To address the question 'do psychopaths know they are psychopaths?' we have to keep several ideas in mind.
The first is that psychopaths are professional liars. They make their living manipulating other people and one aspect of that is that they are great liars, often lying even when it would be better for them to tell the truth. If you ask them a question, you cannot trust that they will answer truthfully.
Another idea is that the level of intelligence varies, there are clever psychopaths and there are others who are not so clever. They are not all stupid merely because they are psychopaths.
The third idea is that the vast majority of people don't actually know what a psychopath is. Many psychopaths don't know what a psychopath is either.
There is one group of psychopaths who know they are psychopaths and they do tell.
This group includes prisoners who are proud of the fact and boast about the range of crimes they have been involved in.
It also includes psychopaths who have captured victims and reveal this information to their victims, often knowing that the victims will not or cannot leave because of their dependency on the abuser.
Even cult leaders, whose livelihood depends on hiding things from the members, may claim to be a psychopath. However, they will qualify it by saying such things as they are an 'emotional psychopath', not the serial killer type. But the members who are allowed to hear this information are typically so manipulated that they either laugh it off or they quickly dismiss it as irrelevant. They believe that the leader is helping them so much that it can't possibly be true.
The psychopath who reveals they are psychopaths typically do so to further manipulate others. It's done to install fear in their victims, or as a test, to see how the victim responds so the psychopath has some indication of how much control they actually have.
Another group of psychopaths do know but they hide it in one way or another.
Some hide it by never mentioning it. The people around them are unaware of the fact and therefore they don't ever bring it up either. Remember that most people don't know much about psychopathy. The victim, not understanding what a psychopath is, labels the manipulator a very strict boss, a control freak, a controlling girlfriend or boyfriend, an angry and controlling man, a toxic family member, a manipulative man or a manipulative personality. Because the victim does not know to label the manipulator a psychopath, the psychopath never has to engage in discussion about it.
Others will hide it by actively denying it. The usual tactic is to accuse the accuser of being a psychopath along with twisting and distorting information and outright lies to deny that they are, in fact, psychopathic. Some psychopaths will defend their image and reputation very aggressively and may go to great lengths to destroy anyone who tries to expose them.
This often happens in cults where the cult leader will 'indirectly' direct the cult members to attack the accuser. The cult leader cannot afford to be revealed for what he or she is, for obvious reasons. This situation also occurs in families, or work situations, too. A psychopath may set up smear campaigns to discredit the accuser, turning the family against the accuser and even totally isolating the accuser from their own family.
Some psychopathic cult leaders, in response to critics claims, will make jokes in front of the members about being a psychopath in charge of a cult. These 'jokes' are often repeated over and over. In this way, the leader is basically inoculating the members against such criticism. If anyone later mentions the idea to a cult member, the member will typically respond by laughing and saying that the leader warned that this would happen. This experience just further solidifies the member's belief that the leader is wise and all knowing.
A third group of psychopaths are those who do not know what a psychopath is. For this reason they do not know they are psychopaths.
However, and this is important, they do know they are different.
They know, for example, that they are not limited by these things called emotions. They know they don't have that 'baggage'. This is a major thing that sets them apart from most others. It typically gives them a sense of superiority.
They also work out how to manipulate others into doing things. This is most often done by manipulating others emotions, ironically.
They know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, but it does not bother them to choose bad. They see others doing right or good the vast majority of the time and they even learn to take advantage of that.
Again, there are intelligent and not so intelligent psychopaths and they have varying degrees of skill in manipulation. Even intelligent ones may not know what a psychopath is and may not have realized that they themselves are psychopathic, but they will surely know that they are different, because they know what they are doing. They know that they are manipulating and taking advantage of others.
So even in this group, the answer to the question, 'do psychopaths know they are psychopaths?', the answer is that yes, they know they are not like other people, they just don't have the label for what they are.
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