If you ask people in the street what is a psychopath, they will answer that it's a serial killer or a serial rapist, someone who is mad, crazy, foolish, a criminal. But these ideas have usually been developed from movies and books that are designed to entertain and are not very accurate.
And it benefits psychopaths because the general public is unable to spot a psychopath even if they are living next door, or working in the same office with them.
Officially a psychopath is someone with an antisocial personality disorder. This means they have a personality disorder that manifests as antisocial behavior. They are sometimes called sociopaths although some specialists consider that there is a difference.
The personality disorder consists of an inability to experience emotions such as empathy, love, guilt, remorse, shame. These are socializing emotions, that is, the emotions that allow us to live in harmony, looking out for each other, returning favors, and not doing each other harm for no reason.
Robert Hare, a psychologist who has studied psychopaths for years answers the question 'what is a psychopath?' by saying that is it someone without a conscience. They don't feel guilt or shame or remorse if they do wrong.
For normal people, who do have a conscience, this is practically impossible to understand. It is even difficult to think about what it would be like to not have a conscience. When we do wrong, however intentionally, we know it's wrong and there are feelings associated with it. For psychopaths, they know they are doing wrong, but there are no feelings associated with it!!
There are 2 important things here. They know they are doing wrong and they do not feel bad in any way.
Read about more signs of a psychopath...
Nowadays, the legal systems recognize that psychopaths are not mentally ill in a way where they are not responsible for their actions. If, or more commonly when, they are caught in criminal activities, they are held responsible for the actions and typically end up in prison rather than in mental hospitals. In the past they often went from prisons to mental institutions and back again.
Psychopaths have very few emotions and these are often very shallow. They are incapable of putting themselves in someone else's shoes and understanding what is going on for the other person. This makes them indifferent to the pain and suffering of others. In fact, they will often feel superior because they think that they are not 'burdened' with or limited by emotions!
A huge ego, a strong sense of entitlement, thinking they are superior and better than others, makes them very selfish and often means they will do whatever they like to get what they want. For them, the end justifies the means.
That may not sound so bad but remember they have no conscience, so they will make decisions to mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually abuse others, sometimes because they can.
They want to control and dominate others and they will lie, cheat, deceive, trick and fool others into doing their bidding. (This is the antisocial behavior part!) Because people do not fully understand psychopathy, such people are often labeled a jealous boyfriend, or a controlling wife or a manipulative husband.
These types will take people's money, possessions, houses, bodies, time, energy and even lives. Because they want these things. And without feeling the least bit of pity, or remorse or guilt, no matter how much suffering they have caused.
About 1% of the population are psychopaths. That means that some of your neighbors, work colleagues, people in your sports clubs etc are psychopaths.
They may not have emotions but they learn to fake them, to blend in, in order to create relationships with people because they are master manipulators of emotions, and manipulating emotions is how they use mind control to influence what people think and do… This is why it is so difficult to spot a psychopath.
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