Evil Deeds

A forensic psychologist on anger, madness and destructive behavior.

Masks of Sanity (Part Four): What is a Psychopath?

The term "psychopath" is being overused by expert commentators when discussing violent offenders in the news.

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Violence and Hare's Test

You make an important point. Physical violence is not a necessary part of the Hare psychopath. (I do think that the Cleckley/Hare model is importantly different from DSM-IV anti social personality disorder.)

But, there is a flip side to this as well.

A number of white collar criminals may in fact fit the Hare checklist, and yet they have committed minimal acts of physical violence.

It would be good to know if any of the recently incarcerated white collar criminals fit the Hare diagnostic.

There is something wrong here.

There are many psychpaths scoring high on the PCL rating, that are smart enough to do morally right, even if they don't feel it.

Some of them had extremely violent thoughts, which I attribute to manifestions and quasi-psychotic remnants that flare up as personality parts continually fueled by their wanting to attach and violently kill what they love, because of how their mom's pathological affect (ie her somatosensory body language pathos) had an abuse to it toward the child.

So later on in life, when they experience that type of abuse when they are a baby, such as the baby wants you and you ignore it all the time and don't stimulate it. When the parent doesn't feel a physical need to physically nuture the child.

I view this as "reptile patholocism" because the dopamine fuels the thoughts and acts as an agent to the mammalian brain.

When the reptile doesn't get touched, isn't stimulated, is not breast-fed....

it develops a pathological will to tell the cerebellum: don't physically interact with people, if you do, do it overtly through body language while letting them have sex with your real ego that you protect with a made-up adult figure that is omnipotent against that.

Response to Michael

Nor is physical violence required for the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. There are plenty of non-violent, irresponsible, "con artists" who meet the DSM criteria for APD.

Con Men

Yes, neither the DSM-IV-TR APD nor Hare's Checklist require violence.

My sense is that for white collar criminals, the distinction between APD and Hare is something best left to the professionals to sort out.

But, for violent criminals we routinely see psychological testing, while the white collar criminal gets a pass.

We simply have to treat con criminals as criminals and not "artists" of the Paul Newman character in The Sting.

Our current economic crisis is in part caused by a sentimental attachment to con criminals as "artists".

Response to Michael

I used the term "con artist" to be gender neutral. And some sociopaths are truly artists in deception and manipulation. But you are right that it is naive and dangerous to romanticize such frequently charming, charismatic antisocial criminals.

You might find Sam Antar's

You might find Sam Antar's blog interesting on this issue:


Sam was the CFO for Crazy Eddie, one of the more notorious stock frauds.


Here is a recent background piece on Sam.


Untreated Chronic Depression.

Late stages of chronic Depression often turn into psychosis. Weather we recognize it or not is a different matter. Sincerely,David


The common perception is that there is no treatment for antisocial personality. I run into that in articles, seminars, classes, and among my colleagues. However, I treat adult male offenders and have for over 10 years and have found that they can indeed change. I would like to hear from other therapists about their experience.


It really annoys me that Pat Brown, a criminal profiler, has no idea what the term means. I have heard her numerous times use the term to describe the Virginia tech. murderer, the fitness club shooter, the Yale lab tech. Is she that naive? As a professional, I would think she'd have a better understanding of psychological terms. Even though she is not a mental health professional, I would believe that she would be more informed. She has even been corrected on air by at least one mental health professional, but still does not seem to get it. I would be embarrassed if I were her. Most mass murders are not usually the result of a sociopath personality disorder. There are many personality disorders as well as other psychiatric disorders that could lead to violence. As the article states, it is a disservice to the field of psychiatry. It also encourages the prevailing stereo- typical definition that the general pop. has.

Having lived with one for

Having lived with one for years, describing psychopaths as merely angry individuals with an anger disorder is describing a completely different group of people, not psychopaths.

Having lived with one for

Having lived with one for years, describing psychopaths as merely angry individuals with an anger disorder is describing a completely different group of people, not psychopaths. Because of one I am a very angry person yet I'm not one and I cannot completely describe or measure the social destruction this creature has caused to my life the people around him, most of whom have been integral to its well being and quite oddly the more good people do for him the more he destroys them.

Response to "Psychopaths"

To say that psychopaths are "merely angry" is a misconception of my point, which is that these individuals operate out of a disguised central core of anger, rage, hostility and hatred directed mainly toward the world. This immense rage--stemming from childhood--is largely unconscious and pathological, manifesting itself characterologically in various antisocial and self-defeating ways. The fact that their pervasive anger may not be readily visible or apparent to the observer does not mean it isn't there. They are very good at deceptively concealing or masking their emotions in general. But their deeply unconscious rage (not mere anger) and bitterness, coupled with their ability to deceive and manipulate is, in my opinion, what makes them so destructive and dangerous.


