What Is Psychopathy?

Psychopathy is among the most difficult disorders to spot. The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, he lacks conscience and empathy, making him manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal. She is an object of popular fascination and clinical anguish: adult psychopathy is largely impervious to treatment, though programs are in place to treat callous, unemotional youth in hopes of preventing them from maturing into psychopaths.

Psychopathy is a spectrum disorder and can be diagnosed only using the 20-item Hare Psychopathy Checklist. (The bar for clinical psychopathy is a score of 30 or more). Brain anatomy, genetics, and a person’s environment may all contribute to the development of psychopathic traits.

The terms “psychopath” and “sociopath” are often used interchangeably, but in correct parlance a “sociopath” refers to a person with antisocial tendencies that are ascribed to social or environmental factors, whereas psychopathic traits are more innate, though a chaotic or violent upbringing may tip the scales for those already predisposed to behave psychopathically. Both constructs are most closely represented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Recent posts on Psychopathy

Are Corporations Inherently Psychopathic?

It has been said that corporations have "neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn." Can we diagnose psychopathy in non-human entities?
iclipart.com, used with permission

Dangerous Lies

Are there some secrets worth killing for? For two men leading double lives, the answer was yes.

"Criminals" in Classrooms: A Liability to Students and Staff

What happens when a student is disturbing others but is not “emotionally disturbed”?
Pexels / Free stock photos

Anosognosia, Psychopathy, and the Conscience

What happens if we can't recognize our bad behavior brought on by illness or disorder?

Understanding Psychopathic Criminals

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
Psychopathic criminals are cunning, manipulative, egotistical and cold blooded.

Talking to Killers

A former prison psychologist painstakingly interviews two child serial killers whose sexual fantasies formed an unrelenting addiction.
iclipart.com, used with permission

Let's Pretend You're Sick

The psyche of parents who fake their child's illness

The OCD, Super Diligent, Over-Conscientious Boss

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in A Sideways View
Being careful and detail oriented is often a very desirable at work. But is this optimal rather than maximal. Can there be too much of a good thing with regard to diligence.

Killing the American Hero, Killing the Fair Trial

When defense claims "not criminally responsible," courts must adopt a holistic view of insanity.

3 Ways to Predict a Partner May Be Unfaithful

A partner who is faithful, all other things being equal, is one who will make you happier. This 3-part checklist will help you spot the danger signs.

How to Know if You Are Dealing With a Sociopath

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on April 18, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
The good news about sociopaths is that due to their volatile personalities, you can typically see them coming
iclipart.com used with permission

Understanding Serial Animal Abusers

What exactly is the relationship between animal cruelty and violence towards humans? A look at serial animal abusers sheds light on this complex relationship.
K. Ramsland

I Wanna Be a Serial Killer, Part 2

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on April 01, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
In recent news, we see several young males in separate incidents express the desire to become as famous as serial killers.

A Curable Brain Disorder?

Genetic developmental disorders of the brain are usually considered incurable. But recent results suggest that, in Rett's syndrome at least, this may not be the case.

Personality Disordered Co-Parents and "The System", Part 1

Co-parenting with a disordered ex is difficult and requires assistance from people who often seem clueless.

What's in a Name?

By Jack Pemment MA, MS on March 24, 2016 in Blame the Amygdala
What role do ideas and ideology play in the formation of the conscience?

Making of a Mass Shooter

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on March 24, 2016 in How To Do Life
How a non-psychopath might commit the unthinkable.

The Psychology of Murder for Hire

It's pretty common to fantasize about a loved one's demise when we're in the throes of anger, hurt or desperation. But it takes a special person, to put those thoughts into action

Schizophrenia Doesn't Exist!?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on March 23, 2016 in Psych Unseen
Schizophrenia's dual existence as categorical and spectrum diagnosis

Why Origins Count

Origins are important. Origins count. If we appreciate the embryology of our feelings, language, and cognition--we have a much better chance of understanding what goes wrong...
K. Ramsland

Murder Kits

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on March 20, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
What killers pack in their murder bags reveals not just methods but also rituals and levels of ingenuity.

Stress Interferes With the Rhythm of Life: Why This Matters

Stress can alter the rhythm of the body, particularly because it changes the daily pattern of the hormone cortisol. This may be why it also increases the risk of mental illness

Emotional (Phantom Limb) Pain

The illusion is he was normal, in love with you, was what he said he was, did what he said he did. In pathology, that’s never the case, because they are mentally disordered.

Deep Down, Are You a Murderer?

By Kurt Gray on March 15, 2016 in Minding Morality
A man killed his in-laws while asleep. You could too.

The Criminal's "Superoptimism"

Criminals expect to prevail in any endeavor.
Kevin Sullivan

Seeing As Ted Bundy

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on March 07, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
Author explores locations and unpublished accounts that add more the the Ted Bundy story.

The Onion in the Ointment

By Jack Pemment MA, MS on March 01, 2016 in Blame the Amygdala
The neurodiversity movement must work to define itself and address the differences of harmful individuals.

Psychiatric Name Calling

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on February 26, 2016 in Fighting Fear
Psychiatrists, psychologists and the general public tend to use certain terms in a defamatory way, rather than in an attempt to explain anything.

5 Things Real-Life Psychopaths Do

Real-life psychopaths don't always look like they do in the movies.

Are You Dating Someone with Psychopathy?

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on February 18, 2016 in NeuroSagacity
Here are 16 signs that your mate could have psychopathic traits.