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

K. Ramsland

Killer's Remorse

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on April 15, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
A recent interview with Steven Dean Gordon raises the issue of whether a serial killer can feel genuine remorse.
K. Ramsland

The G-Man and the Serial Killer

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on March 25, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
Writer who set out to learn the identity of Eliot Ness's secret suspect for Cleveland's Mad Butcher fictionalizes the tale.

Explanation or Excuses for Stealing?

The criminal evaluates his evaluator.

Donald Trump and Addictive Behaviors

By Stanton Peele on March 22, 2017 in Addiction in Society
When the addiction cycle characterizes dysfunctional human behavior.

Why Donald J. Trump is Unfit to be President

By Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D. on March 10, 2017 in Me Before We
Donald J. Trump's distorted thinking and impulsive behavior, combined with his fixation on his own importance, directly imperils our safety as citizens of the United States.
K. Ramsland

The Predator's Advantage

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on March 04, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
The predator's advantage involves a clear plan, with an escape route.

Psychopathic Killers Hide in Plain Sight

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on February 26, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The world’s most prolific killers are totally incapable of empathy or remorse. However, they rarely look like the scary monsters we expect them to be.

Malignant Narcissism: Collision of Two Personality Disorders

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in NeuroSagacity
Those who interact with malignant narcissists consider them jealous, petty, thin-skinned, punitive, hateful, cunning, and angry.

What Happens When Narcissism Turns Malignant

Narcissism is one of the Dark Triad traits that also include psychopathy and Machiavellianism. New research that sadism brings its own unique contribution to the equation.

A Super-Quick Way to Determine Who’s Psychopathic

It certainly is of great value to be able to sniff out a psychopath. There are many possible tests and quizzes; the latest entry promises to be the quickest, and maybe the best.

Job Skills and Jobs Help, But They Are Not Enough

Do you think that acquiring job skills and a well-paying job prevents crime? Rarely is this true. Change is a lot more complicated.
Used by permission from nobullying.com

Ten Commandments for Those Considering Violence

By Steve Albrecht DBA on February 12, 2017 in The Act of Violence
Isn't it time we told potential workplace and school violence perpetrators to stop?
Permission: R. Parker

Close Call With a Killer

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on February 11, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
A crime historian pens an illustrated ebook about the cruel serial killer he once had encountered.

“Is Your Pet a Psychopath?”

How did deception evolve, and how do you know it's there? Learn these 4 simple, but overlooked signs.

Psychopaths, Sadists, and the Lure of Internet Aggression

By Traci Stein Ph.D., MPH on February 07, 2017 in The Integrationist
Internet trolls create chaos on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Read on to learn who they are, what motivates them, and why you should stop feeding them.

StarTalk: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Game of Thrones Psychology

Neil deGrasse Tyson conducts interviews on "StarTalk" including this look at the science of "Game of Thrones" with a segment devoted to the psychology of both characters and fans.

From Mice to Men?

By Joni E Johnston Psy.D. on February 02, 2017 in The Human Equation
A recent rash of animal killings in Canada have raised new questions about a budding serial killer. Do serial killers target animals first? Here's what the research says.

Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do?

Are gaslighters aware they are manipulating others? It depends on the gaslighter.
K. Ramsland

Mothers of Murderers

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on January 23, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
What do mothers say when they're told that their son or daughter is a murderer?

Some Individuals Kill for Their Own Sadistic Pleasure

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on January 21, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
Power/control killers are patient and they kill their victims slowly in order to prolong their own sadistic pleasure. They derive satisfaction from the suffering of their victims.

Serial Killers in 2016

By Joni E Johnston Psy.D. on January 19, 2017 in The Human Equation
What can we learn from an overview of serial killers in 2016? Let's take a look at the new faces of serial murder.

Writers Beware! Diagnosing Characters on TV and Film

By Dennis Palumbo on January 19, 2017 in Hollywood on the Couch
In many Hollywood films and TV shows, therapists are portrayed as quick to assign diagnostic labels to characters in the story with emotional distress. Here's why it's a bad idea.

American Psychopathy, Ascendant

By Yosef Brody Ph.D. on January 19, 2017 in Future Directions
The ultimate merger of state power, corporate power and human psychopathy forebodes a whole new level of ruthless and calculated exploitation
K. Ramsland

The Measure of Cunning

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on January 15, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
We have many instruments for measuring IQ and personality traits, even psychopathy, but we need a precise instrument to learn more about criminal street smarts.

What's the Best Way to Judge a Psychopath's Empathy?

We need the people we place our trust into to show they're empathic. New research shows why baby-kissing becomes such an important measure of psychopathy.

Dodge the DSM and Its True Believers!

Have you been played by psychiatric authorities?

Why We May Fall for Psychopaths

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on January 07, 2017 in NeuroSagacity
Does the person you love have a problem that prevents them from bonding, but makes them prone to harming?

Are Psychopaths Happy?

By Mark Holder, Ph.D. on January 07, 2017 in The Happiness Doctor
Psychopaths tend to get what they want and feel no remorse. However, they have superficial relationships characterized by lies and manipulation. So are they happy?
baptismonfire.deviantart.com

Why Psychopaths Are Effective Killers

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on January 01, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
When psychopaths commit a homicide, their killings likely will be planned and purposeful—that is, organized, and not committed in the heat of passion.

From the Mouths of Criminals

Examples of a dramatically different view of life.