I just scored this individual 36 from my experience with and knowledge of him:


I found it impossible to convince anyone how evil this creature is but I'd appreciate any advise. My chances are very slim but any advise would do for me

if someone has part of a

if someone has part of a psychopath personality and part borderline disorder does this correlate at all with a diagnosis. This party will exagerate everything and you tend to check with others before you believe them. They are rude and are proud of not being intimidated by anyone. They do not care about feelings of others and lie and think they can and should manipulate everyone in their life. They also have actually told the Doctor symptons of their child which never existed. Can be charming and funny when it pleases them. Not sure how to deal with them but it is a family member, so not so easily solved. Will get even if you cross them and try to get the others in the family aligned with them.

Hidden from public view.

The psychopath has a public face and a private face. Targets experience the manipulation, psychological abuse and vindictive rage when the psychopathic individual does not get the required compliance. This is hidden from view of others, denied, blamed on the imagination or mental illness of the target. When witnesses are present there are smiles and pleasant conversation and the illusion of normality.
It is sometimes claimed that not all psychopaths are aggressive or cause harm. That is because we do not see the interactions of psychopath and target, that happen behind closed doors and when no one is looking.

Interview with Dr. Martha Stout

*[http://jari.podbean.com/2010/11/03/interview-with-dr-martha-stout/] Interview with Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door on the Living Hero podcast, November 2010.

For a start charles manson is

For a start charles manson is NOT a psychopath he is schizophrenic. Dissocial personality disorder is the same thing as antisocial personality disorder. Why you used both in the article did nothing but confuse as far a I am concerned.

Most serious professionals including Dr. Robert Hare (who btw is considered the worlds leading expert in psychopathy and is the FBI's "go to guy" for psychopaths despite the fact he is a Canadian) disputes the current DSM IV as it is currently as do a lot of other experts in this field. I am going to quote the next paragraph from mentalhealth.net but you can find similar information all over the pace.

"The DSM-IV confound: some argue that an important distinction has been lost by including both sociopathy and psychopathy together under APD. As Hare et al write in their abstract, "The Axis II Work Group of the Task Force on DSM-IV has expressed concern that antisocial personality disorder (APD) criteria are too long and cumbersome and that they focus on antisocial behaviors rather than personality traits central to traditional conceptions", concluding, "... conceptual and empirical arguments exist for evaluating alternative approaches to the assessment of psychopathy .… our hope is that the information presented here will stimulate further research on the comparative validity of diagnostic criteria for psychopathy; although too late to influence DSM-IV"."

I'm not sure if the author of this article has ever even met a psychopath (most psychiatrists or psychologists have not (knowingly)) and their opinions are what this article is. A collection of information they have learned and regurgitated with no real understanding of the disorder.

ASPD and Psychopathy are similar but different enough that they are indeed separate entities.

1% of the population are psychopaths and 4% are ASPD.

As for them being untreatable and no evidence of that.. complete nonsense. The only thing that has shown any glimmer of hope is a group setting with the psychologist or psychiatrist acting as an observer and not leading the discussion. It helps if this counseling is mandatory (prison settings) as they are far less likely to attend otherwise. For example, studies have shown that counseling for psychopaths actually makes them worse! Why? Because they learn further how to manipulate people from skills they learn from the counselor!!!

To understand a key part of psychopathy you have to understand that they don't think there is anything wrong with them (and indeed it could very well be an evolutionary strategy). The second key is not so much that they can't put themselves in someone else's shoes (empathy); it's that even if they can, they still don't care!!!

Secondary psychopaths (who can experience anxiety and other emotions) fit the criteria for ASPD far more than true psychopaths.

Google FMRI and Psychopathy for some really interesting new studies being done on the psychopaths brain. These people are born this way.

Dr. Hare's advice if you come across a psychopath? Don't walk, RUN away as fast as you can!


I've done alot of research and dealt very closely with a psychopath. When first trying to understand him, I wanted to believe that it was the environment that created this hatred from within. That's what I was informed it was in the beginning. Upon trying to open him up to his past and more information about himself he did go into more and more detail. It didn't take me long to realize that most everything he said was contradictory or very obviously not true. He was taking me along for the ride. What was most horrific about him is that nothing (that I could see and I knew him fairly well) had ever really happened to him. He basically wanted to set up a pity party for the manipulation and control to take over. He was trying to kill his family's pets at a very young age, so it seems it has always been within him. He lives in his parent's basement at age 24 and goes out and does whatever he wants throughout the day (which is typically an array of women, since he is handsome and charming). His family can't handle him. Superficial friends catch on fairly early on. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you think people take comfort in believing that these are inborn evil people and it's most likely the society that did this to them. While that may be true of some, I will tell you I would have loved for his issue to have been an environmental one rather than just an inborn evil hatred imbedded in his every thought and action.

Also, I very truly believe that this disorder is grossly under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed. They lie and manipulate their psychologists to get whatever they want from them (which is usually drugs or money). I would say they're typically aware that their symptoms look like ADHD so they go for the common street drugs. When the man I've been referring to took ADHD medicine, it created a far less outwardly, visible danger and a much more passive and psychologically battering individual which means he will never be diagnosed properly.


As you probably know, this documentary about psychopaths is coming out: http://www.fisheadmovie.com/watch1

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Stephen Diamond, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist in LA and the author of Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity.


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