traits have impaired functioning in the front part of the brain.

This part handles things like planning and impulse control but is also instrumental for a keen sense of smell.

7. Promiscuous sexual behavior

The scientist from the University of North Carolina offered further insight into sex and the psychopath.

They found in their research that 58% of psychopathic individuals report using insincere flattery to achieve sex and 40% using exploitation of a drunk person.

Both these figures are more than double what you would see for non-psychopath people.

8. Lying

Pathological lying is a common symptom of psychopathy, often used to manipulate those around them to get what they want.

Psychiatrist Dr Cosmo Hallstrom said many psychopaths live in a “fantasy world” and they try to convince others is real.

9. Speech Patterns

If you want to spot a psychopath, maybe you should pay attention to how people speak.

A study from linguistics analyzed the speech patterns of 52 murders, 14 of whom were psychopaths.

The study revealed that psychopaths use more conjunctions like, because, since, as, in their speech.

This implies that they are trying to justify their actions they believed the murder they carried out had to be done because…

Furthermore, the psychopaths used twice as many words that related to physical needs like sex, and money. While non-psychopathic murders used more words about social needs like family and religion.

10. Contagious Yawning

Yawn is contagious.

It is linked to empathy when someone yawns. It triggers our brain to respond in the same way.

Psychopaths don’t empathize in the same way. This response doesn’t always occur.

Psychopath vs Sociopath

Psychopaths and sociopaths fall into an antisocial personality disorder. What makes the difference is the origin – from birth, a head injury, illness, or childhood.

A psychopath is someone born with ASPD or has damaged the parts of the brain such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex or amygdala from an injury or an illness.

Ventromedial cortex control anger, decision-making, and controlling emotions in certain social situations.

The amygdala controls fear, and aggression, and helps to store memories and emotions.

The anterior insular cortex controls empathy.

Damage to these brain parts leads to ASPD.

A sociopath is someone raised in a home or environment where he was physically/emotionally abused.

The emotional stress created by the abuse causes brain abnormalities which may damage parts such as above.

The general age is 2-7 years old but is never 100% accurate because of everyone processes emotions differently.

Abnormal hormones damage the central nervous system causing brain damage for ASPD.

Many people say refer to themselves as a psychopath just because they feel angry or have difficulty connecting with people.

A psychopath/sociopath cannot feel fear, empathy, guilt, regret, or sorrow. They find difficulty controlling themselves.

Also, they don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

Criteria to spot someone who has Antisocial Personality Disorder

1. The tendency to violate social and legal rules
2. Lying, deceitfulness, or using others for personal interests.
3. Impulsivity or failure to plan.
4. Being aggressive, repeated physical fights.
5. Not caring about the safety of self or others
6. Lack of remorse. Being indifferent when having mistreated or stolen from someone.

These signs occur since the individual was 15 years old.

7. It is at least 18 years old

8. There is evidence that the individual has shown aggression toward people or animals, destruction of property, or theft.

The individual that fulfils these criteria may have psychopathy or sociopathy.

The source from the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders revision 5.

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